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Detroit Public TV logo 2019.png
BrandingDetroit Public TV PBS
OwnerDetroit Educational Television Foundation
First air date
October 3, 1955 (1955-10-03) (66 years ago)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 56 (UHF, 1955–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 43 (UHF, 2000–2020)
NET (1955–1970)
Call sign meaning
"Television for Southeast Michigan"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID16817
ERP750 kW (STA)
345 kW (CP)
HAAT244.6 m (802 ft) (STA)
323 m (1,060 ft) (CP)
Transmitter coordinates42°26′52.5″N 83°10′23.1″W / 42.447917°N 83.173083°W / 42.447917; -83.173083Coordinates: 42°26′52.5″N 83°10′23.1″W / 42.447917°N 83.173083°W / 42.447917; -83.173083
Public license information

WTVS, virtual channel 56 (UHF digital channel 20), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Detroit, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by the Detroit Educational Television Foundation. WTVS' main studios are located at the Riley Broadcast Center and HD Studios in Wixom,[1] with an additional studio at the Maccabees Building in Midtown Detroit.[2] The station's transmitter is located at 8 Mile and Meyers Road in Oak Park (on a tower shared with independent station WMYD, channel 20, and CBS owned-and-operated station WWJ-TV, channel 62). WTVS partners with the Stanley and Judith Frankel Family Foundation in the management of classical and jazz music station WRCJ-FM (90.9).

On cable, the station is available in standard definition on channel 6 on most systems (except on WOW!, where it is carried on channel 3, and Charter Spectrum, where it is carried on either channel 10 or channel 11), channel 56 on AT&T U-verse, and channel 67 on Cogeco's Windsor, Ontario system, and in high definition on Comcast Xfinity channel 240, Cogeco channel 715, and U-verse channel 1056.


The station first signed on the air on October 3, 1955; WTVS began broadcasting in color in 1968. Previously the studios were at 9345 Lawton in Detroit, along with the studios of WRCJ, before later moving studios to the former WJBK studios in the New Center area of Detroit [3] which are now served for its fixed satellite services.[4][5] WTVS broadcasts its digital signal from the same tower as at a height of 1,073 feet (327 m). Prior to the digital TV switchover, WTVS transmitted its signal from a 1,000-foot (305 m) tower located near the intersection of 11 Mile and Inkster Roads in Southfield, along with WMYD (channel 20) and CW O&O WKBD-TV (channel 50). Today, only WKBD-TV and Ion Television affiliate WPXD-TV (channel 31) broadcast from that tower.

On January 11, 2016, Detroit Public Television announced a partnership with WKAR, the PBS station serving Mid-Michigan operated by Michigan State University, in which they will jointly operate a 24-hour children's television service to be carried by both stations.[6]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming[7]
56.1 1080i 16:9 WTVS-HD Main WTVS programming / PBS
56.2 D-KIDS PBS Kids
56.3 480i D-CREAT Create
56.4 D-WORLD World
56.5 D-MLC Michigan Learning Channel

Many newer television receivers also list WTVS subchannels 43.177 and 43.193. These subchannels are artifact channels from the UpdateTV service.

WTVS also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 56.1.[8][9]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WTVS became the first public broadcaster in the state of Michigan to offer a digital high-definition feed, launching their simulcast on UHF 43 in October 2000 (exact date not yet known).[10] The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 56, at noon on April 16, 2009; the switchover occurred after a presentation of the national anthems of Canada ("O Canada") and the United States ("The Star-Spangled Banner").[11] WTVS management cited repeated failures of the station's 28-year-old analog transmitter as the reason for ceasing its analog signal on April 16 rather than the June 12 transition date for full-power stations (the analog transmitter had failed seven times between January 1 and April 16 alone). The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 43.[12] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 56, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.

On October 12, 2009, WTVS upgraded to a new 600 kW transmitter, tripling its effective radiated power and vastly increasing the coverage area of its signal.[13]

On January 13, 2017, WTVS re-organized its digital subchannels when it added PBS Kids as a full-time 24/7 subchannel on 56.2, with PBS World moving to 56.4. This was in part of WTVS' larger plan of launching a statewide PBS Kids subchannel network in partnership with other PBS member stations within the state of Michigan, such as Lansing's WKAR-TV and Flint's WCMZ-TV. On March 8, 2017, WTVS announced it would be moving its digital broadcast frequency from UHF Channel 43 to UHF channel 20 (currently occupied by WHNE-LD Channel 14), which was assigned VHF channel 3 as a replacement frequency.[14]


Locally produced programming on the station includes Great Lakes Now, Get Up! Get Out, In the Frame: Exploring the DIA, Leaders on Leadership, American Black Journal and Am I Right. WTVS is also a leading producer of fundraising programs for PBS.[citation needed] In the 1990s this station produced Club Connect.

In addition to locally produced programming, Detroit PBS also is the sole creator of all Il Volo (popular Italian singing group) concert DVDs and related CDs. The Detroit PBS Il Volo concerts were the October 2011 "Il Volo Takes Flight - Live from the Detroit Opera House", the March 2013 "Il Volo at the Miami Fillmore - We Are Love" concert, the March 2013 "Il Volo at the Miami Fillmore - Buon Natale" concert, the June 2015 "Il Volo - Live at Pompeii" concert, and July 2016 Il Volo - "Tribute to the 3 Tenors - in Florence" concert.

Cable coverage[edit]

WTVS is carried on most cable television providers in Southeast Michigan, Southwestern Ontario and parts of the British Columbia Southern Interior (WTVS is carried in that province despite the existence of KCTS-TV in Seattle, the PBS member station commonly found in that province). WTVS is one of five Detroit television stations available in Canada on cable through Shaw Broadcast Services and on satellite provider Shaw Direct; it began to be distributed by Cancom (now Shaw Broadcast Services) in 1983 as the PBS station signal for Canadian cable television systems too distant to receive a border station over-the-air. Since then, it had developed a strong base of Canadian viewer support in all provinces and territories.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact Us." WTVS. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "Contact Us Riley Broadcast Center and HD Studios 1 Clover Court Wixom, MI 48393-2247"
  2. ^ "Detroit Public TV opens Midtown studio." Model D. Tuesday March 22, 2011. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.detroiturbex.com/content/downtown/dptv/index.html
  4. ^ "Driving Directions." WTVS. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions." WTVS. February 4, 2005. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "Detroit Public Television 7441 Second Avenue Detroit, MI 48202"
  6. ^ "WKAR to stay on air, launch 24/7 children's channel with Detroit Public TV". MLive.com. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  7. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WTVS
  8. ^ "RabbitEars.Info".
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-02-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "History of Michigan TV Broadcasting - Michiguide.com".
  11. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Detroit broadcasters go digital PART 1 OF 3". YouTube.
  12. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  13. ^ WTVS Detroit Public TV Digital TV information page
  14. ^ "RabbitEars.Info".

External links[edit]