First air date
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|David Livingstone Missionary Foundation|
|HAAT||290.32 meters (952 ft)|
Public license information
WDLI-TV (channel 17) is a television station licensed to Canton, Ohio, United States, serving the Cleveland–Akron area as an affiliate of the digital multicast network Bounce TV. It is owned by Inyo Broadcast Holdings alongside Ion Television affiliate WVPX-TV (channel 23).
WDLI-TV and WVPX-TV share offices on Renaissance Parkway in Warrensville Heights; through a channel sharing agreement, the two stations transmit using WVPX-TV's spectrum from an antenna at the site of WDLI-TV's former studio on SR 261 in Norton, Ohio.
The station first signed on the air in January 1967 as WJAN, an independent station owned by Janson Industries; it offered a typical slate of locally produced and syndicated programming. In its early years, live studio broadcasts were in black-and-white only, as the station could not afford color studio cameras. Feature films and videotaped programming from outside sources were always reproduced on color-capable equipment. However, many of the movies broadcast in the early years were classics from a time when color films were the exception.
Sometime before 1970, the station obtained two IVC color studio cameras, which were replaced in 1971 with state of the art Norelco PC-70s. Almost from the start, WJAN broadcast religious programming. For example, live Sunday morning services from a Baptist church in Canton and other nationally syndicated material supplied on tape and film. A typical program schedule during the week would consist of a sign-on at 1:00 p.m. with syndicated programming, followed by children's cartoons, a children's live entertainment program, local live news, local live variety programs, then repeats of major network programs. Finally, a 10:00 p.m. live newscast followed by a classic film would finish the broadcast day.
Although serving Canton, WJAN was categorized as a Cleveland market station. This made it difficult to obtain desirable programming at a reasonable cost. The right to broadcast a program is usually made exclusive within a market, so WJAN was competing with more established Cleveland stations for the right to broadcast repeats of popular network programming.
Such was the curse of a typical independent UHF station in those times. The allure of taking paid religious programming was hard to resist. Beginning in 1974, WJAN added The PTL Club, a syndicated two-hour program originating (at the time) in Charlotte, North Carolina. ABC affiliate WAKR-TV (channel 23, now Ion Television O&O WVPX-TV) in Akron added The 700 Club to its daily schedule about the same time.
The relationship between the PTL organization and WJAN deepened. In August 1977, Janson sold WJAN to televangelist Jim Bakker, founder of the PTL Club. Under Bakker, WJAN adopted a near 24-hour-a-day Christian format (keeping local news programming), becoming the first commercial TV station in Ohio to adopt a 24-hour broadcast schedule. Programming was supplied from a wide variety of organizations, both local and national.
In 1981, a satellite receive station was built at the studio-transmitter site. The PTL Satellite Network had recently launched. Being wholly owned by PTL, WJAN soon transitioned to satellite delivery of the majority of all programming.
Bakker was forced to sell WJAN to the David Livingstone Missionary Foundation in December 1982; shortly afterward, its calls were changed to its current call letters, WDLI-TV. The station continued broadcasting the PTL Satellite Service full-time. Four years later, in March 1986, Livingstone sold WDLI to the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). At that point, PTL programs were dropped in favor of TBN programming. On January 1, 2009, WDLI began to be carried on most Cleveland area cable providers.
TBN entered into an option agreement with Ion Media Networks on November 14, 2017, which gave Ion the option to acquire the licenses of WDLI-TV and three other TBN stations that had sold their spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s spectrum auction; Ion exercised the option on May 24, 2018. The sale was completed on September 25, 2018, creating a duopoly with WVPX-TV. The next day, TBN programming was dropped for Ion Life, effectively re-mapping WVPX's former 23.3 subchannel to 17.1 and allowing that schedule market-wide main-channel cable and satellite carriage (the network would be rebranded as Ion Plus on July 1, 2019).
Sale to Scripps and resale to Inyo
On September 24, 2020, it was announced that Ion Media Networks would be purchased by the E. W. Scripps Company, longtime owners of ABC affiliate and Scripps co-flagship WEWS-TV, for $2.65 billion through an investment deal with Berkshire Hathaway which included both WDLI and sister station WVPX.
WDLI-TV presents one subchannel on its multiplexed digital signal shared with WVPX-TV:
TBN constructed a new studio and transmitter in the Akron suburb of Norton, near other television and radio transmission towers in the area near Akron's Rolling Acres Mall. WDLI's digital signal is receivable throughout the Cleveland market, unlike its analog signal (which originated from a transmitter in the Canton suburb of Louisville), which had poor reception away from Canton. Though the station's operations are now all located near Akron, Canton remains WDLI's city of license. TBN-owned full-power stations permanently ceased analog transmissions on April 16, 2009.
On June 1, 2015, JUCE and Smile of a Child were consolidated into a single network on the third subchannel to accommodate the addition of a new network, TBN Salsa, on the fifth subchannel where Smile of a Child used to reside. As a result of the change, children's programming that previously aired on Smile of a Child was carried on 17.3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On March 30, 2018, the channel switched off its non-shared signal, leaving it to air only on its new frequency shared with WVPX-TV.
Spectrum sale and channel sharing arrangement
On April 13, 2017, the results of the FCC's 2016 spectrum auction were announced, with TBN successfully selling the UHF spectrum for WDLI for $31.6 million. WDLI will not leave the air, arranging to share a channel with Ion Television owned-and-operated station WVPX-TV (channel 23), and the main TBN channel retained, along with its virtual channel 17. TBN filed a waiver with the FCC to have WDLI remain on the air until April 23, 2018 (an extension from the original turn-in date for their license of January 23), while the channel share was coordinated.
WDLI's signal was once relayed on translators W52DS in Youngstown, and W51BI serving Geauga, Lake, and eastern Cuyahoga counties from a site in Kirtland. Both translators were shut down by TBN due to declining support, which was attributed to the digital transition; W51BI ceased operations on July 13, 2009, while W52DS left the air March 26, 2010. Their licenses, along with 42 other silent TBN repeaters, were cancelled on December 1, 2011, for remaining silent over a year.
- "RabbitEars TV Query for WDLI". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
- The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says January 3, while the Television and Cable Factbook says January 1.
- "Facility Technical Data for WDLI-TV". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
- "WJAN Station ID slide". Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
- "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. June 8, 2018. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- "Consummation Notice". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. September 25, 2018. Archived from the original on October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
- "E.W. Scripps nears $2.65B takeover of ION Media in Berkshire-backed deal". Fox Business. September 24, 2020.
- "Scripps creates national television networks business with acquisition of ION Media" (Press release).
- "Digital Transition Coverage Maps for Cleveland/Akron, Ohio" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on May 24, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- "Northeast Ohio TV Log". Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- Kent Gibbons (May 29, 2015). "TBN Salsa Targets English-Speaking Hispanics". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. Archived from the original on May 31, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
- "Seventh slideshow image: 'new soac.png'". June 10, 2015. Archived from the original on May 27, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
TBN Salsa is on the air - Available on TBN's 'over the air' broadcast stations in the United States on sub channel 5. ... Smile of a Child airs 7am-7pm & JUCE airs 7pm-7am on subchannel 3.
- "FCC Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction Auction 1001 Winning Bids" (PDF). April 13, 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
- "DTV Legal STA Application". Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on January 3, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- "Notification of Suspension of Operations / Request for Silent STA (W51BI)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. December 23, 2009. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
- "Notification of Suspension of Operations / Request for Silent STA (W52DS)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. April 16, 2010. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- "Re: Applications for Assignment of License…" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. November 30, 2011. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2011.