The Boston TV Dial: WCVB-TV

Who, What, Where

Community: Boston
Analog channel: 5−
Digital channel: 20 (will keep)
PSIP: 5-1: main program
5-2: weather
5-3: ABC News Now (occ.)
Ownership: WCVB Hearst-Argyle TV, Inc.
(Hearst-Argyle Television [NYSE: HTV])
Studio: 5 TV Place
Needham, MA 02192-2396
Transmitter: 350 Cedar Street
Needham, MA 02192-1818
Phones:
Receptionist +1 781 449 0400
Audience Relations 433 4771
Network: ABC

Technical Parameters

WCVB-TV transmits on analog chanel 5 from the Viacom tower in Needham, with 61.7 kW peak visual ERP, from a circularly-polarized antenna 353 meters above average terrain, diplexed with WBZ-TV 4. WCVB-TV's digital service uses channel 20 with 625 kW average from a UHF panel antenna at 390 meters on the same tower, shared with WBZ-TV 30, WGBX-TV 44, and WSBK-TV 39.

Station History

WCVB-TV took over the channel 5 allocation after a long-running court battle with WHDH-TV. That history is documented further under WEEI. WCVB was founded as a local station, owned by “Boston Broadcasters Inc.”, a group of investors headed by Robert Bennett and Leo Beranek. BBI's Boston owners promised the FCC that they would provide more local programming than any other commercial station in America at the time (1972). That promise led CBS to decline to affiliate with WCVB, and the station instead affiliated with ABC. Former ABC affiliate WNAC-TV 7 picked up CBS.

When WHDH-TV 5 finally lost its license on March 19, 1972, WCVB was ready to go with a new transmitter (leasing tower space from WBZ-TV) and new studios (in an old International Harvester dealership in Needham). WCVB (the callsign stood for Channel V Boston) made good on its promise, often pre-empting the network for local specials, and even a locally-produced sitcom for one season.

NewsCenter 5 quickly shot to the top of the ratings, and has remained there more or less ever since. Anchors Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson have become Boston institutions. BBI sold WCVB to Metromedia in 1982 for a then-record $220 million. Metromedia sold again in 1986, to Hearst. In 1997, Hearst merged its television operation with Argyle Stations, forming today's Hearst-Argyle Television. While Hearst-Argyle is a publicly-traded company, a controlling interest is held by closely-held Hearst Corp.

WCVB-DT became the first digital station in New England when it began service on October 29, 1998, with a live broadcast of a space shuttle launch.

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This station profile was written by the editors of The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. We have no relationship with the station; please send any comments or questions about their programming directly to the station. Network connectivity courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

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