WETA-TV virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 27) is a non-commercial educational PBS member television station licensed to and broadcasting from the capital city of Washington, District of Columbia, United States. The station is owned by the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, alongside sister radio outlet and NPR member station WETA (90.9 FM). WETA-TV's studios are located in nearby Arlington, Virginia, and its transmitter is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington.
Among the programs produced by WETA that are distributed nationally by PBS are the PBS Newshour, Washington Week, and several nationally broadcast cultural and documentary programs, such as the Ken Burns' documentaries and A Capitol Fourth.
In 1952, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated 242 channels for non-commercial use across the United States. Channel 26 was allocated for use in Washington, D.C. In 1953, the Greater Washington Educational Television Association was formed to develop programming for channel 26. GWETA credits Elizabeth Campbell with having founded the organization. In the early days, before it was granted a license for its own channel, the GWETA produced educational programming for WTTG.
The Greater Washington Educational Television Association was eventually granted a license by the FCC to activate channel 26; WETA-TV first signed on the air on October 2, 1961. WETA originally operated out of Yorktown High School; the station later relocated its operations to the campus of Howard University in 1964. In 1967, WETA began producing Washington Week in Review (now simply titled Washington Week), a political discussion program that became the station's first program to be syndicated nationally to other non-commercial educational stations.
Around 1970, the Greater Washington Educational Television Association changed its name to the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association to reflect the oversight of the new WETA-FM. In 1992, WETA broadcast the first over-the-air high-definition television signal in the United States In 1995, WETA acquired CapAccess, an interactive computer network. From that acquisition, WETA helped connect public schools, public libraries and local government agencies to the Internet.
In 1996, WETA launched its first national educational project, LD Online, a website that seeks to help children and adults reach their full potential by providing accurate and up-to-date information and advice about learning disabilities and ADHD. It was joined in 2001 by Reading Rockets, a multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. In 2003, Reading Rockets spun off Colorín Colorado, a free web-based service that provides information, activities, and advice for educators, and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners (ELLs). To support the parents and educators of older students who struggle with reading, WETA launched Adlit.org in 2007. AdLit.org is a multimedia educational initiative offering research (articles, instructional strategies, school-based outreach events, professional development webcasts, and book recommendation) to develop teens' literacy skills, prevent school dropouts, and prepare students for the demands of college. Seeing a need to educate the public about brain injuries, in 2008 WETA, in partnership with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, launched BrainLine.org. The site features videos, webcasts, recent research, personal stories, and articles on preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injuries.
In 1997, WETA tested its new full-power digital transmitter which was activated for full-time broadcasting in 1999. In 2002, WETA became one of the first stations in the county to offer digital subchannels, which initially included WETA Prime, WETA Plus and WETA Kids. In January 2006, WETA changed its subchannel lineup with WETA Create, WETA Family, and WETA World, after the closure of national services PBS You and PBS Kids..
With the dropping of the PBS Kids network in 2005, WETA did not become a PBS Kids Sprout partner. By April 2006, the station had added World programming to a subchannel prior to its January 2007 launch as a nationwide network. In 2007, WETA started broadcasting a children's channel. In February 2009, WETA only program a 3 hour children's morning block on its primary channel, clearing the afternoon for adult show like Charlie Rose, travel shows, repeats of yesterday’s primetime shows, movies, documentaries and miniseries including the upcoming Make ’Em Laugh.
WETA decided to drop Create due to the network moving to being fee based on July 1, 2012 and perceived lack of programming flexibility. WETA How-To lifestyle programming replaced Create in January 2012. How-To was replaced by WETA UK on July 4, 2012 after an analysis of audience and local viewers' demand for UK programs.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|26.2||480i||4:3||WETA UK||WETA UK|
|26.4||TV26||Main WETA-TV programming / PBS|
Despite its positioning, digital subchannel 26.4 serves as WETA-TV's main programming feed. 26.4 is broadcast in standard definition and is the equivalent of the former analog channel 26. Therefore, channel 26.4 is the channel that is provided on the standard-definition tiers of local cable providers.
Digital Channel 26.1 simulcasts any programming seen on the 26.4 subchannel that is available in high definition, as well as 26.4's entire primetime and overnight lineup regardless of whether the programming is broadcast in high or standard definition. At other times, 26.1 shows reruns of PBS high definition programming. Schedules for 26.1 and 26.4 are different for those reasons.
Channel 26.2, "WETA-UK", shows a schedule of programming produced in the United Kingdom.
Channel 26.3, "WETA Kids", shows repeats of PBS children's programming.
On June 12, 2009, WETA-TV terminated its analog signal, on UHF channel 26, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 27. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WETA-TV's virtual channel as 26.