|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
WGN, Chicago's CW (CW network programming)
WGN News (newscasts; visually displayed as "WGN 9 News")
WGN Sports (sports telecasts)
|Slogan||Chicago's Very Own (station)
Very Chicago. (online)
|Channels||Digital: 19 (UHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
(WGN Continental Broadcasting Company, LLC)
|First air date||April 5, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||World's
(reference to former co-owned newspaper, the Chicago Tribune)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
9 (VHF, 1948–2009)
|Transmitter power||645 kW|
|Height||454 meters (1,490 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WGN-TV, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 19), is a CW-affiliated television station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is the flagship television property of the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media, which also owns radio station WGN (720 AM) and local cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV). WGN-TV maintains studio facilities and offices located on West Bradley Place in Chicago's North Center neighborhood (as such, it is the only major commercial television station in Chicago whose studios are located outside of the downtown business district), and its transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop.
WGN-TV is also a pioneering superstation, and formerly programmed an alternate feed for cable and satellite subscribers throughout the United States and select areas of Canada. The former "superstation" feed, WGN America, was converted by Tribune into a conventional basic cable network in December 2014 upon the channel's removal of all WGN-TV-produced news, sports and event programs and its concurrent addition to local cable providers including Comcast Xfinity, WOW! and RCN within the Chicago market – in addition to existing its local carriage on the DirecTV and Dish Network satellite services.
WGN's longtime slogan, "Chicago's Very Own" (which has been used by the station since it was introduced in 1983), was the basis for a popular image campaign of the 1980s and 1990s, as performed by Chicago native Lou Rawls.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 Local programming
- 5 WGN-TV in Canada
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
WGN Television began test broadcasts in February 1948 and began regular programming on April 5 with a two-hour special, WGN-TV Salute to Chicago, at 7:45 p.m. that evening. It was founded by the Chicago Tribune newspaper – whose slogan "World's Greatest Newspaper" was the basis for the call letters used by the television station and its radio sister. WGN-TV originally held dual primary affiliations with CBS and the DuMont Television Network, sharing both networks with WBKB (channel 4). Channel 9 lost its CBS affiliation as a sidebar to the February 1953 merger of ABC and United Paramount Theatres; CBS had purchased the license to operate channel 4 in Chicago (now WBBM-TV, which later moved to channel 2, forcing Phonevision off the air). CBS moved all of its programming to channel 4, leaving channel 9 with DuMont. For its first 13 years on the air, WGN-TV had operated from the Tribune Tower at 435 North Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
WGN-TV soon became one of DuMont's strongest affiliates, as well as a major production center for that network. Several DuMont programs were produced from the station's facilities, including The Al Morgan Show, Chicago Symphony, Chicagoland Mystery Players, Music From Chicago, The Music Show, They Stand Accused, This is Music, Windy City Jamboree and Down You Go. WGN-TV had also telecast performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1953, when Fritz Reiner was the orchestra's music director.
The station lost the DuMont affiliation when it ceased operations on August 6, 1956; at that point, WGN-TV became an independent station. Channel 9 then spent much of the next two decades as the top-rated independent in Chicago, offering a variety of general entertainment programs including movies, sports, off-network reruns and children's programs. For much of its existence, WGN-TV produced a large number of its own programs at its studios. A historic moment in Chicago television occurred when Sheldon Cooper launched The All-Time Hits, a musical variety show that ran for 13 weeks and featured The Buckinghams; the program was broadcast in color. During the late 1950s, the station was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. In 1957, WGN-TV became one of the first television stations in the Chicago market to broadcast live programming in color.
Notable WGN-TV productions during the 1960s through the 1980s included several incarnations of the immensely popular Bozo's Circus, Ray Rayner and His Friends, Garfield Goose and Friends (which was hosted by Frazier Thomas, who also hosted a popular family movie showcase on the station), The Mulqueens, and the popular children's educational series The Space Explorers. WGN-TV served as the Chicago affiliate of the United Network for its one month of existence in 1967, airing The Las Vegas Show. From 1974 to 1982, Phil Donahue's syndicated daytime talk show Donahue originated from the WGN-TV studios. In 1975, the agriculture program U.S. Farm Report debuted in national syndication, also originating from WGN-TV's studios.
In 1961, the WGN stations moved to studio facilities on West Bradley Place in the North Center neighborhood, a move undertaken for civil defense concerns in order to provide the station a safe location to broadcast in case of a hostile attack targeting downtown Chicago. WGN radio eventually moved back to North Michigan Avenue in the Pioneer Court extension in 1986, then back into Tribune Tower in October 2012; the television station, however, remains at the Bradley Place facility to this day. In 1968, the Federal Communications Commission barred companies from owning newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same market; the FCC granted the Tribune Company permission to grandfather its combination of the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN radio through a cross-ownership waiver. In 2014, Tribune entered into a local marketing agreement with Venture Technologies Group, owners of WKQX-LP, a low-power analog television station on VHF channel 6 which uses a quirk in the FM bandplan to broadcast an audio format on the radio over 87.7 FM. This became a sports talk station that operated as a sister station to WGN radio; the station, which changed its calls to WGWG-LP, was not covered under the FCC restrictions (this issue became moot with the Tribune 's separation from the Tribune Company). Tribune's LMA with WGWG-LP (now WRME-LP) ended on February 23, 2015.
WGN-TV began to be distributed across the United States through cable television in October 1978, after Tulsa, Oklahoma-based United Video Satellite Group uplinked the station's signal via satellite. This signal was picked up by many fledgling cable television providers, as well as directly to satellite dish owners, turning WGN-TV into one of the first superstations, alongside New York City's WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) and Atlanta's WTBS (now WPCH-TV). As WGN-TV gained national exposure, the station became vulnerable in the Chicago area and underestimated the ability of UHF competitor WFLD (channel 32, now a Fox owned-and-operated station) to acquire top-rated syndicated programs (such as M*A*S*H, Happy Days and All in the Family). As a result, WFLD edged ahead of WGN-TV in the ratings by the end of 1979. WGN-TV continued with its programming format, competing with WFLD and another UHF independent station, WSNS-TV (channel 44, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station). WSNS would leave the competition in 1980 during nighttime hours when it affiliated with the subscription television service ONTV, which it began carrying full-time in 1982.
In 1989, the FCC passed the Syndication Exclusivity Rights rule (or "SyndEx"), requiring cable providers to black out syndicated programs shown on any out-of-market stations, if a television station obtains the exclusive local rights to air that program. When the law went into effect on January 1, 1990, WGN-TV launched a separate national feed supplied with alternate programming that no stations claimed exclusive rights to in any market (along with sporting events, newscasts and several shows airing on WGN-TV that were also not subject to exclusivity claims). In September 1994, the station moved The Bozo Show from its longtime weekday morning slot to Sunday mornings, where it remained and was eventually reformatted to fit the FCC's educational programming guidelines until the program was controversially discontinued by station management in 2001.
Return to network affiliation
On November 2, 1993, the Warner Bros. Television division of Time Warner and the Tribune Company announced the formation of The WB; through its part-ownership of the network, Tribune signed deals to affiliate the majority of the company's independent stations with the network. Even though its parent company would be a partner in The WB, WGN-TV had initially planned to remain an independent station due to concerns by station management with balancing a network affiliation and fulfilling the station's sports broadcast commitments. However, The WB signed an affiliation agreement with WGN-TV one month later on December 3, 1993; prior to the signing of the agreement, the network had planned to affiliate with competing independent WGBO-TV (channel 66), which instead joined Univision around the time of The WB's launch. As part of the agreement, WGN would carry The WB's primetime schedule (and upon its September 1995 debut, Kids' WB children's programming) on its national superstation feed, with the purpose of making the network available to areas of the United States where The WB did not have an affiliate early on.
WGN-TV became a charter affiliate of The WB when it launched on January 11, 1995. Channel 9 only aired the network's primetime programming until 2004; the Kids' WB weekday and Saturday blocks aired locally on former Univision affiliate WCIU-TV (channel 26), which had converted into an English-language independent station days before The WB's launch. The WB expanded its over-the-air affiliate coverage over time, and launched a cable-only affiliate group for areas where it could not align with an over-the-air station; this made using the superstation feed as a default affiliate no longer necessary as a result, leading to the network's October 1999 request that WGN stop carrying The WB's programming outside of the Chicago market. In 2000, WGN-TV constructed a new newsroom on the eastern portion of its studio facility, increasing the building's space to 29,000 square feet (the original newsroom was converted into the station's weather center). In 2004, WGN-TV began broadcasting Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bulls home games in high definition.
On January 24, 2006, Time Warner's Warner Bros. unit and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN. In their place, the companies would combine the respective programming of the two networks to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On that same date, The CW signed WGN-TV as the network's Chicago affiliate as part of a ten-year agreement that saw Tribune Broadcasting sign 16 of its 18 other WB-affiliated stations at the time to serve as the network's charter stations. WGN switched to The CW when it launched on September 18, 2006 (WGN America does not carry The CW's programming as it has sufficient broadcast coverage through over-the-air stations, digital multicast channels and cable-only affiliates negating the need for WGN America to provide additional nationwide coverage of the network).
On April 2, 2007, Chicago investor Sam Zell announced plans to purchase the Tribune Company, with intentions to take the publicly traded firm private; the deal was completed on December 20, 2007. Prior to the close of the sale, WGN-TV was one of two commercial television stations in Chicago (not counting network-owned stations) to have never been involved in an ownership transaction (WCIU is the other, having been owned by Weigel Broadcasting since its sign-on in February 1964). Tribune subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008, due to debt accrued from Zell's leveraged buyout and costs from the privatization of the company; Tribune emerged from bankruptcy in December 2012 under the control of its senior debt holders Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase.
On October 13, 2008, WGN-TV began a partnership with WGN radio to provide weather forecasts for the station, it replaced The Weather Channel as a content partner, as the cable network ended its ten-year forecast partnership with WGN radio on that date. On February 4, 2009, Tribune Broadcasting announced it would merge CLTV's operations with channel 9's news department (in addition to sharing resources with WGN-TV, CLTV also shares newsgathering resources with the Chicago Tribune). In 2009, WGN-TV began streaming its weekday midday and 5:00 p.m. newscasts live on its website. On February 22, 2010, WGN-TV became the first television station in the Chicago market to allow iPhone users to watch live streams of its newscasts; the 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. block of the WGN Morning News, the midday and 5:00 p.m. newscasts were initially available for streaming to iPhone users; at present, all newscasts are streamed through the station's website and on Apple devices, though sports segments are blacked out (presented only with the audio feed) due to rights restrictions with the major sports leagues.
On July 10, 2013, Tribune announced plans to spin off its publishing division into a separate company. Once the split was finalized on August 4, 2014, ending the station's co-ownership with the Tribune after 66 years, WGN-TV and WGN radio remained with the renamed Tribune Media Company (which retains all non-publishing assets, including the broadcasting, digital media and Media Services units), while its newspapers (including the Chicago Tribune) became part of the similarly named Tribune Publishing Company. Additionally in December 2013, the station gained new sister stations in nearby markets as part of Tribune's purchase of the Local TV station group – ABC affiliate WQAD in Davenport, Iowa and Fox affiliate WITI in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – both of which had already shared news stories from their markets with WGN-TV as part of an existing content and broadcast management agreement between Local TV and Tribune.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||1080i||16:9||WGN-DT||Main WGN-TV programming / The CW|
The station's 9.2 digital subchannel originally carried The Tube Music Network from 2006 until it shut down in October 2007, when the subchannel switched to a simulcast of WGN-TV's main channel. In June 2008, the subchannel became an affiliate of LATV. The LATV affiliation moved to a subchannel of low-power station WOCK-CD (channel 13) in July 2010. The subchannel became a charter affiliate of Tribune-owned Antenna TV on January 1, 2011.
On May 13, 2013, Tribune Broadcasting announced that it would replace Weigel Broadcasting (which like Tribune, is headquartered in Chicago and decided to leave the joint venture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to concentrate on the similarly formatted movie channel Movies! and its existing classic television network Me-TV) as a partner in This TV on November 1 of that year. As a result, the network's Chicago affiliation moved to WGN-TV on that date on a new 9.3 digital subchannel.
WGN-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, 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 19. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9. Though not a participant in the SAFER Act, WWME-CA (channel 23) simulcast WGN-TV's 9:00 p.m. newscasts (except in the event of sports delays) and WMAQ-TV (channel 5)'s morning and early evening newscasts until July 12 to provide an analog "lifeline" for viewers that were unprepared for or who had reception issues following the digital transition.
In Chicago's far northern suburbs and rural areas to the north and west, the signal of WMTV in Madison, Wisconsin (which also transmits on digital channel 19) interferes with reception of WGN-TV, particularly in Kane, Lake, Boone and McHenry counties. WGN-TV also interferes with the signal of Grand Rapids sister station WXMI, requiring the latter outlet to maintain a digital translator station on channel 17 from Muskegon to address this interference. WOTV in Battle Creek, Michigan transmits next to WXMI on channel 20, resulting in additional multi-channel interference.
WGN-TV airs the entire CW network schedule; however, since September 2013, it has aired The CW Daytime's The Bill Cunningham Show one hour earlier (at 2:00 p.m.) than the network's other Central Time Zone affiliates, aligning with its airtime in the Eastern Time Zone. Due to the station's sports broadcast commitments, The CW's weekday daytime and primetime programs are subject to preemption if a sports telecast is scheduled during network programming hours; the pre-empted programs are tape delayed to air later that week with primetime shows usually rescheduled on Saturday and/or Sunday evenings as The CW does not offer any primetime programming on weekends.
Due to its news-intensive schedule, WGN airs only four hours of syndicated programs within its weekday daytime schedule, an extremely low amount for a CW-affiliated station (whereas most stations affiliated with the network fill their daytime schedules with tabloid, talk, and/or court shows, with no local news programming in between). Syndicated programs on WGN-TV include Celebrity Name Game, Maury, Two and a Half Men, The Middle and Family Guy among others. WGN-TV has been one of The CW's higher-rated affiliates in terms of viewership, often drawing more viewers than Fox-owned WFLD, even in primetime despite the latter's Fox programming.
Prior to the effective separation of the two services in December 2014, WGN-TV and its superstation feed-turned-basic cable channel WGN America had vastly different program offerings due to syndication exclusivity rules; although the local and national feeds initially shared a significant amount of common programming after the SyndEx law was implemented, WGN-TV and WGN America's schedules became increasingly disparate during the 1990s and 2000s. By 2013, the only WGN-TV programs that Tribune held full-signal national broadcast rights to air on WGN America included local newscasts and sports programming, select news specials and special events (such as the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade); public affairs programs People to People and Adelante, Chicago; a limited inventory of off-network syndicated reruns; religious programs Singsation!, Discover the Truth and Tomorrow's World; and select feature films (which are aired in different timeslots from those on WGN-TV/Chicago). Likewise, WGN-TV did not carry WGN America's original drama series Salem or Manhattan outside of promotional preview promos (as a result, WGN America's original programming is only viewable in the Chicago market by subscribers of DirecTV and Dish Network, though WGN America has also made arrangements to stream both series through Hulu).
WGN-TV presently broadcasts 61 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with eleven hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to locally produced news programming, it is the highest newscast output of any television station in Chicago and the state of Illinois. In addition, the station produces Instant Replay, a 20-minute sports highlight program that airs on Sunday evenings during the final 20 minutes of the 9:00 p.m. newscast and is hosted by longtime sports director Dan Roan. WGN-TV's news department is notable for the longevity of its on-air news staff, with many of its news anchors having worked for channel 9 for at least ten years. WGN-TV is also the largest television station by market size that is a broadcast partner in the WeatherBug real-time automated weather observation network.
WGN America presently simulcasts the 4:00 a.m. hour of the WGN Morning News and the 12:00 p.m. hour of the midday newscast (from 1980 until January 30, 2014, the channel had also simulcast the nightly 9:00 p.m. newscast, except during instances in which preemptions of that program outside of Chicago occurred if rights issues prevent a sports telecast that is scheduled to start at or run past 9:00 p.m. Central Time from being cleared for national broadcast on the superstation feed). For unknown reasons, the superstation feed does not air the midday newscast's 11:00 a.m. hour, the nightly 5:00 p.m. or weekend morning newscasts; syndication exclusivity rules on paid segments featured on the WGN Morning News reportedly caused that newscast's removal from WGN America in 1996 (the only known incidence in which SyndEx rules resulted in a news program's preemption on cable providers outside of its primary broadcast area). Since 2008, WGN anchors reference the WGN America telecast at the start of the simulcasted newscasts on weekdays (except in instances when a newscast is preempted by the superstation feed).
News has played an important role on WGN-TV since the station's beginnings, due in part to its link to the Chicago Tribune. From the station's sign-on, WGN produced a nightly late evening newscast as well as Nightbeat, a 15-minute overnight newscast (by the time the program was canceled in 1983, Nightbeat usually served as the lead-out of the station's late evening movie presentations). In 1965, WGN-TV introduced the first news anchor team, Gary Park and Jim Ruddle. In 1980, WGN-TV debuted the first hour-long primetime newscast in the Midwest, when it moved its half-hour 10:00 p.m. newscast to 9:00 p.m. and expanded it to one hour. In 1984, WGN debuted an hour-long midday newscast at noon weekdays, originally titled Newscope. The station made its first foray into weekend morning news with the debut of hour-long 8:00 a.m. newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays in 1992 (an unusual situation considering that the weekday morning newscast would not debut for another two years); the Sunday edition was cancelled in September 1994 – concurrent with the move of The Bozo Show to Sunday mornings due to the launch of the weekday WGN Morning News, eventually followed by the Saturday edition in 1998.
The station dropped its weekday morning children's programs on September 6, 1994, replacing them with the then one hour-long WGN Morning News; that newscast gradually expanded over time: first to two hours in January 1996, then to three hours from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. eight months later, with half-hour expansions in January 2001 (to 5:30 a.m.), January 2004 (to 5:00 a.m.), August 6, 2010 (to 4:30 a.m.) and July 11, 2011 (to 4:00 a.m.). In July 1996, WGN-TV began using a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter for newsgathering, "Skycam 9," which is used for certain breaking news events and traffic reporting.
On November 1, 2007, WGN debuted a new custom news music package Chicago's Very Own by 615 Music (which shares its name with a John Hegner-composed news theme that the station used from 1993 to 1997). On July 19, 2008, WGN-TV became the third television station in the Chicago market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (as of July 2010, WGN-TV is the first station in the market to broadcast all locally originated portions of its newscasts, including live field reports, in HD; this is in contrast to the other major English-language news stations in Chicago, which all broadcast in-studio segments in HD and some or all of their live field footage in 16:9 widescreen standard definition).
In September 2008, the station began airing the "WGN Evening News" from 5:30 to 6:00PM. In 2010, the evening newscast expanded to one hour, starting at 5:00PM. The "Evening News" was expanded again in September 2014, with the addition of a second hour starting at 4:00PM. The full two-hour program is currently anchored by Mark Suppelsa and Micah Materre, who also anchor the "News at Nine."
The station's 9:00 p.m. newscast usually receives significantly higher viewership than WFLD's competing newscast in that slot, despite the latter's Fox programming lead-in, and generally has a larger audience than the 10:00 p.m. newscast on CBS-owned WBBM-TV. Its morning newscast also draws in a sizeable number of viewers in the Chicago market, often coming in first place overall.
In the November 2010 local Nielsen ratings, WGN's newscasts placed third overall among Chicago's television stations. WGN-TV's primetime programming also received a 3.3 lead-in rating to the 9:00 p.m. newscast for the period. During the February 2011 ratings period, the 9:00 p.m. newscast placed fourth among the market's late evening newscasts, ahead of last-place finisher WFLD between the two stations' primetime newscasts. However, WGN had the lowest primetime lead-in rating of all the area's news stations with only a 2.2 rating share.
Current on-air staff
- Weather team
In addition to providing weather forecasts for WGN-TV, the WGN Weathercenter Team also provides forecasts for the Chicago Tribune, WGN (720 kHz) and CLTV.
- Sports team
- Rich King - sports anchor
Notable former on-air staff
- Mike Barz
- Bob Bell
- Thom Brennaman
- Jack Brickhouse
- Lorn Brown
- Roy Brown
- Cheryl Burton
- Chip Caray
- Harry Caray
- Bob Collins
- Bob Costas
- Joey D'Auria
- Merri Dee
- Phil Donahue
- John Drury
- Jim Durham
- Milo Hamilton
- Pat Harvey
- Johnny "Red" Kerr
- Wayne Larrivee
- Roy Leonard
- Vince Lloyd
- Ned Locke
- Joe McConnell
- Allison Payne
- Lloyd Pettit
- Jimmy Piersall
- Ray Rayner
- Randy Salerno
- Don Sandburg
- John Schubeck
- Keenan Smith
- Wendell Smith
- Chuck Swirsky
- Jack Taylor
- Roseanne Tellez
- Frazier Thomas
- Harry Volkman
- Jim Williams
- Bill Weir
Throughout its history, WGN-TV has had a long association with Chicago sports. Each of the city's major professional sports franchises, along with several local collegiate teams, have had their games regularly televised on channel 9. WGN-TV maintains broadcast rights to Chicago Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawks games (with some local television rights shared with Comcast SportsNet Chicago); due to WGN's network affiliation contracts that limit the number of programming preemptions annually, some games produced by the station may instead air locally on WCIU-TV. WGN-TV also distributes its telecasts of White Sox and Bulls games to television stations in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa that are within each team's designated market area (including sister stations WHO-DT in Des Moines and WQAD in Davenport, Iowa, which both carry games on digital subchannels).
WGN Sports historically had a long relationship with the Chicago Cubs, dating to the two organizations' mutual ownership under the Tribune Company. In November 2013, the team exercised an option to terminate its existing deal with WGN after the 2014 season (it was originally set to end in 2022), and demanded a higher-valued contract lasting through the 2019 season. On January 7, 2015, WGN-TV announced that it would maintain broadcast rights to 45 Cubs games per-season through the 2019 season within the Chicago market only. The remaining games are aired by Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WLS-TV.
When permitted under its contracts, WGN America occasionally aired national simulcasts of WGN's sports programming. In May 2014, Tribune announced that it would no longer broadcast WGN Sports programming on WGN America beginning in 2015. Tribune Media president and CEO Peter Liguori cited limited viewership and advertising revenue generated from the sports broadcasts relative to its expense (the Cubs package cost five times as much for rights fees alone as the revenue it brought in), and his personal dislike of the Cubs in particular, as reasoning for the change.
On one occasion, WGN aired a Chicago Bears' Monday Night Football game locally (NFL rules require national games aired by cable networks to be syndicated to broadcast stations in the participating teams' markets). Although WLS-TV has right of first refusal to MNF due to its owner's ties to ESPN, WLS passed so it could broadcast Dancing with the Stars live instead.
Other locally produced programming
In addition to its newscasts, WGN-TV also produces local public affairs and lifestyle-oriented programs; these include two bi-weekly Saturday morning public affairs programs that are simulcast nationally on WGN America: People to People (which covers community events and the past week's major local and national news stories, and is hosted by weeknight 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. co-anchor Micah Materre) and Adelante, Chicago (focusing on Chicago's Hispanic community featuring topical discussions and feature segments, and is hosted by weeknight 5:00 p.m. co-anchor/reporter Lourdes Duarte); along with the weekly lifestyle program Chicago's Best (focusing on Chicago's cuisine, attractions and events and is hosted by Brittney Payton, daughter of late Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, and Elliott Bambrough). In addition, the station broadcasts several local events including the Bud Billiken Parade, the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade and the New Year's Day Mummers Parade.
WGN-TV is the originating station for the Illinois Lottery, whose twice daily drawings are held at the station's Bradley Place studios, and air during the noon and 9:00 p.m. newscasts. WGN America simulcasts the midday drawings, making Illinois the only state-run lottery in the U.S. whose drawings are broadcast nationwide (until January 30, 2014, it also aired the evening drawings as well as the Mega Millions and Powerball drawings; during instances in which sports events that were not cleared to air outside of Chicago resulted in a newscast preemption on the superstation feed, the lottery results were shown around 9:30 p.m. Central Time on WGN America). WGN-TV lost the rights to the Illinois Lottery drawings to Fox-owned WFLD in 1987, and then reacquired the rights from CBS-owned WBBM-TV in 1994.
WGN-TV in Canada
Although WGN America continues to be distributed in certain parts of Canada, the Chicago area feed of WGN-TV is carried by most cable television providers in that country and on satellite providers Bell TV and Shaw Direct, typically as part of a la carte superstation packages. Bell TV has always carried the Chicago area feed; however, Shaw Direct and many cable providers in that country replaced WGN America with WGN-TV/Chicago on January 17, 2007, due to Shaw Broadcast Services (the primary supplier of the WGN superstation feed in Canada) switching the WGN feed distributed in that country from the superstation feed to the Chicago area signal.
As a result of its carriage by Canadian cable and satellite providers, WGN-TV provides CW network programs to most areas of Canada that are located farther away from the U.S. border and therefore may be out of reach from the over-the-air signals of other CW affiliates from American cities located near the Canadian border. WGN's sports output is also available in Canada through these means, as complete blackouts of programming whose rights are owned by Canadian broadcasters only apply to U.S. specialty channels carried in Canada, and not over-the-air channels. However, simultaneous substitution rules may still apply to CW programming that is also being aired by Canadian terrestrial channels.
On December 15, 2014, WGN-TV and WGN America terminated any and all broadcast and distribution rights to multichannel video programming distributors (cable, satellite, MMDS, etc.) providers in Canada, effective on January 1, 2015. This means that no television provider could legally offer the station without either compensation or violating its copyrights (basically becoming government-licensed pirate broadcasters in regards to carrying the two stations). This is related to Minneapolis' KTSP-TV and other local stations (Buffalo's WIVB-TV and WNLO; Detroit's WDIV-TV and WXYZ-TV) that are in a dispute with the CRTC over being listed as authorized/available for carriage in Canada by the CRTC, and are carried by providers in Canada at their own discretion (and from popularity of the American networks' programming), but are not currently compensated for it. The station remains on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's List of broadcast stations eligible for carriage in Canada, however.
- WGN America – The national superstation feed of WGN-TV.
- Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion, a Broadcast signal intrusion incident that happened on the channel.
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