|New York, New York|
|Slogan||Number One in New York|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)|
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||7.1: ABC (O&O)|
7.2: Live Well Network
(American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)
|Founded||April 1947 |
|First air date||August 10, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning|
|Sister station(s)||WEPN, WEPN-FM|
|Former callsigns||WJZ-TV (1948-1953)|
|Former channel number(s)|
|Transmitter power||34 kW|
|Height||405 m (1,329 ft)|
506 m (1,660 ft) (CP)
|Public license information||Profile|
WABC-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 7, is the flagship station of the ABC television network, licensed to New York, New York, United States. The station is owned by the ABC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. WABC-TV's studios are located on Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, adjacent to ABC's corporate headquarters; its transmitter is located atop the Empire State Building.
The station signed on August 10, 1948, as WJZ-TV, the first of three television stations signed on by ABC during that same year, with WENR-TV in Chicago and WXYZ-TV in Detroit being the other two. Channel 7's call letters came from its then-sister radio station, WJZ. In its early years, WJZ-TV was programmed much like an independent station, as the ABC television network was still, for the most part, in its very early stages of development; the ABC-owned stations did air some common programming during this period, especially after the 1949 fall season when the network's prime time schedule began to expand. The station's original transmitter site was located at The Pierre Hotel at 2 East 61st Street, before moving to the Empire State Building a few years later. The station's original studios were located at 77 West 66th Street, with additional studios at 7 West 66th Street. An underground tunnel linked ABC studios at 7 West 66th Street to the lobby of the Hotel des Artistes, a block north on West 67th Street. Another studio inside the Hotel des Artistes was used for Eyewitness News Conference.
The station's call letters were changed to WABC-TV on March 1, 1953 after ABC merged its operations with United Paramount Theatres, a firm which was broken off from former parent company Paramount Pictures by decree of the U.S. government. The WJZ-TV callsign was later reassigned to Westinghouse Broadcasting (the original owners of WJZ radio in New York) as an historical nod in 1957 for their newly acquired television station in Baltimore - a station that was, by coincidence, an ABC affiliate until 1995.
As part of ABC's expansion program, initiated in 1977, ABC built 7 Lincoln Square on the southeast corner of West 67th Street and Columbus Avenue, on the site of an abandoned moving and storage warehouse. At about the same time, construction was started at 30 West 67th Street on the site of a former parking lot. Both buildings were completed in June 1979 and WABC-TV moved its offices from 77 West 66th Street to 7 Lincoln Square.
On September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of WABC-TV, as well as eight other local television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. WABC-TV's transmitter maintenance engineer Donald DiFranco died in the attack. In the immediate aftermath, the station fed its signal to WNYE-TV, WHSE-TV, WHSI-TV, and the New Jersey Network (WNJN, WNJB, WNJT, WNJS, W43CH-D, W49BE-D and W35DK-D) before establishing temporary facilities at the Armstrong Tower in Alpine, New Jersey. The station eventually re-established transmission facilities at the Empire State Building, its original home when it signed on the air in 1948.
On May 27, 2007, WABC-TV's studios suffered major damage as the result of a fire that knocked the station off the air shortly before the start of the 11:00 p.m. newscast. According to preliminary reports, the fire may have been ignited by a spotlight coming into contact with a curtain inside the news studio; the station's website later reported the cause as an "electrical malfunction". The station's building was evacuated and the fire was brought under control, though the studio was said to be "badly damaged", having suffered smoke and water damage. WABC-TV resumed broadcasting at around 1:00 a.m. on May 28, 2007 (initially carrying the network's 10:00 p.m. West Coast feed of Brothers & Sisters, followed by the full broadcast of World News Now). Due to the fire, the station broadcast Eyewitness News from the newsroom, while LIVE! with Regis and Kelly, whose set was also affected, moved to the set of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Starting with the 5:00 p.m. newscast on June 20, 2007, the station resumed the Eyewitness News and LIVE! broadcasts from its main studios at Columbus Avenue and 66th Street.
WABC-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, VHF channel 7, at 12:30 p.m. 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 45 to VHF channel 7. WABC's digital signal was initially difficult to receive over-the-air in New York City. The station was requested by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to broadcast at a lower power; WABC was among many stations which have found it necessary to increase power to restore coverage to the same level as its former analog signal. On June 29, 2009, WABC filed an application with the FCC to increase power from 11.69 kW to 27 kW. On January 31, 2010, the FCC granted a special temporary authority (STA) for the station to increase power to 26.9 kW.
In May 2013, WABC-TV and Philadelphia sister station WPVI-TV became the first two ABC-owned stations to offer live, web-based streaming of programming to authenticated subscribers of participating cable and satellite television providers as provided through the relaunched Watch ABC mobile apps.
On March 7, 2010 at 12:02 a.m. WABC-TV's signal was removed from Cablevision's New York area systems (including iO Digital Cable) after failing to reach terms on a new retransmission consent agreement; the station was replaced by either a blank screen or a looping video containing a message from Cablevision about the removal. To avoid interruption of programming, the station urged Cablevision subscribers in the station's viewing area (totaling up to three million subscribers) to switch to other services, such as Verizon FiOS and DirecTV or simply view the station over the air through an over-the-air digital antenna and if necessary, a digital converter box, for older television sets. WABC's sister station, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia was also pulled from Cablevision's New Jersey systems in Mercer, Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Later that same day at approximately 8:50 p.m., 20 minutes into ABC's broadcast of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Cablevision and ABC reached a deal, restoring WABC and WPVI's signals for Cablevision subscribers after a nearly 21-hour blackout.
In July 2010, ABC's parent company Disney announced that it was involved in a carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum), its first with that provider in 10 years. This dispute involved four ABC owned-and-operated stations (WABC-TV and sister stations KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WTVD in Durham, North Carolina and WTVG in Toledo, Ohio (which at the time, was an ABC O&O), Disney Channel and the ESPN networks. If a deal wasn't in place, the affected stations and cable channels would've been removed from Time Warner and Bright House Networks systems across the country. On September 2, 2010, Disney and Time Warner Cable reached a long-term agreement to keep the channels on Time Warner Cable systems.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||720p||16:9||WABC-HD||Main WABC-TV programming / ABC|
|7.2||LivWell||Live Well Network|
WABC has long presented events such as the Columbus Day Parade and Puerto Rican Day Parade and beginning in 2017, they became the first television station to air the New York City LGBT Pride March. In addition, the station is also producing local programs such as Viewpoint, a weekly program that highlights the cultural and community efforts in New York, Long Island and New Jersey (each of these regions rotate weekly), Here and Now, a program covering the latest issues, trends and news stories impacting the local black community, Tiempo, a weekly program that focus on the issues affecting local Hispanic citizens, and Up Close, a public affairs program on the latest issues with the newsmakers.
WABC-TV produces the nationally syndicated talk show Live with Kelly and Ryan. Until the station's newscasts were moved to a separate studio in 2011, the program originated in the same ground-floor studio at 7 Lincoln Square as Eyewitness News, thus creating a situation which forced local news updates broadcast during Good Morning America and Live to be produced from the WABC-TV newsroom and the morning show's presence also limited the size of the Eyewitness News set.
The program's roots originated with A.M. New York, which debuted in 1970 as a local version of NBC's Today show; its first host was John Bartholomew Tucker, who remained with the program until 1972. After Tucker's departure, a succession of hosts came and went, the most successful of whom was Stanley Siegel, who hosted from 1975 to 1978 (for a year beginning in 1977, the series was called The Stanley Siegel Show). After 1980, the show was retitled Good Morning New York, whose co-hosts in the last years of its run in that form included Spencer Christian, Andrea Kirby, Judy Licht, Dick Wolfsie and longtime Eyewitness News reporter and anchor Doug Johnson. After years of a losing ratings battle against Donahue on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV cancelled Good Morning New York in early 1983.
The current show began as the station's second attempt at a local morning show a month later, aptly titled The Morning Show (using the "Circle 7" logo in the actual text for one of the "o"s) and was originally hosted by Regis Philbin and Cyndy Garvey. After Garvey's departure a year later, she was replaced by Ann Abernathy, who in turn, left in 1985 to return to Los Angeles. That year, Kathie Lee Johnson (who would marry Frank Gifford a year later) became Philbin's new co-host.
In 1988, Buena Vista Television began syndicating the show nationally as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Gifford left the show in 2000 and was eventually replaced by Kelly Ripa. Philbin left the show in November 2011 and the show aired for nearly a year as Live! with Kelly until former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan became Ripa's permanent co-host in September 2012. In May 2016, Strahan left the show to become a full-time anchor at Good Morning America, thus leaving Ripa as the solo host again. On May 1, 2017, it was announced that Ryan Seacrest would become the new host of the show; in order to accommodate his syndicated radio show On Air with Ryan Seacrest (which normally originates from Los Angeles), an additional studio was built within WABC's facilities.
WABC-TV serves as the local over-the-air broadcaster of Monday Night Football games involving the New York Giants and the New York Jets, airing simulcasts of the team's ESPN-televised games (WABC-TV's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, holds an 80% majority ownership stake in ESPN, and the ABC Owned Television Stations have right of first refusal for simulcasts of ESPN's NFL telecasts within a team's home market). Because of this, atypical for a network-owned station outside of breaking news and severe weather coverage necessitating such situations, the station has had to reschedule ABC network programs preempted by the telecasts. The preseason and Monday night telecasts mark the only NFL games to have aired on WABC-TV since ABC lost the rights to NFL games in 2006.
Since 2013, WABC-TV serves as the exclusive local English-language carrier of the annual New York City Marathon, which the station airs live, highlights air via ESPN on ABC. The station preempts a weekend edition of Good Morning America and delays This Week to schedule time for the live broadcast. The marathon is also simulcast on ESPN2 nationally (although viewers in the WABC-TV viewing area cannot see it via ESPN2 because the simulcast is blacked out locally).
WABC-TV presently broadcasts 43 hours, 55 minutes of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6 hours, 35 minutes each weekday and 5½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). The station partners with Philadelphia sister station, WPVI-TV - which popularized the Action News format - in the production and broadcast of statewide New Jersey political debates. When the two stations broadcast a statewide office debate, such as for Governor or U.S. Senate, they'll pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations share coverage of news from New Jersey where their markets overlap, pooling reporters, live trucks and helicopters.
WABC-TV launched Report to New York, its first regular news program, on October 26, 1959, featuring Scott Vincent with news, Howard Cosell with sports, and Lynn Dollar with weather. Report to New York aired Monday through Friday at 11:00 p.m. By January 1961, channel 7 expanded Report to New York with a 15-minute early edition at 6:15 p.m. on weeknights, and on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
On October 22, 1962, WABC-TV expanded its weeknight news to 45-minutes, and retitled it The Big News. Newcomers Bill Beutel and Jim Barnes were the anchors, with Cosell continuing on sports and Rosemary Haley as "weather girl". However, this effort failed to draw viewers from ratings leader WCBS-TV and second-place WNBC.
In early 1968, Beutel left the station to become the London bureau chief for ABC News and was replaced by Roger Grimsby, who was transferred by ABC from San Francisco sister station KGO-TV. In a complete revamp, Grimsby was joined by Tex Antoine doing weather, celebrity gossip columnist Rona Barrett, New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin with political commentary and reviews by Martin Bookspan and Allan Jeffries, while Cosell continued doing sports. Known as Roger Grimsby and the Noisemakers, this format didn't help the ratings, which plunged to an all-time low.
Later that year, newly hired news director Al Primo brought to WABC-TV the Eyewitness News format, in which reporters present their stories directly to the viewers. Having experienced great success introducing the format during his time at KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Primo this time added a twist - a degree of conversational chatter among the anchors, known as "happy talk". The "Tar Sequence" cue from the musical score of the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, composed by Lalo Schifrin, was introduced as the theme music. The score included a telegraphic-style melody appropriate for a newscast. The Eyewitness News format and theme music were quickly adopted by ABC's other four owned-and-operated stations at the time: KGO-TV, WLS-TV in Chicago, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and KABC-TV in Los Angeles (though KGO-TV and WXYZ-TV didn't use the Eyewitness News title for their programs). The format quickly rejuvenated a station that had long been an also-ran to WCBS-TV and WNBC-TV. Within a year, Channel 7 had shot to first place in the ratings for the first time in its history, displacing longtime leader WCBS-TV. It spent most of the decade going back and forth with WCBS-TV for first place. For a time in the 1980s, it fell into last place, but still fought with WNBC-TV for second place.
Retaining only Grimsby, Cosell and Antoine from the earlier Noisemakers format, Primo also hired Tom Dunn away from WCBS-TV to serve as Grimsby's co-anchor. After Dunn departed for WOR-TV in 1970, Bill Beutel returned to the station as his replacement and for the next 16 years, Grimsby and Beutel were the faces of Eyewitness News.
The Grimsby-Beutel team were split up for several months in 1975 after ABC had reassigned Beutel to its new morning show, AM America that January. The station brought in WXYZ-TV's Bill Bonds and veteran Boston anchor Tom Ellis to help replace Beutel, with Grimsby teaming with Ellis at 6:00 p.m. and Bonds at 11:00 p.m. When AM America was canceled and replaced with Good Morning America in November 1975, Beutel was re-teamed with Grimsby at 6:00 p.m., with Ellis joining Bonds at 11:00 p.m.. Bonds returned to Detroit in June 1976 and was replaced by Larry Kane, who lasted only one year as the sole 11:00 p.m. anchor before returning to his home market of Philadelphia. Ellis remained until May 1977 and Kane's successor, Ernie Anastos, began his New York career at the station; he co-anchored at 11:00 p.m. with Rose Ann Scamardella and later Kaity Tong, for his entire 12-year tenure there.
On November 30, 1981, the station became the second in the city to expand its late afternoon/evening newscasts by adding of a 5:00 p.m. edition, first presented by Rose Ann Scamardella and Storm Field, later succeeded by Kaity Tong and Tom Snyder, the latter only lasting several months before being replaced by 11:00 p.m. co-anchor Ernie Anastos.
In 1985, the station lured WLS-TV's news director, Bill Applegate, from Chicago to New York City. Applegate claimed credit for taking WLS-TV from last to first in only two years and ABC hoped he could work the same magic at the flagship station. In the wake of declining ratings, Grimsby was fired on April 16, 1986, a move for which Applegate drew considerable ire and Grimsby was quickly hired by rival WNBC-TV. In 1987, Channel 7 surged back into first place. It has been the ratings leader in New York City since then, and has grown to become the most-watched broadcast television station in the United States. Beutel stepped down from the anchor desk in 2001, which concluded the longest tenure for a main anchor in New York City television history at that time. His record has since been surpassed by WNBC's Chuck Scarborough and WXTV's Rafael Pineda. Scarborough's uninterrupted run behind the desk is the longest in New York television (since 1974). Pineda is second, having started with WXTV in 1972, retiring in 2013 after 41 years.
WABC-TV's news department is respected for its straightforward presentation (especially during breaking news). For the last decade, it has waged a spirited battle for first place, but for most of the time has held onto the lead, helped in part by lead-ins from highly rated talk and entertainment shows. For over 24 years (December 1986 to May 2011), the lead-in for the 5:00 p.m. Eyewitness News broadcast had been The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4:00 p.m. and its strong ratings brought viewers along to the 5:00 p.m. newscast.
The newscasts were replayed on one of channel 7's digital subchannels, another which also carried a local weather and news channel. WABC-TV's website had a link for live streaming video of "Channel 7 Eyewitness News NOW", which offered live local and national weather updated from AccuWeather alongside local news. The format of "Eyewitness News NOW" is similar to the defunct NBC Weather Plus. On February 24, 2011, AccuWeather and ABC both replaced ENN as well as similar news channels on WABC-TV's sister stations, KABC-TV in Los Angeles and WLS-TV in Chicago, replacing them in all three cities with a standard definition, letterboxed simulcast of the Live Well Network, and then on April 15, 2015, these stations were replaced by Laff.
On December 2, 2006, WABC-TV became the second station in the New York City market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On September 7, 2010, WABC-TV expanded its weekday morning newscast, moving its start time to 4:30 a.m. 3 Days earlier on September 4, 2010, WABC added an hour-long extension of its Saturday morning newscast from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. On May 26, 2011, WABC-TV added another hour of local news at 4:00 p.m. to replace Oprah, which aired its last original episode the previous day. WABC also produces a 7:00 p.m. newscast on Saturdays following college football during the regular season.
On September 24, 2011, the station began broadcasting its newscasts and public affairs programs from a new street-level window studio at a former Disney Store location in the ABC building on 66th Street and Columbus Avenue. The space previously used for news broadcasts was used to expand the Live with Kelly studio. In January 2012, the station also expanded its weekend 11:00 p.m. newscasts to an hour. On September 8, 2014, the station expanded its Noon newscast to one full hour from the previous half hour.
Media related to WABC-TV at Wikimedia Commons