NewsChannel 8 (cable channel)
|Launched||October 7, 1991|
|Owned by||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Slogan||All Over Washington|
northern Shenandoah Valley
|Formerly called||TBD TV (2010–2011)|
|Sister channel(s)||WJLA-TV, TBD|
|DirecTV (Washington, D.C. area)||Channel 8 (SD only)|
|Dish Network (Washington, D.C. area)||Channel 8 (SD only)|
|Comcast (Washington, D.C.)||
|Comcast (outlying areas of D.C. area)||
|RCN (D.C. area)||308 (SD)|
|Verizon FiOS (Metro D.C.)||
NewsChannel 8 is an American regional cable news television channel that is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and managed by the company's ABC-affiliated station WJLA-TV (channel 7) in Washington D.C. The channel provides 24-hour news coverage primarily focused on Washington, D.C., northern Virginia and suburban areas of Maryland within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The channel shares studio facilities and offices with WJLA-TV and the Rosslyn-based Politico in Arlington, Virginia. NewsChannel 8 reaches more than 1.2 million cable television households within the D.C metropolitan area.
With CNN at the height of its popularity due to the Persian Gulf War and only two other local 24 hours cable channels, Allbritton considered the eight largest TV market and capital a good place to launch one. The existing two local channels, Orange County Newschannel and News 12 Long Island, were relatively new and not yet profitable. Allbritton's flagship station, WJLA-TV, was also location in DC.
The channel was launched in October 1991 as NewsChannel 8. 8 was selected as apart of the name to attempt to get the cable companies to place in next to WJLA (at channel 7) and local CBS affiliate [[WUSA-TV] on Channel 9. Allbritton also bundled the channel along with WJLA in carriage contracts. Beginning in 1995, the channel timeshifting ABC News program hours or days after their standard broadcast times.
NewsChannel initial only had ad revenue stream until federal regulations required cable operators to pay for its carriage. In 1997, the channel was reported as profitable and started a streak of profitability by Allbritton.
Coverage was added to Southern Maryland and Prince William County governmental meetings in a few years prior to 2001 as cable carriage expanded to those areas. In July 2001, NewsChannel 8 beat CNN, Headline News, MSNBC and CNBC in the ratings, the highest the channel had in its first 10 years. In August 2001, Comcast agreed to carry the channel for another 10 years.
On September 5, 2006, Comcast moved NewsChannel 8, at the channel's request, to channel 28 on the analog tiers of some of its systems, placing it next to sister station WJLA-TV on channel 27 (Comcast's systems in the immediate Washington, D.C. area slot the market's broadcast stations in the 20-29 channel range; this is an artifact from when television stations broadcast in analog prior to the 2009 digital television transition in order to avert co-channel interference with the broadcast signals). Systems outside of Washington, D.C. proper carry it on channel 8, next to WJLA on channel 7. In all cases however, the channel's high definition feed is carried on digital channel 808. On July 17, 2013, satellite provider DirecTV began carrying NewsChannel 8 on channel 8 within the Washington, D.C. market. On December 21, 2015, the channel was added to satellite provider Dish's lineup, also on channel 8.
On August 9, 2010, the channel was rebranded as TBD TV, in order to associate it with the recently established news website TBD.com, which provided news content for both the channel and WJLA. Allbritton subsequently reverted its news channel's branding to the original NewsChannel 8 name in February 2011.
On July 29, 2013, Allbritton Communications announced that it would sell its entire television group, including NewsChannel 8 and WJLA-TV, to Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group (owners of flagship station WBFF, as well as operators of two other stations in the adjacent Baltimore market). Sinclair has indicated that it may use NewsChannel 8 as a base to launch a national cable news channel.
Through a fiber optic delivery system, NewsChannel 8 provides programming and advertising targeted at three separate geographical regions of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and was once known for airing specific "Zone Reports" on weeknights to these regions, including "The Washington Report" (featuring news stories affecting the District of Columbia), "The Virginia Report" (featuring news stories from northern Virginia) and "The Maryland Report" (featuring news from communities in adjacent suburban areas of Maryland). The appropriate edition was fed to each of the cable systems in the region. The newscasts were all the same, except for the second segment (aired between the first and second commercial breaks), which was specifically tailored to each "zone." The channel ended this practice in 2009.
NewsChannel 8 employs its own anchors and certain meteorologists, while sharing reporting and weather staffers with WJLA. The two news operations share the same on-air news staffers for the weekend evening newscasts aired respectively by the cable channel and television station. The channel operates two news bureaus in Maryland (in Rockville and Landover), as well as a bureau in Washington, D.C.
When it is not airing newscasts, NewsChannel 8 airs encore presentations of ABC News programs. as well as various local programs, including NewsTalk (a live hour-long daily call-in show, airing at 10:00 a.m. with a repeat at 4:00 p.m., featuring prominent newsmakers), Capital Insider (a political discussion program), Let's Talk Live (an hour-long call-in talk show, airing at 11:00 a.m. with a repeat at 5:00 p.m.), SportsTalk (a sports discussion program), Goss' Garage (a Saturday morning automotive program), The Arch Campbell Show (an entertainment news program) and Capital Golf Weekly (a program featuring golf instruction and feature reports on the sport). Unlike most regional news channels which air newscasts during overnights and weekends on a recorded loop, NewsChannel airs some paid programming during certain timeslots within those periods.
In 2015, D.C. United of Major League Soccer reached a new multi-year deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast all 26 of the team's regional matches on NewsChannel 8 and WJLA, succeeding CSN Mid-Atlantic.
NewsChannel 8 operates a high definition simulcast feed, which broadcasts in the 720p resolution format; the HD feed launched on January 4, 2012 on Verizon FiOS channel 508. The following day on January 5, Comcast Xfinity (which began carrying NewsChannel 8 on its systems in the far western suburbs and the northern Shenandoah Valley on that date) began carrying the HD feed on digital channel 808.
Notable former on-air staff
- Lisa Fletcher – now at Al Jazeera America, Host of The Stream
- Britt McHenry – now at ESPN
- Joe Witte (now a researcher at the Goddard Spaceflight Center)
- "8 is enough for viewers". The Washington Times. September 10, 2001. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
The channel originally seen only on cable systems in the District and its closet suburbs has 1.2 million subscribers today.
- "WJLA to take over TBD.com". Washington Post.
- Heath, Thomas; Wilgoren, Debbi (July 29, 2013). "Allbritton to sell 7 TV stations, including WJLA, to Sinclair for $985 million". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
- Eggerton, John (July 29, 2013). "Sinclair Buying NewsChannel 8 in D.C.". Multichannel News. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
- Malone, Michael (July 30, 2013). "Sinclair Plans National Rollout for Allbritton Cable Channel". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- "D.C. United matches to appear on NewsChannel 8, ABC7". Washington Post. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Official website
- www.wjla.com - WJLA-TV official website
- NewsChannel 8 at the Wayback Machine (archived February 1, 2001)