Whether you’ve been a devoted WWHLTV fan for years or you just tuned in last night, you know the channel has a rich history of covering sports. It’s a network that preempted CBS programming from the 1960s to the 1980s, aired five Super Bowls in New Orleans and also covered Hurricane Katrina.
Coverage of Hurricane Katrina
Throughout the duration of Hurricane Katrina, Belo-owned WWHLTV-TV provided live coverage of the storm. As the hurricane swept across the Gulf Coast, WWHLTV had a disaster plan in place, a disaster team, and several back-up broadcast facilities. They relayed their signal through a fiber optic relay. Also used helicopters loaned from Dallas sister station WFAA and Houston sister station KHOU-TV.
They also earned the duPont-Columbia Award for their Hurricane Katrina coverage. Other awards include the National Web site of the Year, the Regional Murrow, the New Orleans Press Club, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.
While their coverage was impressive, some news staff at WWL-TV were also personally affected by the hurricane. Some employees lost their homes and some lost their jobs. In the end, the news staff at WWL-TV sacrificed personal situations for a greater good.
Coverage of 5 New Orleans hosted Super Bowls
During the past five Super Bowls that New Orleans has hosted, WWLTV provided local coverage of the games. The first of these games, Super Bowl XI, was played at Tulane Stadium. It was not sold out, and ratings for the game did not reflect the event.
After the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans, WWLTV restored an editorial segment that it had removed in the days following the disaster. The segment modeled itself after the editorials presented by Phil Johnson, the station’s longtime news director. The station also aired original programming, including a talk show hosted by Angela Hill.
A few years later, the station became a joint venture with Cox Cable to produce a cable-only news channel. The station also started broadcasting local news in high-definition.
Preempted CBS programming from the 1960s to the 1980s
During the 1960s to 1980s, the station preempted moderate amounts of CBS programming. As a result, the station had an enviable presence on the city’s airwaves. Its marquee programs included the two-hour morning newscast and the syndicated Eyewitness Morning News. The station also aired the occasional late-night program.
The best part about the station’s heyday was its ability to air the most entertaining live musical acts. A number of musicians made the move, WWHLTV including jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as singers such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. The station also aired several local sporting events, including the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets and the New Orleans Saints. During the 1990s, the station expanded its slate of statewide network programming to include the Louisiana Public Broadcasting network.
Preempted the last hour of the network’s Saturday children’s programming
NBC recently preempted the last hour of the network’s Saturday children’s programming to cover the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that occurred on Saturday, February 2003. As a result, the network was forced to take coverage from other video news agencies.
The FCC has established a policy to monitor preemptions of core children’s programming. Networks must submit a request to the FCC’s Media Bureau by August 1 each year. This request must include an outline of the plan for rescheduling the preempted program. Affiliate stations must notify viewers and program guide publishers of the schedule change.
The FCC recently established a cap of 10% on the number of preemptions of core children’s programming during a calendar quarter. In addition, DTV channels were given a 10% cap. The cap was particularly tough in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. However, networks can still preempt popular children’s programs to cover breaking news.