WCTV Eyewitness News
WSWG 2 (DT2)
CW 44 (DT3)
Can Count On
TV Now (DT3)
|Channels||Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 24, 1980|
|Call letters' meaning||We're SouthWest Georgia|
|Sister station(s)||WCTV, WJHG-TV, WECP-LD, WTVY, WRGX-LD|
|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)|
|Public license information:||
(semi-satellite of WCTV
Tallahassee, Florida) Profile
(semi-satellite of WCTV
Tallahassee, Florida) CDBS
WSWG is the CBS-affiliated television station for Southwestern Georgia that is licensed to Valdosta. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 43 (or virtual channel 44.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter, in unincorporated Cook County, northeast of Adel. Owned by Gray Television, the station maintains an advertising sales office on 2nd Avenue Southwest in Moultrie.
Although identified as a separate station in its own right, WSWG is actually considered a semi-satellite of WCTV in Thomasville, Georgia/Tallahassee, Florida. As such, this station clears all CBS programming and most local newscasts (see below) as provided by its parent but airs separate commercials and legal identifications. Syndicated fare exclusive to WSWG includes Live! with Kelly and Two and a Half Men.
Master control and most internal operations of WSWG are based at WCTV's studios in Tallahassee on Halstead Boulevard (along I-10). WSWG technically serves as the CBS affiliate for Albany, but its over-the-air broadcasting radius just misses Albany itself. As a result, the station must rely on cable for most of its viewership. Ironically, WCTV's more powerful digital signal reaches Albany itself.
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 again. 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 sold 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, Tallahassee 27 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 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. This move came after The WB decided to air its programming only on cable-only virtual channels 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. 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.
The lower-powered digital signal just misses 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, programming from that network was seen exclusively on cable (through "WBSK") via The CW Plus which also supplies the current subchannel's programming.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed. Despite WSWG being a semi-satellite of WCTV, its two digital subchannels are programmed separately.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|44.1||1080i||16:9||WSWG-DT||Main WSWG programming / CBS|
|44.2||480i||4:3||WSWG-D2||MyNetworkTV & MeTV|
WSWG shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 44, on January 30, 2007. 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.
WSWG clears all local newscasts from WCTV except for weeknights at 5 and 5:30. Although this station does not produce any separate Southwestern Georgia-specific segments during the simulcasted shows, WCTV does operate news bureaus in Moultrie (at WSWG's 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 do not use any localized WSWG identification. Ironically, there is no actual news coverage of Albany itself provided by WCTV despite WSWG technically being its CBS affiliate. There is, however, severe weather coverage for all of the Albany market when conditions warrant (such as during a tornado warning). WCTV upgraded news production to high definition level on August 3, 2009 and the simulcasts on WSWG were included in the switch. The change made WSWG the first station in Albany to offer local news in high definition.
- Hontz, Jenny (August 4, 1997). "Bailing out on UPN". Variety. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.