WFUT-DT, virtual channel 68 (UHF digital channel 30), is a UniMás owned-and-operated television station serving New York City, New York, United States that is licensed to Newark, New Jersey. The station is owned by Univision Communications, as part of a duopoly with Univision owned-and-operated station WXTV (channel 41). The two stations share studios located in Secaucus, WFUT's transmitter is located at the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan.
The station first signed on the air on September 29, 1974 as WBTB-TV (named for original owners Blonder-Tongue Broadcasting; its calls before that were WWRO-TV in its construction permit, but the calls were changed by the first transmission, a test card with a drawing of a shade tree with the WBTB calls). Unfortunately, the station went dark in February 1975 because many cable systems refused to carry the station and few viewers were either aware of, or simply did not care much for a UHF television station at the upper end of the dial.
However, in July 1975, Jerome Blonder and Benjamin Tongue through their Old Bridge, New Jersey based Blonder-Tongue Laboratories resurrected the station. The new WBTB-TV became the first "specialty station" as defined by the Federal Communications Commission with niche programming – featuring daily reports and updates from the New York financial exchanges. When the stock markets were closed, WBTB offered shows such as the Grand Ole Opry during the late afternoon hours, a locally produced variety series called The Uncle Floyd Show hosted by Floyd Vivino, and Christian programming hosted by Keith Hauser at night. Saturdays featured ethnic programs from Bulgaria and Spain as well as religious programming during the day on Sunday and on weekday mornings before the stock market opened.
In 1976 Wometco Enterprises, the founding and longtime owners of WTVJ in Miami, purchased the station originally with the intent of making it more of a general entertainment station, and changed the station's callsign to WTVG in 1977. WTVG acquired the rights to some programs such as Lassie, Mister Ed, Green Acres and Speed Racer. However, due to high program costs in the New York City market, and the presence of six existing commercial VHF stations – including independents WNEW-TV (channel 5, now Fox flagship WNYW-TV), WOR-TV (channel 9, now MyNetworkTV flagship WWOR-TV) and WPIX (channel 11, now a CW flagship station) – WTVG was at too much of a disadvantage to grow into a major player.
In the fall of 1977, Wometco launched a national over-the-air subscription television service called Wometco Home Theater, and opted to use WTVG as its flagship station. In 1978, the station's calls were changed to WWHT to match the program service (the WTVG calls are now used by an ABC affiliate in Toledo, Ohio). Viewers who subscribed to WHT were given set-top converter boxes (created by Blonder-Tongue Labs) which descrambled the channel 68 signal.
By 1980, WWHT was running religious shows from 6 to 10 a.m., WHT programming from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 8 p.m. through the overnight hours, more religious shows from 1 to 3 p.m., general entertainment programs from 3 to 7 p.m., and business news from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. On weekends, the station ran children's programming early Saturday morning followed by brokered programming from late morning to about 4 p.m.; Sundays consisted of religious shows until 4 p.m. WHT began after 4 p.m. on weekends at that point. At the same time, Wometco purchased Smithtown-based WSNL-TV (channel 67, now WFTY-DT), which began simulcasting WWHT.
In the spring of 1981, WWHT dropped afternoon programming and began running Financial News Network from 9 to 10 a.m. and from 1 to 5 p.m. In the spring of 1983, WHT began offering programming 24 hours a day. By this time, WWHT only ran some religious programming from 7 to 10 a.m. weekdays and Sundays, and WHT programming the rest of the time. FNN, brokered shows and the few entertainment shows it had were dropped, with the Uncle Floyd Show moving to the New Jersey Network. In 1984, a year after Wometco's founder Mitchell Wolfson died, WWHT/WSNL and the other Wometco stations were all sold to investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which also bought the Storer Broadcasting group of stations.
By 1985, WHT folded, due to huge losses as a result of the expansion of cable television; as a result, the station switched to music videos as U68, programmed by Steve Leeds (later at MTV). KKR was looking to sell all of its broadcast properties. The former Wometco stations were sold to separate buyers, with WTVJ eventually going to NBC. (The other Storer stations picked up by KKR went to Gillett Broadcasting). However, in the fall of 1986, WWHT and WSNL were sold to the Home Shopping Network and became WHSE and WHSI, respectively, and aired HSN programming full-time for the next sixteen years. When Barry Diller bought the USA Network (and effectively HSN), the company was renamed USA Broadcasting.
By the late 1990s, USA Broadcasting planned to switch its HSN stations to a general entertainment independent format, with WHSE/WHSI slated to switch in 2000 as WORX (which would have been branded as "The Worx 68"). Promos and station IDs were actually produced for the station, and classic series such as Taxi, I Love Lucy and Cheers were acquired for the station. Several of its sister stations had switched to the entertainment format in the prior two years. However, only weeks before the planned switch, USA put all its stations up for sale; The Walt Disney Company was originally the leading bidder for the stations, which would have made WHSE/WHSI a sister station to ABC owned-and-operated WABC-TV (channel 7), but Univision Communications outbid its competition in a close race. USA Broadcasting, as a result of the pending sale, scrapped the format switch, with WHSE remaining with HSN for a few more months as a result.
In the fall of 2001, WHSE began carrying programming from AIN/UATV, two networks that generally affiliated with low-powered stations elsewhere in the country. Once Univision completed the purchase of the USA Broadcasting over a year after it was announced, the station became a charter affiliate of its new secondary network Telefutura (which would later relaunch as UniMás in January 2013) on January 14, 2002, and accordingly had its call letters changed to WFUT-TV.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|68.1||1080i||16:9||WFUT-DT||Main WFUT programming / UniMás|
|68.2||1080i||16:9||WXTV-DT||Simulcast of WXTV-DT|
As of November, 2014 WFUT changed the simulcast of WXTV-DT 41.1 from 480i to 1080i.
WFUT discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 68, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 58 to UHF channel 30 (originally, its final digital channel assignment was to be UHF channel 41), using PSIP to display WFUT's virtual channel as 68 on digital television receivers, which (as with its original digital channel allocation) was among the high band UHF channels (52–69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.
Get TV was launched in February 2014 on the station's 68.3 digital sub-channel, becoming the first free over-the-air English movie network to air on the station since the demise of Wometco Home Theater in 1985.
Escape was added on 68.4 in August 2014, adding both movies and original TV series to the station's lineup. Escape was the first sub-channel targeted specifically at women, and the first general entertainment network since music videos were added in 1985.
From the mid 1970s through the early 1980s channel 68 aired daily financial news and reports.
In 2009, sister station WXTV began producing an hour-long extension of its weekday morning newscast (currently branded as Noticias 41 Al Despertar) for WFTY/WFUT, airing at 7 a.m.