|Poland Spring - Portland -
|City||Poland Spring, Maine|
|Branding||WMTW Channel 8 (general)
WMTW News 8 (newscasts)
Weather & News
|Channels||Digital: 8 (VHF/PSIP)|
8.2 Heroes & Icons
|Translators||26 (UHF) Portland|
(Hearst Properties, Inc.)
|First air date||September 25, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||MounT Washington
(site of station's original transmitter)
|Former channel number(s)||8 (VHF analog, 1954–2009)
46 (UHF digital, until 2009)
|Former affiliations||DuMont (secondary, 1954–1955)|
|Transmitter power||29.8 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WMTW, channel 8, is an ABC-affiliated television station, licensed to Poland Spring, Maine, United States, and serving the Portland, Maine television market. WMTW is owned by the broadcasting subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation and has its studios in Westbrook, Maine (the building shared with CW affiliate WPXT and MyNetworkTV outlet WPME) and transmitter in West Baldwin, Maine. WMTW also 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-owned sister stations in New England: fellow ABC affiliates WCVB-TV in Boston and WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire; and NBC affiliate WNNE in Hartford, Vermont (a semi-satellite of WPTZ in Plattsburgh, New York).
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|8.1||1080i||16:9||WMTW-HD||Main WMTW programming / ABC|
|8.2||480i||4:3||NEWS8NW||Heroes & Icons|
WMTW-TV signed-on September 25, 1954 as the third television station in the Portland market and under the ownership of Mount Washington Television, a group that included former Maine Governor Horace Hildreth. It has always been an ABC affiliate although it aired some DuMont programming in its first 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, viewers in Vermont, northeastern New York state and Montreal were able to watch the full ABC schedule on WMTW.
The Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York market got its own ABC affiliate when Channel 22 WVNY signed-on from Burlington 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). WMTW 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 Major 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. Initially barred from appearing on WMTW due to contractual obligations with NBC, he later hosted several programs on the station including a Thursday night movie feature. In 1967, Paar sold WMTW to Mid New York Broadcasting  which changed its name to Harron Communications a decade later.
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 their 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  and the station was sold to Hearst-Argyle Television a few months later. In 2007, WMTW dropped its longtime use of the -TV suffix which had been the case since its inception. WMTW's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009. 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.
WNTW offered The Local AccuWeather Channel along with local news and sports briefs on a second digital subchannel 8.2. Known as "News 8 Now", programming consisted of a loop of local weather forecast segments as well as regional and national coverage from AccuWeather. There was 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 were seen. As of March 2015 this service was replaced by Heroes & Icons, a classic TV network. WMTW-DT2 can also be seen on Time Warner Cable and Comcast digital channel 165.
Sister radio stations
Several radio stations have been co-owned with WMTW. The first, 94.9 WHOM was co-owned with the television station from the radio station's launch in 1958 until 1971. WHOM, now owned by Townsquare Media, 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.
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. W27CP went silent on July 15 after losing the lease on its tower  while W26CQ was shut down by Hearst on September 2 in preparation for the sale. The latter transmitter returned as an NHPTV relay on November 4. W27CP never returned to the air and its broadcasting license was canceled by the FCC on September 14, 2011. More recently, WMTW obtained a construction permit for a translator in Portland on UHF channel 26. 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.
For most of its history, its newscasts have ranked third in the ratings behind longtime dominant Channel 6 WCSH and runner up Channel 13 WGME-TV. However, in more recent years it has waged a spirited battle with WGME for second place behind WCSH and has beaten WGME in several key sweeps periods. 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. WMTW starts its weekend morning news at 5 a.m., while WCSH begins its weekend morning news at 6 a.m. and WGME has no local morning newscast on weekends.
On September 18, 2012, WMTW upgraded local news production to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. WMTW 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. 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 Channel 8 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 cable 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 continued to offer a loop of local news headlines and weather forecast segments on its own digital subchannel until January 20, 2015 when it was replaced by the Justice Network. The Local AccuWeather Channel subchannel on WMTW was replaced by Heroes & Icons in March 2015.
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. The rest of its operations will relocate from Auburn to Westbrook at a later date. WMTW began originating its newscasts from the renovated facility on October 4, 2014.
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