The network's first station, WEDH in Hartford, signed on in 1962, airing broadcasts in "black and white" at the Trinity College Library. It was the fourth educational television station in New England, following WGBH-TV in Boston, WENH-TV in Durham, New Hampshire (now part of New Hampshire Public Television), and WCBB in Augusta, Maine (now part of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network) Originally a member of National Educational Television, it joined PBS in 1969. Formally known as Connecticut Educational Television, it became Connecticut Public Television in 1984.
CPTV remained based on rented space at Trinity College until selling its headquarters back to the school for $10 million in 2002. In 2004, CPTV moved to a state-of-the-art facility on Asylum Avenue in downtown Hartford. The infrastructure of CPTV was eventually upgraded through a partnership with Sony Systems Integration Center (SIC), which enabled the delivery of HD quality telecommunications to subscribers. In the 1990s, a "volunteer of the week" program was offered.
CPTV was the broadcast and web streaming home of UConn Women's Basketball from 1994-2012. The game broadcasts were the highest rated locally produced program in the PBS system.
CPTV is a major producer of children's programming for the PBS system. Its best-known offering was Barney & Friends. The character was actually discovered in 1991 when the daughter of CPTV executive Larry Rifkin bought a Barney and the Backyard Gang home video and was mesmerized by it. CPTV continued to distribute the show until 2006; it is now distributed by WNET in New York. Other children's shows originated by CPTV are Thomas & Friends, Rubbadubbers, Bob The Builder, Angelina Ballerina, The Saddle Club and Toddworld.
Throughout the 1990s, M*A*S*H star Alan Alda hosted a science show called Scientific American Frontiers, based on the popular magazine Scientific American. That show was also produced by CPTV and aired nationwide.
Since 2002, CPTV has been working with HiT Entertainment, who has helped distribute some of CPTV's children's programs. Beginning in 2008, most of CPTV's kids programming (which are all of post 2002 production with HiT Entertainment) have been presented by WNET.
WEDH Hartford 24 490 kW
WEDW Bridgeport 49 170 kW
WEDN Norwich 53 4.2 kW
WEDY New Haven 65 60 kW
The network previously operated a translator in Waterbury, W12BH (channel 12), which directly repeated WEDY. That station was taken off the air to allow WTXX to begin digital television operations.
CPTV is available on all cable systems in the state. On satellite, WEDH is available in nearly all of the state on the Hartford/New Haven DirecTV and Dish Network feeds, while WEDW is available on the New York City local feeds. This gives CPTV a potential audience of 21 million people in three states.
During 2009, in the lead-up to the analog-to-digital television transition that would ultimately occur on June 12, CPTV shut down the analog transmitters of its stations on a staggered basis. Listed below are the dates each analog transmitter ceased operations as well as their post-transition channel allocations:
WEDH shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 45, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 24. WEDW shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 49, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition f