The Circle 7 logo is one of the most commonly used television station logos in the United States. Designed in the early 1960s for the ABC Television Network's five owned and operated stations (O&Os), the logo, or a version of it, is currently being used not only by ABC stations and affiliates, but also by a number of TV broadcasters around the world.
The Circle 7 logo was concocted by G. Dean Smith, and first used in 1962 by ABC for its five television stations: WABC-TV in New York City, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WBKB (now WLS-TV) in Chicago, KGO-TV in San Francisco and WXYZ-TV in Detroit. When ABC applied for TV licenses in the late 1940s, it was thought that the low-band (channels 2 through 6) TV channels would be discontinued, thus making these five stations broadcasting on VHF channel 7 the lowest on the TV dial. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., ABC's corporate parent, registered the Circle 7 logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1962.
When WABC-TV adopted the Eyewitness News format in 1968, all reporters and anchors were required to wear a blazer with a Circle 7 patch (in later years a lapel pin) when they appeared on the air—a marketing practice that spread to the other ABC O&Os. Cleveland, Ohio-based ABC affiliate WEWS, which broadcasts on channel 5, also did something similar with using a Circle 5 logo and pin.
The Circle 7 logo was designed to be interchangeable with the circular ABC logo in network and channel imaging, although many current variations of the Circle 7 have incorporated the ABC logo itself (see below). It also was used as the name Circle 7 Productions of the production company for locally-produced programming by ABC owned-and-operated stations prior to ABC's takeover by Capital Cities Communications in 1985.
This logo has become iconic in local television, largely due to the presence of the logo in major markets. Today, many other ABC affiliates around the United States which broadcast on channel 7 are allowed to use the Circle 7 logo. Such stations include:
The Circle 7 design was also used on WTVW in Evansville, Indiana when it was an ABC affiliate (it is now with Fox). KMGH-TV in Denver uses a variation of the Circle 7 logo, and places the ABC logo in the same position as the other stations.
The low-VHF channels 2-6 never were discontinued, but were subject to greatly-reduced power limits as a result of the 2009 DTV transition in the United States. The Band I channels are also highly susceptible to impulse noise, leaving relatively few stations willing to remain on these channels. As a station limited to 20kW or less on channel 6 could apply for up to 65 kW of power on channel 7-13 or 1000 kW UHF, channel 7 remained a desirable post-transition choice for many North American DTV broadcasters.
Note: WEWS in Cleveland uses the circle as part of its logo. But instead of using a Circle 7, WEWS uses the Circle 5 variation. An older version is still used on West Palm Beach, Florida's NBC affiliate, WPTV. Since WEWS went high definition on January 7, 2007, the Circle 5 looks like a brother of the Circle 7, similar to WABC-TV and KABC-TV. WBAY-TV, an ABC affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin, also uses a circle as part of its logo, but instead of a Circle 7, WBAY uses the Circle 2 variation. The Circle 2 is used in newscasts and advertisements, as well as their "Action 2 News" and "Storm Center 2" logos. WTXL, the ABC affiliate in Tallahassee, Florida uses a Circle 27 variation.
In addition, the channel 7 station in Boston, Massachusetts has had three different Circle 7 logos. In the mid-1970s, as WNAC-TV, it had a logo similar to the ABC logos (except it was a white "7" inside a filled circle). That logo was abandoned in 1977 for a Times-Serif-Italic "7". In 1987, as WNEV-TV, the filled-circle came back, and inside was a "7" made up of 7 small white dots. That logo was abandoned shortly after the sale of the now-WHDH-TV to Sunbeam Television, after which WHDH-TV took on sister station WSVN's Circle 7. WHDH-TV still uses the WSVN logo to this day. Boston's channel 7 left ABC for CBS in 1972, and has been an NBC station since the 1994-1995 network affiliation shuffle.
All ABC stations broadcasting on channel 7 use one form or another of the circle 7 logo
¹ Denotes user of the original Circle 7 design