|Plattsburgh, New York/Burlington, Vermont
NBC 5 News
The Valley CW (DT2)
The Valley’s MeTV (DT3)
|Slogan||Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond
Dare to Defy (DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
5.2 The CW
|Translators||31 (UHF) WNNE Hartford, VT|
|Affiliations||NBC (Secondary through 1968)|
(Hearst Stations, Inc.)
|First air date||December 8, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||PlatTZburgh (sic)|
|Sister station(s)||WMUR-TV, WMTW,
|Former callsigns||WIRI (1954–1956)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
5 (VHF, 1954–2009)
|Former affiliations||Both secondary:
NBC WX+ (2006–2009)
This TV (2009–2013)
|Transmitter power||650 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WPTZ is the NBC-affiliated television station for Upstate New York's North Country and Northern Vermont's Champlain Valley. Licensed to Plattsburgh, New York, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 14 (or virtual channel 5.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Owned by Hearst Television, the station has studios on Television Drive in the town of Plattsburgh. WPTZ previously served as the default NBC affiliate for northern areas of the nearby Watertown, New York market (most notably Massena), while WSTM-TV in Syracuse served Watertown proper. Both WPTZ and WSTM-TV lost those statuses on December 1, 2016 when WVNC-LD signed on as the Watertown market's first full-time NBC affiliate.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 Canadian viewership
- 5 News operation
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The station signed on the air on December 8, 1954 as WIRI, licensed to the hamlet of North Pole, New York. It was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with WIRY radio (1340 AM). The station's first studio facilities were located on Cornelia Street/Route 3 in Plattsburgh; the transmitter was located on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. The station would have had the call letters WIRY-TV to match its radio sister, but at the time Federal Communications Commission regulations did not allow two stations to share the same base call letters if they were licensed to different cities.
The station has been a primary NBC affiliate since its inception; it carried secondary affiliations with ABC until 1968 when WVNY (channel 22) signed-on, and with DuMont until that network ceased operations in 1956.
Renamed as WPTZ
Rollins Telecasting purchased WIRI in 1956. The new owners changed the station's call letters to the present WPTZ (for PlatTZburgh); the WPTZ calls had recently been dropped by the channel 3 facility in Philadelphia following its controversial trade by Westinghouse Broadcasting to NBC earlier in that year. In 1979, the station relocated its studios to a new building located on Old Moffitt Road in Plattsburgh. Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media. In 1991, Heritage Media purchased WNNE, which had been a separate station with its own news department. With Heritage's purchase, WNNE was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ, significantly improving WPTZ's coverage in the southeastern part of the market. During the analog era, WPTZ was the only station in the area that did not operate any translators. WNNE's master control was transferred to WPTZ in 2000.
Heritage sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to its merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new Fox affiliate WFFF-TV, which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA) and shared the analog transmitter on Terry Mountain. Otherwise WPTZ/WNNE, along with then-sister stations in Pensacola, Florida and Charleston, West Virginia would have been forced to switch to Fox. Sinclair, in turn, sold WPTZ/WNNE along with the WFFF LMA to Sunrise Television in 1998. Sunrise then decided to swap WPTZ/WNNE, along with Smith Broadcasting-owned KSBW in Salinas, California to what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WDTN in Dayton, Ohio. The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-owned and controlled station around the same time Hearst took over WPTZ/WNNE when the LMA with WPTZ was terminated.
On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the FCC to change its community of license (COL) from North Pole to Plattsburgh. The station cited the area's declining population as the reason for the change. The 2000 United States Census did not even count North Pole as a separate community, instead folding it into Lake Placid. The community-of-license change was approved by the FCC on January 5, 2011. For some time before then, the station had dropped North Pole from its legal IDs.
On July 9, 2012, WPTZ's parent company Hearst Television was involved in a dispute with Time Warner Cable, leading to WPTZ being pulled from Time Warner Cable and temporarily replaced with Nexstar Broadcasting Group station WBRE-TV of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Time Warner opted for such a distant signal like WBRE, as they do not have the rights to carry any NBC affiliate closest to them. The substitution of WBRE in place of WPTZ lasted until July 19, 2012, when the deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.
On August 2, 2016, just before the Summer Olympics in Rio, WPTZ changed its logo and on-air branding from "NewsChannel 5" to "NBC5".
WNNE in Hartford, Vermont operates as a full time satellite of WPTZ extending the NBC signal into the Upper Valley of East-Central Vermont and West-Central New Hampshire. The station airs the same broadcast schedule as its parent, but airs limited advertising specific to the Upper Valley. Although master control and most internal operations of WNNE are based out of WPTZ's facility, it does operate an advertising sales office on Dewitt Drive in in White River Junction, Vermont (a village of Hartford).
From the mid-1990s onward, WNNE's operations were progressively cut back, culminating in 2016 when all separate branding and idents were eliminated. WNNE is still mentioned in WPTZ's legal IDs.
WNNE primarily serves the southern and eastern portions of the Plattsburgh/Burlington market including Sullivan and Grafton counties in New Hampshire. Additional viewership comes from surrounding counties in the Southern New Hampshire sub-market which is actually part of the Greater Boston designated market area. As a result, WNNE is within reach of the home territories of sister stations WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire, WMTW in Portland, Maine as well as Hearst's New England flagship, WCVB-TV in Boston, Massachusetts.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||WPTZ-HD||Main WPTZ programming / NBC|
|5.2||720p||The CW||The Valley CW|
WPTZ shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 14. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5. It was one of the first stations owned by Hearst to cease analog broadcasting (KITV in Honolulu, Hawaii was the other).
In September 2006, WPTZ established a daily web video forecast as part of a major revamping of its website. The feature, called "Weather Plus Update", introduced a logo showing WPTZ/WNNE offering NBC Weather Plus together as "5&31 Weather Plus". Starting in October, its studios in Plattsburgh underwent extensive renovations. During that time, its broadcasts were from a temporary set while the construction took place. While the studios as a whole were being upgraded, the weather department underwent the most change. In advance of the launch of NBC Weather Plus, the weather center was expanded to make room for new combined WPTZ/WNNE weather graphics and logos. The remodeling was completed by late-November.
WPTZ launched Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel on November 15 after debuting a new digital signal from Mount Mansfield a day earlier. The service was never offered on WNNE's digital signal even though this had been airing since July 20, 2005. On digital cable, WPTZ-DT2 was carried on Comcast digital channel 169 (serving the Upper Valley), Telecom digital channel 305, and Time Warner Cable digital channel 854. It was never offered on Charter systems in New York State.
In December 2008, NBC shut down the national Weather Plus service after its parent company, NBCUniversal, purchased The Weather Channel. WPTZ continued to air a locally-derived version of Weather Plus until August 31, 2009 when it was replaced with This TV. This marked the network's first foray into the Plattsburgh and Burlington area along with St. Lawrence County in New York and eastern portions of the adjacent Watertown market where WPTZ has long served as the default NBC affiliate on cable. WPTZ-DT2 remained on the three digital cable systems (with a change on Comcast systems to channel 302) while being added to Charter digital channel 296. It was still not carried on a subchannel of WNNE. On January 2, 2013, This TV was replaced on 5.2 by its sister network, MeTV (Memorable Entertainment Television). Both networks were owned at the time by Weigel Broadcasting (Tribune Broadcasting has since taken over the network).
On March 4, 2013, WPTZ's second digital subchannel assumed the CW affiliation for the Plattsburgh/Burlington market from WFFF-DT2. It continued to air MeTV programming outside CW network slots until September 2014, when MeTV was separated into its own subchannel. While it airs The CW's schedule in-pattern, The Bill Cunningham Show, which airs weekdays at 3 p.m. on many CW affiliates, was delayed to 12:30 a.m until the launch of a separate MeTV subchannel. Since the main WPTZ channel also serves as one of the default NBC affiliates for Massena, New York (along with WSTM-TV in Syracuse), that area now has access to two CW affiliates when Watertown's WWTI-DT2 is included. Despite adding The CW, there have been no plans made public about WPTZ's semi-satellite WNNE adding the network in order to increase the broadcasting radius. Currently, access in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire is solely through the digital tier of Comcast or Charter systems.
On September 15, 2014, WPTZ separated The CW and MeTV into their own subchannels, 5.2 and 5.3 respectively, but did not add them to WNNE's signal. WPTZ-DT2 now airs syndicated programming outside of CW network hours via The CW Plus. In April 2016, WPTZ-DT2 upgraded their over-the-air digital signal into 720p high definition; thus offering a high definition feed for The CW for the first time in the Burlington/Plattsburgh area (and the entire Champlain Valley and Beyond) and a second high definition feed for The CW in Massena, New York (the other being WWTI-DT2 of Watertown, New York, which has been broadcasting its digital over-the-air signal in 720p high definition since August 17, 2012). In May 2016, Comcast began carrying WPTZ-DT2's high definition feed on digital channel 706 for Burlington (as well as Upper Connecticut River Valley) viewers and Charter began carrying WPTZ-DT2's high definition feed on digital channel 711 for Plattsburgh viewers.
The entire NBC line-up is currently cleared by WPTZ, supplemented by syndicated programming, such as Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. In the past, as a station not owned and operated by the network, it preempted selective NBC shows, and such programs as NBC News Overnight, GO!, Hot Potato, The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, Santa Barbara, Trialwatch, the 1990 version of Let's Make a Deal, and the Bob Goen version of Wheel of Fortune were never broadcast by the station. NBC was far less tolerant of program preemptions during the entire timeframe where WPTZ pre-empted programming from that network.
Like the other network stations that serve Plattsburgh and Burlington, WPTZ has a large audience in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, a city that is ten times more populous than all of WPTZ's entire American viewing area combined. For many years, station promos and IDs have read "Plattsburgh/Burlington/Montreal" to acknowledge its large cable viewership in Canada.
WPTZ is widely carried on cable in the province of Quebec as far north as Saguenay and as far east as Gaspé. In addition, Southern Quebec viewers can also pick up WPTZ's over the air signal with a well-placed antenna. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's simsub rules mandate cable systems to cover up WPTZ's signal with that of CFCF-DT, CKMI-DT-1, or CJNT-DT within their broadcasting areas when one of those stations is airing the same program at the same time as WPTZ.
For most of its history, WPTZ's newscasts have been a distant second in the ratings behind long-dominant CBS affiliate WCAX-TV. In more recent years, NBC5 has been a ratings leader in the market. Traditionally, it focused more on the North Country and New York State, while WCAX and WVNY/WFFF tend to cover more from Vermont. In order to cover that state, WPTZ operates secondary facilities known as the Vermont Bureau on Roosevelt Highway (U.S. 2/U.S. 7) in Colchester. At one point, there had been more general assignment reporters based at the main studios in Plattsburgh. However in more recent times,[when?] additional reporters based at the Vermont Bureau have been hired.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WNNE operated its own news department and aired local newscasts. This was progressively cut back after being bought by Heritage, eventually resulting in the elimination of a full news operation in 2007. Today, the only visual difference between the stations are different channel bugs during newscasts. Occasionally when WNNE has technical problems, WPTZ's logo will peek through. The two formerly use the NBC5 branding.
During newscasts on WPTZ, WNNE is referred to as the Upper Valley Bureau and features a full-time reporter based in its White River Junction studios. In addition to the Upper Valley and Vermont Bureaus, WPTZ airs national news from Hearst Television's Washington, D.C. bureau. It employs several reporters who give live reports to the various Hearst affiliates.
Although WPTZ and WNNE do not own or operate weather radars of their own, they use live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites. It is presented on-screen in a forecasting system known as "First Alert Storm Tracker" (powered by the Super Doppler Network). With the departure of Thom Hallock (whose contract was not renewed by station) on November 23, 2007, WPTZ was left with an all-woman weeknight anchor team. That changed with the arrival of Gus Rosendale. He left WPTZ in 2005 to report at sister station WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. George Mallet was hired to take his place shortly thereafter.
In August 2009, the station introduced a new format and title to its weeknight newscast at 11. The re-formatted show called NewsChannel 5 Nightcast features more fast-paced and edgier news. Despite its logo which includes "HD", the newscasts were aired in pillar-boxed 4:3 standard definition and it was the only station in the market to not have upgraded local news to high definition. WPTZ was one of six remaining stations owned by Hearst that has yet to make the upgrade to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen or full HD, until on April 26, 2011, when WPTZ started airing newscasts in widescreen. However, unlike the newscasts on WCAX-TV and WFFF-TV/WVNY, the WPTZ newscasts are not in true HD—just SD widescreen. In August 2013, WPTZ started airing the area's very first weekend morning news. NewsChannel 5 Today airs on Saturdays from 5:00-7:00 and on Sundays from 6:00-8:00 a.m. This beats WCAX-TV, which had previously announced that they would add weekend morning news.
In April 2014, the station announced they were going to revamp their set. After a few weeks of broadcasting from a temporary set put together in the newsroom, the new set debuted. The old set was completely removed and a new set was constructed by FX Group. The set was a major departure from their prior set, which debuted in 2006. One major change made was the elimination of the newsroom as the backdrop for the anchor desk. Also on September 29, 2014, WPTZ debuted a nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast which airs on both The Valley CW (5.2) and The Valley's MeTV (5.3) simultaneously.
On June 20, 2016, WPTZ debuted a half-hour midday 12:00 p.m. newscast, became the second television station in the Champlain Valley complete with a 10-minute newscast on WCAX-TV, coinciding with the cancellation of FABLife.  On August 2, 2016 following the station rebrand itself as "NBC 5", the newscast branding was now named as NBC 5 News.
Notable former on-air-staff
- Dawn Fratangelo (now NBC News correspondent)
- Ed Harding - sports director (1975-1977; now at sister station WCVB-TV in Boston)
- Jeanne Moos - became WPTZ's first female correspondent in 1976 (now reporter for CNN)
- Chris Ortloff (early-1980s; served in the New York State Assembly from 1986 until 2007; Ortloff pleaded guilty to felony charge of online enticement of minors on December 24, 2008, and was sentenced on April 23, 2009)
- NBC to launch affiliate in Watertown, Watertown Daily Times, November 4, 2016
- "The community-of-license change was approved by the FCC on January 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 29, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- Adweek: "Hearst and Time Warner Cable Part Ways Over Retrans", July 10, 2012.
- Adweek: "Imported Signals in Retrans Fight Raise Regulatory Questions", July 10, 2012.
- Orlando Sentinel: "WESH off Bright House; Pennsylvania station is substitute", July 10, 2012.
- Broadcasting & Cable: "Hearst TV, Time Warner Cable End Viewer Blackout", July 19, 2012.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WPTZ
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Me-TV Adds WPTZ Burlington, KVLY Fargo, TVNewsCheck, November 14, 2012.
- "Official WPTZ-TV announcement of plans to launch The CW Network | Vermont - WPTZ Home". Wptz.com. 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "WPTZ launches new channel, expands programming of two popular networks | Entertainment - WPTZ Home". Wptz.com. 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- TitanTV TV Query for WPTZ
- "WPTZ-DT2 listings". Zap2it. 2014-09-15. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WPTZ
- tv.twcc.com/listings (Via Entering The Appropriate Zip Codes)
- WPTZ and 10:00 p.m. news on 2 channels? Yes, this is true... The Changing Newscasts Blog, September 12th, 2014.
- WPTZ now decides to have local news at 12:00 Noon to compete against WCAX. The Changing Newscasts Blog, June 22, 2016.
- "Ed Harding bio". WCVB-TV. Retrieved 12 March 2013.