WTTG, channel 5, is a Fox owned-and-operated television station located in the American capital city of Washington, D.C.. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, and is part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WDCA (channel 20). The station's studios/office and transmitter facilities are co-located on Wisconsin Avenue in the Friendship Heights neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington.
The station traces its history to May 19, 1945, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded W3XWT, the second experimental station in the nation's capital (after NBC's W3XNB, forerunner to WRC-TV). Later in 1945, DuMont Laboratories began a series of experimental coaxial cable hookups between W3XWT and its other television station, WABD (channel 5, later WNEW-TV and now WNYW) in New York City. These hookups were the beginning of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network. DuMont began regular network service in 1946. Almost a year later on January 3, 1947, W3XWT received a commercial license – the first in the nation's capital – as WTTG. The station was named for Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr., the DuMont network's chief engineer and a close friend of Dr. DuMont.
Like its New York City sister station, WTTG was far more successful than the network as a whole. In 1956, after DuMont shut down network operations, WTTG and WABD became independent stations and were spun off from DuMont Laboratories as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. It later changed its name to Metropolitan Broadcasting in order to distance itself from its former parent company.
As an independent station
In 1958, Washington investor John Kluge bought controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting from Paramount Pictures and installed himself as its chairman. He changed the company's name to Metromedia in 1961. Goldsmith sat on Metromedia's board for over a quarter-century. Channel 5 gained a sister station on radio when Metromedia purchased WASH (97.1 FM) in 1968. At first, WTTG ran on a low budget. However, in the late 1960s, it benefited from Metromedia's aggressiveness in acquiring top syndicated programming, giving it a significant leg up on WDCA, which signed on in 1966.
By the 1970s, WTTG was one of the leading independent stations in the country, running a broad lineup of cartoons, off-network sitcoms, first-run syndicated shows, older movies, local newscasts and locally produced programs. During this time period, and well into the early 1990s, WTTG was the flagship station for the Georgetown University men's basketball team. Its main claim to fame was Panorama, an afternoon talk show hosted by John Willis, and later Maury Povich.
When cable television began in the 1970s, WTTG became a regional superstation. At one point, it appeared on every cable provider in Maryland and Virginia, as well as most of Delaware and in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Transition to Fox
Metromedia owned the station until 1986 when Rupert Murdoch, after buying 20th Century Fox, purchased the Metromedia television stations to form the nucleus of the Fox network. WTTG became one of Fox's six original owned-and-operated stations when the network launched on October 9, 1986, all the while retaining consistently high ratings, a rarity for a Fox station at the time. Being the only independent station on the VHF dial in D.C. also played a part in its ratings and leading ahead of WDCA (channel 20) and WCQR (channel 50, now WDCW) before taking on the new network. Initially, its programming was similar to what it had run as a true independent station, since Fox only programmed for a few hours on weekends.
As channel 5 transitioned to an O&O and more independent stations signed on, it lost much of its cable audience. Though not distributed as widely as it once was, it is still available on several cable providers in Maryland and Virginia outside the D.C. metro area. For instance, it is still carried on cable in Charlottesville, Virginia, even though the city has had its own Fox affiliate, WAHU-CD, since 2005; both stations are carried on basic cable in the Charlottesville area. It also served as the default Fox affiliate for Salisbury, Maryland until the debut of new default Fox affiliate, "Fox21 Delmarva", a subchannel of WBOC-TV, on August 21, 2006.
During the 1990s, the station added more syndicated talk shows and reality shows. It continued to air afternoon cartoons from Fox Kids until the fall of 2001, when the block moved to WDCA (only to be reduced to just Saturdays nationwide in 2002); WTTG brought back Fox children's programming later on in 2003, under the banner 4Kids TV. On October 29, 2001, Fox bought WDCA from Viacom's Paramount Stations Group, creating a duopoly with WTTG. The station continued to run top rated off-network sitcoms in the evenings.
WTTG has been the primary station for the Washington Redskins since 1994, when Fox obtained the rights to air NFL games in which a team from the National Football Conference (the NFL division that the Redskins are in) played a road game. All Redskins home games since 1965 have sold out (though the Redskins have had to deal with numerous no-shows), allowing them to be televised on WTTG (along with the Redskins' entire slate of road games) provided they are against an NFC team, are not being played at night, or, beginning in 2014, have not been moved to WUSA; under such instances the game may be aired on WRC-TV for Sunday Night Football, ESPN (WDCA locally) for Monday Night Football, or WUSA when a team from the American Football Conference is the visiting team, or in one case in the 2014 season, a Thursday Night Football game as part of CBS/NFL Network's TNF deal. This relationship is limited to network coverage of regular season and postseason games, since WRC-TV and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic are the official broadcast partners for the team, including coach's shows and other programming. Prior to 1994, WTTG aired the Redskins preseason games and training camp scrimmages during the majority of the 1980s into the early 1990s.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||720p||16:9||WTTG DT||Main WTTG programming / Fox|
On June 12, 2009, WTTG terminated its analog signal on VHF channel 5 as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 36. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WTTG's virtual channel as 5.
WTTG delays the Saturday night Animation Domination High-Def block by a half-hour due to the station's 11:00 p.m. newscast.
In 2004, the inner operations of WTTG during the station's first years under News Corporation's ownership were scrutinized in Robert Greenwald's documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. The documentary, through a panel of former WTTG journalists and staffers, claimed that following Rupert Murdoch's acquisition, WTTG's news reporting became biased and sensationalist. The former WTTG employees claimed that they were ordered "from the top" to air an uncut tribute to Ronald Reagan from the 1988 Republican National Convention; they were told to run a piece that "rehashed the whole matter of [Senator Ted Kennedy's deadly car accident at] Chappaquiddick" which had "zero news value"; and there was an obsessive attitude over airing stories related to wedge issues such as race relations and AIDS.
WTTG more recently attracted controversy over its chief investigative reporter Emily J. Miller, who aired segments critical of gun control without divulging her involvement in gun rights activism. As a result, WTTG added disclosures to Miller's segments informing viewers that she was "a proponent for Second Amendment rights." Miller had claimed that her pro-gun views resulted from being the victim of a home invasion, but Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple discovered that her account was largely fabricated. Critics also highlighted missteps in Miller's reporting, including an incident where she confused the photographs of two black men and misidentified one of them as a convicted sex offender. Miller left WTTG at the conclusion of her contract in March 2016.
WTTG presently broadcasts 56½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (9½ hours of weekdays and 4½ hours of weekends), same as KRON-TV.
On September 4, 2006, WTTG began simulcasting its weekday morning and nightly 10 p.m. newscasts on then-Baltimore sister station WUTB (now owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group partner company Deerfield Media), under the banner of My 24 News. Management at both stations cited the decision to simulcast as a by-product of cross-regional news interests and increasing overlap between the Baltimore and Washington media markets. In October 2006, while WTTG aired Fox Sports' coverage of the 2006 Major League Baseball postseason, the first half-hour of the 10:00 p.m. newscast was broadcast by sister station WDCA under the title Fox 5 News at Ten: Special Edition; this also occurred in 2007, with the WDCA broadcast of the program being titled My 20 News at 10.
On July 2, 2007, WTTG discontinued its noon newscast and replaced it with an hour-long newscast at 11:00 a.m., titled Fox 5 News Midday. On September 10, 2007, the station reformatted its 6:00 p.m. newscast into an early evening edition of NewsEdge; the addition of NewsEdge at 6:00 p.m. was due in part to the success of its current 11:00 p.m. counterpart. On January 14, 2009, WTTG and WRC-TV entered into a Local News Service agreement in which the two stations pool video and share news helicopter footage.
On January 30, 2009, starting with its 6:00 p.m. newscast, WTTG became the third television station in the Washington, D.C. market (behind CBS affiliate WUSA and ABC affiliate WJLA-TV) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On September 14, 2009, WTTG expanded its weekday morning newscast to five hours by adding another hour at 9:00 a.m.; in turn, its hour-long 11:00 a.m. midday newscast was discontinued. In early 2010, WTTG became the second station in the market (behind WUSA) to expand its weekday morning newscast to 4:30 a.m.
In late August 2013, WTTG began using the AFD #10 broadcast flag to present their newscasts in letterboxed widescreen for viewers watching on cable television through 4:3 television sets; with the move, it became the second station in the Washington, D.C. market (behind WUSA) to broadcast to utilize the AFD #10 flag.
On June 16, 2014, WTTG expanded its weekday morning newscasts with the addition of an hour-long block at 10:00 a.m. This was followed on July 13 by the addition of a two-hour Saturday morning newscast from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and the July 14 expansion of its existing Sunday morning newscast to two hours from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.
Current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Brian Bolter - weekday evening anchor (1999–2013)
- Steve Buckhantz - sports anchor (1987–2001; now with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic)
- Connie Chung - reporter (1970–71)
- Jack Conaty - reporter (1986–87)
- Dave Feldman - sports anchor (2000–12; now with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)
- Michael Gargiulo - morning anchor (2000–06; now at WNBC/New York City)
- Brett Haber - sports anchor/reporter (1997–2000; later with WUSA-TV)
- Hillary Howard (Statter) - meteorologist (1990s–2000; now at WTOP-FM)
- Gus Johnson - weekend sports anchor/reporter (1991–92; now with Fox Sports)
- Morris Jones - anchor/reporter (1983–2001; now at News Channel 8)
- Pat Mitchell - anchor/Panorama host (1977–79)
- Holly Morris - weekday morning feature reporter
- Maury Povich - anchor/reporter/Panorama host (1967–76 and 1983–86; now hosting the syndicated talk show Maury)
- Amy Robach - anchor/reporter (1998–2003; now with ABC News)
- Al Roker - weather anchor (1976–78; now with NBC News' Today)
- Bob Schieffer - reporter (1969–77; now chief Washington, D.C. correspondent for CBS News and former host of Face the Nation from 1991 to 2015)
- Bob Sellers - weekday morning anchor (2006–08; now with WZTV/Nashville)
- Tim White - morning anchor (1990–93)
- Brian Williams - anchor/reporter/Panorama host (1985–86; anchor/managing editor for NBC Nightly News from 2004 to 2015)
- Brian Wilson - anchor/reporter (1996–2000); formerly with Fox News Channel, now with WMAL