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WGTV channel 8 is the metro Atlanta station and flagship for Georgia Public Broadcastingmarker (formerly Georgia Public Television), Georgiamarker's PBS network.

The station transmit from the top of Stone Mountainmarker in state-owned Stone Mountain Parkmarker, located just east of Atlantamarker in Stone Mountain, Georgiamarker. (It shares this short broadcast tower with NOAA Weather Radio station KEC80marker, and formerly with WABEmarker FM 90.1.) The city of license is Athens, Georgiamarker; a legacy of its early years as a service of the University of Georgiamarker. It is considered the primary ("parent") station for one (originally two) LPTV broadcast translator, in the north Georgia mountains. Eight other full-power stations also simulcast the network across the state, originally relayed via microwave radio tower and now via communications satellite. There is no local insertion, instead all station identification is done on a single screen for all stations.

WGTV's analog TV signal was the strongest of the GPB TV network, covering most of the northern part of Georgia, extending in about a 75-mile (120 km) radius from the transmitter site. WGTV's digital/HDTV facility started broadcasting on December 20, 2007 on channel 12. However, it was at very low power, unable to be received through much (if not most) of metro Atlanta. It moved from channel 12 to full power on channel 8 after the analog shutdown in February 2009, using the same digital transmitter re-tuned to used the analog 8 antenna. This selection, made without conflict in the first-round digital channel election, is due to WDEF-TVmarker in Chattanoogamarker opting to stay digital on channel 12. WGTV was originally assigned channel 22 for DTV operations, but requested the frequency allotment change to channel 12 by the FCC, also allowing a change to 22 (from 59) by WSKC-CAmarker. "Distant" viewers can receive two other GPB digital TV stations: WNGH-TVmarker 33 (18.x) in the northwest metro area, and WJSP-TVmarker 23 (28.x) in the southwest.

The analog station was 316 kilowatts ERP (the maximum for high VHF), at HAAT. The temporary digital station was only 16kW at . The current 21kW is still well below the limit of 63kW for digital stations on high VHF (channels 7 to 13), which would also be legally equivalent to what it had on analog. Because of this, reception is still difficult in much of metro Atlanta. Unfortunately for over-the-air PBS viewers, the same situation also exists at WPBA, though WGTV is still available on most analog cable TV systems unlike WPBA, which was cut off by Comcast.

History

In 1960, WGTV began broadcasting on May 23, licensed to the University of Georgiamarker and operating out of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. The station's VHF allocation was originally occupied by WSB-TVmarker, which at that time was owned by the Atlanta Journal. The Journal's competitor in Atlantamarker, the Atlanta Constitution, had applied for and received from the FCC a construction permit for channel 2, which was to be called WCON-TV. When the Journal and Constitution merged, media ownership rules of the day did not permit one entity to own two television stations in the same market. Plans for WCON-TV were scrapped, WSB-TV moved to channel 2 from channel 8 in 1951. The ABC-TV affiliate WLTV broadcast on Channel 8 from 1951 to 1953, when the station moved to channel 11 (now WXIA-TVmarker) to avoid radio interference with newly-launched WROM-TV Romemarker, operating on adjacent channel 9.

In 1953, channel 8 was given to the University for an educational television station, which did not begin broadcasting until 1960. In 1982, ownership of the license was transferred from the University of Georgia to the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commissionmarker, the oversight board for GPTV (now GPB TV).

Programming

Programming on WGTV and WPBAmarker, both PBS affiliates, is basically the same, with some important differences. Programs shown in prime time on one station, such as Live from Lincoln Center, will often be shunted on the other station to Sunday afternoons, which in some quarters is considered "viewing limbo", since many people are either at church, at sporting events, or at the movies. Sometimes a program carried by WPBA will not be shown at all by GPB. Very often, GPB has its own programs, such as Georgia Outdoors, while WPBA has its own as well.

WPBA is owned by the Atlanta Board of Education, and is only seen in metro Atlanta. Prior to 2001, both stations went off the air at midnight; WPBA still goes off the air on Sunday nights. GPB used to sign off with Ray Charles's version of "Georgia On My Mind" which is the state's official song, while showing scenes from the north Georgia mountains to the Georgia coast.

Broadcast translators

Both original broadcast translators are or were located near the state's border with South Carolinamarker, in areas where coverage from a full-powered GPB transmitter is insufficient, due to the distance from the main transmitters and the hilly or mountainous terrain in northeast Georgia. A third translator, this time digital, replaced an analog one previously assigned to WJSP-TVmarker.

  • W08EG-D Toccoamarker, former analog W68AF, which originally applied for digital on 10
  • W52AA Carnesvillemarker, applied for digital on 12, dismissed October 2006, cancelled August 2007
  • W13DJ-D Carrolltonmarker, replaces analog W49ADmarker, which had its license cancelled after this station went on


Two (originally several) other translators are nominally assigned to other GPB TV stations, both remaining ones to WNGH-TVmarker, though all stations simulcast.

Digital television (over the air)

WGTV now transmits digitally on channel 8. On February 17, 2009 at 11:59 PM (23:59) EST, analog channel 8 left the air for good. The transition to digital ended nearly 49 years of analog broadcasting by WGTV. It is to return to air on channel 8, only in digital, at 8:01 a.m. EST on February 18, 2009. Depending on the ATSC tuner, viewers will need to add the new station by entering any channel 8.4 to 8.99, which will normally cause the tuner to search physical channel 8. It may also be necessary to manually delete the old mapping from channel 12, or to re-scan entirely, if there is no option to add new channels.

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