WVNY, channel 22, is the ABC-affiliated television station for Vermont's Champlain Valley and Upstate New York's North Country, U.S.A. Licensed to Burlington, Vermont, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 13 (virtual channel 22.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak Mount Mansfield. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Comcast channel 4 in SD, and in HD on Charter digital channel 704, Comcast digital channel 722, and Time Warner Cable digital channel 889.
Owned by Mission Broadcasting, WVNY is operated by Nexstar Broadcasting Group through a local marketing agreement (LMA). This makes it sister to Fox affiliate WFFF-TV and the two share studios on Mountain View Drive in Colchester, Vermont. Syndicated programming on this station includes The Office, The Dr. Oz Show, and The People's Court among others. WVNY was formerly seen on analog repeater W09BB channel 9 in Schroon Lake, New York. This station had a transmitter southeast of the town's Severance section and did not have an application to air a digital signal; its license has since been cancelled.
Like other network stations serving Burlington and Plattsburgh, it has a large audience in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, a city that is ten times more populous than all of WVNY's entire American viewing area combined. On Vidéotron systems in the city, it can be seen on channel 22, on Illico channel 51 and in high definition on digital channel 651.
WVNY signed on the air on August 19, 1968, and aired an analog on UHF channel 22. It was the first station in the area to air live broadcasts in color. The station initially operated from studios located on Hegeman Avenue in Colchester. In 1974, it changed its call letters to WEZF-TV to match its sister FM radio station, WEZF. In 1982, the call letters were switched back to WVNY. It later moved its operations to a new facility on Market Square, off Shelburne Road/US 7 in South Burlington. WVNY was the host station for the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous Miracle on Ice ice hockey game between the United States and Soviet Union.
For many years it competed against fellow ABC affiliate WMTW in Portland, Maine; WMTW's transmitter on Mount Washington covered most of Vermont. That station had been the ABC affiliate of record for the market until this station signed-on and continued to be offered on many of the area's cable systems well into the 1980s. From the 1980s until 1995, WVNY dropped ABC's General Hospital in favor of cartoons and aired Boston Red Sox baseball games on Friday nights. Many viewers could still see General Hospital on CFCF-TV in Montreal. The station also dropped I Married Dora in favour of the 1987 Sea Hunt syndicated program on Friday nights. For a time, the station aired Canadian Football League football games.
International TV Corporation then sold the station to Citadel Communications in 1982. Citadel sold both WVNY along with WMGC (now WIVT) in Binghamton, New York to the U.S. Broadcast Group in 1995. who in turn sold it to Straightline Communications in 1998. Unlike the other two stations owned at the time by Straightline Communications (WTVX in Fort Pierce, Florida and WLWC in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which were operated through LMAs by Viacom's Paramount Stations Group as sister properties to Viacom-owned stations in the adjacent Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Boston markets, respectively), Straightline operated WVNY outright. Straightline sold WTVX and WLWC to Viacom outright in November 2001 but retained WVNY.
During the 1990s, it frequently dropped network programming in favor of infomercials. As a result, several ABC shows were never seen in Montreal except on satellite. However, in the late 1990s, WVNY began airing the entire ABC schedule, which continues to this day. The only exception was from 2003-2005, as it would pre-empt Jimmy Kimmel Live! for the same purpose (at first only the last half-hour of the show but later the whole hour). In 2005, WVNY became sister station to WFFF-TV after Lambert Broadcasting acquired this station and entered into a local marketing agreement with Smith Media (owner of WFFF-TV). The company then moved WVNY into that station's Colchester facilities. This arrangement placed WVNY in the unusual position of being the junior partner as an ABC-affiliated station in a virtual duopoly with a Fox affiliate (most virtual or legal duopolies involving a Fox affiliate and a Big Three-affiliated station result in the Fox affiliate serving as the junior partner).
During the analog era and for a time after the digital transition, WVNY operated five additional repeater signals. Originally, WIXT-TV in Syracuse, New York served Massena and Malone. On September 23, 1987, this was replaced by new sign-on WFYF in Watertown. However, both stations were available in Massena and Malone for a short time. Eventually, WVNY added repeater station W60AF on channel 60 in Malone. A retransmission dispute forced Time Warner Cable systems to replace WVNY with future sister station WUTR from Utica, New York on December 16, 2010. At the same time, WFFF-TV was replaced by WNYF-CD from Watertown. Both stations returned to the lineup on January 8, 2011.
Lambert Broadcasting agreed to sell WVNY to Mission Broadcasting on November 5, 2012. Concurrently, Smith Media sold WFFF-TV to Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which operates all of Mission's stations through shared services agreements. On January 14, 2013, The FCC approved the sale of WVNY. The transaction was completed on March 1. At the sale's closure, Utica NBC affiliate WKTV was left as Smith Media's only remaining television station property until its sale to Heartland Media was consummated in 2014.
On January 27, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WVNY and WFFF will become part of "Nexstar Media Group", and will join a cluster of television stations Nexstar will own in New England, including fellow ABC affiliate WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut, CBS affiliate WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island, and NBC affiliate WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition, WVNY and WFFF will also become sisters with fellow ABC and Fox affiliates WTEN and WXXA-TV, respectively, in Albany, New York. These stations also serve Bennington County, Vermont, and Nexstar, upon consummation, will be responsible for ABC and Fox programming in 13 of the 14 counties in Vermont. The lone exception, Windham County, is served by Boston's WCVB-TV and WFXT, respectively (ABC programming in Windham County is also available through Manchester, New Hampshire's WMUR-TV).
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WVNY and WFFF-TV.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|22.1||720p||16:9||WVNY-HD||Main WVNY programming / ABC|
|22.2||480i||4:3||WVNY-DT||Escape (Launch date TBD)|
|22.3||Laff (Launch date TBD)|
WVNY on digital channel 13 became the first VHF high definition station in the market when it signed-on in 2006. The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 22, on February 17, 2009, the original target 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 VHF channel 13. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 22. It has had difficulty achieving equivalent coverage with its digital signal compared to analog channel 22 raising concerns some parts of Vermont would be left without a full-power ABC affiliate. This turned out to be the case for Enosburg, Vermont in Franklin County. The channel 22 position was given to CBS affiliate WCAX-TV for its digital operation.
Since the 1980s, WVNY has made attempts at operating a local news department and airing newscasts but none of them ever made any headway in Nielsen ratings against WCAX-TV and NBC affiliate WPTZ; both were respectively among the strongest affiliates of both CBS and NBC, even if their strength was shown more in Montreal than in Vermont, while WVNY has been one of ABC's weakest affiliates. Besides the difficulties of being the youngest network affiliate in the market, it was a UHF station in an area that is very mountainous. UHF stations usually do not get good reception in rugged terrain.
WVNY's last and best attempt at a separate news department was begun in August 1999 with nightly newscasts at 6 and 11 branded as ABC 22 News. There were also weekday morning local news and weather cut-ins at :25 and :55 past the hour during Good Morning America from 7 until 9. However, due to financial troubles, production was shut down on September 12, 2003. This resulted in the termination of 25 news-related personnel.
After WVNY moved into WFFF-TV's studios in 2005, Smith Media made an announcement that the company was planning to establish a news department for the two stations. On March 3, 2008, WFFF added a weeknight and Saturday broadcast at 7 on WVNY known as Fox 44 Local News on ABC. As a result, this station became first in the area to offer local news in the time slot. The move to launch the show was due in part to tough competition of newscasts at 6 seen on WCAX-TV and WPTZ. As is the case on WFFF-TV, the WVNY broadcasts are produced in high definition. The Saturday edition eventually moved to 6:30 which has been the case on Sundays from the start in order to accommodate ABC programming.
On August 18, 2008, WFFF-TV began airing a two-hour weekday morning show called Fox 44 Local News This Morning. Included in the launch were local news and weather cut-ins on WVNY during its airing of Good Morning America. This occurs at :25 and :55 past the hour from 7 until 9, in which at those times the two stations simulcast each other. Eventually, an additional hour of the broadcast starting at 6 was added to WVNY and is known as ABC 22 This Morning. This station has since expanded the show to a traditional two hour morning newscast starting at 5. At some point in time, WVNY added nightly broadcasts at 6 and 11. Its news schedule now resembles that of other big three affiliates offering local news, even though WFFF-TV produces the broadcasts, since WFFF-TV is legally the senior partner in the duopoly. All newscasts seen on this station were formerly known as ABC 22 News, but are now known as Local 22 News, as has been the theme on many Nexstar stations as of late. Currently, the station offers 19.5 hours of news a week (with 3.5 hours on weekdays and one hour on weekends), which is the lowest news output in the Plattsburgh market.
Due to the new status of the news department, there is a Vermont focus in coverage. During weather forecast segments, WFFF-TV uses live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from three regional sites. It is presented on-screen in a system known as "Sky Tracker HD Triple Doppler". Weather forecasts from WFFF-TV can be heard on WSNO (AM 1450), WMOO (FM 92.1)/W257AU (FM 99.3), WDOT (FM 95.7), WWFY (FM 100.9), WCPV (FM 101.3), WEXP (FM 101.5)/WTHK (FM 100.7)/W264AB (FM 104.7), and WRFK (FM 107.1).