|Buffalo, New York
2 News On Your Side at 10
|Slogan||On Your Side (newscasts)|
|Channels||Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 29 (PSIP)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WUTV Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 21, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||UlTraVision (former owner)
UHF TeleVision (reference to its broadcast frequency)
|Former channel number(s)||29 (UHF analog, 1970–2009)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WUTV, virtual channel 29 (UHF digital channel 14), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Buffalo, New York, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYO-TV (channel 49). The two stations share studios located at 699 Hertel Avenue near Military Road in Buffalo. WUTV's transmitter is located at 951 Whitehaven Road (I-190) in Grand Island, New York.
WUTV signed on the air on December 21, 1970 as a general entertainment independent station; its schedule included cartoons (such as Astro Boy and Yogi Bear), sitcoms (such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Patty Duke Show, and The Munsters), sci-fi shows (such as Lost in Space, Ultraman, The Invaders and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), along with classic movies and drama series. WUTV's original studios were located at the transmitter site in Grand Island, New York. The station was owned by Ultravision Broadcasting Company, from which the "UTV" in the WUTV callsign originates (the WUTV call sign was originally to be used for a station on VHF channel 3 in Indianapolis, Indiana under the ownership of department store William H. Block Co., which never went on the air; the call sign was later issued to another station in Youngstown, Ohio with a construction permit on channel 21 that also never launched, with NBC affiliate WFMJ-TV purchasing that permit and moving from channel 73 to the channel 21 allocation that the Youngstown WUTV permit was originally intended to broadcast on). Ultravision was owned by Stan Jasinski, who also owned Buffalo's WMMJ (1300 AM) at the time; shortly thereafter, Jasinski spun off WMMJ to country musician Ramblin' Lou Schriver, who turned it into present-day WXRL. Jasinski had first filed an application for the station's license in 1963.
WUTV was the only independent station in Buffalo for many years and was the first commercially successful UHF station in Western New York; previous efforts on the UHF dial, including WBES-TV (channel 59), WBUF-TV (channel 17) and WNYP-TV (channel 26) all had failed within a few years of their debuts. Ultravision Broadcasting sold the station to Whitehaven Entertainment Corporation in 1977. The station was acquired by Citadel Communications, a Bronxville-based company not related to the larger radio station owner Citadel Broadcasting, in 1984.
On October 9, 1986, WUTV became one of the original charter affiliates of the newly launched Fox network. At the time, Fox only aired late night programming five days a week, so WUTV was still essentially programmed as an independent station. However, by 1989, WUTV was one of several Fox affiliates nationwide that were disappointed with the network's weak primetime programming offerings, particularly on Saturday nights, which were bogging down WUTV's otherwise successful lineup. Fox then signed an agreement with WNYB-TV (channel 49, now WNYO-TV) to become its new Buffalo affiliate, and WUTV reverted to being an independent station full-time. Later that year, WNYB-TV's owner, Act III Broadcasting, offered to buy WUTV, and Citadel accepted. The sale was finalized in June 1990, and Act III moved WNYB-TV's stronger programming to WUTV, and brought the Fox affiliation back to the station in turn. It then sold WNYB-TV to Tri-State Christian Television (Act III was known for such acquisition practices).
Abry purchased WUTV in 1994 following its acquisition of the Act III group. On January 16, 1995, WUTV became a secondary affiliate of the upstart United Paramount Network (the UPN affiliation subsequently moved to WNGS (channel 67, now WBBZ-TV) and WONS (channel 21, WVTT-CD) in 1997, and then to WNLO (channel 23) in 2003). Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired WUTV as part of its purchase of Abry in 1997; Sinclair then bought WNYO-TV in 2001, creating a duopoly with WUTV. Since the 1994 NFL season, the station has aired Buffalo Bills games via the NFL on Fox; they are given at least two games a season to air, usually when the team plays host to an NFC team at New Era Field; although the station has seen more games aired since 2014 when the NFL instituted cross-flex rules, meaning that games can be arbitrarily moved to the station from WIVB, which airs most of the team's games.
WUTV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 29, at 11:59 p.m. on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later moved to June 12); this made WUTV the first television station in Buffalo to switch to digital. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 14. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 29.
As part of the SAFER Act, WUTV kept its analog signal on the air until March 3, 2009 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters. WUTV, along with PBS member station WNED-TV (channel 17) were the only Buffalo television stations that did not terminate their analog signals on the new June 12 date.
After Sinclair came to a retransmission consent agreement in February 2007 nationally with Time Warner Cable, WUTV and WNYO-TV's high definition feeds began to be carried locally by the provider. WUTV's HD feed was not available on the region's other cable provider, Atlantic Broadband, until 2012. The Time Warner Cable agreement was to expire at the end of 2010, and the two companies were late in reaching an agreement. In the event Sinclair had pulled WUTV from TWC, a separate agreement allows Fox programming to be piped in from out of market (likely involving Nexstar Media Group, whose stations have been used as out-of-market superstations in the past to temporarily replace in-market network affiliates displaced due to carriage disputes). This made WUTV particularly vulnerable to a prolonged blackout. It does not produce any local content, serving mostly as a "pass-through" for automated programming. Much of its syndicated programming can be seen on other cable channels (such as TBS, WGN and TVGN), and much of its daytime programming consisted of infomercials. The dispute was resolved without a blackout.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including WUTV, allowing them to continue carrying the network's programming until 2017. GetTV was added to a subchannel in October-November 2014. The second subchannel was slated to be affiliated with TBD replacing The Country Network in 2017.
Until 2013, WUTV did not air news programming, making Buffalo the largest television market in the United States whose Fox affiliate did not offer any newscasts at all (Sinclair is believed to have paid a large fee to Fox to avoid the network's mandate that its affiliates carry local news). The station long opted to air syndicated programming instead of carrying news programming, as it is within range of the Toronto market and features advertising targeted at Southern Ontario viewers, along with the large number of stations within the Buffalo market and those receivable in the market from Hamilton and Toronto that already produce local newscasts.
This lack of local news programming ended on April 8, 2013, as the 10 p.m. newscast produced by NBC affiliate WGRZ channel 2 moved from WNYO-TV to WUTV. Along with the move, it was expanded to seven nights per-week, and the station also announced plans to air an encore of the final hour of WGRZ's morning show on a one-hour delay. These moves were part of an effort to better compete against the WIVB-produced newscasts in the same timeslots on CW affiliate WNLO—both of which have been historically more successful even though WGRZ has surpassed WIVB in most of its main newscasts.
Notable current on-air staff
- Maryalice Demler - weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- Kevin O'Connell (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief weather anchor; weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- "Digital TV Market Listing for WUTV". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- All Full-Power Television Stations by DMA, Indicating Those Terminating Analog Service Before or on February 17, 2009, Federal Communications Commission, February 16, 2009
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- Sinclair Reups With Fox, Gets WUTB Option, TVNewsCheck, May 15, 2012.
- Pergament, Alan (October 22, 2014). "Grit TV aims to capture men when it comes here shortly via sub-channel". The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- "New WUTV sub-channel coming aimed at millenials". The Buffalo News. BH Media. January 10, 2017.
- Pergament, Alan (March 27, 2013). Ch. 2's 10 p.m. newscast headed to WUTV. The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 27, 2013.