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Wometco Home Theater

The Wometco Home Theater (WHT) was an early pay television service in the New York City area, owned by Miami-based Wometco Enterprises, which owned several major network affiliates in medium markets and WTVJ in Miami (then the CBS affiliate on Channel 4 now NBC O & O on channel 6). The signals were broadcast on Channel 68 beginning in August, 1977, WWHT-TV and later on WSNL-TV Channel 67 out of Smithtown, New York. The service had ended by 1986.

Subscribers paid $15 for a set-top descrambling box that allowed subscribers to view channel 68's scrambled television signals. The service was similar to Home Box Office, but a Wometco executive told the New York Times that WHT was more likely to select films with a particular interest to the New York City area. Wometco also targeted areas that were not yet served by cable (note that although parts of Manhattan had cable television service as early as 1971, the vast majority of the five boroughs of New York City would not begin getting cable television until 1988).

Programming began at 8pm and consisted of 12 features a month including movies and entertainment specials. Each program was repeated five times during the month. During the daytime, WWHT was a small commercial television station. The station was originally going to be a general entertainment station with shows that WNYW, WWOR, and WPIX passed on. However, costs were too high for such shows so the station broadcast only a couple hours of low budget syndicated shows, The Uncle Floyd Show, public affairs programs, religious programs, stock market reports, and minority-interest and foreign language programs. In 1980, WHT began programming a movie from 10:30 AM to 1 PM as well. In the Spring of 1983, WHT began operating 22 hours a day with only 2 hours a day of religious and public affairs shows a day on WWHT.

By 1984, Wometco Home Theater had stopped programming its own channel and began carrying the programming of California based Pay-TV service SelecTV and by 1986 after losing more and more subscribers, WHT, by then owned by KKR, finally ceased operations. Channels 67 (WSNL) and Channel 68 (WWHT) had moved to an all-music format similar to MTV which lasted for about one year before both stations were purchased by an affiliate of the Home Shopping Network. The station is now an affiliate of the Telefutura Spanish-language television network.

An interesting side note, Wometco Home Theater and Wometco Enterprises were for several years owned by the private investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. which two years after the shut-down of Wometco Home Theater would battle F. Ross Johnson for control of snack food and tobacco giant RJR Nabisco. The broadcast division was sold to Gillett Broadcasting for the most part, while several others attions were spun off to other broadcasters.

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