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|City of license||Boston, Massachusetts|
|Channels||Digital: 32 (UHF)
Virtual: 68 (PSIP)
|Owner||Ion Media Networks, Inc.
(Ion Media Boston License, Inc.)
|First air date||January 3, 1979|
|Call letters' meaning||W Boston's PaX TV (old name for Ion Television)|
|Former callsigns||WQTV (1979-1993)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||independent (1979-1989)
Monitor Channel (1989-1993)
Pax TV (1999-2005)
|Transmitter power||300 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WBPX-TV, digital channel 32, is the Ion Television station owned by ION Media Networks (formerly Paxson Communications), serving the Boston, Massachusetts, United States market. The station is also simulcast on two full-power and two low-power satellites each, WPXG-TV channel 21 (digital 33) in Concord, New Hampshire, WDPX-TV channel 58 (digital 40) in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, WMPX-LP channel 33 in Dennis, Massachusetts, and W40BO, also in Boston.
Originally owned by Arlington Broadcasting, WBPX signed on in 1979 as WQTV, carrying programming from the Financial News Network, as well as public domain movies and most network shows that were pre-empted by WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, and to a lesser extent WNAC-TV (later WNEV-TV; now WHDH). Channel 68 was the first UHF television station to employ what is known as "circular polarization" antenna transmission, which was intended to improve signal reception to inner city viewers, many of whom had difficulty receiving television reception due to surrounding tall structures. The station's transmitter, containing its "helical" broadcast antenna, was installed by helicopter in September 1978 on top of the Prudential Tower.
WQTV began running a subscription television service (Pay TV) in conjunction with Universal Subscription Television called BEST TV, which stood for "Broadcast Entertainment Subscription Television", based in Waltham, Massachusetts. By the summer of 1979, its name was changed to Starcase, and by late 1981 it became known as Star TV. Subscription TV programming initially began after 7 p.m., with its programming day gradually expanded up to most of the broadcast day by 1980. Channel 68 was the answer for many TV viewers that wanted uncut movies but lived in areas that were not wired for cable TV. WQTV, with its easy signal hacking ability, the lure of uncut movies and late night adult entertainment created many electronic hobbyists eager to "home-brew" their own television descrambling devices.
In February 1983, Universal Subscription Television abruptly went out of business on WQTV due to a significant loss of paying subscribers to rampant piracy of its subscription television signal. It was very easy to pirate the signal due to its simplistic scrambling method, known as "gated sync suppression," and its "decoding key" hidden in the audio channel subcarrier. This key was easily defeated with a decoder built around an FM stereo demodulator chip known as the LM1800. All of WQTV's subscribers were transitioned to another area subscription TV service known as Preview, operated by Time Warner's New England Subscription Television on Worcester's WSMW-TV channel 27. WQTV flipped to a general entertainment format consisting of off network drama shows, old sitcoms, and several movies. The station also continued to run most network shows that were preempted by WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, and WNEV-TV.
In 1984, WQTV overextended themselves by adding somewhat stronger programming to the station. These were mostly shows previously airing on WSBK-TV or WLVI that fell off those respective stations. Some of the shows run on WQTV included The Honeymooners, The Munsters, The Addams Family, The Bob Newhart Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Here's Lucy, I Dream Of Jeannie, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Partridge Family, The Carol Burnett Show, Star Trek, Burns & Allen, Sergeant Bilko, Kojak, The Rockford Files, and others.
In the fall of 1985, WQTV dropped the rejected network programming and added more drama shows to the lineup. The station began to aggressively market themselves at that point. Unfortunately, the station continued to lose money and experienced severe financial problems by November. Right after Christmas, the station laid off most of the staff and dropped all its cash programming. Parent company Arlington Broadcasting (which also owned WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama and WCGV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) placed the station up for sale and turned the dropped programming back to the syndicators. A few shows such as The Honeymooners, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Perry Mason and Gomer Pyle USMC would move to other stations, while the rest of the shows simply no longer aired in the market. For a few days it was thought that WQTV would be going dark, but somehow the station would remain on the air. Due to this uncertainty, TV Guide stopped carrying WQTV in its listings for several months. WQTV kept a couple of barter shows, public domain movies, and a few religious and minority shows. They also reinstated all the pre-empted network shows that had previously aired on the station.
The station was sold to the Christian Science Monitor during the summer of 1986, and in the fall, WQTV began broadcasting Christian Science Monitor programming for thirty minutes a day. The following spring, WQTV brought back several previously aired syndicated programs that did not find homes in the Boston market such as Star Trek, Carol Burnett, and Rockford Files, which were added to the 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. timeslots. The rejected network shows and public domain movies remained temporarily. That April, WQTV was relaunched as a Family station. The station added a number of shows that fell off other station schedules such as Leave It To Beaver, McHale's Navy, and My Three Sons, among others. The station also bought back many of the shows they previously owned back in 1983 to 1985. Other programming included Captain Kangaroo, Dangermouse, and Disney's Wonderful World. The station also dropped preempted network programming, which would move to WHLL (now WUNI). WQTV began to brand itself as "The New QTV 68", with an emphasis on family entertainment. The station dubbed itself as, "Boston's Fastest-Growing Television Station". In addition, the station expanded the time allotted for the Christian Science Monitor programs to two hours.
In the summer of 1989, WQTV condensed the entertainment programming into the late afternoon and evening hours, as the station began to focus on programs produced by the Monitor Channel, which consisted of cultural, religious, news, and information shows. By 1990, the station was down to a few hours of entertainment during the evening and overnights, and by 1992, the Monitor Channel was WQTV's only source of programming. However, in that year the Monitor Channel left the air, which left the station with reruns of the network's programming. In early 1993, the Monitor programs were finally dropped in favor of previously dropped off network sitcoms and drama shows that did not find other stations in the market to air on.
In the fall of 1993, Boston University bought the station and for the third time relaunched it as a commercial general entertainment station, with the new call letters of WABU. The station's broadcast schedule consisted of older cartoons, sitcoms, and family dramas, though the new station briefly ran a few preempted CBS shows from WHDH-TV. A considerable amount of in-house local programming made to the schedule during the WABU years, especially during prime time hours. BU managed to steal prominent local media personalities away from the major stations to host public affairs and news programs; among them were ECU with Gail Harris, Business World with Jim Howell, D.O.C.: Doctors On Call with Dr. Odysseus Argy, The Job Show, Adler Online with Charles Adler, Consider This with Ted O'Brien and Delores Handy, and some children's programming on weekends (Lil' Iguana, The Story Shop, etc.).
Movies aired under the Cinema 68 heading, at first airing in primetime after the aforementioned regularly scheduled local shows that aired in the 8 PM hour. By 1997, public affairs shows were moved to later weekday time slots, as well as during the day on weekends, so that Cinema 68 could start at 8 PM on weeknights. WABU was also the first Boston station to carry Judge Judy upon its September 1996 premiere, where it aired in an hour-long 6 p.m. block. The station was outbid by Viacom the following year for future syndication rights, resulting in Judge Judy moving to Viacom-owned WSBK-TV in September 1997. From April to June 1999, which marked the last few months of BU's reign, Dana Hersey arrived at WABU to host 68 Film Loft, a revival of the legendary Movie Loft which had been a staple of WSBK's prime time lineup for over two decades. The Movie Loft title could not be adopted since the rights to the name were still owned by, and eventually used again on, WSBK.
WABU boasted a news department during the entire six years of BU ownership, producing two-minute news updates airing at the top of every hour between 11:58 AM and 11:00 PM known as Newsbreak 68. Ted O'Brien and Delores Handy were the principal anchors, who always appeared separately, with other on-air staff appearing over time. Kristen Daly (later of WLVI's The Ten O'Clock News) joined the anchor roster in 1998. Occasionally, meteorologists would hold in-depth weather forecasts, but general five-day forecast charts were the norm. From 1996 to 1998, WABU was also the over-the-air flagship station of the Boston Red Sox, taking over from longtime Red Sox flagship station WSBK-TV. WFXT's former sports anchor Butch Stearns first surfaced as a part of Channel 68's Red Sox coverage before he joined the Fox affiliate.
From the beginning, WABU was planning to extend the reach of their programming. On November 30, 1993, not long after BU acquired channel 68, the station announced that it was purchasing WNHT of Concord, New Hampshire, which returned to the air as WNBU on September 1, 1995. Additionally, the station purchased WCVX of Vineyard Haven in 1994 and turned the station back on as WZBU.
In 1999, Paxson Communications (now ION Media Networks) bought WABU and its satellites, immediately mixing PAX programming into the station schedule and changing the stations' call letters to WBPX, WPXG, and WDPX (respectively) later that year. Eventually, the syndicated shows were dropped, leaving WBPX and its satellites as full PAX affiliates by 2000.
WBPX terminated its analog over the air signal on April 16, 2009. The station's digital signal contains three various sub-channels, in addition to the main network. WBPX also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 68.1.
|Station||City of license||Channels
|First air date||Former callsigns||ERP
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates|
|WPXG-TV||Concord, New Hampshire||33 (21)||September 1, 1995||WNBU (1995–1999)||100 kW||344 m||48406|
|WDPX-TV||Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts||40 (58)||November 28, 1994||WCVX (1985-1994)
|300 kW||153 m||6476|
WBPX is also relayed on WMPX-LP channel 33 in Dennis and W40BO in Boston.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Network|
- WNHT (TV) (for information on WPXG prior to 1993)
- Official website
- WBPX at the Archives at BostonRadio.org
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WBPX
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WPXG
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WDPX
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WMPX-LP
- Query the FCC's TV station database for W40BO
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WBPX-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WPXG-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WDPX-TV