WQTV began running a subscription television service (Pay TV) in conjunction with Universal Subscription Television called BEST TV, which stood for "Broadcast Entertainment Subscription Television", based in Waltham, Massachusetts. By the summer of 1979, its name was changed to Starcase, and by late 1981 it became known as Star TV. Subscription TV programming initially began after 7 p.m., with its programming day gradually expanded up to most of the broadcast day by 1980. Channel 68 was the answer for many TV viewers that wanted uncut movies but lived in areas that were not wired for cable TV. WQTV, with its easy signal hacking ability, the lure of uncut movies and late night adult entertainment created many electronic hobbyists eager to "home-brew" their own television descrambling devices.
In February 1983, Universal Subscription Television abruptly went out of business on WQTV due to a significant loss of paying subscribers to rampant piracy of its subscription television signal. It was very easy to pirate the signal due to its simplistic scrambling method, known as "gated sync suppression," and its "decoding key" hidden in the audio channel subcarrier. This key was easily defeated with a decoder built around an FM stereo demodulator chip known as the LM1800. All of WQTV's subscribers were transitioned to another area subscription TV service known as Preview, operated by Time Warner's New England Subscription Television on Worcester's WSMW-TV channel 27. WQTV flipped to a general entertainment format consisting of off network drama shows, old sitcoms, and several movies. The station also ran network shows that were preempted by WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, and WNEV-TV (now WHDH-TV).
In 1984, WQTV overextended themselves by adding somewhat stronger programming, and early in 1986, Arlington Broadcasting (which also owned WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama, and WCGV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) placed the station up for sale and turned the programming back to the syndicators.
From the end of 1985 to March 1987, WQTV ran five hours of preempted NBC, ABC, and CBS programming (from WBZ-TV, WCVB, and WNEV) a day, religious programming, and public domain movies from the 1930s and 40s. The station was sold to the Christian Science Monitor during the summer of 1986, and in the fall, WQTV began broadcasting Christian Science Monitor programming for thirty minutes a day.
In the spring of 1987, WQTV brought back several syndicated programs, including off network sitcoms, family dramas, made-for-TV movies, and FCC-required educational programming for children. The station also dropped preempted network programming, which would move to WHLL (now WUNI). WQTV began to brand itself as "The New QTV 68", with an emphasis on family entertainment. The station dubbed itself as, "Boston's Fastest-Growing Television Station". In addition, the station expanded the time allotted for the Christian Science Monitor programs to two hours.
In the summer of 1989, WQTV condensed the entertainment programming into the late afternoon and evening hours, as the station began to focus on programs produced by the Monitor Channel, which consisted of cultural, religious, news, and information shows. By 1990, the station was down to a few hours of entertainment during the evening and overnights, and by 1992, the Monitor Channel was WQTV's only source of programming. However, in that year the Monitor Channel left the air, which left the station with reruns of the network's programming. In early 1993, the Monitor programs were finally dropped in favor of off network sitcoms and drama shows.
In the fall of 1993, Boston University bought the station and relaunched it as a commercial general entertainment station, with the new call letters of WABU. The station's broadcast schedule consisted of older cartoons, sitcoms, and family dramas, though the new station briefly ran a few preempted CBS shows from WHDH-TV. A considerable amount of in-house local programming made to the schedule during the WABU years, especially during primetime hours. BU managed to steal prominent local media personalities away from the major stations to host public affairs and news programs; among them were ECU with Gail Harris, Business World with Jim Howell, D.O.C.: Doctors On Call with Dr. Odysseus Argy, The Job Show, Adler Online with Charles Adler, and some children's programming on weekends (Lil' Iguana, The Story Shop, etc). From 1996 to 1998, WABU was also the over-the-air flagship station of the Boston Red Sox, taking over from longtime Red Sox flagship station WSBK-TV. WFXT's current sports anchor Butch Stearns first surfaced as a part of Channel 68's Red Sox coverage, before joining the Fox affiliate.
From the beginning, WABU was planning to extend the reach of their programming. On November 30, 1993, not too long after BU acquired channel 68, the station announced that it was purchasing WNHT of Concord, New Hampshire, which returned to the air as WNBU on September 1, 1995 Additionally, the station purchased WCVX of Vineyard Haven in 1994 and turned the station back on as WZBU
In 1999, Paxson Communications (now ION Media Networks) bought WABU and its satellites, and immediately mixed PAX programming into the WABU schedule, and changed the call letters of the stations to WBPX, WPXG, and WDPX (respectively) later that year. Eventually, the syndicated shows were dropped, leaving WBPX and its satellites as full PAX affiliates by 2000.
|Station||City of license|| Channels|
|First air date||Former callsigns|| ERP|
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates|
|WPXG||Concord, New Hampshire|| 21 (UHF)|
|September 1, 1995||WNBU (1995-1999)|| 2300 kW|
| 344 m|
|WDPX||Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts|| 58 (UHF)|
|November 28, 1994||WZBU (1994-1999)|| 1665 kW|
| 153 m|