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Plattsburgh/Watertown, New York -
Burlington, Vermont
United States
City of license Plattsburgh, New York
Branding NewsChannel 5
The Valley CW (on DT2)
The Valley’s MeTV (on DT3)
Slogan Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond
TV Now (on DT2)
Channels Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels 5.1 NBC
5.2 The CW
5.3 Me-TV
Affiliations NBC (Secondary through 1968)
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Stations, Inc.)
First air date December 8, 1954; 64 years ago (1954-12-08)
Call letters' meaning PlatTZburgh (sic)
Sister station(s) WNNE
Former callsigns WIRI (1954–1956)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
5 (VHF, 1954–2009)
Former affiliations Both secondary:
DuMont (1954–1955)
ABC (1954–1968)
NBC Weather Plus (2006-2009)
This TV (2009-2013)
Transmitter power 650 kW
Height 845 m
Facility ID 57476
Transmitter coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wptz.com

WPTZ, channel 5, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Plattsburgh, New York, USA. WPTZ is owned by the broadcasting subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, and has its studios on Television Drive in Plattsburgh and transmitter located on Mount Mansfield in Vermont. It also serves as the default NBC affiliate in the Carthage/Watertown market since it does not have an NBC affiliate of its own.

All of WPTZ's programming can also be seen over semi-satellite station WNNE (channel 31), which is licensed to Hartford, Vermont and serves the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.


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. and transmitter on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. 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.

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, the station was the only one in the area that did not operate any translators. Heritage moved WNNE's master control to WPTZ in Plattsburgh in 2000.

The company 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.

WPTZ logo used from 2000–2014

On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (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.[1]

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;[2][3] 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.[4] The substitution of WBRE in place of WPTZ lasted until July 19, 2012, when the deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.[5]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[6]
5.1 16:9 1080i WPTZ-HD Main WPTZ programming / NBC
5.2 480i The CW The Valley CW
5.3 4:3 Me TV Me-TV

Analog-to-digital conversion

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.[7] 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 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, Me-TV (Memorable Entertainment Television). Both networks were owned at the time by Weigel Broadcasting (Tribune Broadcasting has since taken over the network).[8]

On March 4, 2013, WPTZ's second digital subchannel assumed the CW affiliation for the Plattsburgh/Burlington market from WFFF-DT2.[9] It continued to air Me-TV programming outside CW network slots until September 2014, when Me-TV 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 Me-TV 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 Me-TV into their own subchannels, 5.2 and 5.3 respectively, but did not add them to WNNE's signal.[10] WPTZ 5.2 now airs syndicated programming outside of CW network hours via The CW Plus.[11]

Canadian viewership

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 Québec 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.

News operation

File:Wptz news 2010.png
Former WPTZ NewsChannel 5 TODAY open.

For most of its history, WPTZ's newscasts have been a distant second in the ratings behind long-dominant CBS affiliate WCAX-TV. Traditionally, it focuses 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 currently use the NewsChannel 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. Contributions to the broadcasts on this channel includes a live headline from the Upper Valley weeknights at 5:30 as well as video footage for other time slots. 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 "Storm Tracker 5000" (powered by the Super Doppler Network). Unlike most NBC affiliates, WPTZ does not air a midday newscast during the week. It had aired a show at noon until 2005 but was dropped in favor of 5:30 Now that airs on weeknights. 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 and made his debut back at this station in mid-December. Rosendale left the station again in December 2010 to join KSTP-TV in Minneapolis – Saint Paul, with George Mallet taking his place shortly thereafter. In February 2012 Rosendale joined WNBC-TV in New York City.

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 that 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 Me-TV (5.3) simultaneously.[12]

Notable former on-air-staff


  1. [1][dead link]
  2. Adweek: "Hearst and Time Warner Cable Part Ways Over Retrans", July 10, 2012.
  3. Adweek: "Imported Signals in Retrans Fight Raise Regulatory Questions", July 10, 2012.
  4. Orlando Sentinel: "WESH off Bright House; Pennsylvania station is substitute", July 10, 2012.
  5. Broadcasting & Cable: "Hearst TV, Time Warner Cable End Viewer Blackout", July 19, 2012.
  6. RabbitEars TV Query for WPTZ
  7. "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Me-TV Adds WPTZ Burlington, KVLY Fargo, TVNewsCheck, November 14, 2012.
  9. "Official WPTZ-TV announcement of plans to launch The CW Network | Vermont - WPTZ Home". Wptz.com. 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2014-08-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "WPTZ launches new channel, expands programming of two popular networks | Entertainment - WPTZ Home". Wptz.com. 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "WPTZ-DT2 listings". Zap2it. 2014-09-15. Retrieved 2014-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. WPTZ and 10:00 p.m. news on 2 channels? Yes, this is true... The Changing Newscasts Blog, September 12th, 2014.
  13. "Ed Harding bio". WCVB-TV. Retrieved 12 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links