|Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Branding||ABC Action News|
|Slogan||Taking Action For You|
|Channels||Digital: 29 (UHF)
Virtual: 28 (PSIP)
28.2 Live Well Network
|Affiliations||ABC (since 1994)|
|Owner||The E.W. Scripps Company
(Scripps Media, Inc.)
|Founded||December 14, 1981|
|Call letters' meaning||Family (or Florida)
(referring to original owner, Family Group Broadcasting)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||independent (1981-1988)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
WFTS, virtual channel 28, is the ABC affiliate television station for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Florida market, owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 29. Its transmitter is located in Riverview, Florida.
WFTS-TV first went on the air on December 14, 1981 as an independent station. Being a flagship of the locally-based Family Group Broadcasting, the station programmed a family-oriented general entertainment format with cartoons, off-network dramas, old movies and religious shows. Its call letters originally stood for Family Television Station. An era of local ownership ended on April 22, 1984, when it was acquired by Capital Cities Communications. It was Capital Cities' first station in Florida, the group's first—and only—independent station, and was also the last station acquired by the group prior to its merger with ABC. The first incarnation of channel 28 was to have been WTSS-TV, an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network in the 1950s. It is very likely that that station never made it to air.
Under Capital Cities, the station added more off-network sitcoms and reduced the number of religious shows and dramas on its schedule. In 1986, Capital Cities stunned the world with its purchase of ABC—the network was ten times bigger than CapCities was at the time. CapCities owned several ABC affiliates, and two CBS affiliates: KFSN-TV (channel 30) in Fresno and WTVD (channel 11) in Durham, North Carolina. The company's combined assets exceeded Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limits at the time, so CapCities decided to keep its CBS affiliates and change their affiliations to ABC, along with longtime ABC affiliates WPVI-TV (channel 6) in Philadelphia and KTRK-TV (channel 13) in Houston, and sold WFTS and the ABC owned-and operated station in Detroit, WXYZ-TV (channel 7), to the E. W. Scripps Company, while selling several other stations to minority-owned firms. WXYZ would figure in WFTS' history once again less than a decade later.
Scripps continued the format on WFTS, running cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and dramas. A 10 p.m. newscast was planned for the station, but did not come to fruition. WFTS picked up the Fox affiliation in 1988 after WTOG (channel 44) dropped it and the station began to identify on air as "Fox 28", and soon after briefly identified its call letters as standing for Fox Television Station.
On May 22, 1994, New World Communications came to an agreement with Fox, and most of New World's stations, including WTVT (channel 13), Tampa Bay's longtime CBS affiliate, were to affiliate with Fox. Among the stations making the switch were longtime CBS affiliates WJBK (channel 2) in Detroit and WJW (channel 8) in Cleveland. Not wanting to be relegated to the UHF band, CBS heavily wooed Detroit's longtime ABC affiliate, WXYZ, as well as Cleveland's longtime ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV (channel 5); both stations were owned by Scripps. With this as leverage, Scripps told ABC that it would have to affiliate with four other stations owned by Scripps: WFTS, KNXV-TV (channel 15) in Phoenix (which was also due to lose its Fox affiliation to a New World station), WMAR-TV (channel 2) in Baltimore and WCPO-TV (channel 9) in Cincinnati—the latter had to wait for ABC's affiliation contract with WKRC-TV (channel 12) to expire in June 1996 to switch. Scripps insisted on including WFTS and KNXV in the deal even though neither had a news department.
As a result in December 1994, WFTS assumed the ABC affiliation from longtime affiliate WTSP (channel 10), which took over the CBS affiliation from WTVT. WFTS then sent most of its syndicated programming to WTTA (channel 38), WTOG and/or WTMV (channel 32, now WMOR-TV), which would also air Fox Kids. A decade later, WFTS became one of three Florida television stations, and one of the many Scripps-owned ABC affiliates that preempted Saving Private Ryan.
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota is the fourth largest market with a major network appearing in the UHF channel range (14-51); although most digital television stations broadcast on a UHF frequency, most also identify through the use of a PSIP virtual channel as being on the VHF band, corresponding with the stations' former analog channel numbers. Because WFTS was formerly on UHF analog channel 28, it continues to identify as channel 28 through the use of PSIP. The larger markets with a major network in the UHF channel range are Phoenix (KNXV-TV, virtual channel 15), Atlanta (WGCL-TV, virtual channel 46) and Detroit (WWJ-TV, virtual channel 62). KNXV is an ABC affiliate while WGCL is an CBS affiliate and WWJ is a CBS owned and operated station.
Digital television 
|28.1||WFTS-HD||Main WFTS-TV programming / ABC|
|28.2||WFTS-SD||Live Well Network / Action News Now (during weather and news emergencies)|
Analog-to-digital conversion 
WFTS-TV shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 29 using PSIP to display WFTS-TV's virtual channel as 28.
News operation 
During its days as an independent station and Fox affiliate, WFTS presented hourly newsbreaks and weatherbreaks, featuring a person reading the day's headlines or the current forecast. During the station's first few months on the air, the newsbreaks were provided by WNSI-AM (1380 kHz., now WWMI) in audio only, over a slide that said News Check. Later on, News Checks began to feature newsreaders on camera at WFTS's studios. By the late 1980s, the newsbreaks became 28 Newsbreak or 28 Weatherbreak. These newsbreaks were discontinued in December 1994 after the station became an ABC affiliate and launched a full-scale news operation.
WFTS began airing full-scale newscasts in 1994, under the 28 Tampa Bay News handle. The newscasts initially originated from Telemation studios in Clearwater, since WFTS's studios on Tampa's east side (at the corner of I-4 and Columbus Drive) didn't have enough room for a full-sized newsroom or set. The station's news operation then moved to its new studios on Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium in 1996. The station gradually added a two-hour morning newscast from 5-7 a.m., a half-hour noon newscast, a 90-minute block of news from 5-6:30 p.m., and a nightly 11 p.m. newscast. Given the fact that many former Fox stations had switched to ABC, NBC or CBS at the time, WFTS did not falter with many stations of such that launched newscasts with no success at competing with long-standing (mostly VHF) news stations (some stations cancelled their newscasts as a result), WFTS manages to compete with rival stations in the Tampa market.
The newscast title was changed to 28 News briefly in 2002, before being changed again to ABC Action News later that year due to viewer confusion with the "ABC28" branding. The Action News all day branding is also shared with sister station and NBC affiliate KSHB-TV (channel 41) in Kansas City. In fall 2005, the station extended its weekday noon newscast to one hour, following the cancellation of ABC's soap Port Charles. WFTS is one of ten television stations that air consumer reports from John Matarese of ABC affiliate (and sister station) WCPO in Cincinnati.
On July 28, 2007 beginning with the 6 p.m. newscast, WFTS-TV became the first broadcast station in the Tampa Bay market to produce and broadcast its local newscasts in high definition; WFTS surprisingly beat out rivals WTVT (channel 13) and WTSP who were both rumored to be competing to launch the first high definition newscast in Tampa Bay.
Until December 2009, WFTS was one of two stations to have two women regularly anchor an evening newscast. Wendy Ryan and Linda Hurtado anchored the 5 p.m. newscast. Denise White and Kathy Fountain anchored the 5 p.m. newscast on WTVT. Kathy Fountain retired on December 30, 2009, leaving Ryan and Hurtado as the only all-female anchor team in Tampa Bay; this changed again in the summer of 2010 when Jamison Uhler joined WFTS from WCAU-TV in Philadelphia as 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. co-anchor.
Four personalities are currently with the station since the launch of its news operation in 1994: Anchors Brendan McLaughlin and Linda Hurtado, meteorologists Denis Phillips and Wayne Shattuck.
On April 25, 2012, ABC Action News launched ABC Action News Now, an exclusive newscast and weather station available mainly to smart phone and tablet users and designed with a program schedule designed with those devices in mind, rather than a traditional "news wheel" schedule seen on most news/weather-only subchannels. During severe weather and news emergencies the channel is also carried on-air over 28.2 and local pay-TV providers in lieu of Live Well Network.
In November 2012, ABC Action News overtook all other local stations in all evening and late news ratings for Adults 25-54. This marked the first time ever WFTS won at 5:00, 5;30, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. in the key demographic during one ratings period.
Weather coverage 
News/station presentation 
Newscast titles 
- News Check (1980s)
- 28 Newsbreak / 28 Weatherbreak (1988–1994)
- 28 Tampa Bay News (1994–2002)
- 28 News (2002)
- ABC Action News (2002–present)
Station slogans 
- Catch Familyvision on Channel 28 (1981–1984)
- Tampa Bay's Independent (ca. 1986-1988)
- Your Fox Television Station/Tampa Bay's Fox Television Station (1988-1994; coincidentally, this term was trademarked by Fox Television Stations Group, which currently owns WTVT)
- Working Hard To Be Your Favorite (1994–1995)
- Real People, Real News (1996–1999)
- You Need to Know (2002)
- Taking Action for You (2002–present)
News music packages 
- News One - Version 1 by 615 Music (1994–2002)
- Elevation by Stephen Arnold Music (2002)
- News Matrix - Versions 1 & 2 by Stephen Arnold Music (2002–2006)
- Eyewitness News - Series 1, 4, & 6 by Gari Communications (2007–2009)
- Scripps TV Station Group Package by Musikvergnuegen (2009–2012)
- Inergy by Stephen Arnold Music (2012–present)
On-air staff 
- Current anchors
- Sarina Fazan – weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., also weekday reporter (since 1999)
- Ashley Glass - weekend mornings (6:00-7:00 weekends, 7:00-8:00 Saturdays, 8:00-9:00 Sundays and 9:00-10:00 a.m. Saturdays); also weekday reporter (since 2010)
- Linda Hurtado – weeknights at 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.; also health reporter (since 1994)
- Brendan McLaughlin – weeknights at 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.; also host of Flashpoint (since 1994)
- Deiah Riley – weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon (since 2003)
- Wendy Ryan – weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. (since 2003)
- Dan Shaffer – weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon (since 1996)
- John Thomas – weekend mornings (6:00-7:00 weekends, 7:00-8:00 Saturdays, 8:00-9:00 Sundays and 9:00-10:00 a.m. Saturdays); also weekday reporter (since 1999)
- Jamison Uhler – weeknights at 5:00 and 11:00 p.m. (since 2010)
- ABC Action Weather
- Denis Phillips (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weekdays at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. (since 1994)
- Bill Logan – weather anchor; weekend mornings (6:00-7:00 weekends, 7:00-8:00 Saturdays, 8:00-9:00 Sundays and 9:00-10:00 a.m. Saturdays); also weekday reporter (since 2004)
- Wayne Shattuck (AMS Seal of Approval) – meteorologist; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. (since 1994)
- Shay Ryan (AMS Seal of Approval) – meteorologist; weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon (since 2012)
- Sports team
- Tom Korun – sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., also host of "SportsZone" (since 1997)
- Andrew Luria – sports anchor; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. (since 2010)
- Erik Waxler – sports and general assignment reporter/multimedia journalist and fill-in sports anchor (since 2009)
- Traffic anchors
- Meredyth Censullo – morning traffic anchor (5:00-7:00 a.m.; since 2008)
- Jackie Callaway – consumer advocate (Taking Action For You) (since 2002)
- Lissette Campos – "Community Calendar"/"Positively Tampa Bay" segments, also director of community affairs (morning anchor 2001-2005, since 2008)
- Carson Chambers – general assignment reporter (since 2007)
- Michael George – investigative reporter (since 2010)
- John Matarese – consumer reporter (based out of WCPO in Cincinnati; since 2003)
- Alan "Captain Al" Taylor – Action Air One pilot and traffic reporter (since 2002)
- Alison Morrow – general assignment reporter (since 2011)
- Jacqueline Ingles – general assignment reporter (since 2012)
Former on-air staff 
- Jay Crawford – sports director (1998–2003; now at ESPN and WCBS-TV in New York City)
- Linda Gialanella – weekend meteorologist/fill-in meteorologist (2003–2009)
- Walt Maciborski AKA "Woot Mac" - Anchor/Reporter 2005-2009, now Main Anchor at WXIN in Indianapolis
- Nannette Miranda – reporter (2000–2003; now Sacramento Bureau Chief for KABC-TV in Los Angeles and KGO-TV In San Francisco and KGTV in San Diego)
- Elaine Quijano - reporter (1998-2000); now with CBS News
- Alex Sanz - freelance reporter (now at WPTV in West Palm Beach, FL)
- Drew Soicher – sports director (1994–1998; now at KUSA-TV in Denver)
- Sage Steele - reporter (1998-2001; now at ESPN)
Broadcast, cable and satellite carriage 
WFTS can be seen mainly in Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Hardee, and Polk Counties. WFTS can also be viewed in portions of Citrus, Sumter, Sarasota, De Soto, Highlands, Orange, Osceola and Lake Counties.
The station is not available on Comcast cable in Venice (Southern Sarasota County) due to the presence of WWSB (channel 40), an ABC station formed after WTSP's coverage of the Sarasota area was insufficient when WTSP was an ABC affiliate. This means WFTS is not available to over 91,000 cable subscribers. 
- CDBS Print
- "WFTS-TV First in Tampa to broadcast news in High Definition".
- Deggans, Eric (28 November 2012). "ABC Action News comes out on top in evening and late night November sweeps ratings". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- WFTS Staff Bios, ABCActionNews.com, Accessed October 18, 2010
- "Elaine Quijano Bio". CBS News. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "Alex Sanz bio". 1 December 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Steele Sage bio". ESPN. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- ABCActionNews.com - Official Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WFTS-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WFTS-TV
- mcsittel.com: 1990s DX screengrabs from Tallahassee -- includes WFTS "Fox 28" screengrabs from 1992 and 1993
- "Tampa Bay Live" website used from 1999-2000. Still works a bit.
- 28 News Documentary.