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WDCW 50 logo.png
Washington, D.C.
United States
ChannelsDigital: 15 (UHF)
(shared with WFDC-DT[1])
Virtual: 50
BrandingDCW 50
Affiliations50.1: The CW
50.2: Antenna TV (O&O)[2]
OwnerNexstar Media Group
(Tribune Media Company[3])
First air date
April 1, 1981 (40 years ago) (1981-04-01)
Former call signs
  • WCQR (1981–1985)
  • WFTY (1985–1995)
  • WBDC-TV (1995–2006)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 50 (UHF, 1981–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 51 (UHF, 2001–2009)
  • 50 (UHF, 2009–2018)
Call sign meaning
"Washington D.C.'s CW"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID30576
ERP1,000 kW
HAAT227 m (745 ft)
Transmitter coordinates38°57′24″N 77°4′53″W / 38.95667°N 77.08139°W / 38.95667; -77.08139
Public license information

WDCW, virtual channel 50 (UHF digital channel 15), branded on-air as DCW 50, is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to the American capital city of Washington, D.C. Owned by Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group, it is part of a duopoly with Hagerstown, Maryland-licensed independent station WDVM-TV (channel 25). WDCW's studios are located on Wisconsin Avenue in the Glover Park section of Washington, and it shares transmitter facilities with Arlington, Virginia-licensed Univision-owned station WFDC-DT (channel 14) in the Tenleytown section of Washington's Northwest quadrant.


Early years (1981–1995)

Channel 50, Inc. was issued a construction permit for station WGSP-TV in 1967. Plans to commence operation in the summer of 1971 were scuttled by the sudden death of Channel 50's principal owner, former American Forum of the Air host Ted Granik, on September 21, 1970. Granik's will did not leave any funding for WGSP-TV, forcing it to declare bankruptcy.[4] Channel 50, Inc. was then involved in a protracted legal battle over a sale to Washington resident and former WBNB-TV owner Ted Ledbetter – held up by the Federal Communications Commission due to questions about his financial backing – and subsequent permission to become Washington's one allowable subscription television station, which was also sought by WDCA (channel 20).[5]

After both hearings went in Ledbetter's favor in July 1980, channel 50 signed on under the callsign WCQR on April 1, 1981.[6] Beginning on November 1, WCQR aired the subscription television service SuperTV at night and live pictures of Washington, D.C. from above its broadcast tower during the daytime. Early in the day, WCQR also ran some basic computer still images with music called "Morning Muse". The live pictures were soon replaced with programming from the Financial News Network. Hill Broadcasting purchased both Channel 50 and WHLL-TV (now Univision affiliate WUNI) in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1985. On July 1, the call letters were changed to WFTY, in reference to its channel allocation. It then became a full-time Independent station in early 1986. Initially, the station ran a lineup of classic off-network sitcoms, dramas, cartoons, movies and some religious programs. WFTY also picked up the ABC soap opera Ryan's Hope after WJLA-TV (channel 7) dropped it in 1986, with Channel 50 running the final years of the program.

The station was airing mostly religious programs, infomercials, low-budget (but copyrighted) movies, and a few off-network dramas by 1988. Ratings were very low, in addition to the programming costs. WFTY did pick up a few cartoons for the weekday 7 to 9 a.m. slot in June 1990 when Fox owned-and-operated station WTTG (channel 5) dropped its children's block in favor of launching a weekday morning newscast. In 1993, the Hill stations were purchased by the Jasas Corporation. In the fall of that year, WFTY added more cartoons, barter sitcoms, some low-priced syndicated shows, and cut back on paid programming.

As a WB affiliate (1995–2006)

WFTY joined The WB on February 20, 1995, six weeks after the network started broadcasting. WJAL (channel 68) was nominally The WB's charter Washington affiliate, although it was located 70 miles (113 km) to the northwest in Hagerstown, Maryland and neither viewable over-the-air nor carried on cable in any part of the metropolitan area. Since WB programming consisted of a single block on Wednesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. at the time, WFTY ran WB programs on six consecutive weeknights in order to catch up and begin airing the schedule in pattern on March 1.[7] On September 6, the station's call letters were changed to WBDC-TV to reflect its network status. In 1996, the Tribune Company (which had a minority ownership interest in The WB) began managing the station and purchased the station outright from the Jasas Corporation in 1999.

As a CW affiliate (2006–present)

WDCW's CW logo, used from 2006 to 2008.
WDCW's CW logo, used from 2006 to 2008.

On January 24, 2006, Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that The WB and UPN would shut down that September and be replaced by a new network that would include some of the two networks' higher-rated programs called The CW.[8][9] WBDC was named as the D.C. area's CW affiliate as Tribune signed a 10-year affiliation agreement for 16 of the company's 19 WB stations. On May 1, WBDC's call letters were changed to the current WDCW to reflect the pending switch. On July 20, 2006, the station began to run on-air promotions that featured a new logo and branding as "The CW Washington". WDCW joined The CW when the network launched nationwide on September 18, 2006.

In August 2008, WDCW began to be branded on-air as "DC50" reducing the promotion of The CW to just the tagline; this was followed on August 14 with the introduction of a new logo; this branding change came as Tribune's CW-affiliated stations began to de-emphasize references to the network in their branding. On-air, the station used "DC 50" as their branding and at some points "Home of The CW" as their slogan while "The CW Washington" branding continued to be used on the station's website. In press releases seen online, WDCW was also using the "Home of The CW" slogan.[10] The slogan began being used on-air and online on August 22, 2008. The CW logo returned to the station's branding in 2010, changing it to "DC50 The CW." In July 2014, the station was rebranded as "DCW Television," and introduced a new logo.

Aborted sale to Sinclair; sale to Nexstar

On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune.[11][12][13][14][15] Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other mergers and acquisitions opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Fox's purchases of KSTU and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned Hagerstown, Maryland-based independent station WDVM-TV (channel 25) since December 2003—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37] The sale was approved by the FCC on September 16 and was completed on September 19, 2019, forming a nominal duopoly with WDVM-TV.

Local programming

Newscasts and public affairs programming

DCW50 News logo, used from 2016 to 2018.
DCW50 News logo, used from 2016 to 2018.

As an independent station, the station carried a 7:30 p.m. newscast produced by NBC owned-and-operated station WRC-TV, titled 7:30 News Headlines, which launched on January 14, 1991; the newscast suffered low ratings throughout its run and ended almost ten months later on October 25, 1991.[38][39]

The station began to produce a weekly news program in Washington, D.C. and neighboring parts of Maryland and Virginia known as the "Inner Loop" from 2005 to 2007 in conjunction with George Washington University and Montgomery College. The Inner Loop eventually evolved into Weekend News with Chris Core which was produced at the Tribune National Media Center in Downtown Washington from 2007 to 2010. Since 2010 the station has been broadcasting the Emmy-nominated NewsPlus with Mark Segraves, a half-hour locally produced program that airs Sunday mornings. Hosted by investigative reporter Mark Segraves, the 30-minute program features local investigative reports and interviews with regional and national newsmakers.

On April 16, 2016, WDCW began airing a nightly half-hour 10 p.m. newscast produced by Tribune sister station WTVR-TV, the CBS affiliate for Richmond, Virginia. WTVR's Candace Burns solo anchored the weeknight newscasts, along with chief meteorologist Zach Daniel and sports director Lane Casadonte. Saturday evenings were anchored by Angie Miles, meteorologist Mike Goldberg, and Sean Robertson on sports. Tracy Sears handled anchor duties on Sunday nights, with Goldberg and Robertson on weather and sports, respectively. With WTVR bound for purchase by the E. W. Scripps Company to address regulatory issues in the Richmond market, on September 6, 2018, Tribune announced that the newscast would be cancelled[40] effective September 28.[41]

Awards and recognition

The Dream Began Here, WDCW's 2012 "Living Black History Special", won Outstanding Documentary: Historical. From the first African-Americans to pioneer the Civil Rights Movement, to our first African-American president, the documentary explored the evolving roles African Americans had within the White House, the city of Washington, D.C., and our surrounding areas.

The WDCW documentary, Hattie's Lost Legacy was presented the "Outstanding Documentary/Local Market" National Gracie award by the Alliance for Women in the Media in 2012. Hattie's Lost Legacy recounted the story of Oscar Winner Hattie McDaniel's life, focusing on the disappearance of her historic Oscar from Howard University. Hattie's Lost Legacy premiered in February 2011 as part of the station's "Living Black History" local programming campaign. Hattie's Lost Legacy was also a 2012 finalist in the National Association of Black Journalists television awards in the documentary category and was nominated for a Washington Regional Emmy in the Documentary/Historic category.

WDCW was awarded the "Salute to Excellence Award" by the National Association of Black Journalists for the 2010 local documentary, Howard Theatre: A Century in Song.

Direct Access with Big Tigger received an Emmy in the "Outstanding Local Program – Entertainment Category" in 2012.

WDCW won an Outstanding Public Service Announcement for 2012 DCW Television's "Trot for Hunger" PSA promoting the annual Thanksgiving 5K Race to support the local charity So Others Might Eat (SOME). WDCW has supported SOME's Trot for Hunger for 13 years and has seen the event, which supports DC's homeless, grow from 300 runners in 2001 to 13,000 in 2013.

Technical information


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
50.1 720p WDCW-DT Main WDCW programming / The CW
50.2 480i Antenna Antenna TV

Analog-to-digital conversion and broadcast spectrum repack

WDCW stopped transmitting on its analog signal, over UHF channel 50, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 51 to channel 50 for post-transition operations.[42]

In April 2017, Tribune sold WDCW's broadcast spectrum to the FCC for $122 million as part of the commission's 2016–17 spectrum reallocation reverse auction.[43] On August 31, 2017, it was announced that WDCW had entered into a channel sharing agreement with Univision affiliate WFDC-DT. WDCW ended broadcasts over its own channel 50 and began sharing WFDC's channel 15 on January 23, 2018.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Modification of a Licensed Facility for DTV Application". Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Digital TV Market Listing for WDCW". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Commercial Broadcast Stations Biennial Ownership Report (FCC Form 323), Federal Communications Commission, January 31, 2020, p. 11, retrieved February 2, 2020
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External links

This page was last edited on 4 December 2021, at 15:48
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