|Branding||Fox 30 (general)
Action News (newscasts)
My TV Jax (on DT2)
|Slogan||So Fox 30 (general)
Your Questions Answered (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 32 (UHF)
Virtual: 30 (PSIP)
|Owner||Cox Media Group
(Cox Television Jacksonville, LLC)
|First air date||February 15, 1981|
|Call letters' meaning||Reference to network affiliation, FOX|
|Former callsigns||WAWS(-TV) (1981–2014)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
30 (UHF, 1981–2009)
VTV (secondary, 2007–2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WFOX-TV, virtual channel 30 (UHF digital channel 32), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Cox Enterprises; Cox Media Group also operates CBS affiliate WJAX-TV (channel 47) under a joint sales and shared services agreements with owner Bayshore Television, LLC. The two stations share studio facilities located on Central Parkway in Jacksonville's Southside section; WFOX-TV maintains transmitter facilities located on Hogan Road, also in the city's Southside section.
The station first signed on the air on February 15, 1981 as WAWS-TV (the "-TV" suffix was dropped from the call letters on October 8, 1981); it was the first independent station to sign-on in the Jacksonville market. Founded by Malrite Television, the station maintained a general entertainment format consisting of cartoons, movies, sitcoms and drama series. WAWS became a charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company when the network launched on October 9, 1986.
In 1989, Malrite sold the station to the San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications, which had earlier purchased the first independent station in the nearby Pensacola/Mobile, Alabama market, WPMI-TV (now an NBC affiliate) and was the first television station to be owned by Clear Channel. As was the trend for many Fox affiliates throughout the mid- to late 1990s, WAWS began shifting its programming toward talk and reality shows and decreased its reliance on classic sitcoms. In 1993, Clear Channel began managing rival station WNFT (channel 47, now WJAX-TV) under a local marketing agreement; the two stations pooled programming and resources, while running the strongest syndicated programs on WAWS. Clear Channel bought channel 47, which by that point had become UPN affiliate WTEV-TV, outright in 2001, creating the second television duopoly in the Jacksonville market.
After WTEV took the CBS affiliation from longtime affiliate WJXT (channel 4), which dropped the network after it demanded that Post-Newsweek Stations reverse compensate CBS to carry its programming and run the entire network schedule in pattern – only allowing pre-emptions for extended local breaking news and severe weather coverage, UPN programming moved to WAWS on July 15, 2002 as a secondary affiliation, airing weeknights from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.; it also acquired several syndicated sitcoms that WTEV no longer had room to carry on its schedule. The shift made Jacksonville one of the only television markets in the United States with all six major broadcast networks at the time (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and The WB) having affiliations with only five stations in a six-station market (which remains the case with UPN and The WB's successors The CW and MyNetworkTV in the present day) and the only market in which each of the Big Four network affiliates are controlled by two companies (the Gannett Company currently owns NBC affiliate WTLV (channel 12) and ABC affiliate WJXX (channel 25)).
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television, to give UPN and WB stations that would not become CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations. That March, then-owner Media General announced that WB affiliate WJWB (channel 17) would become the market's CW affiliate, it would later change its call letters to WCWJ. On July 12, Clear Channel confirmed that WAWS would carry MyNetworkTV on a new second digital subchannel.
However until the new second digital subchannel launched, WAWS carried MyNetworkTV programming from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. in the interim. MyNetworkTV programming moved to WAWS-DT2 once the subchannel signed on in January 2007, airing in the recommended 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. timeslot, with programming from the Variety Television Network airing at all other times. On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its television stations to Newport Television, a newly formed television station group controlled by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. Since WTEV was also included in the deal, this would have violated FCC rules preventing common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market as Clear Channel had bought WTEV when it was a UPN affiliate outside of the Commission's total-day ratings criteria for duopolies (by this point, WTEV surpassed WJXT and WCWJ in the total-day viewership). As a result, the FCC granted Newport Television a temporary waiver to acquire WAWS and WTEV, provided that Newport sell one of the two stations within six months of the sale's consummation. After the group deal closed on March 14, 2008, Newport had originally planned to sell off WAWS to another company while keeping WTEV.
In mid-May 2008, High Plains Broadcasting agreed to purchase the license assets of WTEV and six other stations from Newport Television due to ownership conflicts in the affected markets (including Jacksonville). But since this latest group deal was a sale in name only, Newport continued to operate the stations (and thus, WTEV effectively remained a sister outlet to WAWS) after the sale closed on September 15. It effectively made High Plains Broadcasting a front company or "shell corporation" for Newport Television similar to the existing relationships between the Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Mission Broadcasting and the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cunningham Broadcasting. This arrangement also placed WAWS in the unusual position of being the senior partner as a Fox-affiliated station in a virtual duopoly with a CBS affiliate (the Fox station normally serves as the junior partner in most virtual or legal duopolies involving a Fox affiliate and a Big Three-affiliated station). WAWS is the only television station in the Jacksonville market that has never changed its primary network affiliation.
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of WAWS and WTEV-TV to Cox Media Group, in a four-station deal that also involved the Tulsa, Oklahoma sister duopoly of KOKI-TV and KMYT-TV. The sale to Cox placed WAWS and WTEV under common ownership with the company's radio station cluster in Jacksonville (WOKV (690 AM and 106.5 FM, now WHJX), WFYV-FM (104.5, now WOKV-FM), WJGL (96.9), WXXJ (102.9) and WAPE-FM (95.1)) as well as Cox's Orlando duopoly of ABC affiliate WFTV and independent station WRDQ. Due to the very same rules that forced the license of WTEV to be transferred to a separate licensee back in 2008, Cox acquired WAWS outright and transferred WTEV's license assets to Bayshore Television, LLC, which then entered into joint sales and shared services agreements with Cox. The FCC approved the transaction on October 24, and it was finalized on December 3.
On August 26, 2014, Cox announced its intention to change WAWS's call letters to WFOX-TV, contingent on FCC approval, through a request made on July 30. In an email to The Florida Times-Union, general manager Jim Zerwekh stated that the change would better reflect the station's status as one of Fox's ten strongest affiliates. Concurrently with the change to WFOX-TV, sister station WTEV-TV was renamed WJAX-TV. The change took effect on September 7, 2014.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|30.1||720p||16:9||WFOX-DT||Main WFOX-TV programming / Fox|
|30.2||WFOX-MY||Me-TV / MyNetworkTV ("(Me-TV on) MyTVJax")|
On June 12, 2009, WFOX-TV (as WAWS) terminated its analog signal, on UHF channel 30, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 32. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WFOX-TV's virtual channel as 30.
WFOX-TV presently broadcasts 28½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays and a half-hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); in addition, the station produces the half-hour sports highlight program Action Sports 360, which airs weekend evenings at 10:30 p.m. The stations utilize Doppler radar data from the National Weather Service Forecast Office near Jacksonville International Airport.
In 1991, then-ABC affiliate WJKS (now WCWJ) entered into a news share agreement with WAWS to produce a nightly primetime newscast at 10:00, titled Fox 30 First Coast News (not to be confused with the present day First Coast News operation shared between WTLV and WJXX). Shortly before WJKS announced that it would shut down its news department in preparation for the loss of its ABC affiliation to WJXX, Clear Channel decided to invest in a news department for WAWS. The WJKS-produced newscast ended when that station's news department shut down on December 29, 1996; WAWS launched its own in-house news department the following day on December 30, 1996, with the debut of a half-hour nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast, which was also accopanied by a half-hour 11:00 p.m. newscast on weeknights (the latter broadcast would eventually be moved to 10:30, expanding the primetime newscast to one hour).
Over the next few years, more newscasts would be added: a 3½-hour weekday morning newscast (in 1999) and an hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast on weekdays (in 2001); WAWS also began producing a weeknight 6:30 p.m. newscast for sister station WTEV in 1999. After WTEV switched from UPN to CBS in July 2002, that station began managing the shared news department with WAWS and took over primary production of the newscasts on both stations; channel 47 also substantially expanded its local news programming, adding a full slate newscasts at 5:30 a.m. (effectively "moving" over to that station from WAWS), noon, 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. on Monday through Fridays, along with weekend evening newscasts. Initially, both stations maintained certain primary personnel (such as news anchors) that would only appear on either WAWS or WTEV. In addition, newscasts used separate on-air branding and graphics packages, with WTEV's newscasts being conducted from the duopoly's newsroom in order to distinguish the two outlets and retain separate on-air identities. WAWS would eventually cancel the 4:00 p.m. newscast in 2007.
The stations hired Mark Spain (who previously served as 7:00 p.m. anchor on WJXX), who joined WAWS/WTEV as anchor of channel 30's 10:00 p.m. newscast on August 27, 2007. Ironically, the station also hired First Coast News weekday morning traffic reporter Michelle Jacobs just weeks earlier (she would eventually return to WTLV and WJXX in October 2008). Shortly after she left, WAWS hired Julie Watkins (who previously worked at First Coast News before moving on to WFTV in Orlando) as a weekend meteorologist. In the late 2000s,[when?] WTEV's weekday morning newscast began to be simulcast on WAWS. Corresponding with the change, Action News This Morning was expanded to two hours (from 5:00 to 7:00), with a two-hour extension of the program (from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.) eventually being added on WAWS.
On April 13, 2009, WTEV and WAWS began utilizing a single on-air identity for their respective newscasts, branding their news programming collectively as Action News, presumably done as a way to compete with the First Coast News operation of rivals WTLV and WJXX. With the overhaul came the introduction of new sets (with WAWS maintaining a separate set for its nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast), on-air graphics, weather center and website. On January 31, 2010, WTEV/WAWS became the second television news operation in the Jacksonville market to begin broadcasting their local newscasts in high definition (after WJXT, which upgraded on January 14, 2009; WTLV/WJXX upgraded their newscasts to HD the day after WAWS/WTEV's conversion to high definition newscasts). In 2010, WAWS/WTEV began airing a half-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast for channel 30 at 4:30 a.m. (WTEV continues to start its morning newscast at 5:00 a.m. as it carries the CBS Morning News in the 4:30 slot on a half-hour tape delay). On September 19, 2010, WAWS restored its Fox 30 branding to its news programming, adopting a new logo and graphics resembling those used by Fox's owned-and-operated stations.
On May 28, 2014, Cox Media Group management fired five WAWS/WTEV anchors – weeknight anchors Mark Spain, Tera Barz (who anchored the station's 10:00 p.m. newscast) and Paige Kelton (the latter of whom had been with the news department since it launch, originally serving as anchor of WAWS's 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts), and morning anchors Lynnsey Gardner and Mike Barz – in a restructuring of its news staff; all five anchors are expected to leave the stations on or around September 1. The layoffs drew criticism from Jacksonville city council president Bill Guilford stating that Cox Media Group "exercised bad judgment" in cutting the five anchors. On September 27th, 2014, WFOX-TV expanded Action News This Morning to weekends with a Saturday broadcast from 6:00-9:00 a.m., followed by a Sunday broadcast from 6:00-8:00 a.m. Unlike the 5:00-7:00 a.m. portion on weekdays, the weekend morning newscast is not simulcast on WJAX-TV.
Notable current on-air staff
- WJXT-TV 4 to drop CBS, The Florida Times-Union, April 3, 2002.
- TV-4's decision rooted in bottom line, The Florida Times-Union, April 5, 2002.
- TV-47 to become new CBS affiliate, The Florida Times-Union, April 23, 2002.
- Stations confirm changes, The Florida Times-Union, May 10, 2002.
- 'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September, CNNMoney.com, January 24, 2006.
- UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
- "News Corp. to launch new mini-network for UPN stations". USA Today. February 22, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV, Broadcasting & Cable, February 22, 2006.
- "Clear Channel Agrees to Sell Television Station Group to Providence Equity Partners". Clear Channel Communications. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
- "Newport stations drift to High Plains". Television Business Report. 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- "Application Search Details". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Newport Sells 22 Stations For $1 Billion, TVNewsCheck, July 19, 2012.
- Dixon, Drew (August 26, 2014). "Home to Jacksonville's Action News, WTEV & WAWS will soon change call letters". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Dixon, Drew (September 3, 2014). "Jacksonville's Action News stations WAWS and WTEV change call letters Sunday.". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WFOX
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- New CBS affiliate sets its news anchor lineup, The Florida Times-Union, June 25, 2002.
- Gurbal Kritzer, Ashley (May 28, 2014). "Action News slashes marquee anchors in Jacksonville". Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
- Chapman, David (June 3, 2014). "Gulliford’s letter criticizes dismissal of television anchors". Jacksonville Daily Record. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- Action News in Jacksonville will debut weekend morning news, starting this weekend. The Changing Newscasts Blog, September 25th, 2014.
- ActionNewsJAX.com - Official website
- Me-TV Jacksonville
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WFOX