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Revision as of 18:57, 4 January 2012

WABC-TV, channel 7, is the flagship station of the Disney-owned American Broadcasting Company, located in New York City. WABC-TV is best known in broadcasting circles for its highly successful version of the Eyewitness News format and for its morning show Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated nationally by corporate cousin Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

150px-WABC Logo.png
New York, New York
Branding ABC 7 or Channel 7(general)Channel 7 Eyewitness News(newscasts)
Slogan Number One in New York
Channels Digital: 7 (VHF)Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Affiliations ABC
Owner Disney/ABC(American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)
First air date August 10, 1948
Call letters' meaning W

American Broadcasting Company

Sister station(s) WEPN, WQEW
Former callsigns WJZ-TV (1948-1953)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

7 (VHF, 1948-2009) Digital: 45 (UHF, 1999-2009)

Transmitter power 26.9 kW
Height 405 m (1,329 ft)
Facility ID 1328
Transmitter coordinates 40°44′54.4″N73°59′8.4″W
Website www.7online.com


The station signed on August 10, 1948 as WJZ-TV, the first of three television stations signed-on by the American Broadcasting Companyduring that same year, with WENR-TV (now WLS-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 (770 AM, now WABC). 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 and affiliate recruitment. The ABC-owned stations, which operated not only in New York but in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco, did air some common programming during this period, especially after the 1949 fall season when the network's schedule in prime time began to expand. The call letters were changed to WABC-TV on March 1, 1953, after ABC merged its operations with United Paramount Theaters, a firm which was broken-off from former parent company Paramount Pictures by decree of the U.S. government. The WJZ callsign has since been reassigned, in 1957, toWestinghouse Broadcasting, the original owners of WJZ radio in New York, and assinged to the CBS O&O station in Baltimore, Maryland, although that station was a former ABC affiliate by coincidence until 1995.

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 World Trade Center towers. Transmitter maintenance engineerDonald DiFranco died in the attack. In the immediate aftermath, WABC-TV fed its signal to several UHF stations that were still broadcasting (notably WNYE-TV), before establishing temporary facilities at Armstrong Tower in Alpine, New Jersey. The station eventually established transmission facilities at the Empire State Building.

Studio fire

Due to the fire, Channel 7 broadcast Eyewitness News from the newsroom's update desk, 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 resumedEyewitness News and Live... broadcasts from its main studios at Columbus Avenue and 66th Street.

Upper West Side studio

On May 27, 2007, WABC-TV's studios at Columbus Avenue and 66th Street 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 WABC-TV website later reported the cause as an "electrical malfunction". The station's building was evacuated and the fire was brought under control, though there is said to have been "extensive damage", including smoke and water damage, to the studio. [3] 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 version of World News Now).

Digital television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Digital channels

Physical channel Video Aspect Programming
7.1 720p 16:9 main WABC-TV programming / ABC HD
7.2 720p 16:9 Live Well Network HD
7.3 480i 4:3 with 16:9 letterbox Live Well Network SD, formerly Eyewitness News Now

WABC-TV will add the transmitter on top of the new 1 World Trade Center, will be setting in 2013.

Analog-to-digital conversion

At 12:30 P.M. on June 12, 2009, WABC-TV discontinued regular analog programming on channel 7.[1] The station returned from channel 45 to channel 7.[2][3] Initially, over-the-air digital signals from WABC were difficult to receive in NYC. The explanation given is that WABC was requested by FCC to broadcast at less power; WABC is among many stations which have found it necessary to increase power to restore coverage to the same level as its old analog signal. On June 29, 2009, WABC did file an application to the FCC to increase power from 11.69 kW to 27 kW.[4] At this time, it has yet to be granted. On January 31, 2010, the FCC granted an STA for the station to increase power to 26.9 kW.[5]

Cable and satellite carriage

In the few areas of the eastern United States where ABC programming is not available over-the-air, WABC-TV is seen via satellite through DirecTV. As of March 4, 2009, WABC is once again available to Dish Network customers as part of All American Direct's distant network package. In Mercer County for Comcast Cable Subscribers, it is the only New York station aired on the basic tier on Channel 7. The rest of the New York stations are on Digital Cable for Comcast Cable subscribers only.

Disputes with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable

On March 1, 2010, WABC-TV announced that it would likely end its services with Cablevision on March 7, 2010. WABC warned Cablevision that if it could not come up with a retransmission consent agreement by March 7, the station would remove itself from Cablevision's systems, which would affect up to three million Cablevision subscribers in the station's viewing area, currently on a subscription with iO Digital Cable and Cablevision services.

On March 7, 2010 at 12:02 a.m., the station turned off its signal and was unviewable to Cablevision customers; 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, WABC urged viewers to begin switching to other services, such as Verizon FiOS and DirecTV or simply view the station over the air. Viewing the station over the air typically requires the purchasing an over-the-air digital antenna and if necessary, a digital-to-analog converter box, for older television sets.[6][7] WABC's sister station, WPVI-TV was also pulled from Cablevision service in Mercer County and parts of Ocean County and Monmouth County, NJ.[8]

Later that same day at approximately 8:50 p.m., twenty minutes into ABC's broadcast of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Cablevision and ABC had reached a fair deal. WABC-TV and its Philadelphia sister station WPVI-TV, came back on-the-air for Cablevision subscribers. The station had been off the air for nearly 21 hours.[9]

In July 2010, ABC's parent company, Disney, announced that it was involved in another carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable for the first time in ten years. This dispute involved four ABC owned-and-operated stations (WABC-TV and sister stations KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and WTVG in Toledo, Ohio), Disney Channel and the networks of ESPN. If a deal was not in place, the broadcast stations and cable channels would have been removed from Time Warner and Bright House cable 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.

News operations

WABC-TV's Eyewitness News at 11 p.m. open, 2008-present.

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.WABC-TV is best known for popularizing the Eyewitness News format, in which reporters present their stories directly to the viewers. News director Al Primo brought the format to WABC-TV in 1968 from KYW-TV in Philadelphia, but added a twist—a degree of conversational chatter among the anchors, known as "happy talk." Primo used the "Tar Sequence" cue from the musical score from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, composed by Lalo Schifrin, as the theme music. The score included a telegraphic-like 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—WLS-TV in Chicago, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and KGO-TV in San Francisco (though KGO-TV and WXYZ-TV did not use the Eyewitness News title for their programs).

In 1985, the station lured WLS-TV's news director, Bill Applegate, from Chicago to New York. 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. Their hopes were rewarded in 1987 when Channel 7 surged back into first place. It has been the ratings leader in New York since then, and has grown to become the most watched broadcast television station in the United States.[10]

For sixteen years starting in 1970, Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel were the faces of Eyewitness News. Grimsby came to channel 7 in 1968 from KGO-TV, and was the station's lead anchor when Eyewitness News was introduced. He was known for his opening tagline, "Good Evening, I'm Roger Grimsby, here now the news", and his closing line, "Hoping your news is good news, I'm Roger Grimsby." Beutel had previously anchored at channel 7 from 1962 to 1968 (shortly before ABC moved Grimsby to New York) before spending two years as the network's London bureau chief. The duo were split up for the first ten months of 1975, as ABC had reassigned Beutel to its new morning show AM America. Upon its cancellation (and replacement with Good Morning America) he was re-teamed with Grimsby.

In the wake of declining ratings, Grimsby was fired on April 16, 1986, a move for which Applegate drew considerable fire, and Grimsby was quickly hired by rival WNBC-TV. Beutel stepped down from the anchor desk in 2001, two years before his retirement, which concluded the longest tenure for a main anchor in New York television history.

While banter among anchors is still part of the weekday morning and noon broadcasts, the modern-day Eyewitness News has abandoned much of the chattiness of its predecessors. WABC's news department is respected for its straight-forward presentation (especially during breaking news). For the last decade, it has waged a spirited battle for first place with WNBC, but for most of the time has held onto the lead, helped in part by lead-ins from highly-rated talk and entertainment shows. Since December 1986 the 5:00 p.m. Eyewitness Newslead-in has been The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4:00 p.m., and its strong ratings at helps the 5:00 p.m. newscast.

WABC-TV cooperates with sister station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia—popularizer of 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 will pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations cooperate in coverage of news from New Jersey where their markets overlap, sharing reporters, live trucks, and helicopters.

Eyewitness News airs four and half hours daily, three hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sunday. 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 "Eyewitness News Now", which offered live local and national weather updated from AccuWeather. Local news headlines and updates were also provided. The format of "Eyewitness News Now" was similar to the defunct NBC Weather Plus. In February of 2011, ABC pulled ENN off the air and cable, not just in New York but Los Angeles and Chicago as well, and replaced it with a standard definition, letterboxed simulcast of the Live Well network in all three cities.

On December 2, 2006, WABC-TV began broadcasting newscasts in High Definition, becoming the second station in the New York market to do so. On September 7, 2010, WABC-TV expanded its weekday morning newscast, now airing at 4:30 a.m.; ABC's national early morning newscast America This Morning was moved a half-hour earlier as a result. Three days earlier on September 4, 2010 WABC added an hour-long extension of its Saturday morning newscast from 9-10 a.m.[11] Beginning in May 2011, WABC-TV will add another hour of local news at 4:00 p.m., replacing The Oprah Winfrey Show when its final season is over. The station will also move its newscasts to a new street-level window studio on Columbus Avenue around the same time.[12][13]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

Station slogans

  • Channel 7's the One, Still The One (1977–1978, 1979–1980; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Channel 7`s The One You Can Turn To, We`re The One (1978–1979; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • You and Me and Channel 7 (1980–1981; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Now is the Time, Channel 7 is the Place (1981–1982; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Come on Along with Channel 7 (1982–1983; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • That Special Feeling on Channel 7 (1983–1984; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • We're With You on Channel 7 (1984–1985; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • You'll Love It!, on Channel 7 (1985–1986; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Together on Channel 7 (1986–1987; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Something's Happening on Channel 7 (1987–1990; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • New York City's Watching Channel 7 (1990–1992; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • If It's New York City, It Must Be Channel 7 (1992–1993; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Number One in New York (1995–present)
  • The News Leader (only heard in news opens; 1995–present)

News music packages

In 1984, the station started using "News Series 2000", an updated version of the original Cool Hand Luke theme by Frank Gari, that had been originally commissioned by WLS-TV. The original Cool Hand Luke scores returned for a time from 1986 through 1988. In 1993, Schifrin raised his royalties for using his theme and its variations to a level that effectively priced it out of the local news market (though Australia's Nine Network still uses cuts from that theme). Gari was commissioned by WABC-TV to compose a new music package called "Eyewitness News". This package, based slightly on Cool Hand Luke, has been updated several times. As of 2009, WABC-TV uses the "Series 4" version, which was specifically updated for the station.

WABC-TV's version of the Eyewitness News Theme is reminiscent of a typewriter typing out a news story, while WABC's west coast sister KABC-TV Los Angeles and WEWS-TV in Cleveland use a more faster paced and more of a rock music version of the Eyewitness News Theme.

Movie umbrella titles

  • The Night Show (1956–1963)
  • The Goodnight Show (1961–1963)
  • Sunday Night Movie (1958–1960 & 1971–1987)
  • The Best of Broadway (1963–1971)
  • The Big Show (1963–1966 & 1968–1969)
  • The 6 O'Clock Movie (1966–1968)
  • The 4:30 Movie (1969–1981)
  • Saturday Night Movie (1971–1987)
  • Prize Movie (1969–1973)
  • The Morning Movie (1973–1977)
  • The Movie in the Morning (1977–1983)
  • Spring Cinema (1983)
  • The Movie Matinee (1971–1979)
  • Channel 7 Movie (1979–1998, primary & 2004–present, secondary)
  • ABC 7 Movie (1998–present, primary)

On-air staff

Current on-air staff (as of July 7th, 2011)

Weather team
Sports team
  • Rob Powers - sports director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Laura Behnke - sports anchor; weekend evenings at 6 and 11 p.m.
Newscopter 7 HD
  • John Del Giorno - morning photojournalist
  • Shannon Sohn - 5 and 6 p.m. photojournalist
  • Ed Hughes - fill-in photojorunalist
  • Dan Rice - fill-in photojournalist
Local program hosts

News Management

  • Kenny Plotnik - news director
  • Bill McFarland - assistant news director
  • Chad Matthews - senior executive producer
  • John Antonio - managing editor
  • David Bloch - executive producer
  • John Stone - executive producer
  • Bill Bouyer - manager-news special events
  • Kim Dillon - assignment manager

Notable former staff A–L


Office locations

The original WABC-TV offices were located at 77 West 66th Street, with studios at 7 West 66th Street. There was an underground tunnel that links ABC studios at 7 West 66th Street to the lobby of the Hotel des Artistes, a block north on West 67th Street. There was another studio inside the Hotel des Artistes that was used for Eyewitness News Conference.

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 a 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.

Live with Regis and Kelly

Main article: Live with Regis and KellyWABC-TV also produces the nationally syndicated talk show Live with Regis and Kelly, broadcast live at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern time). The program originates in the same ground-floor studio at 7 Lincoln Square as Eyewitness News, thus creating a situation which forces 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 limits the size of the Eyewitness News set.

The show began as a local morning show in 1983, 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. In 1985, Kathie Lee Johnson (who would marry Frank Gifford a year later) became Philbin's co-host. Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) began syndicating the show in 1988 as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Kathie Lee left the show in 2000 and was eventually replaced by current host Kelly Ripa. The franchise celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008.


See also


  1. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/nyregion/10legends.html
  2. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
  3. ^ FCC DTV status report for WABC
  4. ^ WWOR-DT FCC Form 387, Exhibit 4, September 15, 2008
  5. ^ https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101319333&formid=301&fac_num=1328
  6. ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/prefill_and_display.pl?Application_id=1347981&Service=DS&Form_id=911&Facility_id=1328
  7. ^ [1] Youtube- WABC Dropped By Cablevision as 1201am
  8. ^ [2] Cablevision Might Lose WABC-TV on March 7th.
  9. ^ http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=resources/inside_station/station_info&id=7314004
  10. ^ Cablevision, ABC reach deal; WABC-TV restored
  11. ^ Nielsen ratings
  12. ^ http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/2010/08/24/44695/wabc-expands-morning-news
  13. ^ WABC open 2003, YouTube.com. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  14. ^ http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/newsteam

External links

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