The FFC mandated transition to digital television allowed stations to begin broadcasting digital subchannels in addition to their primary channel. Depending on the market, subchannels are available over-the-air (i.e. 30.1, 30.2, 30.3) as well as on cable. Over the next few days I’ll be examining a number of what I call “classic television digital specialty networks” which are distributed primarily via digital subchannels. In most cases, affiliates have the option of taking some or all of the national feed, meaning their schedules may not match the national schedule.
Antenna TV is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. The network currently airs sitcoms exclusively along with episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, although it has in the past aired dramas as well. It has also in the past aired movies under the “Antenna TV Theater” banner. Educational/instructional programs air Saturday mornings. As of January 2016, the network has affiliates in 125 markets covering 88% of the country.
Most of the TV shows airing on Antenna TV are from the 1950s through the 1980s, including McHale’s Navy, Bachelor Father, Good Times, All in the Family, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, Gidget, Dennis the Menace, Barney Miller, and Three’s Company, Family Ties, and Small Wonder, Dear John and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.
In January 2016, Antenna TV added repeats of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Due to copyright issues, the network refers to the show only as “Johnny Carson.” Episodes from the 1970s air on weeknights while episodes from the 1980s and 1990s air on weekdays.
Antenna TV is one of the digital subchannels I receive. I don’t watch it often but I have seen a few shows here and there. I was watching Bachelor Father occasionally at one point last year. In May 2013 I recorded several shows so I could time them to see if they were edited. Results were mixed:
Sampling of Antenna TV Show Durations, May 2013Hazel – 22:18
Crisis (Suspense Theatre) #1 – 50:19
Crisis (Suspense Theatre) #2 – 50:20
McHale’s Navy – 25:26
Bachelor Father – 25:29
Father Knows Best – 22:36 Dennis the Menace – 22:31
The durations of Crisis (Suspense Theatre), McHale’s Navy and Bachelor Father suggest they are uncut. Hazel, Father Knows Best and Dennis the Menace, on the other hand, appear to have been cut by about three minutes each.
Originally, Antenna TV didn’t feature an on-screen bug in the corner although local affiliates occasionally threw up station identification as required by the FCC. The closing credits to all of the above programs were likewise shown without being squeezed for a promotional spot and without a voiceover. In mid-2015, however, it began squeezing closing credits to most, if not all, of its shows. And in the fall of 2015, Antenna TV began using an on-screen bug.
Commercial breaks feature little in the way of promotion for Antenna TV. There were a few “next” promos and one or two generic spots.
If you’re an Antenna TV viewer, hit the comments with your thoughts.