WTVJ, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 31), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station located in Miami, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal, as part of a duopoly with WSCV (channel 51), flagship station of the co-owned Telemundo network. The two stations share studio and office facilities located on Southwest 27th Street (off I-75) in Miramar; WTVJ's transmitter is located between Northwest 210th and 207th Streets in the Andover neighborhood of Miami Gardens (northeast of Sun Life Stadium).
Florida's first television station
The station first signed on the air on March 21, 1949 at 12:00 p.m. WTVJ was the first television station to sign on in the state of Florida, and the 16th station in the United States. Originally broadcasting on VHF channel 4, the station was founded by Wometco Enterprises, a national movie theater chain that was headquartered in Miami. The station's original studio facilities were located in the former Capitol Theater on North Miami Avenue in Downtown Miami, which was the first theater operated by Wometco when the company was founded in 1926. The station was a primary CBS affiliate, but also carried programming from the other three major broadcast networks of that era (ABC, NBC and DuMont). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
WTVJ was the only commercial television station in the Miami market until Fort Lauderdale-based WFTL-TV (channel 23) signed on the air on December 24, 1954, operating as an NBC affiliate. However, WFTL had no success whatsoever in competing against WTVJ, in part because television sets were not required to have UHF tuning capability until the All-Channel Receiver Act went into effect in 1964. NBC continued to allow WTVJ to cherry-pick programs broadcast by the network until WCKT (channel 7, now WSVN) signed on in July 1956 and WFTL went dark (that station's former channel 23 allocation is now occupied by Univision owned-and-operated station WLTV-DT). Channel 4 shared ABC programming with WCKT, by way of an arrangement with the network to allow both stations to cherry-pick programming. Although ABC had a full-time affiliate in WITV (channel 17), due to the aforementioned lack of UHF penetration at that time, this arrangement continued until WPST-TV (channel 10, now WPLG) signed on in August 1957. WTVJ also served as the de facto CBS affiliate for West Palm Beach, until WTVX (channel 34, now a CW affiliate) signed on in 1966.
Acquisition by KKR
Wometco founder and president Mitchell Wolfson died in 1983 and a long-rumored secret plan to run the company after his death was never found. Remaining Wolfson heirs had no desire to keep the company in the family, and it quickly unraveled, making it a ripe takeover target. Investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. took over Wometco in 1984 in a $1 billion deal, the largest corporate buyout in history to that date. KKR sold most of Wometco's entertainment assets to the latter company's chief operating officer Arthur Hertz in 1985. With the cash from this sale, KKR then purchased Storer Broadcasting's station properties, shortly after the Federal Communications Commission raised the television station ownership limit from seven stations (with no more than five located on the VHF band) to twelve. KKR's intent was to sell the properties within a few years at a higher price.
In 1986, KKR opted to put WTVJ and the Storer stations on the market. The firm had plans to sell channel 4 for a record price of close to $500 million (as part of a $1.85 billion group deal with six of the Storer stations), although the station was actually worth far less. CBS saw a chance to acquire an owned-and-operated station in the fast-growing Miami market. However, it lost a bidding war to television syndication company Lorimar-Telepictures. CBS, however, tried to block the deal; Lorimar produced Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, and other shows for the network and did not want them controlling the clearance rights of those particular programs. Thus, CBS threatened to yank its affiliation with WTVJ if the Lorimar deal went through, which would force the station to become an independent. Lorimar then walked away from the group deal in May 1986, CBS then made an offer to buy WTVJ for $170 million, which was far below KKR's asking price of at least $270 million.
Acquisition by NBC
Over the next few months, the only offers to buy WTVJ came from companies that owned large groups of independent stations, such as Tribune Broadcasting, Pappas Telecasting Companies and Chris-Craft Industries/United Television. These and other companies wanted to convert WTVJ into an independent station or a Fox affiliate, for a price far lower than KKR's asking price. The only way that KKR could make such a large profit was to sell WTVJ to another network, as the only potential buyers that had no interest in keeping CBS while paying the asking price were ABC and NBC.
CBS did not believe that KKR would sell WTVJ to another network, so it returned with a very low offer. KKR turned CBS's offer down almost out of hand and then approached the other networks. ABC was not interested, since it was more than satisfied with its longtime affiliate, WPLG. However, NBC was very interested because its longtime affiliate, WSVN, heavily preempted the network's daytime lineup – including programs that the network aired in the noon timeslot in favor of running a local newscast, as well as an occasional prime time show. NBC was far less tolerant of preemptions than CBS and ABC at the time, and was particularly annoyed at losing valuable advertising in such a fast-growing market. This had not been a problem at first since most of the programs that were preempted by WSVN aired on West Palm Beach-based WPTV, which provided at least grade B signal coverage to nearly the entire Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, and had been available on cable in the area for decades. In the few cases where WPTV and WSVN both turned down an NBC program, the network usually arranged for other stations in the area to carry its programming. However, by 1985, WPTV had been dropped from most Miami cable systems to make way for new cable channels (partly due to limited headend channel capacity), resulting in some NBC programs that were preempted by WSVN being unavailable to some viewers. NBC realized that purchasing its own station with less restrictive ownership laws would guarantee that all of its shows would make it to air. Hence, it made an offer almost as high as Telepictures did a few months before, and in 1987, KKR agreed to sell WTVJ to NBC for $270 million.
NBC assumed control of WTVJ in mid-September 1987. However, both WTVJ's and WSVN's respective affiliation contracts with CBS and NBC did not expire until December 31, 1988. As a result, NBC faced the prospect of having to run WTVJ as a CBS affiliate for over a year. This did not sit well with either NBC or CBS, and both approached WSVN's parent Sunbeam Television about ending the station's NBC affiliation contract early. However, Sunbeam balked; its owner, Edmund Ansin, did not want to lose NBC's strong lineup of sports programming that year, including the Major League Baseball World Series and the Summer Olympics. Sunbeam also made an unsuccessful play to take the CBS affiliation. NBC did strip nearly all CBS branding from channel 4, and began airing nearly all NBC programs that were preempted by channel 7. In turn, this resulted in WTVJ preempting some CBS programs, with the affected shows airing instead on WCIX. CBS then formally approached channel 6, despite the fact that it would have provided a much weaker signal to Fort Lauderdale than that provided by WTVJ or WSVN. WCIX's transmitter was located near Homestead, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of downtown Miami, giving Fort Lauderdale only a weaker, "Grade B" signal. Accordingly, West Palm Beach's longtime ABC affiliate, WPEC, was persuaded by CBS to switch to the network in order to ensure full coverage in Fort Lauderdale and northern Broward County. In August 1988, CBS announced that it would purchase WCIX from the TVX Broadcast Group, which itself had purchased the station from Taft in 1987.
WTVJ ended its 40-year affiliation with CBS on January 1, 1989, and became the third station in Miami to have carried programming from NBC. CBS moved the rest of its programs over to WCIX, while WSVN became the new Fox affiliate for South Florida; most of WCIX's syndicated programs, such as most of its cartoons and sitcoms – with exceptions such as I Love Lucy, Family Ties, Star Trek: The Next Generation and a few others – went to WDZL (channel 39, now CW affiliate WSFL-TV). In a bit of irony, WTVJ also continued to preempt NBC's noon offerings in favor of carrying a local newscast. That timeslot would be given back to the network's affiliates in 1991. Shortly after the switch, the station debuted an image campaign based on the Bobby McFerrin song Don't Worry, Be Happy, that lasted until 1993. Additionally, beginning in 1989, WTVJ became the primary home station for the NFL's Miami Dolphins, which continued until 1997, when WFOR-TV gained the rights to most games thanks to CBS's acquisition of the AFC broadcast package.
Move to channel 6
In 1994, Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W) signed a long-term deal with CBS, in which three Westinghouse-owned stations (one that was aligned with ABC and two that also were aligned with NBC) would become CBS affiliates, joining two other stations owned by the company that were already affiliated with that network. Westinghouse would later acquire CBS that August, turning all of the Group W radio and television stations into CBS owned-and-operated television and radio stations. One of the stations involved in the affiliation agreement was Philadelphia's longtime NBC affiliate, KYW-TV. CBS decided to sell off its longtime O&O in that market, WCAU-TV. This led to a deal that was struck on November 21, 1994 between CBS and NBC, in which CBS sold the channel 6 transmitter and license to NBC as compensation for the loss of KYW-TV and Westinghouse's other NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV in Boston. In return, CBS received the stronger channel 4 facility and cash as compensation for the loss of WCAU (Denver's KCNC-TV and Salt Lake City's KUTV were both purchased by, and ended up switching to CBS as a result of this deal).
In April 1995, WTVJ dropped all references to its channel 4 allocation outside of news programming in preparation for the channel swap; newscasts continued to be branded as Channel 4 News until the move to channel 6; however, it rebranded as "WTVJ NBC" for all other purposes, using a logo that featured only the NBC peacock logo with the WTVJ call letters (rendered in the Univers typeface) placed below it.
At 1am on Sunday, September 10, 1995, WTVJ and WCIX swapped channel positions. WTVJ's entire intellectual unit (calls, shows, NBC network, and staff) moved from channel 4 to channel 6, while the intellectual unit of WCIX, which changed its calls accordingly to WFOR-TV, moved to channel 4. However, both stations' retained their respective existing studio facilities. Due to the manner in which the transfer was structured, the two stations were required to swap licenses in addition to their transmitting facilities. As a result, WTVJ legally operated under the old WCIX license until the end of the analog broadcasting era. This move led to WPTV picking up market share of NBC programming in Broward County from WTVJ, as WTVJ moved its transmitter from its longtime home on the Broward-Dade County line to WCIX's former transmitter in Homestead (about 20 miles south of Miami). WPTV's signal in Fort Lauderdale is actually closer to city-grade than WTVJ's (though it still transmits a Grade B signal in the area).
In April 1998, WTVJ sold its Capitol Theatre studios to the General Services Administration for $11.6 million, which planned to build a courthouse on the space where the building was located. Three months later, it was announced that the station had purchased a plot of land located off the intersection of Interstate 75 and Miramar Parkway in Miramar, with plans to build a 64,000 square foot studio facility for the station; WTVJ moved into the newly constructed complex in 2000.
Failed sale to Post-Newsweek
On March 19, 2008, NBCUniversal announced that it was putting WTVJ up for sale for an estimated asking price of $350 million. On July 18, Post-Newsweek Stations entered into an agreement to buy the station for $205 million; the purchase would have created a duopoly between WTVJ and Post-Newsweek-owned WPLG. However, FCC ownership rules prohibit the ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in a single market in terms of overall audience share. Under ordinary circumstances, this would preclude a duopoly between two "Big Three" stations; however, according to Nielsen, WPLG ranked in first place and WTVJ ranked sixth overall in total-day viewership during the May 2008 sweeps period, allowing the possibility of a purchase (WTVJ's sixth place ranking was due to several factors including the station's own programming weaknesses at the time and the strong ratings performance of WLTV). Incidentally, this would have resulted in a rare instance in which the senior partner in one duopoly became the junior partner in another, as NBC had owned both WTVJ and WSCV.
Had the sale gone through, WTVJ would have consolidated its operations with WPLG at that station's Hallandale Beach Boulevard studios in Pembroke Park. Post-Newsweek would have also acquired all of WTVJ and WSCV's new high definition production equipment that was installed in the stations' Miramar studios. Despite a that was filed with the FCC against the proposed sale, the sale was approved by the Federal Trade Commission on October 6, 2008. However, the sale was canceled on December 23, 2008, citing poor economic conditions and the lack of FCC approval.
On March 21, 2009, WTVJ celebrated its 60th anniversary and aired a half-hour special called WTVJ: The First 60 Years, which highlighted the station's history since its March 21, 1949 sign-on.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||WTVJ-DT||Main WTVJ programming / NBC|
|6.2||480i||Cozi TV||Cozi TV|
The station carried NBC Weather Plus on its second digital subchannel from 2004 to 2008, when the network began winding down operations and became an automated local weather channel known as NBC Plus. On February 25, 2009, WTVJ became the last NBC O&O to carry Universal Sports, airing it on digital subchannel 6.3; it was removed on January 1, 2012, when Universal Sports transitioned into a cable and satellite-only network. In early 2011, WTVJ's 4.2 digital subchannel switched its programming from NBC Plus to a 24-hour news and lifestyle network carried only on NBC's O&Os called NBC Nonstop (under the branding "NBC Miami Nonstop"; NBC Nonstop relaunched as Cozi TV on December 20, 2012); the subchannel also carried a weeknight 9 p.m. newscast, which was eventually cancelled.
WTVJ terminated its analog signal, on VHF channel 6, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WTVJ's virtual channel as 6. After the transition, the station moved its main transmitter from the former WCIX tower site in Homestead to a facility on the Broward-Dade County line, bringing WTVJ's signal on par with the other Miami television stations for the first time in fourteen years.
As part of the SAFER Act, WTVJ kept its analog signal on the air until June 26 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters. After the programming loop was completed on June 26, the station ran a pre-recorded video of news anchor Bob Mayer introducing a black-and-white film clip of Ralph Renick uttering his closing phrase, "Good night... and may the good news be yours." marking the end of analog television on WTVJ.
Syndicated programming on WTVJ currently includes Access Hollywood (including its sister show Access Hollywood Live), Steve Harvey, Extra, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show among others. The earlier three are distributed by NBCUniversal Television Distribution. WTVJ is also responsible for the production of the national lifestyle program iVillage Live, originally distributed exclusively to NBC owned-and-operated stations (with some NBC affiliates adding the show in its second season) from its debut in 2006; Until the production was moved to Chicago through their sister station WMAQ-TV in 2007 until its cancellation on March 28, 2008.
The WTVJ signal was previously relayed on three other translators, W44AC (channel 44) in Key West, W58BU (channel 58) in Hallandale (from a transmitter in Pembroke Park) and W52BB (channel 52) in Big Pine Key. Prior to the digital television transition, W58BU (which originally was assigned the W61AA calls until late 1992) was necessary as WTVJ's former analog transmitter in Redland, located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of downtown Miami, was located farther south than other Miami area television stations. As a result, Fort Lauderdale and the rest of Broward County received a grade-B signal from the station's analog transmitter. After WTVJ discontinued its analog signal on June 26, 2009, W58BU remained on the air for nearly two years afterward; however, with WTVJ's digital transmitter now located in the same area as other major television stations in the market, the need for W58BU was diminished. The translator was shut down on April 5, 2011; NBC surrendered its license, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally deleting it on June 2. W52BB remains in operation as a separate station, WGZT-LP (channel 27) in Key West.
WTVJ presently broadcasts 31 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). During weather segments, WTVJ uses two Doppler weather radar systems, "TITAN" and "VIPIR". The VIPIR Radar is branded on-air as "Live First Alert Doppler."
Soon after WTVJ signed on, the station hired Ralph Renick, who had just graduated from the University of Miami, as its first anchor and news director. Renick would serve as the face of WTVJ for nearly 36 years and became best known for his catchphrase at the end of every newscast, "Good night, and may the good news be yours". At the same time, the station also hired Bernie Rosen and Bob Weaver. One of the nation's first ever television news meteorologists, Weaver reported weather for the station for more than five decades. Rosen, who went on to run the station's award-winning sports department for more than three decades, is the only remaining original employee still working at the station, and is currently in his 64th consecutive year at WTVJ. On February 6, 2008, Rosen was presented with the prestigious Golden Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, honoring Rosen for his more than 50 years of service to the South Florida television community. While many of South Florida's veteran television personalities have received the Silver Circle Award for marking 25 years in the business, the Golden Circle Award has been given only once before in South Florida, in 2004 when it went to Bob Weaver, also a lifelong WTVJ employee.
During the early 1990s, WTVJ tried several different formats to accompany or add to their existing newscasts; these included a news/lifestyle hybrid show called South Florida at 4:30, anchored by Ana Azcuy and Ed O'Dell; a 5:30 newscast with separate anchors (Teresa Rodriguez and Steve Abrams) at both the main studio and a Fort Lauderdale studio for news coverage from that part of the area; and an hour long 5:00 show called 4 News Now anchored by Tony Segreto that was focused on breaking news and long-form stories; 4 News Now was the longest-lived of these efforts, lasting until the spring of 1994 when the 5:00 hour was reverted to a normal newscast and a half-hour 4:30 broadcast was added. In August 1992, when Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida, WTVJ was the only station to provide non-stop coverage of the storm with the assistance of meteorologist Bryan Norcross; WTVJ's coverage of the hurricane earned the station several local Emmy Awards in 1993. Most of WTVJ's archival footage from 1949 to 2004 (as well as footage from other Florida television stations) is stored at the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives in downtown Miami. In 1997, WTVJ and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel began co-producing a nightly 10 p.m. newscast on then-WB affiliate WDZL. The program was broadcast from a secondary set at WTVJ's studio facility. The program ended its run after eleven years on August 31, 2008, as the now-WSFL's owner Tribune Broadcasting opted not renew its news share agreement with the station as a result of WTVJ's then-pending sale to Post-Newsweek Stations, whose parent The Washington Post Company was a newspaper publishing competitor to Tribune.
On September 10, 2007, WTVJ debuted the first 7 p.m. newscast in the market (airing only on weeknights), a format that NBC extended to several of its other owned-and-operated stations including WNBC in New York City and KNSD in San Diego. At the same time, WTVJ dropped its 5 p.m. newscast, opting to fill the timeslot with The Ellen DeGeneres Show instead (this lasted until May 2011, when the station reinstated the 5 p.m. newscast, while concurrently canceling the 7 p.m. program). On March 5, 2008, WTVJ became the first television station in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market and the fourth station in South Florida to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On October 1, 2011, WTVJ debuted weekend morning newscasts, airing from 6-7 and 9-10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, restoring newscasts in that daypart after its previous weekend morning newscasts were cancelled in the late 2000s as part of the NBCU 2.0 budget cuts.
On May 14, 2012, WTVJ debuted a half-hour midday newscast at 11:00 a.m.; it also launched a new entertainment and lifestyle program called NBC 6 in the Mix that follows the newscast, which is similar in format to sister station WSCV's Acceso Total, which airs in the same timeslot; both programs replaced an hour-long local talk/lifestyle program called Live Miami at 11 a.m. On July 18, 2012, WTVJ debuted a brand new set designed by Clickspring Design, and the new "Look F" graphics package designed by NBC ArtWorks that is used by the other NBC-owned stations. Additionally, WTVJ dropped most references to Miami in its branding, rebranding itself "NBC 6 South Florida".
On June 13, 2016, WTVJ debuted its 4:00 P.M. newscast, becoming the third station in Miami-Fort Lauderdale to do so, which competes against WPLG, who began airing its 4:00 p.m. newscast in January 2014 and WSVN, who began airing a 4pm newscast in September 2006. In addition, WTVJ began using "Look N" graphics designed by NBC ArtWorks that is used by the other NBC-owned stations.
Notable current on-air staff
- Jackie Nespral – anchor
- John Morales (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist/Certified Consulting Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) – chief meteorologist
Notable former on-air staff
- Joe Rose
- David Bloom – 1991–1993; later at NBC News; deceased
- Joel Connable – reporter 2005–2009; former president of Travel TV News Inc.; now deceased
- Kevin Corke – anchor/reporter (2009–2011; now at Fox News)
- Katie Couric – 1984–1986; later co-anchor of NBC's Today, anchored CBS Evening News from 2006 to 2011, host of a self-named syndicated talk show from 2012–2014, and now a global news anchor for Yahoo News and ABC News
- Paul Deanno – chief meteorologist 2003–2009; now chief meteorologist at KPIX-TV in San Francisco
- Jose Diaz-Balart – anchor (early 1990s; anchor at Telemundo; now at MSNBC)
- John Hambrick – anchor/reporter 1985–1990; later went to rival WCIX; now deceased
- Larry King – later at CNN as host of Larry King Live, now host of Larry King Now on Ora.TV
- Frank Mottek - Anchor/Reporter, late 80's, early 90's. Now business news anchor at CBS Los Angeles
- Chris Myers – 1980–1982; now a Fox Sports sportscaster
- Bryan Norcross – meteorologist; 1990–1996; moved to WFOR-TV and CBS News; now storm specialist for The Weather Channel
- Nancy Humphries (O'Dell) – anchor/reporter from 1993–1995; co-host of Access Hollywood until 2009, now co-host of Entertainment Tonight
- Micah Ohlman – Anchor/Reporter; later at KABC-TV, now anchor at KTLA-TV
- Jerry Penacoli – host of PM Magazine (now correspondent for the syndicated news-magazine Extra)
- Lonnie Quinn – meteorologist; now weekday meteorologist at WCBS-TV in New York City and former weather anchor for CBS This Morning Saturday
- Ralph Renick – anchor (1949–1985; later with WCIX from 1987–1990; died July 11, 1991)
- Rick Sanchez – 2003–2006; later at CNN; now with Fox News Latino, MundoFox, and contributor at Fox News Channel
- Kerry Sanders – reporter; now at NBC News
- Charlie Van Dyke – now a radio and television announcer, WTVJ currently serves as one of his television station clients
- Bob Weaver – meteorologist; now deceased