.2: WSWG DT2
.3: Albany CW
Can Count On
.3: TV Now
|Channels||Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
.3: The CW
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 24, 1980|
|Call letters' meaning||We're SouthWest Georgia|
|Former callsigns||WVGA (1980–1994)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
44 (UHF, 1980–2007)
|Former affiliations||ABC (1980–1992)
The WB (1995–1997)
|Transmitter power||50 kW|
|Height||253 m (830 ft)|
WSWG is the CBS affiliate for Southwest Georgia, licensed to Valdosta. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 43 (virtual channel 44.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter northeast of Adel near unincorporated Barnesdale, Cook County. The station can also be seen on Mediacom channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 806, DirecTV channel 44 and Dish channel 44. It operates southwest Georgia's MyNetworkTV affiliate on its second digital subchannel, and the area's CW affiliate on its third subchannel.
Owned by Gray Television, WSWG is a sister station to WCTV in Tallahassee, Florida. WSWG's studios and sales office are on 2nd Avenue Southwest in Moultrie, but its master control and most internal operations are based at Gray Television's Broadcast Hub shared by WCTV on Halstead Boulevard along I-10.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|44.1||1080i||16:9||WSWG-DT||Main WSWG programming / CBS|
|44.2||480i||4:3||WSWG-DT2||MyNetworkTV / Me-TV|
|44.3||720p||16:9||WSWG-DT3||Albany's CW 44|
The station first began operating on December 24, 1980 as WVGA, the ABC affiliate for Southwestern Georgia (though Valdosta is part of the Tallahassee market). Prior to that time, Albany was one of the few areas in the eastern part of the country without a clear over-the-air signal from ABC; the nearest affiliate, WECA-TV (now WTXL-TV) in Tallahassee, only provided Grade B coverage to the market. At the time, ABC was the top network in the United States.
WVGA was founded by Hi Ho Broadcasting, which also owned fellow ABC affiliate WDHN in Dothan, Alabama. The station carried a typical slate of ABC and syndicated shows. In 1986, Hi Ho sold its stations to Morris Network, a broadcasting company owned by the Morris Newspaper Corporation.
The station was unable to make any headway against the region's two powerful VHF outlets, WALB-TV and WCTV, and was also hampered by the region's poverty, as there were relatively few businesses able to advertise on the station. By the late-1980s, WVGA was in a battle for its survival. By the start of the 1990s, it had shut down its news department and began relying on infomercials and barter programming to fill the schedule. It also began signing off following Nightline.
WVGA's fate was sealed in January 1992 when a plane crashed into its transmission tower and knocked the station off the air. Not having enough funds to rebuild the tower, Morris opted to close down WVGA instead. This left southwest Georgia as one of the only areas on the East Coast without an ABC affiliate. Cable systems in the area piped in either WSB-TV in Atlanta, WTVM in Columbus, WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida, or WTXL. This changed when WALB-DT2 switched its affiliation to ABC in April 2011.
Morris originally planned on selling WVGA to the owners of WTXL, which would have revived the station as a semi-satellite of WTXL. However, that deal fell through, and in 1994, Morris sold the station to Hutchens Communications. Hutchens reopened the station on October 28, 1995 as WB affiliate WGVP. Prior to this station's return to the airwaves, WB programming was only available on area cable and satellite providers through Chicago-based national superstation WGN. It switched to UPN on August 25, 1997, and in 2001 renamed itself WVAG. Hutchens sold WVAG to Padon Communications in 2004, who in turn, sold it to Gray Television soon afterward. Under Gray, the station was renamed WSWG and its operations were merged with those of WCTV. Ironically, Gray had been the founder and original owner of rival WALB, but was forced to sell it after buying WCTV because that station provides a city-grade signal to most of the Georgia side of the Tallahassee market.
On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced the two networks would end broadcasting and merge to form The CW. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV. Gray, which had earlier planned to add a second digital subchannel on WSWG to carry CBS while keeping UPN on analog, chose instead to broadcast CBS on the analog and main digital channels starting on September 4, 2006 as a semi-satellite of WCTV; the second subchannel then began to carry MyNetworkTV. The move created a strong combined signal with just under 50% overlap. Previously, WCTV had been the default CBS affiliate in Albany for many years.
On January 30, 2007, WSWG's analog signal on channel 44 went dark due to a damaged transmission line at the transmitter. Rather than incur the expense of restoring a signal that would only be temporary (analog broadcasting was due to end in the United States within two years), the station requested permission to surrender its analog license and broadcast only in digital on UHF channel 43. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the request on one year later. However, unlike its old analog signal on channel 44 (which operated at 1.7 million watts), digital channel 43 operates at only 50,000 watts (roughly equivalent to 250,000 watts for an analog transmitter) in order to protect Alabama Public Television station WGIQ in Louisville, Alabama. Therefore, its broadcasting radius reaches just short of Albany proper, forcing the station to rely on cable for most of its viewership. In contrast, WCTV's digital signal does reach Albany. In early 2011, WSWG launched a third digital subchannel carrying The CW; previously, CW programming was seen on cable via The CW Plus, which also supplies the subchannel's programming.
WSWG currently shares local newscasts from its sister station WCTV as WCTV Eyewitness News on WSWG (except weeknights at 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.; Dr. Oz is shown instead), with a news bureaus in Valdosta (on East Central Avenue/US 84) and Moultrie. WSWG-DT3 airs the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz on weekdays from 6 until 8. WSWG co-operates their own weather radar at the WCTV Tallahassee studios that is known on-air as "Megawatt Pinpoint Doppler".
On August 3, 2009, WCTV Eyewitness News upgraded its newscasts to high definition, with WSWG simulcasting the newscasts in that fashion. The change made WSWG the first station in HD in the Albany market. Even though the reporters do not mention WSWG, the WSWG Eyewitness News logo is on screen and all weather bulletins for South Georgia are broadcast on WSWG for all the Albany Market.