|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|Branding||Fox 25 (general)
Fox 25 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Whatever it takes|
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations, Inc.)
|First air date||October 10, 1977|
|Call letters' meaning||W FOX Television|
|Former callsigns||WXNE-TV (1977–1987)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
25 (UHF, 1977–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1977–1987)|
|Transmitter power||780 kW|
|Height||330 m (1,083 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WFXT, channel 25, is a Fox owned-and-operated television station located in Boston, Massachusetts. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. WFXT's studios and office facilities are located in Dedham, and its transmitter is located in Needham. WFXT is one of six Boston television stations that are carried in Canada by satellite provider Bell TV and cable provider EastLink.
Channel 25 signed on as WXNE-TV (standing for "Christ (X) in New England") on October 10, 1977. The station was originally owned by the Christian Broadcasting Network. The early format consisted of older syndicated reruns which were deemed to be "family-friendly", a decent amount of religious programming (including the CBN-produced program The 700 Club), and programs of many other televangelists. Religious programming ran for about six hours a day during the week, and all day long on Sundays. The station also carried the daily and Sunday Mass from the Boston Catholic Television Center. Secular programming consisted of westerns, older movies, family-oriented drama shows, old film shorts, and classic television series. By 1980, the religious programming was reduced on Sundays to 6 to 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight, and about four to five hours a day during the week. For several years during the WXNE era of Channel 25, CBN founder Pat Robertson installed his son, Tim Robertson, as program director.
The station began adding more cartoons, made-for-TV movies, and off-network sitcoms and family dramas in the early 1980s. Most notably, in 1980, WXNE was able to take over production of Candlepins For Cash, the weekday bowling show which had just been canceled by Boston CBS affiliate WNAC-TV after seven seasons. With new host Rico Petrocelli, the show now aired out of the now-defunct Wal-Lex Lanes in Waltham (the show had been produced from bowling lanes built in the basement of WNAC's studios). After only a few months as host, Petrocelli was ousted in favor of returning original WNAC host Bob Gamere, who carried on until Candlepins ended its run on WXNE in 1983. During this time, the station rebranded itself "Boston 25", in the conversion to being a true independent. While the station was only on cable providers in the Greater Boston market, WXNE was a solid third place among the area's independent stations, behind the longer-established WSBK-TV and WLVI-TV, and sixth among the market's commercial television stations. The station also implemented two significant advertising campaigns, in a bid to compete with the other independents: Boston turn, New England turn, Everybody turn 25 today/tonight! (1983–85), which was followed by You Should See Us Now! (1985–87, later revived in a rearranged form during the Boston Celtics-ownership era of WFXT, as Watch What Happens..Now!).
In 1986, WXNE and several other CBN stations were put up for sale. That October, WXNE was purchased by News Corporation, with plans to make the station Boston's affiliate for its new network, Fox, which had been unable to secure an affiliation with WSBK or WLVI. Until the sale was completed, channel 25 did not air what was then the network's lone offering, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, Fox's inaugural program and a weeknight show which aired opposite Johnny Carson's Tonight Show on NBC. The outgoing CBN ownership believed that the program did not fit its strict content guidelines. Fox instead contracted Boston radio station WMRE (1510 AM, now WUFC) to carry the audio portion of the Late Show in the interim.
When the sale to News Corporation was completed on January 19, 1987, Fox changed the station's call letters to WFXT and made a complete overhaul of the station's on-air presentation. At the time this occurred, WFXT became the seventh Fox-owned property and the first to be acquired separately from Murdoch's 1986 purchase of the Metromedia television station group which served as the foundation for the new network at the time. A similar sale happened in July 1997, when CBN spinoff International Family Entertainment, Inc. was sold to the Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. subsidiary of News Corporation, thus Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. changing its name to Fox Family Worldwide Inc. WFXT also became the first network owned-and-operated television station in New England. Besides adding The Late Show to the schedule, The 700 Club was cut to a once-a-day airing, and the daily broadcast of a Roman Catholic Mass was moved to an earlier timeslot. WXNE staff announcer Chris Clausen was let go in favor of the services of Fox affiliate voiceover Beau Weaver, who would remain with both the station and Fox Television Stations for over a decade (Clausen would eventually land on WNEV-TV, now WHDH, as principal announcer that September). The schedule, however, was largely unchanged at the outset, aside from the removal of several older sitcoms that soon resurfaced at WQTV (now WBPX-TV). On April 5, 1987, the Sunday evening religious programming block was finally discontinued, when the Fox network began carrying a primetime programming lineup on Sundays.
Over the next few years, WFXT was unable to acquire the better syndicated programs and continued to only get shows that WSBK, WLVI, and the market's network affiliates passed on. In addition to Fox programming, most of the shows added to WFXT's schedule were low-budget, first-run syndicated shows and cartoons.
In purchasing channel 25, Fox was granted a temporary waiver of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule prohibiting the common ownership of a television station and a newspaper in the same market as parent company News Corporation had also published the Boston Herald. In 1989, Fox placed WFXT in a trust company; the next year it sold the station outright to the Boston Celtics, who maintained the network affiliation while making WFXT the basketball team's flagship station. The station also gained a radio sister station, as the Celtics also purchased WEEI (then at 590 AM, now WEZE; now at 850 AM) at the same time. The Celtics, however, did not have the financial means to compete as a broadcaster. Still, under the Celtics, WFXT finally began to acquire stronger programming.
By 1992, WFXT was carried on many cable providers in areas of New England where Fox programming was not available. Locally, however, the station was still rated in third place (though not as distant as the CBN or early Fox days), behind WSBK and WLVI. Still, for a while under the Celtics' watch, WFXT was perceived to be in danger of losing its Fox affiliation. One of the instances was in the summer of 1994, when Westinghouse Broadcasting signed a deal to affiliate all of its stations with CBS, which caused WBZ-TV to drop NBC for CBS at the beginning of 1995. Existing CBS affiliate WHDH-TV was thus deciding between NBC and Fox, the latter of which its Miami sister station WSVN had been affiliated with since 1989. However, the Celtics soon began dropping hints about its intention to sell the station, including the shifting of the team's over-the-air telecasts to WSBK in 1993 (though WFXT officially stated that this was due to the difficulty of scheduling telecasts around the Fox lineup); furthermore, that October, Fox obtained an option to repurchase the station as part of a larger deal. News Corporation sold the Boston Herald in February 1994, opening the door for Fox to exercise the purchase option in mid-1995. WHDH ultimately signed with NBC (if WHDH had joined Fox, they would have only been allowed to carry up to two New England Patriots football games each year, as they are part of the AFC, while Fox has rights to the NFC; WHDH's affiliation with NBC allowed them to carry most Patriots games from 1995–97).
As the 1990s progressed, WFXT began phasing in more talk and reality programs. It continued running cartoons each weekday – later becoming the last station in the market that had ran a morning kids block – and sitcoms during the evening hours. WFXT was the television flagship of the Boston Red Sox for the baseball team's 2000 through 2002 seasons (before that and since then, WFXT would only carry the Red Sox if the game was being televised by Fox). WFXT is the only Boston television station that has never changed its network affiliation, having always been a Fox affiliate since the network's inception.
At one point, in 2006, the station was "tentatively planning" to air News Corporation-owned (and Fox sister network) MyNetworkTV weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. if the new network could not find a Boston area affiliate. On July 21, 2006, Derry, New Hampshire-based WZMY (now WBIN-TV) was announced as Boston's affiliate of MyNetworkTV (which began operations on September 5). WBIN's affiliation with MyNetworkTV ended in September 2011, and WSBK (a CBS-owned station that had shunned the network at its formation, and sister to WBZ-TV) took over the affiliation at that time. Before MyNetworkTV became a syndication package consisting solely of drama repeats, WFXT occasionally promoted that network's programming.
On October 12, 2007, Providence, Rhode Island's Fox affiliate, WNAC-TV, invoked the FCC's network non-duplication rule. This resulted in Comcast blacking out Fox primetime and sports programming from WFXT on its cable providers in Bristol County, Massachusetts. This change did not affect the airing of channel 25's syndicated programs or newscasts. On July 31, 2008, the Charter system in Westport also became subject to the blackouts; this contributed to its eventual removal from that system on September 23; WFXT is also not available on the Verizon FiOS in the Westport area.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|25.1||720p||16:9||WFXT DT||Main WFXT programming / Fox|
WFXT's analog signal began malfunctioning on November 1, 2008 as a result of a failing transmission line, forcing the station to reduce its power. By December 9, the transmission line had deteriorated to the point that the station reduced its power to the point that in most areas, viewers could then only receive the station via cable, satellite, and its digital signal. The station then began to state that the possibility existed that channel 25 could have to cease its analog broadcast ahead of the date for U.S. full-power stations to switch to broadcasting only digital signals, at that time February 17, 2009. In the end, the station's analog signal remained on the air even after that date (a result of the transition being delayed to June 12); however, after the transmission line continued to fail (to the extent that the station estimated the signal was only reaching 3% of its former coverage, with no signal at all at the station's studio facility), the station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 25, on February 27, 2009, becoming the second English-language major network station in Boston to switch to digital-exclusive broadcasts (WZMY-TV ceased analog broadcasting in December 2008) and the only Fox-owned station to terminate its analog signal prior to the new June 12 transition date. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 25.
Many Boston area residents had complained about poor reception of WFXT's digital signal compared to the other major local television stations. This was due to the fact that the transmitter previously operated at a reduced power output of 78 kW from an antenna mounted below one of the tines of the Candelabra. WFXT's vice president of engineering Bill Holbrook stated publicly that the digital signal would not reach full power until August 2009, when installation of a new antenna and transmitter was expected to be completed. However, the signal upgrades were completed in April 2009, giving WFXT a signal considered to be at par with the Boston market's other full-power stations. The new antenna and transmission feedline had been replaced two weeks earlier. The license to cover was filed April 23, 2009.
WFXT presently broadcasts 52 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 9½ hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays, and 2½ hours on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to locally produced newscasts, it is the largest newscast output of any station in the Boston television market and Massachusetts in general. During weather segments, the station uses live National Weather Service radar data, which originates from the Local Forecast Office in Taunton.
One of the few productive moves that WFXT made under the ownership of the Boston Celtics was entering into a news share agreement with regional cable news channel New England Cable News (NECN) to produce a 10 p.m. newscast, which debuted on September 7, 1993. The half-hour Fox 25 News at 10 was initially anchored by Heather Kahn, with Tim Kelley on weather. Kahn lasted a year and a half in this role before she was hired by ABC affiliate WCVB-TV; Lila Orbach replaced her on the newscast. In September 1994, NECN began to produce a midday newscast at 12:30 p.m. for channel 25, which was subsequently canceled.
WFXT opted not to renew its contract with NECN in September 1995, with the final broadcast airing on October 1; the next day, NECN moved the newscast to WSBK. For the next year, WFXT did not carry any local newscasts, and news programming consisted primarily of national updates supplied by Fox News that aired during the day. During this time, Fox Television Stations built an in-house news department for the station from scratch, culminating in the September 9, 1996 launch of a new 10 p.m. broadcast, initially branded as Fox News Boston before reviving the Fox 25 News title the following year. The 10 p.m. newscast has always aired for an hour from Monday—Saturday, but the Sunday newscast initially aired for a half-hour to accommodate a sports highlight show, Sports Sunday on Fox; that program ended on May 16, 2004, allowing WFXT to air an hour-long 10 p.m. newscast seven nights a week.
Over the next decade, channel 25 expanded its news operation gradually. On June 4, 2001, WFXT added a 4:30 p.m. newscast (making it the only Fox-owned station to date to have produced a newscast in the 4 p.m. timeslot) that was anchored by Jodi Applegate and was targeted at a female audience. By fall 2002, the program had moved to 5 p.m., and on September 22, 2003, it was expanded to an hour and began using the same anchors and a similar format as the 10 p.m. broadcast, as Applegate became co-anchor, along with former WHDH-TV sports director Gene Lavanchy, of a three-hour weekday morning newscast from 6 to 9 a.m., which launched the same day. One year later, Applegate left WFXT for New York City sister station WNYW to become co-anchor of Good Day New York and was replaced by former WHDH and WBZ-TV anchor Kim Carrigan. Concurrent with the debut of the morning newscast, WFXT unveiled a 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) newsroom similar to that of WHDH, which also serves as the station's news set; it remains in use to this day. Channel 25 also opened a news bureau on Beacon Hill near the state house in downtown Boston, which serves as an interview location for Massachusetts lawmakers as well as a home base for weekday morning commentator Doug "V.B." Goudie.
The station added an hour-long Sunday morning newscast at 9 a.m. on September 12, 2004; it was dropped in July 2009. On May 19, 2009, WFXT and CBS-owned duopoly WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV entered into a Local News Service agreement. The agreement allows the stations to share local news video, along with a helicopter for traffic reports and breaking news. On June 14, 2009, starting with its 10 p.m. newscast, WFXT became the last station in the Boston market to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition.
A Sunday-Friday night 11 p.m. newscast, which immediately follows the 10 p.m. news, was added on November 5, 2007; the weekday morning newscast has also expanded since its launch, and has aired from 4 to 10 a.m. since July 9, 2012. The 5 p.m. newscast, which consistently placed fourth in its timeslot, was discontinued in favor of a half-hour 6 p.m. newscast on September 14, 2009. The 6 p.m. newscast was expanded to one hour with the launch of an additional half-hour newscast at 6:30 p.m. on March 14, 2011; the new newscast is the only local newscast in Boston in the 6:30 p.m. timeslot. On July 7, 2012, WFXT launched an hour-long 6 p.m. newscast on Saturday and Sunday evenings; as is common with Fox stations that carry early evening newscasts on weekends, the newscast may be subject to delay or preemption due to Fox Sports telecasts. On October 7, 2013, WFXT relaunched its 5:00 p.m. newscast after a four-year hiatus; due to the shifts in its early evening newscast schedule, WFXT had been the only Fox O&O with a 6 p.m. newscast, but no 5 p.m. newscast. WFXT remains one of only three Fox O&Os without a midday newscast (along with WNYW in New York City and WOFL in Orlando).
WFXT's newscasts were commonly seen in a fictional sense within the universe of David E. Kelley's Boston-set shows Ally McBeal, Boston Public, and The Practice. They were all produced by Fox's television production division 20th Century Fox Television. This was despite The Practice airing on ABC.
- Fox 25 News at 10:00 (1993–1995)
- Fox News Boston (1996–1997)
- Fox 25 News (1997–present)
Current on-air staff
Anchors: Sorboni Banerjee (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.), Heather Hegedus (weekends at 6:00, 6:30 and 10:00 + Sundays at 11:00 p.m.), Gene Lavanchy (weekday mornings on "Fox 25 Morning News" from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), Shannon Mulaire (weekday mornings on "Fox 25 Morning News" from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), Melissa Mahan (weekends at 6:00, 6:30 and 10:00 + Sundays at 11:00 p.m.), Joy Lim Nakrin (weekday mornings on "Fox 25 Morning News" from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), Mark Ockerbloom (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.), and Maria Stephanos (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.). Vacant-Weekday mornings on "Fox 25 Morning News" from 4:00-10:00a.m.)
Weather team: Kevin Lemanowicz (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.), Jon Bellemore (freelance meteorologist; fill-in for all shifts), Shiri Spear (weekday mornings on "Fox 25 Morning News" from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), Sarah Wroblewski (weekends at 6:00, 6:30 and 10:00 + Sundays at 11:00 p.m.).
Sports team: Brendan Fitzgerald (also sports reporter)
General Assignment Reporters: Ted Daniel, Crystal Haynes, Jarrod Hollbrook (freelance reporter), Elizabeth Hopkins (weekday morning reporter from 4:00-10:00 a.m.; also fill-in anchor), Nicole Jacobs, Catherine Parrotta (weekday morning reporter from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), Sharman Sacchetti, Sara Underwood (freelance reporter; also fill-in anchor) Bob Ward (also fill-in anchor).
Specialty reporters are Mike Beaudet (investigative reporter; also fill-in anchor), Doug "V.B." Goudie (weekday morning commentator from 4:00-10:00 a.m.), and Jim Polito (weeknight commentator at 5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 10:00, 11:00 p.m.).
Notable former on-air staff
- Jodi Applegate - anchor (2001-2004)
- Steve Aveson - anchor (2000-2002; now at New England Cable News)
- A.J. Burnett - weather anchor (2004-2012; now at WCSH in Portland, Maine)
- Pete Bouchard - meteorologist (now at WHDH-TV)
- Kim Carrigan - morning anchor (2004-2012)
- Bianca de la Garza - anchor (now at WCVB-TV)
- Cindy Fitzgibbon - morning meteorologist (now at WCVB-TV)
- Erin Hawksworth - reporter
- Dan Jaehnig - weekend anchor (now at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island)
- Anqunette Jamison - (now at WJBK in Detroit)
- Frank Mallicoat - anchor (2007-2011; now at KPIX-TV in San Francisco)
- Doug Meehan - traffic reporter
- Adam Pellerin - anchor (now at New England Sports Network)
- Debbi Rodman - reporter (2000-2009)
- Butch Stearns - sports director (1999-2009)
- David Wade - anchor (now at WBZ-TV)
- McLean, Robert (October 7, 1997). "Television & Radio: Ch. 25 debut awaits cue from FCC". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "7th TV Outlet For Murdoch". The New York Times. August 16, 1986. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
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- Neff, Andrew (November 5, 1993). "Channel 38 to televise Celts’ home games". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
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- RabbitEars TV Query for WFXT
- Movies!: Where to Watch
- Bray, Hiawatha (December 17, 2008). "Fox outlet may be forced to drop analog early". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
- Alex Pham, Jim Puzzanghera (February 5, 2009). "House votes to delay digital TV transition by four months". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 23, 2009.
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- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WFXT Adding an Hour of News at 5:00 p.m. TVNewsCheck, September 5th, 2013.
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- Biddle, Frederick M. (September 7, 1994). "Daytime shuffle cuts some talk shows". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 1, 2011. (subscription content preview)
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- Greenidge, Jim (August 4, 1996). "Channel 25 getting in on the game". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 19, 2013. (subscription content preview)
- Griffith, Bill (May 7, 2004). "That's a wrap at Fox". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- Jurkowitz, Mark (June 5, 2001). "Applegate launches Fox's 4:30 newscast". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2011. (subscription content preview)
- Ryan, Suzzanne C. (September 18, 2003). "The morning jolt". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- "Applegate Polishes Big Apple". Broadcasting & Cable. October 17, 2004. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- Jurkowitz, Mark (August 13, 2004). "WFXT sets Sunday news show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2011. (subscription content preview)
- Malone, Michael, "WFXT, WBZ to Share in Boston: Fox and CBS do a deal in No. 7 DMA", Broadcasting & Cable, May 19, 2009
- WFXT Expands Morning, Weekend Newscasts
- FOX 25 to Launch 6:30 PM News
- Biographies of WFXT reporters and meteorologists – WFXT website