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.
As of April 2013, Antenna TV was seen on 74 stations covering 63% of the country. The network is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. Its national feed includes a mixture of television shows and movies (broadcast under the “Antenna TV Theater” banner) as well as some educational/instructional programs on Saturday mornings. The bulk of the television shows on Antenna TV are sitcoms, most of which date from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s: : McHale’s Navy, Bachelor Father, Good Times, The Monkees, Father Knows Best, Maude and All in the Family. There are also a few newer shows like The Nanny and Married with Children.
In addition to the sitcoms, Antenna TV also airs Suspense Theatre (originally broadcast under the title Kraft Suspense Theatre and later syndicaed as Crisis), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, It Takes a Thief and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Movies are mostly relegated to the overnight and early morning hours, with the exception of Saturday night when movies are aired during prime time.
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. The other day 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.
The network doesn’t feature a bug in the corner although my local affiliate does occasionally throw up its station identification as required by the FCC. The closing credits to all of the above programs are shown without being squeezed for a promotional spot and without a voiceover. 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.