WALA-TV

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WALA-TV
Walatv.png
Mobile, Alabama / Pensacola -
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
United States
City of license Mobile, Alabama
Branding Foxten (general)
Foxten News (newscasts)
Slogan Mobile's News Leader (primary)
Commitment to You (secondary)
Channels Digital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 10 (PSIP)
Subchannels 10.1 Fox
Affiliations Fox (1996-present)
Owner LIN Media
(sale to Meredith Corporation pending)
(LIN of Alabama, LLC)
First air date January 14, 1953; 61 years ago (1953-01-14)
Call letters' meaning We Are
Loyal Alabamians
Sister station(s) WFNA
Former channel number(s) Analog:
10 (VHF, 1953–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
NBC (1953–1996)
Secondary:
CBS (1953–1955)
DuMont (1953–1955)
ABC (1953–1959)
Transmitter power 29 kW
Height 381 m
Facility ID 4143
Transmitter coordinates 30°41′16.7″N 87°47′53.6″W / 30.687972°N 87.798222°W / 30.687972; -87.798222
Website www.fox10tv.com

WALA-TV, virtual channel 10 (VHF digital channel 9), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Mobile, Alabama, United States, that also serves Pensacola, Florida. The station is owned by LIN Media, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WFNA (channel 55). The two stations share studios on Satchel Paige Drive in Mobile, WALA's transmitter is located in Spanish Fort, Alabama. In addition to its main studios, WALA operates secondary facilities on Executive Plaza Drive in Pensacola.

The station operates a 24-hour local weather called "Weather Now" which is available on Cox Communications digital channel 698 in that city; it is not carried on Comcast in the Alabama side of the market.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

WALA signed on the air for the first time on January 14, 1953, it was Mobile's second television station (the first station, WKAB-TV, operated on UHF channel 48 from December 30, 1952 until August 1, 1954). It was initially locally owned by W.O. Pape, along with WALA radio (1410 AM, now WNGL). It aired programs from all four major television networks of the time (NBC, ABC, CBS, and DuMont). WALA lost CBS programming to WEAR-TV (channel 3), when that station became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1955. During the late 1950s, WALA was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] Pape sold WALA in 1964 to the Roywood Corporation. In 1969, Roywood sold WALA to the Universal Communications Corporation, the television arm of the Detroit News.

Throughout the years, WALA was the ratings leader in a three-station race. As the more established outlet, WALA got the strongest syndicated programming and it had the top-rated local newscasts. Even today, WALA continues to dominate in local news viewership, even after the affiliation switch from NBC to Fox. The Gannett Company bought out Universal Communications in its merger with Detroit News publisher The Evening News Association, but due to the company's ownership of the Pensacola News Journal, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations barring common ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same market, Gannett owned WALA for only one day in 1986. Gannett sold WALA to Knight Ridder Broadcasting, which in turn, sold it to Burnham Broadcasting in 1989.

Fox affiliation[edit]

Fox wanted to upgrade affiliates in many markets when it acquired rights to broadcast games from the NFL's National Football Conference in the mid-1990s. In 1994, the network announced affiliation deals with New World Communications stations in larger markets. The deal involved switching all the stations that were "Big Three" affiliates at the time to Fox in the fall of 1994. More stations would switch to the network in 1995, when New World merged with Argyle Television and bought several stations from Citicasters. In turn, News Corporation purchased New World and merged it with its Fox Television Stations subsidiary in 1997. As a result of Fox's influence on gaining more VHF affiliations to establish itself as a "Big Four" network, more upgrades were still sought out this time in smaller markets. The formation of SF Broadcasting with Savoy Broadcasting was the result of the smaller markets due in part to the network owning a voting stock in Savoy. SF then announced the purchase of WALA, along with WVUE in New Orleans, Louisiana, KHON-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii, and WLUK-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A fifth Burnham station, Bakersfield, California's KBAK-TV, was excluded from the SF deal and was instead spun off to a new company formed by several former Burnham executives. Aside from WVUE, then an ABC affiliate, the other three stations were NBC affiliates. The deal stipulated that all four stations would switch their affiliations to Fox. Before the sale became final in 1995, it was determined that Fox's stock interest in SF would not include voting stock.

On January 1, 1996, WALA, along with KHON and WVUE, switched to Fox (WLUK had changed its network affiliation to Fox in September 1995). The NBC affiliation moved to former Fox affiliate WPMI-TV (channel 15). Unlike the Fox affiliates owned by New World, WALA aired Fox Kids programming; Fox Kids ran from 1 to 4 p.m. (an hour earlier than most of its Fox counterparts) on weekdays replacing NBC's daytime soap operas, while Fox Kids' Saturday morning block aired in pattern. WALA, now rebranded as "Fox 10", also expanded its local news programming to around 25 hours each week, with expansions to its morning and evening newscasts. WALA, KHON, WVUE, and WLUK were sold in a group deal to Silver King/USA Broadcasting in 1997 and then to Emmis Communications in 1998.

Fox discontinued its weekday afternoon children's programming block, then running for only two hours in December 2001,[2] but retained its Saturday morning lineup. In 2002, the children's block was revamped as the Fox Box and then began to be programmed by 4Kids Entertainment in 2003, after which it was eventually renamed 4Kids TV. At this point WALA, like most Fox affiliates, would purchase more talk and reality-based shows to fill its daytime timeslots. Emmis bought WB affiliate WBPG (channel 55, now WFNA) in 2003, creating a duopoly with channel 10. Emmis put all of its television stations up for sale in 2005. WALA and WBPG were then sold to LIN Television in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Until March 2007, WALA ran a simulcast of WBPG, now a CW affiliate, on a second digital subchannel as that station did not have a digital signal of its own. WBPG eventually launched a low-power digital signal in late 2008 and boosted to full power in 2009, when WXXV-TV in neighboring Biloxi, Mississippi abandoned its analog signal, which shared the digital frequency that WBPG was assigned. On May 18, 2007, LIN TV announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives that would have resulted in the sale of the company.[3]

In mid-June 2007, following the lead of most of the other LIN-owned Fox affiliates, WALA launched a new website using Fox Interactive's myFox interface. In October 2008, WALA and CBS sister station WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island relaunched their websites through Fox Interactive as a result of a new partnership between LIN TV and News Corporation (since spun off as the independent company now known as EndPlay). The new sites were similar in format to the myFox sites (which WALA and the other LIN TV-owned Fox affiliates previously used) but without the flashy myFox owned-and-operated station-style look. Over the next few weeks, the other LIN-owned stations (irrespective of their network affiliation) followed suit.

On March 21, 2014, LIN Media entered into an agreement to merge with Media General in a $1.6 billion deal. Because Media General already owns CBS affiliate WKRG-TV (channel 5), and the two stations rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Mobile-Pensacola market in total day viewership, the companies were required to sell WALA or WKRG to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit sharing agreements.[4][5][6] On August 20, 2014, Media General announced that it would keep WKRG and sell WALA to Meredith Corporation for $86 million.[7][8]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channel[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[9]
10.1 720p 16:9 FOX 10 Main WALA-TV programming / Fox

On August 7, 2009, WALA began offering a Mobile TV feed using BlackBerry.[10]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WALA-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 10, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 9.[11] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 10.

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programming on WALA includes Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, The Doctors and Dr. Phil. Outside of network programming, the station offers a news-intensive general entertainment format. As a Fox affiliate, WALA has the "rare" distinction of broadcasting some of the strongest syndicated programming from CBS Television Distribution, which the "Big Three" network affiliates in other markets would normally air.

WALA also broadcasts a local program called Studio Ten, featuring entertainment and local segments, usually paid for by the guests who appear on the show. The show is hosted by former sports anchor Joe Emer, former reporter Cherish Lombard, and features weather forecasts and technology information from morning meteorologist Michael White as well as consumer news and information from reporter Derica Williams. Studio Ten airs weekday mornings at 8 a.m., and is re-broadcast on sister station WFNA weekdays at noon.

News operation[edit]

Weekday morning news open.

As an NBC affiliate, WALA-TV ran newscasts at times that were similar to that of other NBC affiliates. When the switch to Fox occurred, the move confused many viewers who were expecting to watch NBC programming instead of Fox, which had swapped affiliations with WPMI; because of this, for several years after the switch, WALA maintained a newscast schedule similar to the one it had during its days as an NBC affiliate, even keeping its 10:00 p.m. newscast and airing syndicated programming in the 9:00 p.m. hour, a move that was atypical of a Fox affiliate that carried local newscasts. Over time, the airtimes of WALA's newscasts have evolved to include slots that a typical Fox affiliate with a news department carries, expanding its morning newscast into the 7:00 a.m. hour, adding a half-hour of news at 5:30 p.m., and moving the half-hour 10:00 p.m. show to 9:00 p.m. and expanding it to a full hour; the noon newscast was also eventually dropped.

WALA-TV presently broadcasts 26 hours of local newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays, a half-hour on Saturdays, and one hour on Sundays). WALA-TV is the only station in the market that airs a local newscast at 5:30 p.m. and it does not broadcast local newscasts in midday timeslots or at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. Unlike most other Fox stations that produce their newscasts in-house, WALA-TV's 9:00 p.m. newscast does not air for an hour seven nights a week as the Saturday edition airs for a half-hour. The Sunday 9:00 p.m. news had also aired as a half-hour newscast until April 3, 2011, when WALA-TV expanded that edition of the newscast to one hour, by adding an additional half-hour at 9:30 p.m. On September 12, 2011, WALA debuted an hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast, serving as a replacement for The Oprah Winfrey Show. It is the second 4:00 p.m. newscast in the Mobile market (ABC affiliate WEAR-TV also carries a newscast in that timeslot).

On April 21, 2012, WALA-TV became the third television station in the Mobile/Pensacola market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (WPMI-TV would soon follow one day later), with the introduction of a brand new set and graphics. On August 27, 2012, WALA became the first station in the Mobile-Pensacola market to debut a 4:30 a.m. newscast. However, due to Hurricane Isaac, other stations were doing expanded coverage as well due to the impending storm, which would eventually affect the New Orleans area and spare Mobile from the brunt of the storm. On January 27, 2014, WALA expanded its weekday morning newscast to 4½ hours, running from 4:30 to 9 a.m.; as a result, the morning talk and lifestyle program Studio 10 was moved one hour later to 9 a.m. [12]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13 [dead link]
  2. ^ Schneider, Michael (November 7, 2001). "Fox outgrows kids programs". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  3. ^ LIN Media
  4. ^ TV Station Mega Merger: Media General, LIN Set $1.6 Billion Deal from Variety (March 21, 2014)
  5. ^ Media General acquiring LIN Media for $1.6 billion, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Media Gen/LIN To Sell/Swap In Five Markets, TVNewsCheck, March 21, 2014.
  7. ^ "Media General, LIN Sell Stations In 5 Markets". TVNewsCheck. August 20, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Malone, Michael (August 20, 2014). "Media General, LIN Divest Stations in Five Markets". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WALA
  10. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-08-07). "LIN TV Develops Blackberry App For Mobile TV Service". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  11. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  12. ^ WALA Expanding Its Morning Newscast

External links[edit]