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WGTV, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 7), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station serving Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It is licensed to Athens, a legacy of the station's early years as a service of the University of Georgia. Owned by the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, it is the flagship station of the statewide Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) television network.
|Slogan||Television Worth Sharing|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)|
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
|Translators||W13DJ-D 13 Carrollton|
W08EG-D 8 Toccoa
8.3: GPB Knowledge
8.4: PBS Kids
|Owner||Georgia Public Broadcasting|
(Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission)
|First air date||May 23, 1960|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Georgia Television|
|Sister station(s)||WXGA-TV, WVAN-TV, WABW-TV, WNGH-TV, WCES-TV, WACS-TV, WJSP-TV, WMUM-TV|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
8 (VHF, 1960–2009)
12 (VHF, 2007–2009)
8 (VHF, 2009–2019)
|Former affiliations||NET (1960–1970)|
|Transmitter power||62 kW|
|Height||327.2 m (1,073 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WGTV's transmitter is located atop Stone Mountain in state-owned Stone Mountain Park, just east of Atlanta in Stone Mountain, Georgia. (It shares this short broadcast tower with NOAA Weather Radio station KEC80, and formerly with WABE [90.1 FM].) It is considered the primary ("parent") station for one (originally two) low-power translators, in the north Georgia mountains. Eight other full-power stations also simulcast the network across the state, originally relayed via microwave radio towers and now via communications satellite. There is no local insertion; all station identification is done on a single screen for all stations.
WGTV's analog signal was the strongest of the GPB TV network, covering most of the northern part of Georgia, extending in about a 75-mile (121 km) radius from the transmitter site. WGTV's digital/HDTV facility began 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 use the channel 8 antenna. This selection, made without conflict in the first-round digital channel election, is due to WDEF-TV in Chattanooga 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 Federal Communications Commission (FCC), also allowing a change to 22 (from 59) by WSKC-CD. "Distant" viewers can receive two other GPB digital TV stations: WNGH-TV 33 (18.x) in the northwest metro area, and WJSP-TV 23 (28.x) in the southwest.
The analog station had an effective radiated power (ERP) of 316 kilowatts (the maximum for high VHF), at 326 meters (1,070 ft) height above average terrain (HAAT). The temporary digital station had an ERP of only 16 kW at 304 meters (997 ft). The current 21 kW is still well below the limit of 63 kW 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.
WGTV began broadcasting on May 23, 1960. It was licensed to the University of Georgia and operated out of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. The station's VHF allocation was originally occupied by WSB-TV, which at that time was owned by the Atlanta Journal. The Journal's competitor in Atlanta, 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 and WSB-TV moved to channel 2 from channel 8 in 1951. The ABC affiliate WLTV broadcast on channel 8 from 1951 to 1953, when the station moved to channel 11 (now NBC affiliate WXIA-TV) to avoid radio interference with newly launched WROM-TV Rome, operating on adjacent channel 9.
Cox Enterprises, owner of the Journal and Constitution, donated the channel 8 license to UGA for an educational television station, but it took seven more years to get the station on the air. In 1965, WGTV merged with a group of four stations owned by the state board of education to form Georgia Educational Television, later known as Georgia Public Television and the forerunner of today's GPB television network. In 1982, ownership of the license was transferred from the University of Georgia to the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission.
From 1965 to 1982, WGTV often broke from the main GETV/GPTV signal to broadcast programs of local interest to the Atlanta area. However, since all of the GPTV licenses were consolidated with the GPTC, network programming airs on WGTV at all times.
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' version of "Georgia On My Mind" which is the official state song, while showing scenes from the north Georgia mountains to the Georgia coast.
Both original broadcast translators are or were located near the state's border with South Carolina, 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-TV.
- W08EG-D Toccoa, former analog W68AF, which originally applied for digital on 10
W52AACarnesville, applied for digital on 12, dismissed October 2006, canceled August 2007
- W13DJ-D Carrollton, replaces analog W49AD, which had its license cancelled after this station went on
Two (originally several) other translators are nominally assigned to other GPB TV stations, both to WNGH-TV, though all stations simulcast.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||WGTV-HD||Main GPB programming / PBS|
WGTV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on February 17, 2009, at 11:59 p.m., to conclude the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition VHF channel 12 to channel 8. The station played a farewell video of outdoor scenes around Georgia set to the tune of "Georgia On My Mind" before permanently ceasing transmission. A final message at the end of the video read "In fond remembrance of the era of analog television broadcasting on Georgia Public Television." The transition to digital ended nearly 49 years of analog broadcasting by WGTV.
- GPB website
- GPB stations map — includes WGTV coverage area
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WGTV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WGTV-TV
- TV Fool map of digital signal strength on a Google map