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Wcov 2009.png

Wcov dt3.png
Montgomery, Alabama
United States
Branding Fox 20 (general)
Channels Digital: 20 (UHF)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
Subchannels 20.1 Fox
20.2 Antenna TV
20.3 This TV
Owner Woods Communications Corporation
First air date April 17, 1953 (1953-04-17)
Call letters' meaning Will COVington
Former channel number(s) Analog:
20 (UHF, 1953-2009)
16 (UHF, 1997-2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
CBS (1953-1986)
Independent (January–October 1986)
All secondary:
NBC (1953-1954)
ABC (1953-1960)
DuMont (1953-1956)
Transmitter power 460 kW
Height 518 m
Facility ID 73642
Transmitter coordinates 31°58′28.6″N 86°9′44.2″W / 31.974611°N 86.162278°W / 31.974611; -86.162278
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wcov.com

WCOV-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for Central Alabama's Black Belt area licensed to Montgomery. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 20 from a transmitter southeast of Grady along the Montgomery and Crenshaw County line. Owned by the Woods Communications Corporation, the station has studios on WCOV Avenue in the Normandale section of Montgomery. Syndicated programming on WCOV-TV includes Two and a Half Men, The People's Court, and The Wendy Williams Show.


WCOV-TV was the first television station in Montgomery, making its first broadcast on April 17, 1953. It was a primary CBS station but carried affiliations with all networks that were airing at the time (NBC, ABC, and DuMont). During the late-1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] It was originally supposed to broadcast on VHF channel 12 (now occupied by WSFA), but RCA could not deliver a VHF transmitter in time for the launch. However, RCA could deliver a UHF transmitter. This historical accident would come back to haunt the station later.

The station was owned by Oscar Covington and his family along with WCOV radio (now WGMP) and two other radio stations in Alabama. Oscar's father, William Covington, who had founded WCOV radio in 1939, had applied for a television license in 1949 and was on a trip to Chicago to buy equipment at the time of his death later that year. It lost NBC when WSFA launched in 1954 and ABC when WSLA-TV in Selma started up in 1960. DuMont programming went away in 1956 after that network shut down. The Covington family sold the station to Gay-Bell Corporation in 1964.

From 1960 to 1984, WCOV blocked several requests by WSLA to increase its power so it could better cover Montgomery. It claimed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would not be fostering the growth of UHF stations if it allowed WSLA to increase its power. In truth, WCOV feared that CBS would make WSLA its sole affiliate in Montgomery if that station moved in. Finally in 1984, WSLA changed its calls to WAKA and got a construction permit for a taller tower that would cover Montgomery. Seeing the writing on the wall, Gay-Bell sold this station to current owner Woods Communications, which owned Dothan's WTVY (also a CBS station). In April 1985, WAKA activated its new tower, and as feared, CBS dropped its affiliation with WCOV on New Year's Day in 1986.

After a few months as Montgomery's first independent station, Woods made the station a charter Fox affiliate in October. It was one of the first longstanding Big Three affiliates to join the upstart network. The original tower in Montgomery was destroyed by a massive tornado on March 22, 1996. Two days later, the station returned to the air on a temporary 350 foot (107 m) tower, but depended mostly on cable for its viewership. In January 1997, the station activated a new tower in Grady. Originally, its digital transmitter was located next to its studios.[2] WCOV also started broadcasting a special "nightlight" service on its analog signal featuring digital conversion information following the discontinuance of its analog service. The station currently airs two local programs including MPD: The Television Series (a COPS-inspired program produced by the Montgomery Police Department) and County Law which involves the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[3]
20.1 720p 16:9 WCOV-DT Main WCOV-TV programming / Fox
20.2 480i 4:3 ANTENNA Antenna TV
20.3 THIS-TV This TV

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WCOV-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on February 20, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 16 to former UHF analog channel 20.[4]

News operation[edit]

News logo.

As a CBS affiliate, WCOV operated its own news department. However, the station was always a very distant second to dominant WSFA. The station dropped all news programming after losing CBS programming. Eventually, a two-hour simulcast of the four-hour-long Good Day Alabama was added from fellow Fox affiliate WBRC in Birmingham. This aired weekday mornings from 7 until 9 and originated from studios on Valley View Drive in that city. At some point in September 2010, the simulcast was dropped.

On January 7, 2008, Woods Communications contracted with NBC affiliate WSFA (owned by Raycom Media) to air a prime time broadcast in conjunction with another Fox affiliate and Raycom-owned station in Dothan, WDFX-TV. Originally airing for 35 minutes on weeknights, a weekend half-hour edition began in Summer 2008. On August 3, WSFA upgraded its newscasts to high definition level becoming the first station in Montgomery to do so. The primary news set and graphics were redesigned in the transition.

Initially, the 9 p.m. shows were not included because they originated from an older secondary set at WSFA's studios on East Delano Avenue. However in Spring 2010, those broadcasts began airing in HD with updated graphics separate from programs seen on WSFA. Since WDFX and WCOV both aired Fox News at 9, there was regional coverage of the Montgomery and Dothan areas provided. Reporters based at WDFX's studios (referred to as the Wiregrass Newsroom) were also featured in the show.

After WCOV's outsourcing contract with WSFA expired at the end of 2010, it entered into a new agreement with CBS affiliate WAKA (owned by Bahakel Communications) to produce a nightly 35 minute prime time newscast at 9 covering Montgomery. At that time, the new show, known as WCOV News at 9, reverted to pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition (since WAKA had yet to make any upgrades to newscasts) and originated from studios on Eastern Boulevard (US 80/US 231). In addition, WAKA operates bureaus in Selma (on Landline Road/SR 22 Truck/SR 219) known as the West Alabama Newsroom and in Troy as well as Greenville (both known as South Alabama Newsrooms). Despite merging with WNCF and WBMM on February 4, 2013, WAKA continues to produce WCOV News at 9 which now airs in high definition from an updated set at the shared WAKA/WNCF studios on Harrsion Road in Montgomery.


External links[edit]