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WMGM-TV

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WMGM-TV
Wildwood/Atlantic City, New Jersey
United States
City of license Wildwood, New Jersey
Channels Digital: 36 (UHF)
Virtual: 40 (PSIP)
Subchannels 40.1 Soul of the South
Translators WMGM-LP 7 (VHF)
Atlantic City
Affiliations Soul of the South (2015-present)
Owner LocusPoint Networks
(LocusPoint WMGM Licensee, LLC)
First air date January 25, 1966 (1966-01-25)
Call letters' meaning taken from former sister radio station WMGM
Former callsigns WCMC-TV (1966–1981)
WAAT (1981–1984)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
40 (UHF, 1966–2009)
Former affiliations NBC (1966-2014)
Transmitter power 205 kW
Height 126.5 m
Facility ID 61111
Transmitter coordinates 39°7′28.3″N 74°45′54.5″W / 39.124528°N 74.765139°W / 39.124528; -74.765139
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS

WMGM-TV, virtual channel 40 (UHF digital channel 36) is a television station licensed to Wildwood, New Jersey. Their offices are located on New Road (Route 9) and its studios behind the station's offices on West Patcong Avenue in Linwood, New Jersey and its transmitter is located along Avalon Boulevard in the Swainton section of Middle Township, east of the Garden State Parkway off Exit 13.

The station is officially considered part of the Philadelphia market, but primarily serves Southeast New Jersey. WMGM-TV was previously an affiliate of NBC, and was the only major network affiliate located directly in the state. As such, the station's coverage area overlapped with the network's owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia, WCAU channel 10.

WMGM-TV was previously owned by the New York City-based Access.1 Communications. In October 2013, the station was sold to LocusPoint Networks for $6 million, but remained operated by Access.1. The company retains ownership of the station's low-power transmitter, WMGM-LP. The sale proved controversial, due to speculation that LocusPoint only bought the station so that it could sell its license and wireless spectrum to the FCC during its upcoming spectrum incentive auction, and was not interested in its further operation.

On December 31, 2014, WMGM-TV ended its 48-year affiliation with NBC, its management agreement with Access.1, and its news operation, and began to carry programming from the Soul of the South network. Access.1 retained most of WMGM's now-former staff, including its news department, for a new outlet it intends to launch in 2015.

History[edit]

The station first signed on the air on January 25, 1966 known as WCMC-TV (meaning Cape May County). It was owned by Jersey Cape Broadcasting, along with the WCMC radio stations (1230 AM and 100.7 FM, now WZXL). The station initially could not get a direct network feed from NBC, forcing station engineers to switch to and from the signal of KYW-TV (channel 3) in Philadelphia for network programming. During the station's early years, even when NBC went to full-time color programming, the station still broadcast its local programming in black and white. WCMC-TV was sold to South Jersey Radio in 1981, and changed its call letters first to WAAT on April 27, 1981, and then to the current WMGM-TV on April 12, 1984 to match co-owned WMGM radio (103.7 FM). Under South Jersey Radio, channel 40 was able to obtain its own NBC affiliate feed. Upon the death of owner Howard Green in 2002, the stations were eventually sold to Access.1 Communications.

WMGM-TV logo card, 2012.

For many years, the station operated a low-powered repeater, WMGM-LP in Atlantic City on VHF channel 7, to serve Atlantic City itself. On July 3, 2006, WMGM-LP fell silent when a fire struck its transmitter building. The building also housed the transmitters for Atlantic City's WMGM radio as well as Pleasantville's WOND (1400 AM) and WTKU-FM (98.3). While WMGM radio began broadcasting from WPUR (107.3 FM)'s auxiliary facilities atop the Trump Taj Mahal casino, the AM stations and WMGM-LP remained dark, leaving many Atlantic City residents without clear reception of NBC programs over-the-air. However, the on-air signals were eventually brought back.[1]

For several years, people in much of the New Jersey side of the Philadelphia market could watch the entire NBC schedule on WMGM-TV, as longtime Philadelphia NBC affiliate KYW-TV (now a CBS owned-and-operated station) pre-empted many of NBC's daytime programs as well as other shows. WMGM was one of the few affiliates not to carry the Sunday edition of Today.

Acquisition by LocusPoint Networks[edit]

On October 10, 2013, Access.1 Communications agreed to sell WMGM to LocusPoint Networks for $6 million; WMGM will be LocusPoint's second station in the Philadelphia market, as the company is also in the process of acquiring WPHA-CD.[2] As part of the deal, Access.1 will continue to manage WMGM. However, the deal was met with public controversy, over concerns that LocusPoint was only buying WMGM so it could auction off the station's license and spectrum during the FCC's 2015 spectrum incentive auction. Indeed, the company does not describe itself as a broadcaster, but as an "early stage wireless communications company".[3] Stations in close proximity to major markets (in WMGM's case, Philadelphia) have been considered potentially valuable at auction, leaving the fate of WMGM in jeopardy.[4][5] In response to the concerns (which also included viewers establishing a Save NBC 40 website), LocusPoint co-founder Bill deKay stated that they planned to continue operating the station as an NBC affiliate.[6] The sale was completed on January 28, 2014.[7]

Loss of NBC affiliation[edit]

On April 16, 2014, Broadcasting & Cable reported that WMGM-TV would lose its NBC affiliation at the end of 2014, at the conclusion of a two-year extension of the station's most recent affiliation contract (which expired at the end of 2012). The station's former general manager, Ron Smith, claimed that the move was a result of NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast wanting to protect WCAU. He argued that the loss of the NBC affiliation would make it difficult for WMGM to continue operating.[8] The loss of NBC affiliation also coincided with the end of Access.1's management agreement with LocusPoint Networks.[9]

In July 2014, WMGM-TV introduced the "Friends of 40 Summer Membership Club"[10] in which viewers contribute money in return for benefits such as station merchandise, discounts, and invitations to its outings; this form of fundraising is more commonly associated with public broadcasting. According to general manager J. Roger Powe III, "The membership club allows all the folks who have been loyal and supportive to keep engaged in a more intimate fashion;" while some of the money raised goes to the station's operations, much of it is used to pay for the club's benefits. As WMGM remains a commercial, for-profit station, contributions to the club are non-tax-deductible, unlike with public broadcasting stations.[11]

In September 2014, it was reported that the WMGM-TV studio facilities had been put up for sale; at the time, a station spokesman stated that despite the action the station would remain in operation into 2015.[12] The following month, the FCC pushed back the spectrum auction to 2016.[13] On December 9, 2014, Access.1 made a statement on WMGM's website, indicating that it was planning to "continue and expand our news product on a new broadcast channel" in early to mid-2015, retaining and re-locating the station's staff, news operation, and sales department to a new, unspecified outlet and studio.[9] Local personality Pinky Kravitz (whose WOND radio show was aired on WMGM) disclosed that the station was seeking $3 million in funding for these planned changes.[9] Access.1 still owns WMGM-LP, a low-power analog rebroadcaster of WMGM-TV.

WMGM-TV aired its final night of newscasts and NBC programming on December 31, 2014; among its final programs was an hour-long documentary focusing on the station's history and staff.[14] At 11:59 p.m. ET, Access.1's control of the station ended, and WMGM-TV began to primarily carry programming from Soul of the South—a network focusing primarily on the African-American community.[14] The station is also in preliminary talks with the owners of WOND to produce local programming. WMGM-TV's new programming is an interim measure, assuming that LocusPoint does sell the station during the 2016 spectrum incentive auction.[15][14]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[16]
40.1 1080i 16:9 WMGM-DT Main WMGM-TV programming / Soul of the South

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WMGM-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 40, 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 UHF channel 36.[17] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 40.

Coverage area[edit]

WMGM's primarily serves Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties. Its digital over-the-air signal also penetrates parts of southern Ocean County, southern Burlington County, eastern Camden and Gloucester counties and coastal Delaware, even though the station has no cable carriage in these areas.

It is also available on cable throughout Salem County. In addition, WMGM is also on cable in Vineland and Turnersville which covers parts of eastern Camden and Gloucester counties such as Winslow Township and the Williamstown/Monroe Township area. This is the only location where WMGM is carried out of its designated area. However, it is only viewable on Comcast digital channel 247. DirecTV and Dish Network had carried the station in the Philadelphia market until 2011, because of signal issues.

CATV[edit]

In coastal and some interior portions of Sussex County, Delaware, WMGM was carried on CATV systems during the 1970s and possibly the 1980s.

Newscasts and local programming[edit]

Former NBC 40 News open.

At the end of its NBC affiliation, WMGM-TV broadcast 20 hours of locally-produced newscasts each week. The station did not produce a midday newscast on weekdays or any morning or early evening newscasts on weekends. WMGM was the only remaining New Jersey-licensed commercial television station that maintained its own news department; MyNetworkTV station WWOR-TV upstate in Secaucus controversially shut down its news department (which was kept in operation long after its 2001 acquisition by Fox Television Stations, which created a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station WNYW in nearby New York City) in July 2013, its 10 p.m. newscast was replaced by the outsourced news program Chasing New Jersey that month.

The station produced an entertainment program called Curtain Call with David Spatz (which won a 2007 Emmy Award for outstanding interview/discussion series); the program featured interviews with world-class artists performing in Atlantic City. WMGM also produced two public affairs programs: WMGM Presents Pinky (Saturday nights at 7:30), and Forum 40 (Sunday mornings at 11:30). Prior to 2011, the station did not air local news programming on weekday mornings (instead running religious programming from 5 to 6 a.m. and a simulcast of the Don Williams radio talk show from WOND, from 6 to 7 a.m.). WMGM debuted its first weekday morning newscast on March 28, 2011, the hour-long Today in South Jersey.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fire Silences Atlantic City Stations". All Access Music Group. 4 May 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved, 7 November 2013
  3. ^ "Lights out for local Jersey Shore TV station". Philly.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Lemongello, Steven (November 7, 2013). "Linwood-based NBC 40 WMGM to be sold". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Speculators betting big on FCC TV spectrum auctions". Current.org. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Viewers Voice Fear South New Jersey NBC Station Being Sold For its Spectrum". TVSpy.com. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  7. ^ $6M Sale of WMGM Wildwood, NJ, Closes TVNewsCheck, Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  8. ^ Malone, Michael (April 16, 2014). "MGM Losing NBC Affiliation in Philadelphia". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "Shore's Channel 40 set to lose network affiliation". Philadelphia Inquirer. December 10, 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Friends of NBC 40 Membership Program
  11. ^ Ianieri, Brian (July 24, 2014). "WMGM-TV introduces "Friends of 40" club as station's future in doubt". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ "WMGM-TV40 studio in Linwood for sale, owner says station will continue operating next year". Press of Atlantic City. September 4, 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "FCC Spectrum Auction Delayed Until 2016". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c "Direct from Little Rock to Jersey Shore TVs". Philly.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Interim Plans For Jersey Shore TV Station; Area Radio Fills In News Coverage". CBSPhilly.com. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  16. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WMGM
  17. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 

External links[edit]