|Slogan||That Looks Good!|
Digital: 35 (UHF)|
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
Heroes & Icons (DT3)
Fox Television Stations|
(Fox Television Stations Inc.)
|First air date||April 20, 1966|
|Call letters' meaning||Washington, District of Columbia (DCA is also the airport code for Ronald Reagan National Airport)|
|Former channel number(s)||
|Transmitter power||500 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||38°57′22″N 77°4′59″W / 38.95611°N 77.08306°WCoordinates: 38°57′22″N 77°4′59″W / 38.95611°N 77.08306°W|
|Public license information:||
WDCA, channel 20, is a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated television station in the American capital city of Washington, D.C. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations division of 21st Century Fox, and is part of a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station WTTG (channel 5). The two stations share studio and transmitter facilities located on Wisconsin Avenue in the Tenleytown section of Washington's northwest quadrant.
As an independent station
WDCA-TV signed on as an independent station on April 20, 1966; it was originally owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation. Channel 20 was Washington's third independent station, nearly 20 years younger than its future sister station WTTG, which had been founded as a DuMont affiliate, and after WOOK, the nation's first African American-oriented television station. Veteran Washington broadcaster Milton Grant, who previously worked at WTTG, was president of Capitol Broadcasting, and also served as WDCA's founding general manager. Grant would sell channel 20 three years later in 1969 to the Superior Tube Company, although he would stay on as WDCA's general manager for the next decade.
In 1979, Superior Tube sold WDCA to Cincinnati-based Taft Broadcasting, but only after an earlier proposed sale to the Chicago-based Tribune Company fell through. In the 1970s and 1980s, WDCA's best-known personality was Dick Dyszel, who played Bozo the Clown, horror movie host "Count Gore de Vol", and kids show host "Captain 20", and also served as the station's main announcer. The station was also home to Petey Greene's Washington, an Emmy award-winning show featuring the witicisms and observations of Ralph "Petey" Greene, civil-rights activist and native Washingtonian.
Under Taft's stewardship, channel 20 became very profitable. As Taft upgraded the programming (much of which was distributed by new sister company Worldvision Enterprises, especially Hanna-Barbera cartoons), WDCA gained higher ratings but still trailed WTTG overall. For most of the 1980s and early 1990s, WDCA was the flagship broadcaster of the Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals. It was also the Washington, D.C. home of the Baltimore Orioles.
Channel 20 also became a regional superstation appearing on cable television systems up and down the East Coast. At its height, it was available on nearly every cable provider in Maryland and Virginia, and was carried as far south as Charlotte, North Carolina and as far north as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As early as 1987 – when it was displaced on Charlotte-area cable providers by upstart independent station WJZY (now a sister station to WDCA under Fox ownership) – WDCA began losing most of its out-of-market cable audience as more independent stations signed on in its former cable footprint. However, it is still available on several cable providers in Maryland and Virginia.
In February 1987, Taft sold WDCA and its other independent and Fox-affiliated stations to the Norfolk, Virginia-based TVX Broadcast Group. At the same time, the station dropped its longtime branding of "TV20" and became known as "DC20". The Taft purchase created a debt load for TVX and the sale of their smaller-market stations did not fully reduce the debt. In mid-1989, TVX sold a minority interest in the company to Paramount Pictures. Two years later, in 1991, Paramount bought TVX's remaining shares and became full owner of the stations, which were renamed as the Paramount Stations Group and, as a result, WDCA changed its branding to "Paramount 20", like its Houston sister station KTXH. Viacom purchased the group as part of its acquisition of Paramount Pictures in 1993.
As a UPN station
In 1994, Chris-Craft Industries and its broadcasting subsidiary, United Television, partnered with Viacom's newly acquired subsidiary Paramount Pictures to form the United Paramount Network. WDCA became the network's Washington area station when the network debuted on January 16, 1995. At the network's launch, WDCA was an affiliate of UPN as Chris-Craft had wholly owned the network at the time; the following year, Viacom (whose relationship to UPN was initially in the form of a programming partnership) bought a 50% ownership stake in UPN from Chris-Craft; this effectively turned channel 20 into a UPN owned-and-operated station through Viacom's part-ownership (Viacom later bought Chris-Craft's remaining 50% interest in UPN in 2000).
On October 29, 2001, Viacom traded WDCA to the News Corporation's Fox Television Stations unit (along with KTXH in Houston) in exchange for KBHK-TV in San Francisco, resulting in the creation of the first television duopoly in the Washington, D.C. market. Fox merged the two stations' operations, with WDCA moving from its longtime studios in Bethesda, Maryland, into WTTG's facilities on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Washington's Friendship Heights neighborhood. WTTG was itself once related to Paramount Pictures – it was originally an O&O of the DuMont Television Network, which Paramount had owned in part.
As a MyNetworkTV station
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced that UPN and The WB Television Network would be shut down, to be replaced by a new network that would feature some of the higher-rated programs from both networks called The CW Television Network. WB affiliate WBDC (channel 50, now WDCW) was announced as Washington's CW station, due to its owner Tribune Broadcasting having signed a 10-year affiliation agreement for 16 of the company's 19 WB stations. The day after the announcement of The CW's formation (January 25, 2006), Fox removed all network references from the on-air branding of its UPN affiliates, and stopped promoting UPN programs altogether. WDCA accordingly changed its branding from "UPN 20" to "DCA 20", and altered its logo to replace UPN's logo with the "DCA" lettering.
The formation of MyNetworkTV, with WDCA and the other Fox-owned UPN stations as the nuclei, was announced on February 22, 2006, less than one month later. With the impending switch to MyNetworkTV, channel 20's on-air branding was changed to "My 20" beginning on May 5, 2006. Despite MyNetworkTV's announcement that its launch date would be September 5, 2006, UPN continued to broadcast on stations across the country until September 15, 2006. While some UPN affiliates that switched to MyNetworkTV aired the final two weeks of UPN programming outside its regular primetime period, WDCA and the rest of the network's Fox-owned affiliates dropped UPN's programming entirely on August 31, 2006.
WDCA will often take the responsibility of airing regular Fox programming from sister station WTTG, such as in January 2016 when the Washington, D.C. area was crippled by a blizzard, WDCA aired regular Fox programming so WTTG could devote their entire schedule to long-form news and weather coverage.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|20.1||720p||16:9||WDCA DT||Main WDCA programming / MyNetworkTV|
|20.3||HEROES&||Heroes & Icons|
In 2012, the station became an affiliate of the MundoFox network, which officially launched on August 13 beginning in October 2012. It did so until around August 2015 when a change in ownership in MundoFox saw Fox's interest in the network end and its renaming to MundoMax. Three months later the 20.3 subchannel became home to the classic TV network Heroes & Icons.
On June 12, 2009, WDCA terminated its analog signal, on UHF channel 20, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 35. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WDCA's virtual channel as 20.
WDCA's digital signal had been very weak due to a problem with Washington, D.C. in constructing a new transmitter tower. However, around August 10, 2006, it was operating at full power and the signal became receivable in the suburbs.
In July 2009, Washington, D.C. became a test market for Mobile DTV, and WDCA was one of the participating stations.
Like all of the DC-area Mobile DTV broadcasters, WDCA commenced full-time ATSC-M/H broadcasting on February 27, 2011. WDCA also has a Mobile DTV feed of sister station WTTG, displaying as subchannel 5.1, labelled "WTTG Fox5" and a feed of WDCA on 35.2, with two encrypted video feeds of Fox News Channel (on 5.3) and the Fox Business Network (on 5.4), broadcasting at 5.5 Mbit/s. This is tied with WFDC-DT for the highest bit rate of any D.C.-area television station's mobile feed.
WDCA may air Fox network programs occasionally when WTTG is unable to carry due to some extended Breaking News or severe weather coverage. WDCA may also interupted regularly scheduled programming in certain instances to simulcast live breaking news coverage from WTTG and Fox News. WDCA is the only major television station in the Greater Washington market that has never aired local news programming.
In July 1995, WDCA experimented with a half-hour nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast called UPN 20 News at 10 to compete with WTTG's longer-running primetime newscast. The newscast was produced by regional cable news channel NewsChannel 8. The newscast was discontinued in the summer of 1996.
In October 2006, while WTTG aired Fox Sports' coverage of the 2006 Major League Baseball postseason, the first half-hour of that station's 10 p.m. newscast was broadcast by WDCA under the title Fox 5 News at Ten: Special Edition; this also occurred in 2007, with the WDCA broadcast of the program being titled My 20 News at 10.
- "Digital Signal Sources". The Washington Post. 2008-05-20.
- "$20 million in TV sales approved." Broadcasting, May 12, 1969, pg. 48.
- "Chicago Tribune, John Blair buy television outlets." Broadcasting, January 16, 1978, pg. 32.
- "Taft's turn to buy WDCA-TV; price this time is $13.5 million." Broadcasting, May 1, 1978, pg. 50.
- "FCC stays on course, just barely, with top-50 policy; grants waiver for Taft buy of WDCA-TV." Broadcasting, August 20, 1979, pp. 25-26.
- 'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September, CNNMoney.com, January 24, 2006.
- UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
- News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV, Broadcasting & Cable, February 22, 2006.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WDCA
- Movies!: Where to Watch
- Marcucci, Carl (13 August 2012). "MundoFox launches across the country". RBR.com. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- Dickson, Glen (2009-07-13). "Special Report: Mobile DTV Heats Up". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WDCA
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WDCA-TV
- UPN 20 at the Wayback Machine (archived March 2, 2001)