|Branding||Fox 5 Plus|
Digital: 36 (UHF)|
(shared with WTTG)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
20.1 MyNetworkTV (O&O)|
20.3 Heroes & Icons
|Owner||Fox Television Stations, LLC|
|First air date||April 20, 1966|
|Call letters' meaning||Washington, District of Columbia (DCA is also the airport code for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport)|
|Former channel number(s)||
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||227 m (745 ft)|
38°57′22″N 77°4′58″W / 38.95611°N 77.08278°WCoordinates: 38°57′22″N 77°4′58″W / 38.95611°N 77.08278°W|
38°57′49.9″N 77°6′17.2″W / 38.963861°N 77.104778°W
|Public license information:||
WDCA, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 36), branded as Fox 5 Plus, is a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated television station licensed to the American capital city of Washington, District of Columbia. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, and is part of a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station WTTG (channel 5). The two stations share studios, offices and transmitter facilities on Wisconsin Avenue in the Friendship Heights neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington.
On cable, the station is available on channel 20 on most systems in the market.
As an independent station (1966–1995)
WDCA-TV signed on as an independent station on April 20, 1966; it was originally owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation. Channel 20 was Washington's third independent station, nearly 20 years younger than its future sister station WTTG, which had been founded as a DuMont affiliate, and after WOOK, the nation's first African American-oriented television station. Veteran Washington broadcaster Milton Grant, who previously worked at WTTG, was president of Capitol Broadcasting, and also served as WDCA's founding general manager. Grant would sell channel 20 three years later in 1969 to the Superior Tube Company, although he would stay on as WDCA's general manager for the next decade.
In 1979, Superior Tube sold WDCA to Cincinnati-based Taft Broadcasting, but only after an earlier proposed sale to the Chicago-based Tribune Company fell through. In the 1970s and 1980s, WDCA's best-known personality was Dick Dyszel, who played Bozo the Clown, horror movie host "Count Gore de Vol", and kids show host "Captain 20", and also served as the station's main announcer. The station was also home to Petey Greene's Washington, an Emmy Award-winning show featuring the wit, wisdom and observations of Ralph "Petey" Greene, civil-rights activist and native Washingtonian.
Under Taft's stewardship, channel 20 became very profitable. As Taft upgraded the programming (much of which was distributed by new sister company Worldvision Enterprises, especially Hanna-Barbera cartoons), WDCA gained higher ratings but still trailed WTTG overall.
In 1976, WDCA became the first local television home of the Washington Capitals. The station began splitting coverage with cable channel Home Team Sports (now NBC Sports Washington) in 1984, an arrangement that continued until over-the-air games moved to WBDC (channel 50) in 1995. It was also the home of the Washington Wizards and Baltimore Orioles.
Channel 20 also became a regional superstation appearing on cable television systems up and down the East Coast. At its height, it was available on nearly every cable provider in Maryland and Virginia, and was carried as far south as Charlotte, North Carolina and as far north as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As early as 1987 – when it was displaced on Charlotte-area cable providers by upstart independent station WJZY (now a sister station to WDCA under Fox ownership) – WDCA began losing most of its out-of-market cable audience as more independent stations signed on in its former cable footprint. However, it is still available on several cable providers in Maryland and Virginia.
In February 1987, Taft sold WDCA and its other independent and Fox-affiliated stations to the Norfolk, Virginia-based TVX Broadcast Group. At the same time, the station dropped its longtime branding of "TV20" and became known as "DC20". The Taft purchase created a debt load for TVX and the sale of their smaller-market stations did not fully reduce the debt. In mid-1989, TVX sold a minority interest in the company to Paramount Pictures. Two years later, in 1991, Paramount bought TVX's remaining shares and became full owner of the stations, which were renamed as the Paramount Stations Group and, as a result, WDCA changed its branding to "Paramount 20", like its Houston sister station KTXH. Viacom purchased the group as part of its acquisition of Paramount Pictures in 1993.
As a UPN station (1995–2006)
In 1994, Chris-Craft Industries and its broadcasting subsidiary, United Television, partnered with Viacom's newly acquired subsidiary Paramount Pictures to form the United Paramount Network (UPN). WDCA became the network's Washington area station when the network debuted on January 16, 1995. At the network's launch, WDCA was an affiliate of UPN as Chris-Craft had wholly owned the network at the time; the following year, Viacom (whose relationship to UPN was initially in the form of a programming partnership) bought a 50% ownership stake in UPN from Chris-Craft; this effectively turned channel 20 into a UPN owned-and-operated station through Viacom's part-ownership (Viacom later bought Chris-Craft's remaining 50% interest in UPN in 2000).
On October 29, 2001, Viacom traded WDCA to the News Corporation's Fox Television Stations unit (along with KTXH in Houston) in exchange for KBHK-TV in San Francisco, resulting in the creation of the first television duopoly in the Washington, D.C. market. Fox merged the two stations' operations, with WDCA moving from its longtime studios in Bethesda, Maryland, into WTTG's facilities on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Washington's Friendship Heights neighborhood. WTTG was itself once related to Paramount Pictures – it was originally an O&O of the DuMont Television Network, which Paramount had owned in part.
As a MyNetworkTV station (2006–present)
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced that UPN and The WB would be shut down, to be replaced by a new network that would feature some of the higher-rated programs from both networks called The CW Television Network. WB affiliate WBDC (channel 50, now WDCW) was announced as Washington's CW station, due to its owner Tribune Broadcasting having signed a 10-year affiliation agreement for 16 of the company's 19 WB stations. The day after the announcement of The CW's formation (January 25, 2006), Fox removed all network references from the on-air branding of its UPN affiliates, and stopped promoting UPN programs altogether. WDCA accordingly changed its branding from "UPN 20" to "DCA 20", and altered its logo to replace UPN's logo with the "DCA" lettering.
The formation of MyNetworkTV, with WDCA and the other Fox-owned UPN stations as the nuclei, was announced on February 22, 2006, less than one month later. With the impending switch to MyNetworkTV, channel 20's on-air branding was changed to "My 20" beginning on May 5, 2006. Despite MyNetworkTV's announcement that its launch date would be September 5, 2006, UPN continued to broadcast on stations across the country until September 15, 2006. While some UPN affiliates that switched to MyNetworkTV aired the final two weeks of UPN programming outside its regular primetime period, WDCA and the rest of the network's Fox-owned affiliates dropped UPN's programming entirely on August 31, 2006.
On April 17, 2017, Fox announced that WDCA would be re-branded as "Fox 5 Plus" on July 17, 2017 to provide better name recognition with its sister station WTTG; the channel continues to air its current lineup of MyNetworkTV (initially on a one-hour delay from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m., moved to 10:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m. on September 25) and syndicated programming, but has also introduced a new 8:00 p.m. primetime newscast produced by WTTG.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|20.1||720p||16:9||WDCA||Main WDCA programming / MyNetworkTV|
|20.3||HEROES||Heroes & Icons|
In 2012, the station was a charter O&O of the Spanish-language network MundoFox, which officially launched on August 13 over its third subchannel. It left the network around August 2015 when a change in ownership in MundoFox saw Fox's interest in the network end and its renaming to MundoMax. Two months later the 20.3 subchannel became home to Heroes & Icons. In July 2017, Light TV launched on the new fourth subchannel.
WDCA shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, 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 broadcast on its pre-transition UHF channel 35. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20.
WDCA's digital signal had been very weak due to a problem with Washington, D.C. in constructing a new transmitter tower. However, around August 10, 2006, it was operating at full power and the signal became receivable in the suburbs.
FCC spectrum auction
On April 4, 2017, the FCC announced that WDCA was a winner in the 2016-17 spectrum reallocation auction and in return receive $118,834,183 for the frequency. WDCA ceased broadcasting its own signal over channel 35 on July 18, 2018, but continues over-the-air coverage by sharing WTTG's channel 36. WDCA obtained the maximum of two 90-day extensions from the original off-air deadline of January 23 in order for both stations to avoid dropping digital subchannels for as long as possible.
Syndicated programs currently on WDCA are Divorce Court, The Simpsons, Family Feud, Harry, The Big Bang Theory, and The Dr. Oz Show, among others. The first three are distributed by WDCA's sister company 20th Television. WDCA is also the longtime Washington-market ACC Network affiliate.
In July 1995, WDCA experimented with a half-hour nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast called UPN 20 News at 10 to compete with future sister station WTTG's longer-running primetime newscast. The newscast was produced by regional cable news channel NewsChannel 8. The newscast was discontinued in the summer of 1996.
In October 2006, while WTTG aired Fox Sports' coverage of the 2006 Major League Baseball postseason, the first half-hour of that station's 10 p.m. newscast was broadcast by WDCA under the title Fox 5 News at Ten: Special Edition; this also occurred in 2007, with the WDCA broadcast of the program being titled My 20 News at 10.
As previously mentioned, WDCA began airing a primetime newscast, Fox 5 News on the Plus, on July 17, 2017, as a half-hour broadcast on weekdays and a full hour on weekends.
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- "Chicago Tribune, John Blair buy television outlets." Broadcasting, January 16, 1978, pg. 32.
- "Taft's turn to buy WDCA-TV; price this time is $13.5 million." Broadcasting, May 1, 1978, pg. 50.
- "FCC stays on course, just barely, with top-50 policy; grants waiver for Taft buy of WDCA-TV." Broadcasting, August 20, 1979, pp. 25-26.
- "HTS, Channel 20 to air 54 Caps games". Baltimore Sun. 21 August 1991.
- Carmody, John (12 September 1995). "The TV Column". Washington Post.
- 'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September, CNNMoney.com, January 24, 2006.
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- "Fox Rebrands WDCA As 'Fox 5 Plus'". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WDCA
- Movies!: Where to Watch Archived 2013-06-07 at the Wayback Machine.
- Marcucci, Carl (13 August 2012). "MundoFox launches across the country". RBR.com. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
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- Official website
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- UPN 20 at the Wayback Machine (archived March 2, 2001)