Classic TV on TV: Antenna TV

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

Launched: January 2011
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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.

Antenna TV Promotional Spot

Antenna TV Promotional Spot

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 2013

Hazel – 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.

Antenna TV Promotional Spot

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.

Antenna TV Promotional Spot
Example of Antenna TV’s on-screen bug.

Antenna TV Promotional Spot
Example of closing credits being squeezed.

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.

13 Comments

  • Dwight Frye says:

    When we first started getting Antenna TV around these parts,was my favorite station.There wasnt even any contest.But just in the past month,they replaced timeless classics like Leave It To Beaver,Dragnet,and Adam 12 with drivel like Married With Children and The Nanny.I find that very disturbing,for these new additions arent from the Classic TV era,and I didnt even like them when they first ran.TV Land got to where they are today by starting to mix a few newer shows in with the old classics,will have to see how this turns out.Are still some good shows on Antenna TV,just not as many as there were.Luckily,just recently started to get Cozi TV here.Are a few old favorites on there,like Lone Ranger and Lassie.

  • Basil says:

    Their movie library seems to be exclusively Sony. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the old Columbia B-movies from the 30’s-50’s on the channel. Unfortunately, the station showing it here in Miami, FL is cramming together *3* sub-channels along with a 1080i main channel so the macroblocking is horrendous in action scenes.

  • Laurie2346 says:

    Wouldn’t it be a kick and a treat to play cartoons that aired at that time along with old commercials that aired within the program? Us “Baby Boomers” would sure appreciate someone took the time to think about it, you guys play to many “sue these bastards” commercials, who needs extra stress with all that goes on these days? For those that miss Leave it to Beaver and any others that AnTv stopped playing, there is another channel called “MeTv” that also plays all the oldies. I love my classic television and I hope to be able to still see these shows until the day I die.

  • Hmm. I seem to find more classics on youtube than elsewhere. Although they do come and go, as often pulled for copywrite reasons. I am building a site (link in my name) where you can watch many of the old shows. Feel free to visit!

  • @Dwight… Agreed. Those shows cant really even be called classic. I guess us classic tv lovers are not a big enough part of the market, lol. @ Laurie, I am taking your suggestion at my classic site, and will be mixing commercials of the same time period with the shows that I host. The new link is in my Name. (the last post has a dead link, as that was the beta , or testing site.)

  • Karen says:

    Please put Hazel back on.

  • Donald says:

    Antenna TV Fan:
    When will Antenna TV put the Three Stooges back on?

  • AMY NAGY says:

    HELLO THIS IS AMY NAGY I DONT WANT JOHNNY CARSON ON THE ANTENNA TV AT ALL NO ONE LIKE TO WATCH HIM HE IS DEAD SO TAKE IT OFF THE AIR NOW WE DONT LIKE THE SHOW AT ALL ITS BORNING ANY WAY OK. SO THE MAN IS DEAD OK SO STOP SHOWING IT ON TV ANTENNA OK , PUT SOMETHING ON BETTER LIKE THE MOUNSTER OK. PUT THEM BACK ON OK PLEASE. THANK YOU SIGN AMY NAGY.

  • tammy culver says:

    I wont the monkees back on antenna

  • Delbert "Dellie Goose" Hutchinson says:

    Please Put The Felony Squad On Antenna TV.
    11:00 AM Laverne And Shirley
    NOON Leave It To Beaver
    1:00 PM The Felony Squad

  • Delbert "Dellie Goose" Hutchinson says:

    Please Put The Legend Of Jesse James On Antenna TV As Well As Peyton Place And Judd For The Defense Please Air The Monroes,The Detectives,Burke’s Law,Honey West,The Lloyd Bridges Show,The Loner,12 O’clock High,The Long Hot Summer,The Green Hornet,The Time Tunnel,Land Of The Giants,The Ghost And Mrs.Muir,Nanny And The Professor,Arnie,Cade’s County,The Rogues,And Daniel Boone.

  • MarkLex says:

    Funny that you recorded hazel to check to see if it was uncut. I just did the same thing yesterday since I can now DVR OTA TV and easily edit the recordings, and the hazel episode was 24:55, which is about right for an uncut show as the sitcoms of the past could be 24 to up to almost 26 min’s. I don’t see the antenna tv bug at all, although for some reason, my antenna TV is 36.3, which is a sub channel of WTVQ ABC in Lexington KY, and the picture is very clear, but this channel has a slight static sound to it. Maybe it’s just my market, I dunno.

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