call_letters = WPXN-TV
station_branding = ION Television
analog = 31 (UHF)
digital = 30 (UHF)
subchannels = (see article)
November 5, 1961
location = New York, New York
callsign_meaning = PaXsoN, after former owner Paxson Communications
former_callsigns = WUHF (1961-1962)
ION Media Networks
licensee = Paxson Communications License Company, LLC
former_affiliations = noncommercial independent, with some NET/
Pax TV (1998-2005)
effective_radiated_power = 1800 kW (analog)
100 kW (digital)
HAAT = 360 m (analog)
360 m (digital)
facility_id = 73356
coordinates = coord|40|44|54.4|N|73|59|8.4|W|type:landmark_scale:2000
homepage = [http://www.ionline.tv/ www.ionline.tv]
WPXN-TV, which broadcasts on channel 31 in
New York City, is the flagship station of the ION Televisionnetwork, formerly known as Pax TV and i.
The City of New York, which was one of the country's first municipalities to enter into broadcasting with the
1924sign-on of WNYC radio, was granted a commercial television license in 1952. Nine years later, on November 5, 1961, WUHF took to the air for the first time. Through the Municipal Broadcasting System, which held the channel 31 license, the City (led by then-mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr.) used WUHF as an experiment to determine the viability of UHF broadcasts within an urban environment. Some of the early programming on WUHF included educational films and college-level telecourses and, reportedly, a nightly rundown of the New York City Police Department's "wanted" criminals list.
After a year of test broadcasting the station became a full-time operation on
November 1, 1962, with new call letters WNYC-TV to match its sister radio stations WNYC (then at 830 AM and now at 820 AM) and WNYC-FM (93.9 MHz). Though the channel 31 license was classified as commercial, WNYC-TV was operated as a noncommercial station. Some of the programming from the experimental period continued, and now included live broadcasts of the United Nations' General Assembly meetings. As a municipally-owned station, WNYC-TV also devoted airtime to shows focused on civic affairs, along with other public-interest programs. The station also carried some programming from National Educational Televisionand its successor, the Public Broadcasting Service, but later increasingly ran more independent educational programs. For many years, WNYC-TV ran a 15-minute newscast on weekdays, called "News From City Hall" (later called "News City" and expanded to 30 minutes), highlighting the day's events in municipal government.
1979the City (under mayor Edward I. Koch), then under a fiscal crisis, had considered selling the WNYC stations to other interests. Instead, the WNYC Foundation was established as an outlet to raise operating capital for the stations. Though there were bi-annual fundraising appeals made by the WNYC stations, WNYC-TV did not run on-air pledge drives in a manner similar to other PBS stations, mostly because of its commercial license status.
During the 1980s, channel 31 began leasing blocks of airtime to foreign-language broadcasters. Among the largest providers of foreign programming were
Japan's Fujisankei Communications Group, which aired a morning show on weekdays, and RAI, the Italian public broadcaster which programmed two hours on weeknights, and five hours on Sunday mornings, a period which included airings of Italian soccer games.
Also during this era, WNYC-TV joined the
music videophenomenon -- and in the process contributed to the growth of hip hop cultureand rap music. In the summer of 1984 channel 31 premiered the hour-long " Video Music Box", which started off with an eclectic selection of videos from pop, rock, and rhythm-and-blues artists. Rap music was also included, but eventually the program became exclusive to the rap and R&B genres. "Video Music Box" served as a launching pad for many rap music artists, and was said to have been the basis behind MTVcreating " Yo! MTV Raps" several years later. "Video Music Box" would remain prominently on WNYC-TV's schedule for the next decade (the show now airs on WNYE-TV).
In 1995 the City, now under the mayoralty of Rudolph W. Giuliani, decided that the time had come to get out of broadcasting, as radio and television were no longer essential as municipal entities. The WNYC radio stations were sold to the WNYC Foundation, while bids were solicited for WNYC-TV. A partnership of
Dow Jones and Companyand ITTwon the WNYC-TV auction with a bid of $207 million, which at the time was the largest price ever paid for a UHF television station. The sale of channel 31 to commercial interests had many detractors. Foreign broadcasters complained, as they now found themselves without an outlet for their programming, and individual financial contributors criticized the Giuliani administration for selling the station to the highest commercial bidder, rather than to the WNYC Foundation. The foreign producers found new outlets through WNYE-TV, Newton, New Jersey-based WMBC-TV, and the City-owned Crosswalks cable network.
The sale took nearly a year to become official, and on Midnight,
June 30, 1996, WNYC-TV signed off for the final time [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVF7fNZ8-_c] . Twelve hours later, at Noon on July 1, channel 31 reappeared as WBIS-TV (or S+), carrying programming from the Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic) most of the day, and infomercialsin overnights. Meanwhile, Dow Jones and ITT worked on their planned permanent format for WBIS, which would offer business news during the day and professional sports news and games at night. The new format would launch in January 1997, with business news from Dow Jones running for twelve hours, starting at 6 a.m.. At 6 p.m., the station began its sports programming. ITT, then co-owners of Madison Square Garden(and the teams that played in the venue) with Cablevision, offered the team coverage with the New York Knicksand New York Rangers, and sports news was provided from Fox Sports Net. WBIS-TV was also slated to carry some games of the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and New Jersey Nets. Some Classic Sports Network programming remained on weekends and on evenings when there was no live sports coverage, and infomercials continued in overnights. There was some talk that WBIS would secure broadcast rights for the New York Yankees, but that team opted to remain with WPIXfor the 1997 season.
The WBIS hybrid format, though ambitious, was a complete dud as the station failed to attract viewers or be profitable. In May 1997, ITT sold its share of the station, as well as its half of Madison Square Garden, in an effort to resist a hostile takeover attempt by the
Hilton Hotels Corporation. Dow Jones continued to run the station alone, but within weeks decided it could no longer support the losses and looked to sell out. Paxson Communications, which owned several UHF stations nationwide, purchased WBIS for $225 million, topping the 1995 sale price by $18 million. The hybrid format was taken off the air in June, though reruns of WBIS' business programming, Fox Sports World, and documentaries from the CBS cable presence "Eye On People" ran in the interim. Paxson took control of the station in August, renaming it as WPXN-TV, and ran channel 31 under a local marketing agreementwith a format that featured Bloomberg Business News in daytime, infomercials (from Paxson's "inTV") and religious programs (from Paxson's Worship Network) the rest of the day. The LMA was necessary as Paxson was seeking FCC permission to keep both WPXN and WHAI-TV (channel 43) in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The FCC eventually granted Paxson a temporary waiver for the purchase of WPXN, which closed on March 6, 1998. A year later, Paxson sold the Bridgeport station to other interests.
August 31, 1998WPXN, along with the rest of the Paxson stations, premiered the new Pax television network, with a programming mix of infomercials, off-network reruns labeled as "family entertainment", and the Worship Network during overnights. NBCpurchased a 32 percent stake in Pax in 1999, and as part of the deal NBC encouraged its stations, both owned and affiliated, to enter into joint sales agreements with the local Pax outlet. In New York, WNBC-TVdid just that with WPXN, and as a result channel 31 aired rebroadcasts of WNBC-TV's evening newscasts, at 7 and 11:30 p.m.. The LMA arrangements ended in July 2005, though NBC retains its ownership share in the network to the present day.
September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of channel 31, as well as six other New York City television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Centertowers. When WPXN-TV returned to the air days later, channel 31 was broadcasting at low power from a temporary facility in West Orange, New Jersey. It has since moved its transmitter to the Empire State Building.
In July 2005 Pax TV changed its name to "i", and on
January 29, 2007, the network became ION Television. Like most ION stations, WPXN then ran infomercials until 6 p.m. daily, except for some religious shows on weekday mornings and Sunday mornings, along with some educational shows from quboon Friday afternoons, and ION's collection of mostly-off-network reruns filling the primetime portion of the schedule plus one public affairs show, "ION New York City". ION Television expanded to begin entertainment programming at 5:00 p.m. weekdays in January of 2008. Beginning September of 2008 entertainment programs start on weekdays at 4:00 p.m.
WPXN used to have two translators that rebroadcasted its signal on two low-power stations: WPXU-LP (channel 38) in
Amityville, New York, which went silent several years ago due to WWOR-DT being assigned that channel for their digital signal, and WPXO-LP(channel 34) in East Orange, New Jersey, which was sold in August 2007, and is now an affiliate of Spanish-language network Caribevision. [Turner, Cynthia ( August 9, 2007). Cynopsis 8/9/07. "Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis", accessed on August 11, 2007, [http://www.cynopsis.com/content/view/2704] ] . However, as of October, 2007, both translators are still identified during WPXN's hourly station identification.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009 http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf] , WPXN-TV will move its digital broadcasts back to its present analog channel number, 31. [http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101234569&formid=387&fac_num=73356 CDBS Print ] ]
* [http://www.ionline.tv/ ION Television website]
* [http://www.current.org/people/peop016m.html Current, September 3, 1990]
* [http://www.current.org/rad/rad622ny.html Current, November 25, 1996]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVF7fNZ8-_c The final signoff of WNYC-TV on YouTube]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiFHeYrrsk The final signoff of WBIS-TV on YouTube]
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