|Branding||WSWG CBS 44|
South Georgia Television
South Georgia News (newscasts)
MeTV Albany (on DT2)
WSST Channel 55 (on DT3)
|Slogan||Because Local Matters|
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)|
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||44.1: CBS (2006–present)|
44.3: MyNetworkTV (WSST-TV)
44.4: Ion Television
44.5: NewsNet (soon)
(Marquee Broadcasting Georgia, Inc.)
|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)
43 (UHF, 2007–2018)
|Former affiliations||ABC (1980–1992)|
The WB (1995–1997)
The CW Plus (2011–2019)
|Transmitter power||85 kW|
|Height||258.4 m (848 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WSWG, virtual channel 44 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Valdosta, Georgia, United States and serving Southwestern Georgia. The station is owned by Marquee Broadcasting, as part of a duopoly with Cordele-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate WSST-TV (channel 55). WSWG's transmitter is located in unincorporated Cook County, northeast of Adel. The station maintains offices on Pine Avenue in Albany; additional operations are handled at WSST's studios on 7th Street South in Cordele.
Although Valdosta is part of the Tallahassee, Florida television market, which receives CBS programming from Thomasville, Georgia-licensed WCTV (channel 6), WSWG technically serves as the CBS affiliate for Albany, even though its over-the-air broadcasting radius just misses Albany itself. As a result, the station must rely on cable for most of its viewership. However, WCTV's more powerful digital signal reaches Albany. From 2006 until 2019, WSWG served as a semi-satellite of WCTV.
The station first began operating on December 24, 1980 as WVGA (standing for Valdosta, GeorgiA), the ABC affiliate for Southwestern Georgia (though Valdosta is part of the Tallahassee market). It originally operated from studios located on Norman Drive in Valdosta. 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. Hi Ho sold both stations to Morris Multimedia, a broadcasting company owned by the Morris Newspaper Corporation, in 1986.
The station was unable to make any headway against the region's two powerful VHF outlets, WALB-TV and WCTV. The station found it difficult to get advertising; Southwest Georgia is one of the poorest regions of the South, and there were very 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. Without enough money to rebuild the tower, Morris opted to fold the station's operations. This left southwest Georgia as one of the only areas on the East Coast without an ABC affiliate. Until WALB began carrying ABC on a subchannel in April 2011, most cable systems in the area piped in WTXL, with some areas carrying WSB-TV in Atlanta, WTVM in Columbus, or WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida instead.
Morris planned to sell WVGA to Tallahassee 27 Limited Partnership, owners of WTXL, in 1992, 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 September 1, 1995 as WGVP, an affiliate of The WB. The station later relocated its operations to a new facility located on West Gordon Street. Prior to channel 44's return to the airwaves, WB programming was only available on area cable and satellite providers through Chicago-based national superstation WGN.
WGVP switched to UPN on August 25, 1997. This move came after The WB decided to air its programming only on cable in smaller markets. In 2001, the call letters were changed to WVAG. Hutchens then sold the station to Padon Communications in 2003, who in turn sold it to Gray Television in 2005. Under Gray, the station was renamed WSWG and its operations were merged with those of WCTV. Gray had been the founder and original owner of rival WALB, but was forced to sell it after buying WCTV in 1996 because the FCC did not allow common ownership of stations with overlapping signals prior to 1999. WALB provides a city-grade signal to most of the Georgia side of the Tallahassee market; indeed, it had served as the default NBC affiliate for Tallahassee until that city got its own NBC affiliate, WTWC-TV.
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. WSWG simulcast most of WCTV's newscasts, and cleared most of its syndicated programming (though in some cases at different times). There were also some programs that only aired on WSWG while some are only seen on WCTV. WSWG also aired separate station identifications and commercials. 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. The lower-powered digital signal just misses Albany proper, which forces 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, programming from that network was seen exclusively on cable (with the fictional call sign "WBSK") via The CW Plus; the subchannel's programming was itself entirely derived from that service.
On August 16, 2018, Gray announced that it would sell WSWG to Marquee Broadcasting; the deal made it a sister station to WSST-TV (channel 22), an independent station that Marquee had earlier agreed to acquire. The sale was part of Gray's acquisition of Raycom Media, owner of WALB; Gray elected to keep WALB and sell WSWG. In April 2019, Marquee severed WSWG's ties to WCTV and moved MyNetworkTV from WSWG's second subchannel to WSST; a simulcast of WSST concurrently replaced CW Plus programming on WSWG's third subchannel, as Gray retained the CW affiliation and moved it to WGCW-LD and a WALB subchannel.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed. Despite WSWG once being a semi-satellite of WCTV, its two digital subchannels were programmed separately.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|44.1||1080i||16:9||WSWG-DT||Main WSWG programming / CBS|
|44.3||16:9||WSWG-D3||Simulcast of WSST-TV / MyNetworkTV|
WSWG shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 44, on January 30, 2007. This was over two years before the date of the federally-mandated transition from analog to digital broadcasts, which was originally February 17, 2009 (but was pushed back to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 43. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 44.
As a semi-satellite of WCTV, WSWG cleared most local newscasts from WCTV. WSWG did not produce any separate Southwestern Georgia-specific segments during these newscasts; however, WCTV does operate news bureaus in Moultrie (co-located with WSWG's former sales office) and Valdosta on East Central Avenue/U.S. 84/U.S. 221. It formerly maintained another one in Thomasville (on North Broad Street; housed in the same building as a bureau still operated by WSWG's rival, WALB). WCTV's two reporters assigned to Southwest Georgia did not use any localized WSWG identification. Despite WSWG serving the Albany market, there was no actual news coverage of Albany itself provided by WCTV, though severe weather coverage for all of the Albany market was provided when conditions warranted (such as during a tornado warning). Through the simulcasting of WCTV's newscasts, WSWG the first station in Albany to offer local news in high definition when WCTV began producing high definition newscasts on August 3, 2009.
Following the sale to Marquee Broadcasting, WSWG dropped WCTV's newscasts on April 29, 2019. The station then launched local evening and late newscasts; the news operation is shared with sister station WSST-TV.
- Hontz, Jenny (August 4, 1997). "Bailing out on UPN". Variety. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- Miller, Mark K. (August 16, 2018). "Gray Selling WSWG Albany, Ga., To Marquee". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- Miller, Mark K. (June 25, 2018). "Gray To Buy Raycom For $3.6 Billion". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- "New Changes to CBS 44". SouthGATV. April 26, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.