WPVI is the dominant station in the Philadelphia region. It is also one of the best performing stations in the ABC network, and the originator of the "Action News" format, which has been copied by many stations around the world. It began life in 1947 as WFIL, and in 1971 became WPVI upon its sale to Capital Cities Communications. Since 1986 it has been an ABC owned-and-operated station.


WPVI's dominance can be attributed in large part to its longevity of talent - and of its presentation. The station adopted Al Ham's "Move Closer To Your World" theme in 1972. It is still used at the station today. The theme has become WPVI's "anthem", and is as recognizable to Philadelphia residents as the famous theme from "Rocky". A 1996 attempt to replace the classic theme with an updated version (performed by the London Philharmonic!) was met with such negative reaction that the theme was replaced within five days, underscoring just how popular the theme has become. These days, WPVI remasters MCTYW every few years; one effect is that some of the more dated elements (bongos, etc.) are downplayed.
 
Almost as crucial are the news opens, lightning fast montages of people doing regular things in the Philadelphia area. There are several different opens used based on the time of day. Opens are traditionally changed on the first day of each season, and the sequences tend to vary from year to year. The intended effect is to make it seem that Action News is Everywhere.


Click for larger image Action News Promo
????
Click for larger image

Action News - Winter Open
1981
Action News, in perhaps it's purest form. The original format devised by WFIL was to deliver as much news in as little time as possible. Banter was minimized, a solo anchor usually presented, and most crucially time limits were set for stories. This 1981 broadcast, with newly minted weekend anchor Rob Jennings, adheres closely to the original premise with one exception: the middle block incorporates national stories from ABC News, which are longer. This is probably content from the late night "Weekend Report", which WPVI did not carry.

Action News - Bumper
1981
The first bump to commercial. There's not much of a set; chroma-key graphics were used extensively, a practice that continued to 1998. Gary Papa bounces into his chair as we are reminded that "ACTION NEWS IS EVERYWHERE"; overall, this newscast seems more brash than the more straightforward tone that WPVI generally developed in the 1980s.

Action News - Close
1981
WPVI was, and continues to be, unusual in that they use a vocal cut for their closing theme. As with the open, the theme is generally shown over shots of everyday people in everyday situations (although not fast cut), and accompanied by a voiceover by Jeff Kaye (who is more nationally recognized for his NFL Films work). Compare this one to the one below from 2007.

Action News - Tease
1981
Rob Jennings teases his 11pm newscast. Rob was only at WPVI for a few months when this broadcast was taped; he is still there today, and still does the weekend 6pm and 11pm news. Such longevity is common at WPVI; most of its lead anchors and prominent reporters have been there for a decade or more.

Match Game Promo
1981
A promo for the 1981 syndicated version of Match Game, which is really mostly an extended clip from an exciting Super Match win. Paul Norton, the station's classy announcer, provides a short comment, and intriguingly the graphics and music are from the ABC 1981 "Now Is The Time" campaign. WPVI was not yet owned by ABC itself, but was arguably one of the network's strongest affiliates.

Million Dollar Movie
1981
Lots of pre-CGI flash in this excellent movie opener. The opener itself is generic and was used on many stations (including WABC in New York, whose version incorporated the circle-7). WPVI simply added in the Million Dollar Movie title. A late night staple for decades, the Million Dollar Movie still airs on Saturday and Sunday evenings after the late Action News.

Action News
1985
Action News, is everywhere as these titles show us real people from all over the city and suburbs in a fast cut 20 seconds!

WPVI became an ABC-owned station in 1986, when owner Capital Cities surprised the industry by buying the much larger network. It is believed that the enormous success and profits WPVI brought in were a big reason why CapCities was able to accomplish this. In that light, it is perhaps unsurprising that WPVI's influence spread to CapCities' newly-acquired stations. To this day, many key executives in the ABC/Disney television station unit are WPVI alumni.


Click for larger image WPVI Start-Up
?
Click for larger image

Action News - 5pm Tease
1990
The traditional tease for Action News, airing right after Oprah. Jim Gardner pops in to tease the first story - then tosses to Lisa Thomas-Laury and Marc Howard, the 5pm anchors. By this time, the newly-merged Capital Cities/ABC had introduced a distinctive corporate look for all its stations, and some wonderful examples of the "chrome look" can be seen here.

Action News - 5pm
1990
The Action News open as seen in 1990. Aside from the distinctive "flipping text" at the end, the corporate look did not extend to the traditional fast-cut open. A note about the anchors - Lisa and Marc were anchors of the 5pm for years, until Marc defected to KYW and Lisa became seriously ill, although she remains with the station and has returned in a reporting role. The "but the big story on Action News" line is yet another WPVI tradition, which began with original anchor Larry Kane.

Action News Mornings Ident
1992
A short promo for the morning news team of Rick Williams, Monica Malpass, and Dave Frankel. Rick and Monica joined the station in the late 1980s, forming a winning team in the mornings. After a year of exhausting double-duty where they anchored the 5am and 5pm newscasts, the duo became permanent 5pm anchors. As for Frankel, he left the station in 1997 for KYW, and now works as an attorney.

Million Dollar Movie
1992
The Million Dollar Movie open, recorded in 1992 but originating from 1985. The music, a Dominic Frontiere cut from "The Stunt Man" (1981) is a memorable, dramatic cut with a scary crescendo at the end (WPVI would always sneak in the scary crescendo for M$M promos). A nearly identical open was used on KTRK in Houston, where the M$M aired in afternoons.

Action News - Summer 6pm
1993
The opens were redone in 1992 with a new, higher-pitched cut of "Move Closer To Your World", and the flip text replaced with a new CG rendition closer to the traditional Action News logo. No anchor or set shots here, although the news is the historic 1993 treaty between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Sally Ident / Promo
1993
A promo for Sally Jessy Raphael's talk show. The promo style here, again, is based off of the CapCities/ABC corporate look, and was used at least at WLS-TV.

Action News
1996
In 1996 WPVI decided to take the plunge and go for a more thundrous, authoritative version of "Move Closer to Your World". This was actually recorded by members of the London Philharmonic, so it definitely sounds like it could be used on a British news program. But after 5 days of viewers complaints, it was reverted to the original.

The Walt Disney Company purchased ABC in 1995, but unlike the CapCities/ABC merger, this did not have as large an impact on WPVI or the other O&Os. As the decade progressed, WPVI began making small changes in its presentation. "Channel 6" gave way to "6ABC", graphics gradually became more elaborate, and the weather presentation - which used a magnetic board years after all other stations in the country went to computer graphics for weather - was modernized.


Action News
2003
Channel 6 Action News has been the highest rated news programmes since the 70's
 
One of the most unique stations, as they have used their name and logo since 1970.


Action News 11pm
2006
In 2004, broadcast design specialists Giant Octopus redesigned Action News - the first time in the station's history that an outside company was contracted to produce the graphics. The open, as usual, was largely unchanged except for the end, where the montage now gives way to a swirling light background.

Action News 6pm
2007
The summer open from 2007. With the advent of HDTV, Action News became the first area television newscast to broadcast in the format. The change, as usual, was more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with the same fast-cut montage and a remastered MCTYW heralding the newscasts. The Giant Octopus refresh is similar to its original package, but flashier and sleeker.

Action News Close
2007
The more things change, the more they stay the same. WPVI is now broadcasting in HD, with slick graphics and set, but Rob Jennings is still closing us out, Al Ham's singers are still asking us to move closer to our world, and Jeff Kaye is still plugging the tipline, which is now an 866 number.

Official Website
www.6abc.com