Alabama Public Television is a state network of PBSmembertelevision stations serving the U.S. state of Alabama. It is operated by the Alabama Educational Television Commission, which holds the licenses for all the PBS member stations licensed in the state. The broadcast signals of the nine stations cover almost all of the state, as well as parts of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. The network produces public affairs and documentary programming; broadcast and online education programs for classroom use and teacher professional development; and electronic field trips serving K-12 students.

The network's offices and network operations center are located in Birmingham. APT maintains offices and studio facilities located adjacent to Patterson Field in the state capital of Montgomery, as well as a small secondary studio located in the basement of the Alabama State House. APT also operates a studio in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. The AETC also operates a public radio station, WLRH (89.3 FM) in Huntsville.

History

Alabama was one of the earliest states to enter into educational television broadcasting when the Alabama General Assembly created the Alabama Educational Television Commission in 1953. In an unusual move at the time, the Commission requested allocations for four stations which would air the same programming at all times, fed from a central studio in Birmingham. At the time, it was apparent that much of the state outside of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile was too poor and too rural to support a standalone educational station. The Commission thus wanted to ensure that all of the state's children would have access to educational television.

After two years of preparation, it signed on the nation's ninth educational television station, WEDM in Munford, serving Talladega. The transmitter was located atop Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama. When WBIQ in Birmingham came online in April 1955, Alabama became the first state in the nation with an educational television network. Alabama Educational Television made its first broadcast as a network shortly after WBIQ signed on. Since then, 25 other states have started public television networks, all based on Alabama's model. The network changed its name to the Alabama Public Television Network in the late 1960s, and shortened the name to simply Alabama Public Television in 1988.

WAIQ in Andalusia (now WDIQ in Dozier) went on the air in August 1956, bringing APT to south Alabama for the first time before being reassigned to Montgomery in December 1962. WAIQ was the first APT station to broadcast a digital signal in 2003, on UHF channel 14, but that signal was later moved to channel 27 on account of Montgomery station WSFA signing on its digital signal on channel 14. Commercial-licensed station WALA-TV in Mobile donated its former transmitter in Spanish Fort to APT in 1964, allowing WEIQ to bring the network to Alabama's Gulf Coast counties that November. WEIQ's transmitter power was increased during the 1980s.

In 1976, the Federal Communications Commission delayed renewal of AETC's licenses due to APT's refusal to air programs pertaining to the Vietnam War or the African-American community. APT management feared that airing these types of programs would cause angry public officials to cut the network's funding and put the network's future in jeopardy. Therefore, APT followed orders by state officials not to air certain programming during the 1960s and 1970s. However, it has taken a more independent stance over the last 30 years. The AETC took over the operation of Huntsville public radio station WLRH in 1977.

In January 1982, a major ice storm caused the collapse of the WCIQ tower, which was then rebuilt.

In August 2004, APT began datacasting on its digital broadcast signals to distribute digital multimedia content to ten elementary and secondary schools, in a pilot program. The datacasting model was replaced by APTPLUS, an online distribution of multimedia content which became available to every school in Alabama via the Internet. Every public school in Alabama registered to use APTPLUS within its first year of operation. Many private school teachers and home school families are also registered users.

For more than a quarter century, Alabama Public Television aired a nightly public affairs program, For the Record, covering statewide news and Alabama politics. The longest-running program of its kind on a PBS member station or regional or state network, it won an award for Best Local News Program from the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), an organization of public television stations. Capitol Journal succeeded For the Record in 2008 and is produced at APT's Statehouse studio in Montgomery.

APT began broadcasting a high definition channel (APT HD) in 2005. In December 2006 it launched a digital how-to channel featuring established cooking, gardening, decorating, crafts and sewing programs called APT Create. A third digital channel, APT IQ, debuted in March 2007. Originally called APT IQ, the channel became APT World in October 2012 and offers news and documentary programming.

Today, APT's mission continues to be focused mainly on education. It provides educational services to Alabamans , on-air through three digital subchannels, and through outreach services to educators and service provides statewide.

Board members

The members of the Alabama Educational Television Commission Board as of 2012 are: Ferris W. Stephens, Chairman, Birmingham (6th congressional district), Gregory O. Griffin, Sr., Vice-Chairman, Montgomery (2nd congressional district), Dr. Rodney D. Herring, Secretary, Opelika (3rd congressional district), Bebe Williams, Huntsville (5th congressional district), Les Barnett, Mobile (1st congressional district) and Dr. Dannetta K. Thornton Owens, Birmingham (7th congressional district).

Stations

The Alabama Public Television stations are:

StationCity of licenseChannels
TV / RF
First air dateSecond letter
meaning
ERPHAATTransmitter coordinatesFacility IDPublic license
information
WAIQMontgomery26 (PSIP)
27 (UHF)
December 18, 1962Alabama600 kW178.7 m706
WBIQBirmingham10 (PSIP)
10 (VHF)
April 28, 1955Birmingham3 kW426.2 m717
WCIQ1Mount Cheaha7 (PSIP)
7 (VHF)
January 7, 1955Cheaha34.8 kW575.8 m711
WDIQ2Dozier2 (PSIP)
10 (VHF)
August 8, 1956Dozier30 kW224.8 m714
WEIQMobile42 (PSIP)
41 (UHF)
November 18, 1964Educational199 kW185 m721
WFIQFlorence36 (PSIP)
22 (UHF)
August 9, 1967Florence418.8 kW207.6 m715
WGIQLouisville43 (PSIP)
44 (UHF)
September 9, 1968Greater Alabama925 kW262 m710
WHIQHuntsville25 (PSIP)
24 (UHF)
November 15, 1965Huntsville396 kW338.2 m713
WIIQDemopolis41 (PSIP)
19 (UHF)
September 13, 1970Informational1000 kW324 m720

Notes:

  • 1. WCIQ used the callsign WEDM (EDucational Munford) from January to March 1955,[2] and then WTIQ (the T standing for Talladega) to 1959.[3] Also, the station's city of license was previously Munford (near Cheaha Mountain) from its 1955 sign-on to 1960,[4] and then, Mount Cheaha State Park, where the station's transmitter (and the mountain it is based on) is located. Because the tower is located in Cleburne County, Nielsen Media Research (and therefore the FCC) considers the station to be a part of the Atlanta, Georgiatelevision market.[5]
  • 2. WDIQ used the callsign WAIQ (the A standing for Andalusia) from its 1956 sign-on to 1961.[6] This station's city of license was Andalusia from its 1956 sign-on to 1962.[7]

Coverage areas

StationSignal Reach
WAIQMontgomery and the southern portion of the geographical center of the state
WBIQBirmingham and the northern portion of the geographical center of Alabama, and the west central counties of the state including the city of Tuscaloosa
WCIQTalladega, Anniston, Gadsden and Auburn, and the east central portion of the state to western Georgia, including the western outskirts of Metro Atlanta; also provides secondary signal for Birmingham
WDIQThe south central portion of the state to Interstate 10 in the Florida Panhandle
WEIQMobile and Baldwin counties along Alabama's Gulf Coast and several counties to the north as well as parts of southeastern Mississippi and the far western Florida Panhandle and the city of Pensacola
WFIQFlorence and the northwestern portion of the state and some counties in southern central Tennessee and northeastern Mississippi; secondary signal for Decatur
WGIQDothan and most of the southeastern portion of the state and some parts of southwestern Georgia; closest APTV signal to Phenix City
WHIQHuntsville, Decatur and most of the north central and northeastern portion of the state as well as some counties in southern central Tennessee; secondary signal for Gadsden
WIIQMuch of southwestern Alabama in the region known as the "Black Belt" as well as Meridian and some counties in eastern central Mississippi; secondary signal for Tuscaloosa and Selma

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectProgramming[8][9][10][2][2][2][2][2][2]
x.1720p16:9Main APT programming / PBS
x.2480i4:3APT World
x.3APT Create

Analog-to-digital conversion

Although the DTV Delay Act extended the mandatory deadline to June 12, 2009, APT shut down the analog signals of all ten stations as originally scheduled on February 17, 2009.[17]

  • WAIQ, WEIQ, WFIQ, WGIQ, WHIQ, and WIIQ remained on their respective, pre-transition channel numbers (27, 41, 22, 44, 24, and 19);[18][19][20][21][22][23]
  • WBIQ and WCIQ relocated to their former analog-era channels, 10 and 7, from 53 and 56, respectively, as their pre-transition digital channels were among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition;[24][25][3]
  • WDIQ moved its digital broadcasts from channel 11 to channel 10.[27]

PSIP is used to display virtual channels for each APT station corresponding to their former analog channels.

On July 29, 2010 WBIQ received a construction permit to move its digital channel from channel 10 to channel 39.[3]