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WTKR Current Logo.jpg
Hampton Roads, Virginia
United States
City Norfolk, Virginia
Branding News 3
Channels Digital: 40 (UHF)
(to move to 16 (UHF))
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
Subchannels 3.1 CBS
3.2 This TV
Affiliations CBS (secondary until 1953)
Owner Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC
(sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group pending; possible resale to another owner to be determined thereafter)
(Local TV Virginia Licensee, LLC)
Operator Tribune Broadcasting
First air date April 2, 1950; 67 years ago (1950-04-02)
Call letters' meaning Dual meaning:
* Tidewater; Knight Ridder (former owners)[1]
* tribute nod to WTAR (rhyming scheme)
Sister station(s) WGNT
Former callsigns WTAR-TV (1950–1981)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
4 (VHF, 1950–1952)
3 (VHF, 1952–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
NBC (1950–1953)
DuMont (1950–1955)
ABC (1950–1957)
Transmitter power 950 kW
Height 377 m (1,237 ft)
Class DT
Facility ID 47401
Transmitter coordinates 36°48′31″N 76°30′13″W / 36.80861°N 76.50361°W / 36.80861; -76.50361
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wtkr.com

WTKR, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 40), is a television station licensed to Norfolk, Virginia, United States, serving as the CBS affiliate for the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia (comprising the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach and environs), and the Outer Banks region of northeastern North Carolina. WTKR is owned by Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC, as part of a duopoly with Portsmouth-licensed CW affiliate WGNT (channel 27); Tribune Broadcasting operates both stations under a shared services agreement. The two stations share a studio/office facility on Boush Street in downtown Norfolk; WTKR's transmission tower is located in the northwest part of Suffolk, Virginia.


The station began operation on channel 4 on April 2, 1950 as WTAR-TV, Virginia's second television station. It carried programming from all four networks of the time – NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont – but was a primary NBC affiliate. In its first year of operation, when only 600 TV sets existed in the area, it had 19 locally originated programs in addition to network shows. Within a year of the station's debut, it moved into a new radio-TV center at 720 Boush Street.[2]

It was owned by Norfolk Newspapers, publisher of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, along with WTAR radio (AM 790, now on AM 850), Virginia's first radio station, and WTAR-FM.[2] It moved to channel 3 in 1952 in order to avoid interference with WNBW (now WRC-TV) in Washington, D.C.. When WVEC-TV signed on a year later as an NBC affiliate, WTAR-TV became a primary CBS affiliate, retaining its secondary ABC and DuMont affiliations.

WTAR became solely affiliated with CBS in 1957, when WAVY-TV signed on as the ABC affiliate (WAVY and WVEC would swap affiliations in 1959 making the latter station the ABC affiliate). DuMont also shut down in 1956. In 1967, Norfolk Newspapers was reorganized as Landmark Communications, WTAR-AM-FM-TV became the flagship stations. The station was one of several in the country to produce a local version of PM Magazine from the late 1970s to mid-1980s.

The Federal Communications Commission began tightening its ownership restrictions in the 1970s, eventually barring common ownership of newspapers and broadcasting outlets. Landmark was able to get grandfathered protection for its flagship Hampton Roads cluster. However, in 1981, it opted to sell channel 3 to Knight-Ridder, who changed the station's calls to WTKR on March 4. The new calls not only reflected the new ownership, but also sounded similar to the old ones. Knight-Ridder sold WTKR and sister station WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island to Narragansett Television in 1989. Narragansett sold WTKR to The New York Times Company in 1995.

Local TV and Tribune ownership[edit]

On May 7, 2007; the Times sold its entire broadcasting division, including WTKR, to Local TV.[3] In June 2010, Local TV announced that it would be acquiring CW affiliate WGNT (channel 27) from CBS Corporation's Television stations group. WTKR managed the station through a time brokerage agreement from that point until Local TV closed on the purchase on August 4. This purchase created the market's second co-owned duopoly operation, after the LIN TV-owned combination of WAVY and Fox affiliate WVBT.

On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that its 19 stations would be acquired by the Tribune Company, the owner of the Daily Press in Newport News, for $2.75 billion;[4] Since this would conflict with FCC regulations that prohibit newspaper-television crossownership within a single market[5] (although Tribune has maintained crossownership waivers for its newspaper-television station combinations in four other media markets), Tribune spun off WTKR and WGNT to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, an unrelated company owned by former Tribune Company executive Ed Wilson. Tribune will provide services to the stations through a shared services agreement, and will hold an option to buy back WTKR and WGNT outright in the future.[6] The sale was completed on December 27.[7] Tribune later announced on July 10, 2013 that it would spin off its newspapers (including the Daily Press) into a separate company, the Tribune Publishing Company, in 2014, pending shareholder and regulatory approval.[8]

WTKR logo from 1998 to 2002. This logo kept the "3" from the previous 1995-98 logo, but revised the "NewsChannel" branding.
WTKR logo from 2002 to 2016. WTKR Used the "Taking Action, Getting Results" slogan from 2007-2016

Pending acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group[edit]

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group – owner of MyNetworkTV affiliate WTVZ-TV (channel 33) – entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune, pending regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. While WTKR is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules and would be acquired by Sinclair in any event, the group is precluded from acquiring WGNT directly as broadcasters are not currently allowed to legally own more than two full-power television stations in a single market (both WGNT and WTVZ-TV rank below the ratings threshold that forbids common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations by total day viewership in a single market). As such, the companies may be required to sell either WGNT or WTVZ to another broadcasting group in order to comply with FCC ownership rules and alleviate potential antitrust issues preceding approval of the acquisition; however, a sale of either of the two lower-rated stations to an independent buyer is dependent on later decisions by the FCC regarding local ownership of broadcast television stations and future acts by Congress.[9][10][11][12][13] Alternatively, Sinclair may opt to either take over the operations of WTKR/WGNT or transfer ownership of and retain operational responsibilities for WTVZ-TV through a local marketing agreement with one of its partner companies.

Eastern Shore translator[edit]

There is one low-powered translator of WTKR on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, W18EG-D in Onancock.[14] It is owned by the Accomack County government rather than Tribune.[15] WTKR-TV and Tribune do not own any translators located in the Greater Hampton Roads area.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel PSIP Short Name Video Aspect Programming[16]
3.1 WTKR-DT 1080i 16:9 Main WTKR programming / CBS
3.2 ThisTV 480i 4:3 This TV

On December 6, 2014, WTKR added its first digital subchannel. This TV, a diginet co-owned by Tribune Media, was placed on virtual channel 3.2.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WTKR began digital broadcasts on channel 40 on March 11, 2002 at 4:15pm. The station discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated from analog to digital television.[17] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 40, using PSIP to display WTKR's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers.

News operation[edit]

Not surprisingly for a station with roots in a newspaper, channel 3 dominated the news ratings in Hampton Roads for many years. However, its ratings slipped after a botched relaunch in 1994. The station has recovered somewhat, and is now part of a spirited three-way race for first with WVEC and WAVY.

Over the years, the station expanded its news operation to include about 30 hours of local news production per week. During the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, independent station WSKY-TV aired two weeknight 11 o'clock newscasts from WTKR. WTKR did air late newscasts at midnight when the coverage concluded.[18]

WTKR started the area's first 4 p.m. newscast on September 8, 2009.[19] This is the station's second attempt at a newscast during the 4 p.m. hour, as WTKR had aired a short-lived 4:30 p.m. newscast in 1995.[20]

WTKR began producing and airing its local newscasts in high definition on January 26, 2009 with the 5:00 p.m. broadcast.[21] WTKR is the third station in the Hampton Roads market, after WAVY-TV and WVBT, to begin airing high definition newscasts (as opposed to the upconverted widescreen standard definition format of WVEC's newscasts).

As of August 25, 2011, a two-hour extension of WTKR's weekday morning newscast airs from 7 to 9 am on sister station WGNT. On July 7, 2014, a half-hour 7 p.m. newscast made its debut on WGNT featuring former morning anchor Laila Muhammad, Les Smith and chief meteorologist Patrick Rockey. It is the first and only newscast at that time slot in the Hampton Roads area.[22] Almost a year later, a weeknight 10 p.m. newscast returned to WGNT after 18 years under the name WGNT News at 10 - Powered by NewsChannel 3 on June 29, 2015. This isn't the first attempt at a weeknight 10 p.m. newscast for the station; it ran from 1995 to 1997 (as NewsChannel 3 at 10:00 on UPN 27) when WGNT was a UPN affiliate.[23]

As of June 17, 2016, WTKR has ditched its Newschannel 3 branding, returning to the News 3 moniker it used from 1970 to 1992.

Notable current on-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]


  1. ^ http://articles.dailypress.com/1999-05-15/features/9905150026_1_wtkr-stations-letters
  2. ^ a b "WTAR-TV Marks Its First Year" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 30, 1951. p. 62. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  3. ^ NY Times CO. Sell TV Group to Equity Firm for $530M; Second equity group to buy a media business in two weeks., NewsInc. (via HighBeam Research), January 8, 2007.
  4. ^ Channick, Robert (July 1, 2013). "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ Walzer, Phil (July 2, 2013). "Tribune to buy Norfolk stations WTKR and CW27". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved May 16, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Transferee Exhibit 15 Agreements and Summary of Transaction". FCC document. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July Archived December 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Tribune Company, 27 December, 2013
  8. ^ "Tribune Co. to Split in Two". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ Stephen Battaglio (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion plus debt". Los Angeles Times. Tronc. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  10. ^ Cynthia Littleton (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group Sets $3.9 Billion Deal to Acquire Tribune Media". Variety. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  11. ^ Todd Frankel (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, giving it control over 215 local TV stations". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings, LLC. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  12. ^ Liana Baker; Jessica Toonkel (May 7, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast nears deal for Tribune Media". Reuters. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  13. ^ Harry A. Jessell; Mark K. Miller (May 8, 2017). "The New Sinclair: 72% Coverage + WGNA". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. 
  14. ^ "W18EG-D". Federal Communications Commission. 
  15. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=W18EG-D#station
  16. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WTKR
  17. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  18. ^ http://www.dailypress.com/business/dp-biz_wtkr_0319mar19,0,1611931.story
  19. ^ http://www.vartv.com/pdf/WTKR_2009_08_31.pdf
  20. ^ http://asoundidea.com/Articles/copy/DP010795.html
  21. ^ http://vartv.com
  22. ^ http://wgnt.com/2014/06/24/announcing-wgnt-news-powered-by-newschannel-3-now-weeknights-at-7pm/
  23. ^ https://changingnewscasts.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/wgnt-expanding-weekend-1000-pm-news-to-weeknights-by-wtkr/
  24. ^ http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000406

External links[edit]