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Channel 5 Changes Call Letters

March 7, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ To most New Yorkers it’s simply called ″Channel 5,″ but to broadcasters and the federal government the station that’s brought you ″Forty Years of Fine Tuning″ has been known as WNEW-TV.

Until today.

Now ″Channel 5″ will be known as WNYW. The change comes as Fox Television Stations Inc., owned by Australian-born publisher Rupert Murdoch, takes over the station from Metromedia Inc.

It’s not the first time Channel 5 has changed call letters. Until 1958, the 42-year-old station was known as WABD, named for its founder, Allen B. DuMont.

It is the oldest and most successful independent television station in the nation, but in the 1940s and the early 1950s, Channel 5 was the flagship station of a fourth American commercial television network, the DuMont Network. When DuMont went off the air as a network, its stations were sold to a company called Metropolitan Broadcasting, which evolved into the media conglomerate Metromedia.

WNEW-TV was sold, along with stations in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston, to Murdoch for a reported $1.6 billion. A seventh station, in Boston, was bought by the Hearst Corp.

Among Murdoch’s plans for his newly acquired TV stations is the formation of a fourth commercial network. If he succeeds, WNYW will be its flagship station and Channel 5 will have come full-circle.

In order to buy the TV stations, Murdoch had to become an American citizen. He did so last year. Murdoch has until 1987 to sell the New York Post under a Federal Communications Commission rule barring one owner from holding two major media outlets in a city.

The Metromedia radio stations in New York, WNEW-AM and FM, are unaffected by the change.