The station is available on satellite to DirecTV subscribers in the few areas of the Eastern United States that do not have an over-the-air Fox affiliate and on Dish Network as part of All American Direct's distant network package; DirecTV also carries WNYW on its Latin American service, and on JetBlue's LiveTV inflight entertainment system. WNYW is also available on cable providers in the Caribbean.
The station traces its history to 1938, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded experimental station W2XVT in Passaic, New Jersey (whose callsign was later changed to W2XWV when it moved to Manhattan in 1940). On May 2, 1944, the station received its commercial license - the third in New York City - on VHF channel 4 as WABD, its callsign named after DuMont's initials. It was one of the few television stations that continued to broadcast during World War II, making it the fourth-oldest continuously broadcasting commercial station in the United States. The station originally broadcast from the DuMont Building on Madison Avenue with a transmission tower atop the building (the original tower, long abandoned by the station, still remains). On December 17, 1945, WABD moved to channel 5. WNBT (now WNBC) took over Channel 4, moving from Channel 1, which the FCC announced that it was deleting.
Soon after channel 5 received its commercial license, DuMont Laboratories began a series of experimental coaxial cable hookups between WABD and W3XWT, a DuMont-owned experimental station in Washington, D.C. (now WTTG). These hookups were the beginning of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network (although NBC was feeding a few programs and special events from their New York station to outlets in Philadelphia and Schenectady as early as 1940). DuMont began regular network service in 1946 with WABD as the flagship station. On June 14, 1954, WABD and DuMont moved into the $5 million DuMont Tele-Centre at 205 East 67th Street in the Yorkville section of Manhattan's Upper East Side, inside the shell of the space formerly occupied by Jacob Ruppert's Central Opera House; channel 5 is still headquartered in that same building as of 2013, which was later renamed the Metromedia TeleCenter, and is now known as the Fox Television Center.
The Fox Television Center, 205 East 67th Street in New York City, was opened by DuMont on June 14, 1954 as the DuMont Tele-Centre and is the station's current studio. By February 1955, DuMont realized it could not continue in network television, and decided to shut down the network's operations and operate WABD and its Washington, D.C. station WTTG (also operating on channel 5) as independent stations. WABD thus became the New York market's fourth independent station, alongside future sister station WOR-TV (now WWOR), WPIX (channel 11) and Newark-licensed WATV (channel 13, now WNET). After DuMont wound down network operations in August 1955, DuMont Laboratories spun off WABD and WTTG into a new firm, the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. Channel 5 gained sister stations on radio in 1957, when DuMont purchased WNEW (1130 AM, now WBBR) in April of that year, and the construction permit for WHFI, which was renamed WNEW-FM (102.7 FM, now WWFS) when it began operations in August 1958.
The Metromedia era
In May 1958, DuMont Broadcasting changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation in an effort to distinguish itself from its former corporate parent. Four months later, on September 7, 1958, WABD's call letters were changed to WNEW-TV to match its radio sisters. The final major corporate transaction involving the station during 1958 occurred in December, when Washington-based investor John Kluge acquired Paramount Pictures' controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting and appointed himself as the company's chairman. Metropolitan Broadcasting began expanding its holdings across the United States, and would change its corporate name to Metromedia in 1961. However, the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for Metromedia's TV and radio station properties until 1967.
In the early 1960s, WNEW-TV produced children's shows such as Romper Room (until 1966, when it moved to WOR-TV), The Sandy Becker Show and The Sonny Fox Show, which was later known as Wonderama. Bob McAllister took over hosting Wonderama in 1967 and by 1970, Wonderama was syndicated to the other Metromedia stations. WNEW-TV also originated the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1966, and broadcast the program annually until 1986, when it moved to WWOR-TV, where it has aired through 2012. In the 1970s, local programming also included a weekly public affairs show hosted by Gabe Pressman, and Midday Live, a daily talk/information show hosted by Lee Leonard, and later by Bill Boggs. The station also carried movies, cartoons, off-network sitcoms and drama series and a primetime newscast at 10 p.m.
By the 1970s, channel 5 was one of the strongest independent stations in the country. Despite WOR-TV's and WPIX's eventual statuses as national superstations, WNEW-TV was the highest-rated independent in New York. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, channel 5 was available as a regional superstation in large portions of the Northeastern United States, including most of upstate New York, and portions of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New England.
Birth of a new network
In 1986, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, who had then-recently bought a controlling interest in the 20th Century Fox film studio, purchased the Metromedia television stations, including WNEW-TV. The station's callsign was changed to WNYW on March 7, 1986 and it, along with the other former Metromedia stations formed the cornerstone of the Fox Broadcasting Company when it launched on October 9, 1986. WNYW's schedule initially changed very little, as Fox aired programming only on late nights and weekends in the network's first few years. Although it began taking on the look of an network-owned station in the spring of 1987, channel 5 continued to carry cartoons and sitcoms into the late 1980s.
Murdoch had one local obstacle to overcome before his purchase of channel 5 could become final, as News Corporation had owned the New York Post since it purchased the newspaper in 1976; the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules barred common ownership of newspapers and broadcast licenses in the same media market. The FCC granted Murdoch a temporary waiver to keep the Post and WNYW in order to complete its purchase of the Metromedia television stations. News Corporation would sell the New York Post in 1988, but bought the paper back five years later with a permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rules.
In the late summer of 1986, WNYW debuted the nightly newsmagazine A Current Affair, one of the first shows to be labeled as a "tabloid television" program. Originally a local program, it was first anchored by Maury Povich, formerly of Washington, D.C. sister station WTTG (and who would later briefly also anchor WNYW's evening newscasts). Within a year of its launch, A Current Affair was syndicated to the other Fox-owned stations and in 1988, the series entered into national syndication, where it remained until the original incarnation of the program was cancelled in 1996. In August 1988, the station dropped cartoons that aired on weekday mornings in favor of a morning newscast.
In 1994, Fox gained broadcast rights to road games of the National Football Conference; as a result, since then, WNYW has been the unofficial "home" station of the New York Giants. Among the notable Giants games aired on the station is the team's victory in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants defeated the New England Patriots, who were 18-0 at the time and were one win away from the second perfect season in NFL history. The NFC road game contract also includes occasional New York Jets games.
From 1999 to 2001, WNYW obtained the broadcast rights to New York Yankees game telecasts, displacing longtime broadcaster WPIX (as of 2013, WNYW continues to show Yankees games through Fox's broadcast contract with Major League Baseball). In 2001, Fox bought BHC Communications, a television station group owned by Chris-Craft Industries, which effectively created a duopoly between WNYW and its former rival, WWOR-TV. In the fall of 2001, WNYW dropped Fox Kids' weekday block and moved it to WWOR-TV, where it ran for a few more months before Fox discontinued the network's weekday children's lineup at the end of that year. In 2004, Fox Television Stations announced that it would move WWOR's operations from Secaucus to WNYW's facility at the Fox Television Center in Manhattan. While some office functions were merged, plans for a full move to Manhattan were abandoned later that year due to pressure from New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman (whose congressional district includes Secaucus) and Senator Frank Lautenberg on grounds that any move to Manhattan would violate the conditions of WWOR's broadcast license. The company also considered moving WNYW's operations to Secaucus, but to date both stations continue to maintains separate studio facilities.
On September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of WNYW, eight other New York City television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the north and south towers of World Trade Center. The station's transmitter has since been relocated to an antenna located atop the Empire State Building, where its transmitter facilities had been located until they were moved to the World Trade Center in the 1970s. In April 2006, WNYW became the first Fox-owned to launch a website on Fox Interactive Media's MyFox platform, which featured expanded content, more videos and new community features such as blogs and photo galleries (WorldNow took over management of the MyFox sites in 2012).
On October 15, 2010, News Corporation pulled the signal of WNYW, WWOR, along with co-owned cable channels Fox Business Network, Fox Deportes, and National Geographic Wild from Cablevision systems in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut due to a dispute between Fox and Cablevision in which Cablevision claimed that News Corporation demanded $150 million a year to renew its carriage of 12 Fox-owned channels, including those removed due to the dispute. Cablevision offered to submit to binding arbitration on October 14, 2010, though News Corporation rejected Cablevision's proposal, stating that it would "reward Cablevision for refusing to negotiate fairly". WWOR, WNYW and the three cable channels were restored on October 30, 2010, when Cablevision and News Corporation struck a new carriage deal.
WNYW discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television; the shutdown occurred during the closing credits of a syndicated rerun of The Simpsons. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 44, using PSIP to display WNYW's virtual channel as 5 on digital television receivers. It carried WWOR's programming on digital subchannel 5.2 until 2009, when it changed the PSIP data to identify the virtual channel carrying WWOR's programming to 9.2. Subchannel 9.2 still remains multiplexed with WNYW 5.1 on RF channel 44.
Fox 5 News at 10:00 p.m. news open, used since November 2012. WNYW broadcasts 44 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with eight hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); this gives the station the largest local news output of any television station in the New York City market and the state of New York in general, surpassing area CW affiliate WPIX's weekly news total by six hours. As is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WNYW's Saturday and Sunday 6 p.m. newscasts are subject to delay or preemption due to network sports coverage. WNYW and sister station WWOR-TV share resources with Philadelphia sister station WTXF-TV in areas of New Jersey in which the New York and Philadelphia markets overlap; the stations share reporters for stories occurring in New Jersey counties served by both markets.
The station is home to one of America's longest-running primetime local newscasts: WNYW (as WNEW-TV) first premiered its 10 p.m. newscast – the first primetime newscast in the New York market – on March 13, 1967. Each night, the newscast (originally known as The 10 O'Clock News until 2001) was preceded by the simple, but now-famous announcement: "It's 10 p.m., Do you know where your children are?", which was coined by Mel Epstein. Staff announcer Tom Gregory was one of the first to utter this famous line that WNEW pioneered; other television stations in the country began using the tagline for their own 10 p.m. (or 11 p.m.) news slots (which may depend on the start of the local youth curfew in each market). Celebrities were often used to read the slogan in the 1980s, and for a time in the late 1970s, the station added a warmer announcement earlier in the day: "It's 6 p.m., have you hugged your child today?" From 1975 to 1985, the 10 p.m. newscast notably featured nightly op-ed debates which pitted conservative Martin Abend against liberal Professor Sidney Offit. The first time WNYW programmed news outside its established 10:00 slot was in 1987, when it premiered a half-hour 7 p.m. newscast; the program was canceled in 1993.
Then on August 1, 1988, WNYW became the first Fox station to run a weekday morning newscast with the debut of the two-hour Good Day New York; within five years of its launch, the program became the top-rated morning show in the New York City market. In 1991, a new and eventually very popular music package was composed for the show by Edd Kalehoff, a New York-based composer best known for composing the themes and music cues for game shows such as The Price Is Right. Since the Fox takeover, WNYW's newscasts have become more tabloid in style and have even been fodder for jokes, even to the point of being parodied on Saturday Night Live, as well as the consumer reporting segment The Problem Solvers receiving the same treatment on The Daily Show.
WNYW was the first television station to cover the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center that occurred on September 11, 2001. The station interrupted a commercial break at 8:48 a.m. ET to deliver the first public report of the attacks on air by anchor Jim Ryan and reporter Dick Oliver. In 2002, WNYW brought early evening newscasts back to the station with the launch of a 90-minute weekday news block from 5-6:30 p.m. In 2004, longtime anchor John Roland, a 35-year veteran of channel 5, retired from the station on June 4, 2004; former NBC News correspondent Len Cannon, who joined WNYW as a reporter and anchor some time earlier, was initially named as Roland's replacement. Several months later, veteran New York City anchorman Ernie Anastos (who at the time was anchoring at WCBS-TV) signed a multi-year contract with WNYW, displacing Cannon as lead anchor; Cannon asked for, and was granted, a release from his contract with the station shortly after Anastos's contract deal was announced. Anastos joined WNYW in July 2005, and Cannon joined KHOU-TV in Houston as its lead anchor in the spring of 2006. On April 3, 2006, WNYW debuted a new set, theme music and graphics package, and introduced a new logo based on the on-air look first adopted by Tampa sister station WTVT that became standard for all of Fox's owned-and-operated stations.
On November 9, 2008, WNYW became the fifth New York City television station to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On July 13, 2009, Good Day New York expanded with the addition of a fifth hour of the program from 9-10 a.m.; the noon newscast was dropped in turn. In the fall of 2009, WNYW entered into a Local News Service agreement with NBC owned-and-operated station WNBC to share helicopter footage with that station; WNYW's helicopter SkyFox HD was renamed "Chopper 5" on-air, though the SkyFox name was reinstated in 2010, while the "Chopper 4" name continued to be used by WNBC. The LNS agreement ended in 2012 when WNBC began operating its own helicopter, WNYW has since entered into a helicopter-sharing agreement with CBS-owned WCBS-TV.
During the 10 p.m. newscast on September 16, 2009, anchor Ernie Anastos cursed live on-air while engaging in banter with chief meteorologist Nick Gregory, saying "I guess it takes a tough man to make a tender forecast", adding "keep fucking that chicken"; the incident gained some notoriety when it and other videos of the on-air gaffe appeared on YouTube, making Anastos and WNYW the subject of a joke on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Anastos apologized for the incident on the following night's 10 p.m. newscast. As of November 2012, WNYW is one of only two news-producing stations in the New York City market that continues to present field video in widescreen standard definition; all of the other stations broadcast all or most of their field video in high definition.
On June 5, 2014, WNYW relaunched its 6:00 p.m. newscast as a more topical, interactive program; on June 6, the station launched the entertainment, lifestyle and music program Friday Night Live (airing during the timeslot normally occupied by the second half-hour of the 10:00 p.m. newscast). This was followed by the June 7 debut of hourly news updates that air weekend mornings between 9:00 a.m. and noon (WNYW is the only news-producing English language network O&O in the New York City market that does not carry a full-fledged local newscast on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings, and is one of four Fox owned-and-operated stations without a weekend morning newscast, alongside KTTV in Los Angeles, WFLD in Chicago and WJZY in Charlotte).