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WETA-TV, virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 31), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to the American capital city of Washington, District of Columbia. Owned by the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, it is a sister station to National Public Radio (NPR) member WETA (90.9 FM). The two outlets share studios in nearby Arlington, Virginia; WETA-TV's transmitter is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood in Northwest Washington. On cable, the station is available on channel 26 on most systems in the market.
|Branding||WETA TV 26|
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)|
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||26.1: PBS HD|
26.2: WETA UK
26.3: WETA PBS Kids
26.4: PBS SD
|Owner||Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association|
|First air date||October 2, 1961|
|Call letters' meaning||Washington Educational Television Association|
|Sister station(s)||WETA (FM)|
|Former channel number(s)|
|Transmitter power||240 kW (STA)|
1000 kW (CP)
|Height||172 m (564 ft) (STA)|
257 m (843 ft) (CP)
|Transmitter coordinates|| (STA)|
|Public license information||Profile|
Among the programs produced by WETA-TV that are distributed nationally by PBS are the PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, and several cultural and documentary programs, such as the Ken Burns documentaries and A Capitol Fourth.
In 1952, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated 242 channels for non-commercial use across the United States. Channel 26 was allocated for use in Washington, D.C. In 1953, the Greater Washington Educational Television Association (GWETA) was formed to develop programming for channel 26. GWETA credits Elizabeth Campbell with having founded the organization. In the early days, before it was granted a license for its own channel, GWETA produced educational programming for WTTG.
GWETA was eventually granted a license by the FCC to activate channel 26; WETA-TV first signed on the air on October 2, 1961. WETA originally operated out of Yorktown High School; the station later relocated its operations to the campus of Howard University in 1964. In 1967, WETA began producing Washington Week in Review (now simply titled Washington Week), a political discussion program that became the station's first program to be syndicated nationally to other non-commercial educational stations.
Around 1970, the Greater Washington Educational Television Association changed its name to the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association to reflect the oversight of the new WETA (FM). In 1992, WETA broadcast the first over-the-air high-definition television signal in the United States In 1995, WETA acquired CapAccess, an interactive computer network. From that acquisition, WETA helped connect public schools, public libraries and local government agencies to the Internet.
In 1996, WETA launched its first national educational project, LD Online, a website that seeks to help children and adults reach their full potential by providing accurate and up-to-date information and advice about learning disabilities and ADHD. It was joined in 2001 by Reading Rockets, a multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. In 2003, Reading Rockets spun off Colorín Colorado, a free web-based service that provides information, activities, and advice for educators, and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners (ELLs). To support the parents and educators of older students who struggle with reading, WETA launched Adlit.org in 2007. AdLit.org is a multimedia educational initiative offering research (articles, instructional strategies, school-based outreach events, professional development webcasts, and book recommendation) to develop teens' literacy skills, prevent school dropouts, and prepare students for the demands of college. Seeing a need to educate the public about brain injuries, in 2008 WETA, in partnership with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, launched BrainLine.org. The site features videos, webcasts, recent research, personal stories, and articles on preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injuries.
In 1997, WETA tested its new full-power digital transmitter which was activated for full-time broadcasting in 1999.[clarification needed] In 2002, WETA became one of the first stations in the county to offer digital subchannels, which initially included WETA Prime, WETA Plus and WETA Kids. In January 2006, WETA changed its subchannel lineup with WETA Create, WETA Family, and WETA World, after the closure of national services PBS You and PBS Kids..
With the dropping of the PBS Kids network in 2005, WETA did not become a PBS Kids Sprout partner. By April 2006, the station had added World programming to a subchannel prior to its January 2007 launch as a nationwide network. In 2007, WETA started broadcasting a children's channel. In February 2009, WETA only aired a daily 3-hour children's morning block on its primary channel, clearing the afternoon for adult shows like Charlie Rose, travel shows, repeats of yesterday’s primetime shows, movies, documentaries and miniseries.
WETA decided to drop Create due to the network moving to being fee based on July 1, 2012 and perceived lack of programming flexibility. WETA How-To lifestyle programming replaced Create in January 2012. How-To was replaced by WETA UK on July 4, 2012 after an analysis of audience and local viewers' demand for UK programs.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|26.1||1080i||16:9||WETA-HD||Main WETA-TV programming / PBS|
|26.2||480i||4:3||WETA UK||WETA UK|
|26.3||KIDS||WETA PBS Kids|
|26.4||TV26||SD simulcast of DT1|
Despite its positioning, digital subchannel 26.4 served as WETA-TV's main programming feed until October 2019. 26.4 is broadcast in standard definition and was the equivalent of the former analog channel 26.
Digital Channel 26.1 simulcast any weekday daytime programming seen on the 26.4 subchannel that was available in high definition, as well as 26.4's entire prime time, overnight and weekend lineup regardless of whether the programming was broadcast in high or standard definition. At other times, 26.1 showed reruns of PBS high definition programming.
Channel 26.2, "WETA-UK", shows a schedule of programming produced in the United Kingdom.
Channel 26.3, "WETA PBS Kids", carries the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel full-time. The subchannel was originally station-programmed "WETA Kids" until late 2019.
In October 2019, WETA-TV added PBS Kids programming on 26.1, therefore making 26.4 a full-time simulcast of 26.1.
WETA-TV shut down its analog signal, on UHF channel 26, 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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 27. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 26.
- "WETA's First Broadcast". Washington, DC: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Television Studios". Washington, DC: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Ongoing Productions". Washington, DC: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Ken Burns". Washington, DC: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Our Founder". Washington, DC: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- Swisher, Kara (September 21, 1995). "WETA TO MANAGE CAPACCESS AREA COMPUTER NETWORK". Washington Post. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- Katy June-Friesen (January 12, 2009). "Many stations packaging their own kids' channels". Originally published in Current. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
- Egner, Jeremy (April 3, 2006). "World and Go! streams flow into PBS plans". Current. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Sefton, Dru (June 11, 2012). "Multicasts tailored to local priorities". Current. American University SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION. Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- "Channel Guide: TV". WETA-TV. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WETA
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- WETA – WETA-TV PBS 26's official website
- WETA's First Broadcast: A New Era (1961) Documentary produced by WETA-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WETA-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WETA-TV