|Springville/Buffalo, New York|
|City of license||Springville, New York|
|Slogan||Buffalo's Locally Owned & Operated TV Station"
(this slogan is used despite the existence of locally owned PBS station WNED-TV)
Your Hometown TV
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 67 (PSIP)
Raycom Sports (DT1)
This TV (DT2)
|Owner||Philip A. Arno
(ITV of Buffalo, LLC)
|First air date||March 12, 1993 (as WJTQ)|
|Call letters' meaning||WBBZ: Buffalo's Buzz|
|Former callsigns||WNGS (1997–2011):
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
67 (UHF, 1997–2009)
|Former affiliations||All primary channel:
infomercials/home shopping (1996–1997)
Retro Television Network (2006–2009)
This TV (2009, 2010–2011)
|Transmitter power||26.9 kW|
WBBZ-TV, virtual channel 67 (VHF digital channel 7), is a Me-TV-affiliated television station serving the Buffalo, New York, United States that is licensed to Springville, New York. The station is owned by ITV of Buffalo, a company controlled by former news photographer Philip A. Arno. The station's business office and studios are located at the Eastern Hills Mall in the Town of Clarence, and its transmitter is located near Springville in the hills of southern Erie County.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|67.1||720p||16:9||WBBZ-TV||Main WBBZ-TV programming / Me-TV|
|67.3||METV||Me-TV (complete schedule)|
The station was founded as WJTQ on March 12, 1993 and changed its call letters to WNGS in May 1993 by Bill Smith, an amateur radio enthusiast, and his wife, Caroline Powley, daughter of late LPTV innovator John R. Powley, who built several full-service UHF television stations using economical "ham" radio equipment and surplus educational television "translator" transmitters.
WNGS initially broadcast on analog UHF channel 67. Although licensed as a full-power station, it transmitted its analog signal at low power with a directional northward pattern covering much of the Southtowns, but not reaching the city of Buffalo proper. Radiated power in the direction of Buffalo was limited due to a treaty with Canada that protected the coverage area of CHCH-TV-3, a Midland-based rebroadcaster of Hamilton-based independent station CHCH-TV (channel 11) that also operated on UHF channel 67. As a result, from the city of Buffalo northward, it was only available on cable or satellite, and in certain places in the Southern Tier, it was not available at all.
The station started with an infomercial/home shopping format, but added general-entertainment barter talk shows, cartoons and low-budget sitcoms in 1997. WNGS became a UPN affiliate in April 1998, but lost the affiliation to WNLO (channel 23) in January 2003. Shortly afterward, WNGS dropped most of its entertainment programming in favor of infomercials. For most of its time as an independent station and UPN affiliate, WNGS operated from studios in West Valley, New York.
Olean low-powered station WONS-LP shared the UPN affiliation under a mutual agreement with WNGS until the network was picked up by WNLO, at which time, the station began carrying programming from The Sportsman Channel. At least one television listings provider (Decisionmark Corporation, then-owner of TitanTV which is now owned by Broadcast Interactive Media) had erroneously listed WONS as a translator of WNGS. Since 2012, WONS (channel 25, now WVTT-CA) is affiliated with the America One network.
Equity and WKBW era
After Equity Broadcasting took ownership of the station, WNGS became an affiliate of Equity's Retro Television Network (RTN). During Equity's ownership, the station was operated by Granite Broadcasting Corporation, owner of ABC affiliate WKBW-TV (channel 7), under a local marketing agreement. As part of the agreement, WNGS was carried on WKBW's digital subchannel. Along with RTN programming, WNGS aired sports programming from WKBW, repeats of Buffalo Bills preseason games, and Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and New York Mets games broadcast over-the-air by WKYC-TV (channel 3) in Cleveland, WWOR-TV (channel 9) and WPIX (channel 11) in New York City, respectively.
Equity sold RTN to Luken Communications in 2008. Following a dispute between Equity and Luken, all of Equity's RTN affiliates, including WNGS, disaffiliated from the network on January 4, 2009. WNGS continued to carry other programs, such as sports and locally-produced B-movie film showcase Off Beat Cinema. Later that month, WNGS switched its affiliation to This TV.
Temporary shutdown and return
On April 16, 2009, as a result of its bankruptcy, Equity Media Holdings auctioned off 60 of its television stations. WNGS was sold to Daystar Television Network, who already owned WDTB-LP in nearby Hamburg, along with six other full-service stations and nine LPTV and Class A stations for a total of US$7.4 million. Also around this time, WNGS's agreement with WKBW ended. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in August 2009. WNGS went off the air on June 12, 2009 after not being able to complete its transition to digital-only broadcasts in time, and remained silent for almost a year. Meanwhile, on May 14, 2010, Daystar filed to sell the station to ITV of Buffalo, LLC, a partnership owned by local TV personalities Philip Arno and Donald Angelo, for $2.75 million, with plans to program the station from Clarence. Angelo later dropped his involvement in the station.
WNGS finally completed its digital transmitter and returned to the air in late May 2010, carrying programming from Daystar. The sale was completed on September 16, 2010; at that time, the station rejoined This TV. However, as part of the deal, Daystar must remain on WNGS in the form of a digital subchannel for 10 years, a deal which was previously made with KOCE-TV in the Los Angeles area as a compromise after Daystar was unable to purchase that station.
By December 2008, both the ability of WNGS to transition to its own digital facilities and its ability to continue broadcasting were directly jeopardized as (according to a DTV status report by the station), "On December 8, 2008, the licensee's parent corporation filed a petition for bankruptcy relief under chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code, case #4:08-BK-17646-M, US district court for the district of Arkansas. This station must obtain post-petition financing and court approval before digital facilities may be constructed. The station will cease analogue broadcasting on June 12, 2009, regardless of whether digital facilities are operational by that date. The station will file authority to remain silent if so required by the FCC."
While the station had applied for an extension for a construction permit for its digital transmitter, it was unable to continue analog operations as it is not only a full-service station, but it also operated on a frequency which was to be reallocated for non-broadcast use at the end of the digital television transition. Further complicating matters was that Kitchener, Ontario's CTV owned-and-operated station CKCO-TV, a station serving portions of southern Ontario with a signal that penetrates Western New York, being assigned the same channel 7 allocation by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for its own digital signal should it have applied to simulcast digitally before its analog channel 13 broadcasts end in August 2011, when that station would move digital broadcasts to channel 13.
Daystar's last-minute proposal to transmit from a broadcast tower used by WNYO-TV (channel 49) in Folsomdale, New York instead of using WKBW's Colden tower was rejected due to WNYO owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's last-minute decision to broadcast WNYO on its lower power digital channel 34 from Grand Island, and receiving FCC approval to transfer its digital signal to a full-power channel 49 transmission from Folsomdale on June 12.
Because WNGS failed to begin digital broadcasts on channel 7 after June 12, 2009, local cable providers had an out to no longer carry the station despite WNGS's direct fiber connection to the providers from West Valley. As the Buffalo market stretches west to near Erie, east towards Rochester, north towards Toronto and several counties in northern Pennsylvania in an area with several varieties of terrain, pay television service is almost a requirement for optimum viewing in outlying areas, resulting in the Buffalo–Hamilton–Toronto area having one of the highest pay-television penetration rates in the Northeast. Very few households watch the over-the-signals of many of the stations, resulting in serious trouble for WNGS if it were unable to continue maintaining its must-carry status. While Daystar's existing analog translator stations could maintain the station's service in the area, WDTB-LP only covers small portions of the city of Buffalo, far from providing market-wide coverage by any means.
On June 12, 2009, WNGS switched to a "nightlight" service, broadcasting only a still screen reading "WNGS has ceased operations as of June 12, 2009." Though it technically extended the broadcast life of the station, this was not allowed to continue any later than July 12, far too soon for a digital over-the-air signal to be ready. DirecTV customers in the Buffalo market stopped receiving WNGS on June 22, 2009.
By March 2010, the station still had not returned to the air in any form. Time Warner Cable ended its hold on WNGS's channel 11 cable slot; WNLO was moved into that position and Time Warner's regional cable news channel YNN Buffalo was placed on channel 9, the former location of WNLO.
In late May 2010, WNGS finally started transmitting its digital signal on channel 7. It invoked must carry and returned to Time Warner Cable on channel 5 (a prime cable position that WNGS specifically lobbied to obtain) in November 2010. The station's website returned sometime in December 2010.
Relaunch as WBBZ
WNGS changed its call sign to WBBZ-TV at 5:00 a.m. on August 1, 2011, as part of a planned drastic increase in the station's local programming. The This TV affiliation moved to a digital subchannel, while it began carrying Me-TV on its main channel. WBBZ struggled to find a studio location to house its operations. Arno had preferred to use the former Studio Arena Theater, but had been unable to secure a deal; he also passed on the Buffalo Central Terminal due to the building's state of disrepair. The Eastern Hills Mall, which holds the station's offices, originally rejected the plan to build a studio at the mall but later relented and allowed it to be constructed. By early 2012, the studios at the Eastern Hills Mall began construction; the first program was taped from there in June.
WBBZ hired former WKBW-TV sports director and general manager of the Empire Sports Network, Bob Koshinski as its executive in charge of production in 2012. He has since been promoted to vice president and general manager. John DiSciullo, WKBW's program director of three decades, was then hired as executive in charge of production. Both men are featured on-air during recently added local programs. As of May 2013, the station employs fifteen people, not counting Arno, who due to a lack of profit works unpaid and lives off the money from an eight-figure injury settlement that allowed him to buy the station.
On March 11, 2014, the station announced the hiring of Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Luke Tasker as a correspondent. Tasker, the son of former Buffalo Bills special-teamer Steve Tasker, will report for WBBZ's sports programs and continue his playing career for the Tiger-Cats.
Local programming seen on WBBZ includes the following regular weekly series:
- The Fred Jackson Show airs Mondays during football season. It debuted on September 10, 2012.
- The Bucky and Sully Show debuted on September 6, 2013. Produced in partnership with The Buffalo News featuring the News' sports columnists, Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason; it airs new episodes twice weekly on Monday and Friday.
- Secrets from Beyond, a paranormal program hosted by psychic Karen Reece and hypnotist Robert Saviola, was added in February 2013 (replacing The Fred Jackson Show in the offseason). The series was one of WBBZ's most popular programs and is funded by charging admission to be in the audience and/or participate. On January 17, 2014, Arno announced the show had been canceled and would not return for a second season due to financial losses.
- Bragging Rights!, a daily game show which (as the title implies) has no cash prize, will debut June 9, 2014. The show will pit two teams of three people, all of similar occupations, in an interactive trivia contest. The show was created by Arno and will be hosted by John DiSciullo.
- All Sports WNY (originally known as Sports Rap-Up until May 21, 2013), a weekly sports summary and talk/interview show, is hosted by Bob Koshinski and has aired on Tuesday evenings since September 11, 2012.
- America's Car Show, a television version of the syndicated radio series hosted by Chautauqua County native Tom Torbjornsen, airs Wednesday nights. It debuted on September 12, 2012.
- Political Buzz, a weekly political interview and talk show. Originally hosted by Mylous Hairston, the program is currently hosted by John DiSciullo. Political Buzz (the only news-oriented program on the channel) was the first local program to originate from the WBBZ studios and debuted on June 21, 2012.
- What's the Buzz in WNY?, a partially brokered lifestyle and events magazine hosted by Kim Piazza, debuted on April 12, 2013.
- Off Beat Cinema, the long-running hosted movie series formerly aired on WKBW-TV, moved to WBBZ on August 4, 2012. New programs are being produced before a live audience for the first time. WBBZ airs Off Beat Cinema in a double feature with Svengoolie, the hosted movie series that Me-TV carries each Saturday night.
All of these programs with the exception of America's Car Show can be seen by an audience; reservations are suggested on the station's website. Additional airings with the exception of Off Beat Cinema take place, usually twice, shortly after the original airing.
Syndicated programming on WBBZ as of September 2013 includes Cash Cab, King of the Hill, That '70s Show, Beer Geeks, and various programs from Entertainment Studios, including recipe.tv and Supreme Justice with Judge Karen. The Daily Buzz was carried during the 2011-12 season, but was removed after the producers of that show cut back and revamped the format; other shows WBBZ previously carried include cars.tv (2012), The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (summer 2013) and The Addams Family (August 2013). The remaining programming on the station comes from MeTV, and infomercials. In contrast to the station's competitors, who broadcast a liberal amount of infomercials during the overnight hours, WBBZ airs a full schedule of network and local programs at that time. WBBZ airs one to two hours of infomercials on weekday mornings and like its competitors, an infomercial block in the late afternoon on weekends.
WBBZ broadcast a three-hour "Buffalo Night in America" broadcast, available worldwide on Ustream, on July 21, 2012. The broadcast included live streaming video from various parties around the United States and various forms of variety entertainment centered around Western New York culture. Although the special was a critical, technical and ratings failure, management of the station attributed its failure to being too ambitious, too soon, and considered the making of the special a learning experience.
A second special, Giants of Buffalo: Radio, was taped in March 2013 and debuted on May 26 of that year at 10 p.m. Dyngus Day Diary aired on April 1, 2013 and summarized the Buffalo Dyngus Day parade that had been held earlier in the day. Both of those specials have been better received; other specials are in the works.
Future and proposed programming
Arno is highly critical of the local news programming seen on WGRZ (channel 2), WIVB (channel 4) and WKBW-TV and has no intention to develop a full news department as those stations have. He is nonetheless considering a daily newsmagazine, in the vein of AM Buffalo (which DiSciullo worked on for many years and occasionally hosted), with news, features and a meteorologist.
Local programming that Arno had announced in 2011 that he was seeking to add to the station included a morning show (which would include local segments inside The Daily Buzz), a game show, a local late-night talk show with a local comedian as host (which may have possibly been Late Night in the Buff, a show that eventually aired on WGRZ instead; Arno may still launch a similar show of his own), a local talk show in the mold of ABC's The View (which would likely include former Buffalo television personalities Susan Hunt and Susan Banks), a show geared to the military, a local Battle of the Bands and a video game review show that is aimed at younger viewers. Also slated for the future were a sports talk show hosted by Sabres Hockey Network personalities Rob Ray and Danny Gare, "a weekly made-for-TV play produced in conjunction with a local theater company drawing on its actors and production crew," and a weekly Buffalo Bills postgame show (what eventually became The Fred Jackson Show). The ultimate goal is to produce four to six hours per day of local programming, although Arno acknowledges this may be too expensive and ambitious to achieve.
The morning show was expected to launch September 6, 2011 while the local version of The View was slated to debut in October 2011. A late start in construction of a studio forced the postponement of local programming until 2012.
WBBZ held rights to the package of New York Yankees games produced for broadcast syndication by WWOR-TV from 2011 until 2013; a bulk syndication agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, coupled with increased rights fees and declining ratings, led to WBBZ dropping the Yankees broadcasts for the 2014 season.
WBBZ announced the acquisition of the rights to a Thursday Night Football broadcast featuring the Buffalo Bills during the 2012 season, following an "aggressive" bidding process; those rights had previously resided with WKBW. WBBZ had made the bid in part because as it stood, the station would be the only place on Time Warner Cable that viewers could see the game (NFL Network was not available on Time Warner Cable at the time of the bid), but Time Warner Cable and NFL Network signed a carriage agreement during the course of the 2012 season, rendering the advantage moot. WBBZ again won the rights to the NFL Network Bills game in 2013, with a lower bid than the year before but one that was still much higher than the other stations had offered.
During a prolonged contract dispute between MSG Network and Time Warner Cable, WBBZ proposed buying the rights to Buffalo Sabres games from MSG in order for Time Warner Cable subscribers to see the game. The two sides came to an agreement before any action could be taken on Arno's proposal.
In August 2013, WBBZ announced it had affiliated with Raycom Sports to carry a weekly Atlantic Coast Conference college football game each Saturday afternoon in the 2013 season, to represent Syracuse University as the Orange joined the ACC in 2013.
WBBZ's programming to date has proven competitive with other stations in the market, having finished in a near statistical tie with WNLO and WNYO-TV in the Nielsen ratings for the November 2011 sweeps; this is despite the fact that both of those stations had local newscasts at the time (a particular ratings boost to WNLO; WNYO lost its local newscast to sister station WUTV (channel 29) in April 2013), whereas WBBZ does not. However, by summer 2012, ratings had fallen to a third of their 2011 highs. The ratings later rebounded in November 2012.
Arno hopes to move into fourth place in the all-day Nielsen ratings (to which he does not subscribe) but realistically expects to eventually reach fifth, ahead of WNYO and WNLO.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WBBZ
- John Richard Powley (Oct. 30, 1935 – April 6, 2008) obituary, Altoona Mirror, April 10.
- Hudson, Eileen Davis (April 15, 2002). "Market Profile – April 15, 2002". MediaWeek. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- "WNLO-TV lands UPN affiliation". Business First of Buffalo. October 18, 2001. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
- No ‘Good Times’ For RTN After Distribution Spat: Retro channel back on after yesterday’s 3½ hour blackout, Michael Malone, B&C, Jan 5, 2009
- The Buffalo News: "Classic reruns dropped from local station", 1/7/2009.
- 'Off Beat Cinema' watching TV dispute, James Fink, Business First – Buffalo, January 7, 2009
- "And just what is This?"WNGS becomes affiliate, Buffalo News, Jan 23, 2009
- "Equity Auctions Off 60 Stations for $21.3M". TVNEWSDAY. April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
- Fybush, Scott. Show Time For a Nervous Industry. NorthEast Radio Watch. April 20, 2009.
- "New owner coming for Buffalo fixer-upper television station". Television Business Report. May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
- Epstein, Jonathan (2010-05-18). Dormant Springville TV station purchased. The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 18, 2010).
- Fybush, Scott (2010-05-24). Two Station Sales in New York. NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- Robinson, David (September 16, 2010). "WNGS-TV bought by local man; to air films". The Buffalo News. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
- http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101285347&formid=387&fac_num=9088[dead link]
- http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101284599&formid=337&fac_num=9088[dead link]
- Industry Canada: "DTV Post-Transition Allotment Plan", December 2008
- Pergament, Alan (2010-11-05). No horsin' around: WNGS is back. Still Talkin' TV. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Pergament, Alan (July 26, 2011). WNGS owner hopes to create buzz with WBBZ. stilltalkintv.com. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- Kwiatkowski, Jane (July 31, 2011). Shift of WNGS-TV to start Monday. The Buffalo News. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
- Pergament, Alan (September 1, 2011). WBBZ Delays Morning Show, Yanks HD. Still Talkin' TV. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Pergament, Alan (May 11, 2013). Plan for WBBZ just may be crazy enough to work. The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Pergament (March 11, 2014). Ranney leaving WBFO, WNED to work for Gallivan.
- Pergament, Alan (January 17, 2014). Alt 107 FM off to a slow start, Idol off to a fast one here. The Buffalo News. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
- Pergament. WBBZ bragging about new local game show set for June. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- Fink, James (March 20, 2014). Bragging Rights in the works on local TV. Business First. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Off Beat Cinema: The Next Chapter in Buffalo Born Broadcasting Buffalorising.com
- Pergament, Alan. WBBZ's "Buffalo Night" is bizarrely classic TV still talkin tv Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (May 9, 2013). WBBZ owner is critical of local news. The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- Kwiatkowski, Jane (June 13, 2012). Murphy leaving channel 4 for Bills The Buffalo News Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (June 11, 2013). WBBZ officially lands Bills-Cleveland game. The Buffalo News. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Sabres-MSG On TV This Weekend, But What Then?. WBEN. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (December 8, 2011). WBBZ in classic ratings battle with two weak stations. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Pergament, Alan (August 10, 2012). Some breezy laughs and a reminder why I write this blog. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (November 16, 2012). 'Lincoln' is must-see film that TV used to make. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (November 15, 2012). Bush comment gives WBBZ some needed buzz. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
- WBBZ-TV Official website
- All Sports WNY (WBBZ's sports site)
- WBBZ-TV Program schedule from Locate TV
- Official Facebook page
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WBBZ
- WNGS-TV at fccinfo.com
- WBBZ-TV at fccinfo.com