Retro Television Network

The Retro Television Network (stylized as retrotv and alternately below as Retro for brevity) is an American broadcast television network that is owned by Luken Communications. The network mainly airs classic television sitcoms and drama series from the 1950s through the 1980s, although it also includes more recent programs from the 1990s and 2000s. Through its ownership by Luken, Retro is a sister network to several broadcast network properties that are wholly or jointly owned by the company, including the family-oriented Family Channel and country music-oriented network Heartland.

At its outset, Retro was designed to be broadcast on the digital subchannels of television stations; however in recent years, the network's affiliate body has been drawn down to primarily low-power stations, as many station groups have replaced the network on the subchannels of their full-power major network affiliates with similarly formatted networks such as Antenna TV and MeTV, which have assumed rights to many of the distributors that formerly held programming agreements with Retro. The network is also available nationwide on free-to-air C-band satellite via SES-2 in DVB-S2 format;[2][3] as individualized transmitter-ready feeds for each station are centrally generated using broadcast automation and delivered to the stations by satellite.

Retro Television Network
TypeBroadcast television network
BrandingRetro TV
AvailabilityNationwide via OTA digital television
(U.S. coverage: 58%)[1]
SloganThe Best in Classic Television!
OwnerRetro Television, Inc.
ParentLuken Communications
Key people
David Leach[1]
Launch date
July 2005
Former names
On-air branding:
RTN (2005–2009)
RTV (2009–2013)
Official website


Retro Television Network
Retro Television Network logo used from July 2005 to June 2009.

The Retro Television Network (originally branded as "RTN") launched in July 2005 on select television stations owned by the Equity Broadcasting Corporation (later known as Equity Media Holdings), a chain of small (often low-powered) satellite-fed UHF television stations controlled directly from Equity's headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. Equity had expanded quickly with purchases of many small stations in the early 2000s, but by 2008, the company was struggling to meet its obligations.

In June 2008, while the company was undergoing financial troubles, Equity Media Holdings sold RTN to Henry Luken III's – Equity's former president and CEO, and the company's largest shareholder – Luken Communications for $18.5 million in cash. Equity had an option to repurchase the network for $27.75 million; the purchase option was not exercised and expired on December 24, 2008. Equity had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy three weeks before the expiration of the purchase option.[4]

On January 4, 2009, a contract conflict between Equity and Luken Communications interrupted RTN programming on many of its affiliates with Luken alleging that Equity had left many obligations to RTN's creditors, including programming suppliers, unpaid. As a result, Luken restored a national feed of the network from its Chattanooga headquarters with individual feeds to affiliates not owned by Equity following suit on a piecemeal basis. Equity-owned or -operated stations lost RTN affiliation, though Luken vowed to find new affiliates for the network in the affected areas.[5]

RTV Retro Television logo
RTV logo used from June 2009 to March 2013.

The Retro Television Network changed its on-air branding to "RTV" in June 2009 (a nod to the digital television transition that occurred that month, though a trademark dispute with the Racetrack Television Network was also a factor in the change).[6][7]

In 2012, RTV dropped from 120 to 80 affiliates with many ABC affiliates switching to the Live Well Network.[8] Further affiliate drops occurred as RTV's scheduling began to decline with lesser product, with MeTV and Antenna TV (both with strong corporate backing and financing, along with more generous affiliation terms than Luken) making major carriage deals with large broadcast groups. In March 2017, the final "major" group carrying the network, Sinclair Broadcast Group, dropped the network from three remaining Sinclair stations where RTV affiliation agreements were made with their former owners, replacing it with their in-house network TBD. On October 1, 2017, the network lost its last station with one of the "Big Five" networks, WKTC in Columbia, South Carolina, which replaced its subchannel with Laff.

The network was re-branded as RetroTV in 2013. Of the top 25 digital broadcast networks for 2014, Retro TV ranked No. 10 with a coverage of 54% of households.[9]

Concept and programming

Since its creation, Retro's principal programming concept consists of classic television series, initially maintaining a 24-hour schedule of shows dating from the 1950s to the early 1990s along with rarely seen older programming. There have been some deviations to the format, including during the network's ownership under Equity, which added some original talk programming (notably Unreliable Sources) during the late night slot on weeknights from the summer of 2008 to early 2009, a concept billed as "Classic Hits All Day & Fresh Talk All Night". Overnights also eventually became devoted to paid programming.[10] The network has also featured originally produced horror film showcases such as Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In[11] and Off Beat Cinema; Retro also aired the talk show Daytime produced by WFLA-TV's Riverbank Studios in Tampa, Florida, co-hosted by Jerry Penacoli and Cyndi Edwards.

Until 2011, Retro offered a customized schedule for use at the discretion of the local affiliate. The network then moved towards a set national schedule, although affiliates have the option to pre-empt or reschedule some network programming.[12]

By June 2011, when Retro's distribution agreement with NBCUniversal Television Distribution ended, the network adjusted its schedule to feature programming from other distributors (such as I Spy and Starsky and Hutch) and public domain programs (such as early episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies), as well as low-cost Canadian barter programs (such as Cold Squad and Da Vinci's Inquest) and reality and documentary programming (including Crusade in Europe based on Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's memoirs of World War II and Crusade in the Pacific). Retro also featured a Saturday morning block of vintage cartoon programming.[13] In 2014, Retro began broadcasting Mystery Science Theater 3000, the soap opera The Doctors, and the classic era of long-running British science fiction television show Doctor Who; MST3K departed the schedule upon the rights being purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group's Comet.

The network previously had major content deals with CBS Television Distribution until July 2008,[14] and NBCUniversal Television Distribution (whose programming agreement began after the deal with CBS ended) until June 2011. Retro's current programming roster draws from various distributors including BBC Studios Distribution, Genesis International, Shout! Factory, Peter Rodgers Organization, and SFM Entertainment, as well as John DiSciullo (the distributor of Off Beat Cinema); compared to its competition, public domain series continue to compose a large portion of the schedule.


As of March 2017, Retro TV is carried on 97 affiliates and translators across the United States, covering 60% of the country's DMA households.

Prior to the 2009 digital transition, Retro was seen on a number of analog stations owned by Equity Media Holdings, the network's former owner. Some Equity stations mixed Retro programming with first-run and recent off-network syndicated programming or also carried another network, such as MyNetworkTV or Ion Television.

See also

  • Blank television set.svg Television portal


  1. ^ a b Buckman, Adam (July 26, 2016). "Diginets Keep Growing, Despite Auction Cloud". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  2. ^ SES-2 at 87.0°W, LyngSat Archived May 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Free TV from United States, LyngSat Archived December 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Arkansas Business: "Creditor Files to Liquidate Equity Media, Claims Company Cannot Meet Payroll Obligations", 12/10/2008. Archived February 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Jessell, Harry A. (January 5, 2009). "Financial Dispute Disrupts RTN Diginet". tVNewsCheck. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "RTN Rebrands as RTV", from 6/17/2009 Archived September 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Attorney Defends Luken Actions In Purchase Of Retro TV Programming". The Chattanoogan. July 24, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Marcucci, Carl (October 31, 2012). "Luken RTV affiliate losses not a big hit". Radio-TV Business Report. Streamline RBR, Inc. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Top 25 Digital Broadcast Networks". 17 June 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Back from Basic," from BusinessTN, September/October 2009 Archived February 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Wolfman Mac interview", from Outsight Radio Hours, 3/27/2011
  12. ^ RTV Changes Schedule, Loses Universal Archived August 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "RTV Bringing Back Retro Saturday Morning TV", from TVNewsCheck, 8/5/2010
  14. ^ Creditor Files to Liquidate Equity Media, Claims Company Cannot Meet Payroll Obligations Archived February 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

External links


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KRFT-LD (physical channel 21, virtual channel 8) is a low-power digital television station in Springfield, Missouri which is owned by Craft Broadcasting. The station mainly carries minor digital subchannel networks, and holds no area cable coverage.


KSLM-LD is an affiliate of the Retro Television Network. Licensed to Salem, Oregon, the station covers the Willamette Valley, within the Portland, Oregon television market. KSLM-LD is a digital station licensed at 15 kW on channel 27 that was activated on March 15, 2010. The transmitter is located in the Eagle Crest area in the West Salem hills in Polk County.

The change in channel was prompted by interference from another station operating on channel 16, KORS-CA. At the time KSLM began operation, KORS was licensed on channel 36. KORS was subsequently granted a construction permit to operate on channel 16 from a tower in Portland.


KVBC-LD (channel 26, virtual channel 13). The station is owned by Cocola Broadcasting.

KVBC-LD was originally KCWB-LP affiliated with HTV, a Spanish-language music video channel in the early-2000s. In 2005, KCWB flipped to Almavision until mid-summer, when they became an affiliate of the new Tvida Vision network.

On 20 March 2014 KVBC-LD launched with 10 digital channels.

List of Retro Television Network affiliates

The Retro Television Network is an American television network. This is a listing of current Retro Television Network's affiliates, arranged by U.S. state. In most markets, Retro TV operates on a digital subchannel of the main station listed. In some markets, Retro is a secondary affiliation, and elsewhere, it operates on an LPTV or Class A station.

List of programs broadcast by Retro Television Network

The following is a list of programs airing on Retro Television Network (Retro TV).

Retro Jams

Retro Jams was a music video network that played music videos from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. Established in 2007, it was owned and operated by now-defunct Equity Media Holdings. Retro Jams was formerly carried full-time as a free-to-air TV channel on Galaxy 18 (Ku band DVB-S, 123°W) and on various Equity-owned terrestrial low-power television stations nationwide.

The "Retro Jams" name and branding have also been used as of 2008 by Retro Television Network to refer to two individual programming blocks, "Retro Jams" and "Retro Jams by Request".


WANN-CD is a class-A low-power, digital TV station broadcasting on physical TV channel 29, virtual channel 32, and formerly as WANN-CA on analog 32 in metro Atlanta.


WEPA-CD was a Class A television station located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that was simulcast on ten other Class A television stations located throughout the Pittsburgh market. The simulcast network gave it coverage similar to or greater than that of full-power television stations in that market. The stations were founded and owned by Bruno-Goodworth Network, Inc. until sold on August 26, 2013 for $7.25 million to OTA Broadcasting, LLC (a company controlled by Michael Dell's MSD Capital). After the sale, WEPA-CD became an affiliate of Cozi TV, Movies! and Retro Television Network. Because of the coverage it had, WEPA was one of the few Class A stations in the country that is "reportable" by Nielsen Media Research. However, on April 13, 2017, FCC announced that it had accepted OTA Broadcasting's bids totalling $73.9 million to sell the spectrum rights of WEPA-CD and four other Pittsburgh-area stations owned by OTA Broadcasting in the FCC spectrum incentive auction. By October 25, 2017, OTA Broadcasting ceased transmissions and surrendered to the FCC for cancellation the licenses of WEPA-CD and five other Pittsburgh-area stations (including one whose spectrum had not been sold), and also temporarily shut transmissions of its five remaining Pittsburgh-area stations, which did not provide adequate over-the-air coverage in Pittsburgh itself and closer suburbs. Movies! has since moved to WOSC-CD, another Pittsburgh television station.


WGBI-LP is a low-power television station licensed to Farmington, Maine. It is currently an affiliate of the Retro Television Network. The station broadcasts on UHF channel 21.


WKSY-LD ("Sky 21") is a low-power digital television station licensed and operating in Summerville, Georgia broadcasting over the air on UHF digital channel 21. The station is owned by Altennga Broadcasting. From its transmitter atop the Mack White Gap east of Summerville, in addition to cable coverage, WKSY-LD covers northwestern Georgia and northeastern Alabama, including Rome, Dalton and Ringgold, Georgia; as well as Fort Payne, Alabama.


WOOT-LD, virtual channel 6 (UHF channel 38) is a low-powered television station in Chattanooga, Tennessee. WOOT-LD is the flagship station for Luken Communications and its digital subchannel networks: Heartland, Retro TV and Rev'n.


WPCT is an informational television station in Panama City Beach, Florida, broadcasting locally on virtual channel 46 (digital 33) with information for local tourists.


WPXS, virtual channel 13 (UHF digital channel 21), is a Daystar owned-and-operated television station serving St. Louis, Missouri, United States that is licensed to Mount Vernon, Illinois (a city within the Paducah, Kentucky–Cape Girardeau, Missouri–Harrisburg, Illinois television market). The station is owned by the Daystar Television Network. WPXS' transmitter is located near Saint Rose, Illinois.


WQXT-CD channel 28 is a Class A low-powered television station in St. Augustine, Florida, with studios in St. Augustine's tallest building, Cathedral Place, in the heart of the historic district. Its broadcast footprint covers from Jacksonville to Palm Coast.


WRCF-CD is a Class A low-powered television station in Winter Park, Florida which serves the Orlando area and has Cheddar as its main affiliation. The station is owned by Univision Communications, and broadcasts on UHF channel 35, but showing as its former analog channel 29 via PSIP.


WRTN-LP is a low-power television station in the Nashville area, based in Lebanon, Tennessee and licensed to Alexandria. The station, which broadcasts on channel 6, is owned by Richard and Lisa Goetz.


WWTD-LD is a low-powered digital television station in Washington, D.C., broadcasting locally on channel 14 (virtual channel 49). The station is owned by DC Broadcasting, Inc. which itself is wholly owned by Christopher Blair of Denver, Colorado.


WYBN-LD is a low-powered digital television station that is licensed to Cobleskill, New York, and serving the Albany-Schenectady-Troy television market. The station is owned by Cable Ad Net New York, Inc., and is currently serving as an affiliate of Buzzr. The station’s digital signal on UHF channel 14 originates from a transmitter on the Helderberg TV antennae farm site, New York.

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