WHNT-TV Article

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Whnt 2012.png
RTN 19.2 WHNT-DTV Huntsville.png
HuntsvilleDecaturFlorence, Alabama
United States
CityHuntsville, Alabama
BrandingWHNT News 19
WHNT 2 HD (on DT2)
WHNT 3 (on DT3)
SloganNorth Alabama's News Leader (news)
The Weather Authority (weather)
Channels Digital: 19 ( UHF)
Virtual: 19 ( PSIP)
Subchannels19.1 CBS
19.2 Independent
19.3 Antenna TV
Owner Tribune Broadcasting
(WHNT License, LLC)
First air dateNovember 28, 1963 (54 years ago) (1963-11-28)
Call letters' meaningHuNTsville [1]
Former channel number(s)Analog:
19 (UHF, 1963–2009)
59 (UHF, 2002–2009)
Former affiliations RTV (DT2; –2010)
Transmitter power250 kW
Height514 m (1,686 ft)
Facility ID48693
Transmitter coordinates 34°44′19.7″N 86°31′57.9″W / 34.738806°N 86.532750°W / 34.738806; -86.532750
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website whnt.com

WHNT-TV is a CBS- affiliated television station licensed to Huntsville, Alabama, United States and serving North Alabama's Tennessee Valley. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and UHF channel 19 from a transmitter on Monte Sano. Owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, the station has studios on Holmes Avenue Northwest in downtown Huntsville. It also has three news bureaus: Decatur, Sand Mountain ( Albertville), and Shoals ( Florence).


WHNT ad from 1966.

WHNT began operations on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1963 (the first new station to be launched after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated). It has been a CBS affiliate for its entire existence, and is the only Huntsville-area station to have never changed its affiliation. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) originally licensed the frequency for WHNT to the city of Fort Payne some 40 miles (64 km) to the southeast. The station was founded by a former employee of Birmingham station WAPI (now WVTM), Charles Grisham, now deceased, who later added two other Southern stations, WSLA in Selma, Alabama and WYEA in Columbus, Georgia, to his portfolio. In 1980, Grisham sold WHNT to The New York Times Company, which operated it for over a quarter century.

WHNT logo from the late 1970s.

WHNT's facilities are in downtown Huntsville where the station moved in 1987 from its original location on Monte Sano Mountain. The move was prompted by a fire that destroyed rival WAFF-TV (channel 48)'s studios, then on Governors Drive, five years earlier. For use during an emergency, backup broadcast capabilities for news remain at the Monte Sano site. The transmitter and tower remain on Monte Sano because the mountain provides the highest elevation in the immediate area. WHNT is the only major station in Huntsville to operate from a facility actually constructed specifically for broadcasting purposes. WAAY-TV (channel 31) operates from a former gas station, WAFF-TV from a former jewelry store, and WZDX (channel 54) from an office building.

In May 2002, WHNT became the first station in the Huntsville market to broadcast a digital signal and begin broadcasting in high definition on UHF channel 59. In 2003, WHNT allowed competing stations WAAY and WZDX to use space on its tower after both stations' towers used on WAAY's property collapsed, killing three men. This station first used 16 mm film for most of its commercial and news gathering. In 1979, it switched to the 3/4 inch video tape format. WHNT used this system until 1998 when new Panasonic DVC machines and cameras were purchased.

WHNT logo from 1986.

In September 2006, The New York Times Company announced that it would put its nine television stations, including WHNT, up for sale. [2] On January 4, 2007, the company sold its television stations in a group deal to Local TV, a holding company operated by private equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners, for $530 million; [3] [4] the sale was finalized on May 7. [5]

In October 2010, the station stopped using videotape. All cameras now record on digital memory cards and video playback for all newscasts comes off a digital server. WHNT's archives, the most extensive in Huntsville television, go back to 1973 and include a mix of film and videotape. The film library had been stored at the University of North Alabama in Florence, but has recently been returned to Huntsville. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both its own television stations and those owned by Local TV in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; [6] the sale was completed on December 27. [7] [8]

Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. However, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced that it had pulled out of the deal, after the FCC raised "serious concerns" about the amount of money some of the stations being resold in the deal were being sold for. [9]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming [10]
19.1 1080i 16:9 WHNT-DT Main WHNT-TV programming / CBS
19.2 720p WHNT2 HD [11]
19.3 480i 4:3 Antenna TV
WHNT-DT2 logo from 2007, when the subchannel was a 24-hour weather channel.

Until November 25, 2008 at 5 p.m., the station offered a 24-hour local weather channel on its second digital subchannel. It then switched to RTV, which was later replaced by a similar network, Antenna TV, in January 2011.

WHNT-TV became a charter affiliate of Antenna TV upon its launch on January 1, 2011; it is carried on digital subchannel 19.3 (as of April 25, 2016). WHNT2, now WHNT2HD, has syndicated programming and a 9:00 p.m. newscast, along with a simulcast of WHNT News 19 @ Noon.

Analog-to-digital conversion

WHNT-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, on June 12, 2009, as part of federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. [12] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 59, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 19 for post-transition operations. The station was originally going to move to channel 46 but received late permission from the FCC to move digital broadcasts to channel 19, following the closure and license cancellation earlier in the year of Florence station WYLE, which was to have broadcast on digital channel 20.


WHNT clears the entire CBS schedule, except for the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning, which airs on WHNT-DT2 instead. Syndicated programming on WHNT includes Rachael Ray, Inside Edition, Access, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show among others.

News operation

WHNT has been noted for live coverage of breaking news such as the shooting death of a Huntsville police officer, the 2006 Huntsville Bus Accident, [13] and the solving of a thirty-year-old murder case in September 2007. Generally speaking, over the years, WHNT has always been competitive in terms of ratings with rivals WAAY and WAFF. In fact, this station is the only one among the three major network affiliates in Huntsville to have never finished in last place in the Nielsen ratings. Since Fall 2004, WHNT has used the ARMOR Doppler Weather Radar system in weather forecasting along with its own weather radar at its transmitter site.

On August 18, 2008, WHNT became the first television station in Huntsville to begin broadcasting all of its news programs in digital 16:9 widescreen. Although not truly high definition when launched, the broadcasts match the ratio of HD television screens. On April 13, 2009 starting with the weeknight 5 o'clock show, the station stopped using the NewsChannel 19 name and became WHNT News 19. Beginning on February 1, 2010, WHNT added a weeknight prime time newscast at 9 on WHNT-DT2 (referenced on-air as WHNT2). [14] It competes with Fox affiliate WZDX, which also airs a 9 p.m. newscast. WHNT also previously aired an hour-long newscast at 7 a.m. on WHNT2, but discontinued it in September 2010. In November 2010, WHNT added a Sunday evening prime time newscast at 9 p.m. on WHNT2. Following the major tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011, WHNT introduced a 6:30 p.m. newscast.

On August 18, 2010 during the 10 p.m. newscast, WHNT became the first station in Huntsville to begin airing news segments in full high definition. The first segment was a sunset scene in Huntsville's Big Spring Park. [15]

On February 2, 2011, WHNT upgraded its newscast productions to full high-definition. During the two-month transition to HD, the station's newscast originated from another part of the building while the studio was completely renovated for the first time since 1987. WHNT's newscasts are in high definition from both the studio and field like many of WHNT's Local TV stablemates. This made WHNT the first station in Huntsville to be fully HD. Also, all of the station's file video since October 2010 is in high definition. [16]


  1. ^ Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  2. ^ NY Times CO. Sell TV Group to Equity Firm for $530M; Second equity group to buy a media business in two weeks., NewsInc. (via HighBeam Research), January 8, 2007.
  3. ^ NY Times CO. Sell TV Group to Equity Firm for $530M; Second equity group to buy a media business in two weeks., NewsInc. (via HighBeam Research), January 8, 2007.
  4. ^ "New York Times Company : Investors : Press Release". Phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  5. ^ "The New York Times Company Reports April Revenues" (Press release). Business Wire. 2007-05-07. Archived from the original (The New York Times Company Financial Report) on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  6. ^ Channick, Robert (July 1, 2013). "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  7. ^ Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July Archived 2013-12-28 at the Wayback Machine., Tribune Company, December 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Tribune Closes Local TV Holdings Purchase, TVNewsCheck, December 27, 2013.
  9. ^ Dinsmore, Christopher. "Tribune Media pulls out of Sinclair Broadcast merger". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  10. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WHNT
  11. ^ "Programming changes coming to WHNT2 on Monday, April 25 – and the launch of WHNT3!". WHNT.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  12. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  13. ^ [1] Archived November 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Alabama Set your local edition » (2011-11-01). "Huntsville Alabama Entertainment News | Music, Movies, TV & More". al.com. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  15. ^ [2] Archived September 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ [3] Archived January 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

External links