Current WPHL Logo, branded with MyNetworkTV background
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Branding PHL17 (general)
PHL17 News (newscasts)
Channels Digital: 17 (UHF)
Virtual: 17 (PSIP)
Subchannels 17.1 MyNetworkTV
17.2 Antenna TV
17.3 This TV
17.4 Tango Traffic
Owner Tribune Company
(Tribune Television Company)
First air date June 17, 1960 (original incarnation)
September 17, 1965 (current incarnation)
Call letters' meaning PHiLadelphia
(PHL is also IATA airport code for Philadelphia International Airport and Amtrak code for 30th Street Station)
Former callsigns WPCA-TV (1960-1962)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
17 (UHF, 1960-2009)
54 (UHF, 1996-2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1960-1962)
silent (1962-1965)
Independent (1965-1995)
The WB (1995-2006)
Transmitter power 645 kW
Height 324 m
Facility ID 73879
Transmitter coordinates 40°2′30″N 75°14′23″W / 40.04167°N 75.23972°W / 40.04167; -75.23972
Website www.myphl17.com/

WPHL-TV, channel 17, is a television station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owned by the Tribune Company and currently affiliated with the News Corporation-owned MyNetworkTV television network. This makes it the largest non-O&O station of the network. The station's studios are located in the Wynnefield section of West Philadelphia and its transmitter is located in the Roxborough neighborhood.



On June 17, 1960, Percy Crawford signed on WPCA-TV, a religious station. The call letters stood for "People's Church of the Air." The station was Philadelphia's first commercial UHF channel, but at a time when UHF converters were not required on most TV sets, WPCA only lasted two years and went off the air in 1962.

However, a group of local investors bought the dormant channel 17 license and returned it to the air on September 17, 1965 as independent station WPHL-TV. It was the third UHF independent to sign-on in Philadelphia that year, two and a half weeks behind WKBS-TV (channel 48) and four months later than WIBF-TV (channel 29, later WTAF and now WTXF-TV). During its early years, WPHL went through a string of owners, most notably as an owned-and-operated station of the short-lived United Network.

In the summer of 1975 WPHL-TV moved from its studios in the suburb of Wyndmoor to its current studio in Wynnefield. The building had once been an A&P supermarket. The station offered a schedule of off-network drama shows, sitcoms, old movies, sports and religious shows. It also ran NBC programs that KYW-TV had pre-empted till the fall of 1976, and again from the fall of 1977 to the summer of 1983.

The Providence Journal Company bought channel 17 in 1979. At that point, WPHL sought a different programming strategy toward adults, gradually dropping children's programming and cartoons. They focused more on movies, off-network drama shows, recent off-network sitcoms, and sports. The station also had several hours of religious programming per day.

Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, WPHL was known on-air as "The Great Entertainer," with voiceovers from Sid Doherty. The station positioned itself as an alternative to both WTAF and WKBS, as it programmed more towards adults with movies and other syndicated programs, while its competitors were heavy on sitcoms and children's cartoons. WPHL was also a station heavy on local sports, as it aired contests featuring Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies until 1982, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers from 1982 to the 1990s and the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers in the 1990s.

From September 1981 to August 1987, the WPHL studios hosted a Monday-through-Friday afternoon dance show, Dancin' On Air, hosted by Eddie Bruce, as well as a spin-off on the USA Network called Dance Party USA, whose host, Dave Raymond, was better known as the man in the Phillie Phanatic costume. Those shows marked the on-air debut of a young girl from nearby Voorhees, New Jersey named Kelly Ripa.

In the summer of 1982, WKBS went on the market after its owner, Field Communications, decided to exit broadcasting. The Providence Journal Company was among those who were bidding for channel 48's license. Had it won, then Providence Journal would have merged WPHL's and WKBS's schedules under the WKBS license and channel allocation, while selling the channel 17 license to either a religious or educational broadcaster. However, the Journal Company's bid was still far below Field's asking price. With no takers willing to give Field what it wanted for the station, WKBS-TV ceased operations ("went dark" in television terminology) a year later on August 29, 1983, and WPHL picked up various syndicated programs, cartoons, movies and production equipment from WKBS.

In 1987, the Providence Journal Company sold WPHL-TV to a consortium headed by Dudley S. Taft Jr., the former president of the Cincinnati-based Taft Television and Radio Company, the longtime owners of rival WTAF-TV. Dudley Taft had left his family's namesake company following a corporate restructuring which resulted in the firm changing its name to Great American Broadcasting. He also brought along key personnel from WTAF (which Taft had sold to TVX Broadcast Group in early 1987), including general manager Randy Smith. The new ownership scrapped the "Great Entertainer" slogan and related logo for a new identity as PHL 17, in an apparent attempt to counter WGBS-TV's (channel 57, now WPSG) Philly 57 branding. In 1991, the Taft group sold channel 17 to the Tribune Company. The station, along with most of Tribune's independent stations, affiliated with The WB Television Network, of which Tribune was a partial owner, in January 1995, and in September of that year, it changed its on-air identity to WB 17.

Sporting events

Throughout the station's first three decades of service, WPHL had a tremendous professional sports presence—at various points holding the broadcast rights to the Phillies (1971–82 and 1993–98, and returning from 2009-11 with the games produced by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia), the Flyers (1991–98) and the 76ers (1982–95), as well as covering local college basketball and football, with games featuring teams from the Philadelphia Big 5 (LaSalle University, University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's University, Villanova University and Temple University). After the station took on The WB programming, it released many of its sports contracts in order to concentrate on its network obligations. Currently, the station does air syndicated college football and basketball games from the syndication arm of ESPN involving the Mid-American Conference (football) and Big East Conference (basketball) until 2009, when WPVI took over. WPHL also aired Big Ten Conference games until the creation of the Big Ten Network on cable in 2007. It has also aired preseason (and in 2009 and 2010, two regular season) games of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

The CW Television Network

On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN networks announced that they would merge into a new network called The CW. On the same day the new network was announced, it signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with most of Tribune's WB stations. However, in the case of Philadelphia, the new network's affiliation went to the city's UPN station, WPSG. It would not have been an upset had WPHL been chosen, however. The CW officials were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations for their new network, and Philadelphia was one of the few markets where The WB and UPN stations were both relatively strong.


WPHL was slated to return to its previous independent status, but on May 15, 2006, Tribune announced that it would affiliate channel 17 (and two other WB stations not included in The CW affiliation deal) with MyNetworkTV, making it the largest station (in terms of market size) affiliated with MNTV that is not owned by News Corporation, MNTV's parent company. It is also the only major station in Philadelphia that is not owned by its respective network.

In July, WPHL rebranded itself as MyPHL17, which partially revived the station's former PHL 17 moniker. WPHL began airing My Network TV programming on September 5, 2006, the day the new service was launched. As a result, it did not air the final two weeks of The WB's programming.

On October 4, 2010, the station removed the "My" portion of the branding as many affiliates of the network began dropping network references due to it becoming more of a primetime programming service than a true network. WPHL retains the 'blue TV' component of the network's logo. Additionally another version of the logo is used where the "P" in "phl" is replaced with the hat insignia "P" from the logo for the Phillies.

Digital Broadcasting

As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WPHL-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009,[1] and moved its digital broadcasts from channel 54 to channel 17. As of January 1, 2011, the station's signal is multiplexed in the following manner:

Channel Programming
17.1 Main WPHL programming / MyNetworkTV
17.2 Antenna TV
17.3 This TV‎
17.4 Tango Traffic

Out of Market coverage

In New Jersey, WPHL is carried in central New Jersey in parts of Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Warren counties. On Cablevision in Ocean County, it is available on analog however, on Comcast it is only available on digital cable Channel 255. It had been on analog channel 17 until late February 2008 when it was moved by Comcast to digital only to preserve bandwidth.

In Maryland, WPHL is carried in Cecil County.

In Pennsylvania, WPHL is carried on Comcast cable systems in Harrisburg and Lancaster; however it is not available in a digital format. It is also carried in Milford, Pike County which is part of the New York City DMA.

There is no satellite coverage outside of the Philadelphia market.


Nightly news open since October 4, 2010

In 1994, WPHL entered into an unusual agreement with The Philadelphia Inquirer to broadcast an Inquirer-branded news program. Inquirer News Tonight was a hybrid newscast that integrated normal television news conventions with contributions from the newspaper's personnel. This format did not last and it was abandoned in favor of a more traditional newscast. The broadcast was rebranded as WB 17 News at 10 in late-1996. On December 10, 2005, all in-house news operations were canceled and the entire news and production staff was let go.[citation needed]

On the same December 10, 2005 date WPHL started broadcasting a 10PM half hour news program produced by the news department of NBC-owned WCAU (channel 10). This newscast was called WB 17 News at 10, Powered by NBC 10. On July 25, 2006, the program was re-named My PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 to correspond with WPHL's upcoming switch to MyNetworkTV. When WCAU debuted their new high definition studios were opened on December 10, 2008. they began producing the My PHL 17 News in high definition as well. The newscast was renamed once again on October 4, 2010 as phl17 News at 10, Powered by NBC 10, as the on air presentation was also changed this day as well. The sports director is Vai Sikahema.

On October 31, 2011 WPHL will debut EyeOpener, a morning news concept by Tribune Broadcasting that originally debuted in May 2011 on sister station KIAH in Houston, featuring a mix of news, lifestyle, entertainment and opinion segments. Local news, weather and traffic segments will be featured along with local reports presented by five multimedia journalists; however, much of EyeOpener (which was previously produced at Tribune Company's Chicago headquarters) will pre-produced at the studios of sister station KDAF in Dallas-Fort Worth and will also be distributed on Tribune-owned stations in three other markets in addition to WPHL and KDAF (Houston, Miami and Portland, Oregon), where localized news segments will also be provided by those stations.[2][3]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Inquirer News Tonight (1994–1996)
  • WB 17 News (1996–2005)
  • WB 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2005–2006)
  • My PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2006–2010)
  • PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2010–present)

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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