||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Tampa–St. Petersburg, Florida|
|City of license||Tampa, Florida|
|Branding||Fox 13 (general)
Fox 13 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||The Most Powerful Name in Local News (primary)
We've Got You Covered (secondary)
|Channels||Digital: 12 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(New World Communications of Tampa, Inc.)
|First air date||April 1, 1955|
|Call letters' meaning||Dual meaning:
Walter Tison and
(original owner and his wife)
TeleVision for Tampa
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
13 (VHF, 1955–2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1955–1994)|
|Transmitter power||72.3 kW (digital)|
|Height||436 m (digital)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WTVT, channel 13, is a Fox owned-and-operated television station in Tampa, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of the News Corporation. WTVT's studios are located on West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, and its transmitter is located in Riverview, Florida.
As a CBS affiliate
The station first started broadcasting on April 1, 1955 as a CBS affiliate owned by Tampa Bay radio veteran Walter Tison and his Tampa Television Company. It was the third station in Tampa Bay, behind WSUN-TV (channel 38, frequency now occupied by WTTA) and WFLA-TV (channel 8). WTVT is also the second-oldest surviving station in the market, behind WFLA. The station's call letters stand for the initials of Walter Tison and his wife, Virginia. Like many other stations located on "unlucky" channel 13, WTVT used a black cat as its mascot for several years.
Originally, the Federal Communications Commission awarded the channel 13 license to the Tampa Times, a now-defunct newspaper which owned WDAE radio (then on 1250 AM). However, the FCC reversed itself and awarded the station to the Tison group, who intended to open a studio in nearby St. Petersburg. The Times appealed the FCC's decision, but lost.
In 1956, the Tampa Television Company merged with the Oklahoma Publishing Company of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Publishing's broadcast subsidiary, the WKY Television System, would later be known as Gaylord Broadcasting, named for the family who owned the company (Gaylord also owned what is now CBS-owned KTVT in Fort Worth, but the "TVT" base callsign was only a coincidence).
Gaylord poured its resources into channel 13's news operation. In 1958, WTVT became the second station in the country to introduce daily editorials, and was also the first station in the country to run an hour-long news block, consisting of 45 minutes of local news (under the title Pulse) combined with the then-15-minute network newscast. By 1962, WTVT had overtaken WFLA-TV as the highest-rated station in the Tampa Bay market, retaining that position for over 25 years. This was largely because of the longevity of many of the station's personalities. For instance, Roy Leep was the station's weatherman from 1957 until 1997, and Hugh Smith was the station's main anchor from 1963 to 1991, spending most of that time doubling as news director. Channel 13 dropped the Pulse moniker from its newscasts in 1989, renaming the news branding Channel 13 Eyewitness News (later becoming Fox 13 Eyewitness News in 1996, before the Eyewitness News brand was dropped altogether in 1997).
The station's remote broadcast facilities were chosen for network pool coverage of Alan Shepard's (1961) and John Glenn's (1962) Mercury capsule splashdowns. The mobile unit recorded the recoveries on videotapes that were flown to the mainland.
In 1987, WTVT was sold to Gillett Communications. Gillett underwent a corporate restructuring in the early 1990s, changing its name to GCI Broadcast Services, Inc. In 1993, GCI filed for bankruptcy, and its stations (including WTVT) were sold to New World Communications. By that time, WTVT was pre-empting CBS This Morning for a locally-produced morning newscast, as well as pre-empting all but one hour of the network's Saturday morning cartoons.
As a Fox station
In December 1993, the Fox Broadcasting Company won the broadcast rights to air games from the NFL's National Football Conference beginning with the NFL's 1994 season, taking the rights from CBS. As a result, Fox sought for more affiliates on the VHF band, and signed a long term deal with New World, switching most of its stations, including WTVT, to Fox. WTVT switched to Fox in December 1994, ending its CBS affiliation after 39 years. This resulted in a three-way affiliation swap that resulted in former Fox affiliate WFTS (channel 28) affiliating with ABC as part of a deal between the station's owner, the E. W. Scripps Company and ABC, while longtime ABC affiliate WTSP (channel 10) became a CBS affiliate.
The switch allowed WTVT to continue broadcasting the majority of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, as they were (and still are) part of the NFC. However, largely due to the team's losing record at the time, Buccaneers home games were rarely shown locally. Once the Buccaneers began to build a winning team in the late 1990s, along with a new look and stadium, blackouts decreased and sellouts increased, thus increasing the number of games shown on WTVT. After changing networks, WTVT increased its local news programming to almost 50 hours each week. At one point, WTVT aired more hours of local news than any other station in the country. It chose not to renew the more expensive syndicated programming it had run while a CBS affiliate, running cheaper first-run syndicated talk and reality shows instead.
Fox bought most of the New World stations in 1997, making WTVT a Fox owned-and-operated station. Under Fox ownership, the station added more higher-profile syndicated shows and a few off-network sitcoms to its lineup, and changed its on-air branding to "Fox 13". WTVT is the third station in Tampa Bay to be affiliated with Fox, as WTOG was affiliated with the network first before reverting to an independent station in 1988. However, WTVT still uses "New World Communications of Tampa Bay" as the copyright tag at the end of the station's newscasts.
In June 2009, WTVT interviewed late television pitchman Billy Mays shortly before his death. His interview, which was conducted at the Tampa International Airport, is believed to have been his final appearance on live television.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||720p||16:9||WTVT DT||Main WTVT programming / Fox|
WTVT shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009, as part of the digital television transition. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 12, using PSIP to display WTVT's virtual channel as 13.
WTVT presently broadcasts 60 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (ten hours on weekdays and five hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in the Tampa market, and the third-highest in the United States (behind Miami's Fox affiliate WSVN, which broadcasts 63 hours of newscasts, and WTVT's Detroit sister station WJBK, which broadcasts 63½ hours of newscasts weekly). As is typical for Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WTVT's Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption or delay due to sports coverage.
WTVT was also one of the first to use computer graphics in weather forecasts in the late-1970s, originally called "Weathervision" (no relation to the weather reporting company of the same name). WTVT was the first television station in Florida to utilize weather radar, and has made many advancements with the technology. In 2005, the station launched SkyTower OMNI, combining the already existing SkyTower radar system with OMNI and VIPIR technology, which is also used by competitor WFLA-TV and the cable-only news channel Bay News 9. On May 25, 2006, the station's radar increased its operating power and was renamed "SkyTower HD VIPIR."  The station also has the most meteorologists on a news team (in the market), with five meteorologists, and the only station (in the nation) with all of them certified by the American Meteorological Society. In addition, Andy Johnson has served since 1998 as the President of the West Central Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society.
When WTVT became a Fox affiliate in 1994, the station placed more emphasis on its local newscasts; in addition to the two hours added to its morning newscast in the 7-9 a.m. slot shortly while still a CBS affiliate, the 6 p.m. newscast expanded from 30 minutes to one hour on weekdays and the half-hour 11 p.m. newscast moved to 10 p.m. and expanded into an hour-long program.
The station's morning newscast is Good Day Tampa Bay, which airs weekdays from 4:30–10:00 a.m. and weekends from 6:00–9:00 a.m. The show started on September 12, 1994, three months before WTVT became a Fox affiliate. WTVT and WFLA-TV are chief competitors for the number one newscast in the Tampa Bay Area. Good Day Tampa Bay regularly serves as the highest-rated morning newscast in the market, and its 5 p.m. newscasts also places first in that timeslot. NewsEdge at 11:00 is statistically tied with WFTS for the lowest-rated newscast for that time period, although WTVT does have a 10:00 p.m. newscast with significantly higher ratings without any competition in the market.
On December 12, 2005, WTVT resumed an 11 p.m. newscast for the first time since it joined Fox, with the launch of NewsEdge at 11:00; the debut of the program also introduced a new logo (which retains the numeric "13" which has been part of the station's logo since 1989), that is similar to that used by Fox News Channel, although the station did not switch to it full-time until February 2006. The station was the first Fox-owned station to use this logo style, which was gradually pushed to its sister stations during 2006 and 2007.
On March 20, 2009, Fox decided to launch a graphics hub at the WTVT studios to produce graphics and media for Fox's owned-and-operated stations beginning that summer. In April 2009, Fox entered into a partnership with the E. W. Scripps Company in which its owned-and-operated stations in Tampa, Detroit and Phoenix will share news video and helicopter footage to Scripps-owned television stations in those three markets for use in their own reports. WTVT partnered with WFTS as part of the Local News Service agreement, although all other news department functions at both stations remain separate. Gannett Company-owned WTSP also became part of the news service agreement in June 2009. Prior to the LNS agreement, WTVT had been the only station in the Tampa market to use two news helicopters: the first helicopter is a Bell 206 called "SkyFox", while the second is a Robinson R44 called "SkyFox 2", which was used whenever SkyFox is grounded for mechanical reasons. When warranted, both helicopters were used to cover significant news stories. WTVT, WFTS, and WTSP now utilize only one helicopter (Action Air One) to cover news events.
On June 30, 2009, starting with its 5 p.m. newscast, WTVT became the fourth broadcast television station in the Tampa market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. Until December 2009, WTVT was one of two stations in the market to have two women regularly anchoring a newscast; Denise White and Kathy Fountain anchored the 5 p.m. news until Kathy Fountain's retirement on December 30, 2009. Wendy Ryan and Linda Hurtado, anchors of the 5 p.m. news on WFTS, were the other all-female anchor team.
In 1997, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre began work on a story regarding the agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a milk additive that had been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration but also blamed for a number of health issues. Wilson and Akre planned a four-part investigative report on Monsanto's use of rBGH, which prompted Monsanto to write to Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel in an attempt to have the report reviewed for bias and because of the "enormous damage that can be done" as a result of the report.
WTVT did not run the story, and later argued in court that the report was not "breakthrough journalism." Wilson and Akre then claimed that Monsanto's actions constituted the news broadcast telling lies, while WTVT countered looking only for fairness. Wilson and Akre stated that they rewrote the report over 80 times over the course of 1997, and WTVT decided to exercise "its option to terminate their employment contracts without cause," and did not renew their contracts in 1998. WTVT later ran a report about Monsanto and rBGH in 1998, and the report included defenses from Monsanto.
After Wilson and Akre's contracts were not renewed, they filed a lawsuit concerning WTVT's "news distortion" under Florida's whistleblower laws, claiming their termination was retaliation for "resisting WTVT's attempts to distort or suppress the BGH story." In a joint statement, Wilson claimed that he and Akre "were repeatedly ordered to go forward and broadcast demonstrably inaccurate and dishonest versions of the story," and "were given those instructions after some very high-level corporate lobbying by Monsanto (the powerful drug company that makes the hormone) and also ... by members of Florida’s dairy and grocery industries." The trial commenced in summer 2000 with a jury dismissing all of the claims brought to trial by Wilson, but siding with one aspect of Akre's complaint, awarding Akre $425000 and agreeing that Akre was a whistleblower because she believed there were violations of the Communications Act of 1934 and because she planned on reporting WTVT to the Federal Communications Commission. Reason magazine, referring to the case, noted that Akre's argument in the trial was that Akre and Wilson believed news distortion occurred, but that they did not have to prove this was the case.
An appeal was filed, and a ruling in February 2003 came down in favor of WTVT, who successfully argued that the FCC policy against falsification was not a "law, rule, or regulation", and so the whistle-blower law did not qualify as the required "law, rule, or regulation" under section 448.102.... Because the FCC's news distortion policy is not a "law, rule, or regulation" under section 448.102, Akre has failed to state a claim under the whistle-blower's statute." The appeal did not address any falsification claims, noting that "as a threshold matter... Akre failed to state a claim under the whistle-blower's statute," but noted that the lower court ruled against all of Wilson's charges and all of Akre's claims with the exception of the whistleblower claim that was overturned.
- Newsroom (1955–1958)
- Pulse (1958–1980)
- Pulse 13 News (1980–1989)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News (1989–1996)
- Fox 13 Eyewitness News (1996–1997)
- Fox 13 News (1997–present)
- "Big 13, Where News Comes First!" (1983–1985)
- "News Comes First/People Make the Difference" (1985–1989)
- "Your 24-Hour News Source" (1989–1994)
- "Coverage You Can Count On"/"Florida's News Leader" (1989–1997; primary news slogan)
- "We've Got You Covered" (2004–present)
Current on-air staff
WTVT's primary news anchors are Deborah Bowden (weekends at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.; also weeknight reporter); Tom Curran (weekday mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay (4:30-6 a.m.); Anne Dwyer (weekday mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay (6-10 a.m.); Laura Moody (weekday mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay from 4:30-6 a.m.); Kristin Wright (weekend mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay from 6-9 a.m.; also reporter); Russell Rhodes (weekday mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay from 6-10 a.m.); Kelly Ring (weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.); Cynthia Smoot (weeknights at 11 p.m.); Lloyd Sowers (weekends at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.; also weeknight reporter); Denise White (weekdays at noon and 5 p.m.); John Wilson (weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.; sons are 11 p.m. anchor Mark Wilson and actor Patrick Wilson); and Mark Wilson (weeknights at 5 and 11 p.m.).
The FOX 13 SkyTower Omni weather team includes chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weeknights at 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m.); and meteorologists Dave Osterberg (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekday mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay from 4:30-10 a.m.); Jim Weber (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekdays at noon); and Lindsay Milbourne (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekend mornings on Good Day Tampa Bay from 6-9 a.m.).
The station's sports team includes sports director Chip Carter (Monday-Thursdays at 5 and Sunday-Thursdays at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.; also fill-in news anchor), sports anchor Chris Field (Fridays at 5, and Fridays and Saturdays at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.) and sports reporter and fill-in sports anchor Kevin O'Donnell.
The station's general assignment reporters are Tanya Arja; Jeremy Campbell; Josh Cascio; Stef DePietranontio; Gloria Gomez; April Kellogg (weekday morning reporter); Anjuli Lohn (multimedia journalist); Peter Linton-Smith (Pasco County reporter); Anthony Miller; Steve Nichols (Pinellas County reporter); Alcides Segui; Ken Suarez (Polk County reporter). Specialty reporters are Charley Belcher ("Charley's World" feature reporter and entertainment reporter); Chris Chmura (consumer reporter); Jennifer Epstein (weekday morning traffic analyst); Dr. Joette Giovinco ("Dr. Jo") (medical reporter); Craig Patrick (political editor); Geoff Simon (financial advisor); and Doug Smith (investigative reporter; also fill-in anchor). Alan "Captain Al" Taylor (also with WFTS) serves as helicopter pilot/reporter. Doug Luzader serves as Washington D.C. correspondent for Fox News.
Notable former on-air staff
- Sharyl Attkisson - reporter (1988–1992; now at CBS News)
- Bob Breck – meteorologist (1970s)
- Joe Collum – reporter (1982–1984)
- Bill Keneely – meteorologist (1980–1982)
- Rod Challenger – 11 p.m. news anchor (1975–1978)
- Colin Cowherd - weekend sports anchor (1994–1996; now at ESPN Radio)
- Tom Dunn - anchor/reporter (1962–1964; deceased)
- Don Harris - reporter (1964–1968)
- Jack Harris - afternoon host, Pulse Plus (1984-1989)
- Roy Leep - chief meteorologist (1957–1997; retired)
- Tom Martino - reporter (1980s; moved to KDVR)
- John Nicholson – 11 p.m. news anchor (1978–1982)
- Frank Robertson - anchor (1988–2009)
- Kerry Sanders - reporter (1986–1991; now at NBC News)
- Hugh Smith - anchor (1963–1991; deceased)
- Steve Wilson - investigative reporter (later at WXYZ in Detroit, now runs an investigative reporting service)
- Jessica Yellin - reporter (1999–2001) now at CNN)
- Tony Zappone - news correspondent (1965 and 1976–1982)
- WTVT Eyewitness News History Promos 1992
- WTVT Fox Tampa 5PM Open
- "NBC Gets Final N.F.L. Contract While CBS Gets Its Sundays Off". The New York Times. December 21, 1993. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- Mulaire, Sharon (June 28, 2009). "Billy Mays' Final Interview". Fox 13 My Fox Tampa Bay. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
- Fox O&Os, Weigel Launch Movies! Digi-Net, Broadcasting & Cable, January 28, 2013.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- CDBS Print<! – Bot generated title – >
- Official MyFox Tampa Bay page.
- Florida News Center: "EXCLUSIVE: WTVT to house centralized Fox O&O graphics", 3/20/2009.
- Fox, Scripps to Pool News in 3 Markets, TVNewsCheck, April 1, 2009.
- Next To News Share: Tampa, L.A., TVNewsCheck, June 2, 2009.
- Reason: "The Strange Case of Steve Wilson," John Sugg, May 2006 issue.
- New World Communs. of Tampa, Inc. v. Akre, 866 So. 2d 1231(2003)
- Reason, May 2006.
- New World Communs. of Tampa, Inc. v. Akre, 866 So. 2d 1231(2003)
- Prepared Statement: Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, 2 April 1998. URL accessed 8 April 2010.
- WTVT Personalities, MyFoxTampaBay.com, Accessed May 25, 2013.
- MyFoxTampaBay.com - Official website
- Historical archives Old promos, show opens, and more from the WTVT archives
- MyFoxHurricane.com (Hurricane Season website)
- MyFoxTampaBay on Facebook - Official page
- Local News Stations Wiki: WTVT
- WTVT Historical Site A historical site dedicated to WTVT's former CBS affiliation.
- Website about Monsanto controversy
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTVT