WMTW

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WMTW
WMTW8.png
Poland Spring/Portland/
Lewiston, Maine
City of license Poland Spring
Branding WMTW Channel 8 (general)
WMTW News 8 (newscasts)
Slogan Maine's Total
Weather & News
Channels Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Subchannels 8.1 ABC
8.2 AccuWeather
Translators 26 (UHF) Portland
Network ABC
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Properties, Inc.)
First air date September 25, 1954
Call letters' meaning MounT Washington
Sister station(s) WMUR-TV, WCVB-TV,
WPTZ/WNNE
Former callsigns WMTW-TV (1954-2007)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
8 (VHF, 1954-2009)
Digital: 46 (UHF)
Translators:
26 W26CQ Colebrook, NH
27 W27CP White River Junction, VT
Former affiliations DuMont (secondary, 1954-1955)
Transmitter power 29.8 kW
Height 605 m
Class DT
Facility ID 73288
Transmitter coordinates 43°50′44.2″N 70°45′40.8″W / 43.845611°N 70.761333°W / 43.845611; -70.761333
Website wmtw.com

WMTW is the ABC-affiliated television station for Northern New Hampshire and Southern Maine. Licensed to Poland Spring, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter in West Baldwin. Owned by Hearst Television, the station has studios on Ledgeview Drive in Westbrook (building shared with CW affiliate WPXT and MyNetworkTV outlet WPME but WMTW's operations are physically separate). Syndicated programming on the station includes Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Steve Harvey among others.

It operates a low-powered digital fill-in translator (on UHF channel 26 or virtual channel 8.1 via PSIP) from the Time and Temperature Building in downtown Portland's Monument Square. The translator serves the immediate part of Portland and some surrounding areas to serve viewers that have difficulty receiving the main signal. WMTW shares common coverage areas with three other Hearst sister stations in New England: fellow ABC affiliates WCVB-TV in Boston and WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire as well as NBC affiliate WNNE in Hartford, Vermont (a semi-satellite of WPTZ in Plattsburgh, New York).

History[edit]

WMTW-TV signed-on September 25, 1954 as the third television station in the Portland market. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 8 under the ownership of Mount Washington Television, a group that included former Maine Governor Horace Hildreth. [1] It has always been an ABC affiliate although it aired some DuMont programming for a year. The station's sign-on made Portland one of the smallest markets in the United States with three network affiliates on the analog VHF band. WMTW is also the longest-tenured primary ABC affiliate in New England.

The station originally broadcast from a transmitter on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest peak in the northeastern United States. This gave WMTW one of the largest coverage areas of any station east of the Mississippi River. In addition to its main coverage area of Southern Maine and Northern New Hampshire, it could also be seen in parts of New York State, Massachusetts, and Vermont. The station also had significant viewership across the Canadian border in Montreal, a city with almost five times the population of WMTW's American coverage area.

As a result, WMTW was considered to be the ABC affiliate of record for northern Vermont, northeastern New York State, and Montreal[citation needed][dubious ] until WVNY signed-on from Burlington, Vermont in 1968. However, for some time afterward, WMTW continued to have a large audience in that area (despite being difficult to receive over-the-air due to co-channel interference from Ottawa station CJOH-TV's repeater in Cornwall, Ontario) and stayed on most Montreal cable systems until the early-1990s.

The station's transmitter tower on Mount Washington had been originally designed in 1940 by Edwin Armstrong for one of the first FM radio stations in the country. WMTW built a new tower there in the 1960s but Armstrong's tower remained as a standby. Mount Washington Television sold the station to former Tonight Show host Jack Paar in 1963. [2] Initially barred from appearing on WMTW due to contractual obligations with NBC, [2] he later hosted several programs on the station including a Thursday night movie feature. In 1967, Paar sold WMTW to Mid New York Broadcasting [3] which changed its name to Harron Communications a decade later. [4] [5]

WMTW had to leave Mount Washington in 2002 due to the Federal Communications Commission's digital television mandate. The FCC required analog stations to broadcast alongside the digital counterparts until 80% of the viewing audience could watch the digital signal. Had WMTW-DT been built on the mountain, it would have had to operate at low power due to the lack of commercial electric power (in fact, Harron was legally the power company on the mountain). A low-powered signal would have resulted in an inadequate signal for Portland and the more populated areas of the market. As a result, WMTW built a new tower in West Baldwin and signed-off from Mount Washington for the last time on February 5, 2002.

Obviously, the new transmitter site does not serve as large an area as the Mount Washington tower did but it provides a better signal to the highly populated areas. Despite WMTW's departure, two FM stations continue to occupy separate broadcast facilities on the top of the mountain. Harron announced in December 2003 that it was exiting broadcasting [6] and the station was sold to Hearst-Argyle Television a few months later. [7] In 2007, WMTW dropped its longtime use of the -TV suffix which had been the case since its inception. On June 12, 2009, it remained on VHF channel 8 when the analog to digital conversion was completed. [8] [9] Until 2009, WCVB in Boston served as the flagship station of the New England Patriots Preseason Television Network which allowed WMTW and WMUR to be part of the network. Even though WBZ-TV became the flagship outlet for games, WMTW and WMUR continue to simulcast games which results in ABC programming being preempted. [10] [11]

Sister radio stations[edit]

Several radio stations have been co-owned with WMTW. The first, on 94.9 FM, was co-owned with the television station from the radio station's launch in 1958 until 1971. This is now WHOM and continues to transmit from Mount Washington. The other two, on 870 AM in Gorham and 106.7 FM in North Windham, served first as news-talk stations and later as all-news stations and were also simulcast on WLAM-AM 1470 in Lewiston. The three stations, branded as "Newsradio WMTW", aired and produced local news and talk programs as well as simulcasts of WMTW-TV's newscasts and the now-defunct news radio service of the Associated Press.

The "Newsradio WMTW" stations were sold by Harron Communications to Nassau Broadcasting Partners in 2003. Soon after taking over, Nassau discontinued the format. The 870 frequency is now WLVP and simulcasts an oldies format with WLAM while 106.7 FM is now WXTP, a Catholic radio station. An earlier WMTW-FM was not connected to WMTW-TV (having predated the station by several years) apart from also transmitting from Mount Washington.

Digital television[edit]

It offers The Local AccuWeather Channel on a second digital subchannel. Known as "News 8 Now", programming consists of a loop of local weather forecast segments as well as regional and national coverage from AccuWeather. There is a live feed of the National Weather Service's Doppler weather radar (based at the Local Forecast Office in Gray) as well as local news and sports headlines. In addition, several public service announcements and station promotions are seen. WMTW-DT2 can also be seen on Time Warner Cable and Comcast digital channel 165.

Channel Name Video Aspect Programming
8.1 WMTW-HD 1080i 16:9 Main WMTW programming / ABC
8.2 NEWS8NW 480i 4:3 News 8 Now

Repeaters[edit]

In 2005, WMTW activated two analog repeaters. This included W26CQ channel 26 in Colebrook, New Hampshire (transmitter was northeast of town in Coleman State Park) and W27CP channel 27 in White River Junction, Vermont (transmitter was in the Mascoma section of Lebanon, New Hampshire) to make up for lost coverage when it signed-off from Mount Washington. Under normal conditions, these translators should have been built before WMTW moved off the mountain in order to comply with FCC regulations. However, construction was delayed almost four years because the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had to agree to the proposed tower locations for the translators.

Colebrook is part of the Portland market but White River Junction is considered to be part of the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York market. The latter location is within the coverage area of WNNE. Although that station's transmitter is located on Mount Ascutney (well south of White River Junction), it formerly operated a repeater of its own from Lebanon (transmitter was west of town on Crafts Hill). FCC regulations do not usually allow two or more stations from two or more different markets have coverage of the same location (in this case, White River Junction). This rule, however, does not apply to repeaters. Incidentally, White River Junction is within the fringe area of another Hearst sister station, WMUR-TV.

Both WMTW repeaters were sold to New Hampshire Public Television in 2009. [12] W27CP went silent on July 15 after losing the lease on its tower [13] while W26CQ was shut down by Hearst on September 2 in preparation for the sale. [14] The latter transmitter returned as an NHPTV relay on November 4. [15] W27CP never returned to the air and its broadcasting license was canceled by the FCC on September 14, 2011. [16] More recently, WMTW obtained a construction permit for a translator in Portland on UHF channel 26. [17] On April 26, 2010, the station filed a license to cover for the new translator which was granted by the FCC on June 1. This essentially allowed it to officially sign-on. [18]

News operation[edit]

WMTW News 8 open seen every morning.

For most of its history, its newscasts have ranked third in the ratings behind longtime dominant WCSH and runner up WGME-TV. However, in more recent years it has waged a spirited battle with WGME for second place behind WCSH and has been virtually neck-and-neck with WGME in several key sweeps periods. Compared with the market's other two big three stations, the newscasts on WMTW tend to air in a more fast-paced format. In addition to its main studios, the station operates an administrative/sales office and news bureau on Danville Corner Road in Auburn (along I-95/Maine Turnpike).

In an attempt to take on WCSH and WGME in order to become more competitive, WMTW adapted its news department to appeal to change in viewer habits. It added a weekend morning show on January 2, 2010 offering an alternative to WCSH. Prior to this addition, the station only aired local weather cut-ins during the weekend edition of Good Morning America.

On September 18, 2012, WMTW upgraded local news production to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. WMTW does does not currently offer newscasts in full high definition whereas competitors WCSH and WGME do. On September 9, 2013, WMTW launched a sixty minute newscast weeknights at 5. [19] To coincide with the news expansion, WMTW moved Dr. Phil from 5 o'clock to the 3 p.m. time slot replacing The Ricki Lake Show (which had been cancelled). It also debuted a new logo (very similar to fellow ABC outlet WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut) and introduced an updated corporate graphics package from Hearst Television.

Through an exclusive partnership with Time Warner Cable, WMTW operates a 24-hour cable news station throughout the market. Known on-air as "WMTW All News Channel", this service replays local newscasts seen on the main broadcast channel in a continuous loop. It does not simulcast live shows that air on the main station; instead, the cable channel displays a slide directing viewers to the main station. "WMTW All News Channel" was originally on analog channel 9 but, on May 5, 2009, it became available exclusively on the provider's digital tier. WMTW added The Local AccuWeather Channel on August 30, 2007 after launching a new second digital subchannel over-the-air. This competed with a similar national service, NBC Weather Plus, provided locally by WCSH until December 31, 2008. That station continues to offer a loop of local news headlines and weather forecast segments on its own digital subchannel.

On April 16, 2014, it was announced that WMTW would be moving its news operation from the Time and Temperature Building to a broadcast-ready facility in Westbrook. The studio space was formally used by WPXT for its own in house news operation that folded in the early-2000s. [20] The rest of its operations will relocate from Auburn to Westbrook at a later date. [21] WMTW began originating its newscasts from the renovated facility on October 4.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Telecasting Yearbook-Marketbook 1955-56 (PDF). 1955. p. 138. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Marsters, Jack (October 11, 1963). "Jack Paar Buys WMTW-TV". The Gazette (Montreal). p. 6. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Bits of Show Business". The Milwaukee Journal. November 10, 1967. p. 15. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 (PDF). 1977. p. A-40. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  5. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1978 (PDF). 1978. p. A-37. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Family-run Maine TV station put up for sale". Associated Press via Bangor Daily News. December 20, 2003. p. B5. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Company Briefs". The New York Times. January 27, 2004. p. C4. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  8. ^ http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20090206-NEWS-90206017
  9. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
  10. ^ http://www.patriots.com/news/article-1/Patriots-Preseason-TV-Network/55dcbd20-37f6-49d3-883e-be126b6c1919
  11. ^ http://www.patriots.com/news/article-1/Patriots-at-Redskins-Broadcast-Information/9e6ab076-749e-42f4-94b3-1fbb237dc728
  12. ^ "APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF CONTROL OF A CORPORATE LICENSEE OR PERMITTEE, OR FOR ASSIGNMENT OF LICENSE OR PERMIT OF TV OR FM TRANSLATOR STATION OR LOW POWER TELEVISION STATION". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. June 18, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Notification of Suspension of Operations / Request for Silent STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. August 10, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Notification of Suspension of Operations". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. August 31, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Broadcasting of NHPTV Signal Expected to Switch From Channel 18 to Channel 26 on Nov. 4" (Press release). New Hampshire Public Television. October 29, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Re: W27CP, White River Junction, VT". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved October 13, 2011. 
  17. ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/prefill_and_display.pl?Application_id=1329863&Service=LD&Form_id=346&Facility_id=73288
  18. ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/prefill_and_display.pl?Application_id=1363786&Service=LD&Form_id=347&Facility_id=73288
  19. ^ WMTW To Add News at 5:00 p.m. TVSpy, August 14, 2013.
  20. ^ http://www.pressherald.com/2014/04/18/wmtw_moving_to_studio_occupied_by_wpme__wpxt_/
  21. ^ WMTW to move from downtown Portland to Westbrook Leslie Bridgers, Portland Press Herald, April 16, 2014

External links[edit]