|Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York
|Branding||Fox 23 (general)
News 10 ABC on Fox 23 (newscasts)
|Slogan||Dedicated. Determined. Dependable.|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 23 (PSIP)
23.2 Capital OTB TV (horse racing)
|Owner||Shield Media, LLC
|Operator||Nexstar Media Group|
|First air date||July 30, 1982|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
23 (UHF, 1982–2009)
Variety Television Network (2007–2009)
Untamed Sports TV (2009–2011)
ZUUS Country (2012–2015)
|Transmitter power||10 kW|
|Height||434 m (1,424 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WXXA-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for Upstate New York's Capital District and Western New England. Licensed to Albany, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 7 (or virtual channel 23.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in the Helderberg Escarpment southwest of New Scotland's Voorheesville section.
Owned by Shield Media, WXXA is operated through joint sales and shared services agreements by Nexstar Media Group. This makes it a sister outlet to ABC affiliate WTEN and the two outlets share studios on Northern Boulevard in Albany's Bishop's Gate section.
Early Brief Years
WXXA was signed-on July 30, 1982 and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 23. It was the Capital District's first independent station, as well as the first new commercial station to launch in the market since WTRI-TV, forerunner of WNYT, launched 28 years later. The Capital District had a fairly long wait for an independent station, considering its size. On paper, it had been large enough to support an independent since the late 1960s. However, the Capital District is a fairly large market geographically, stretching across a large swath of east-central New York, as well as portions of southern Vermont and western Massachusetts. Much of this area is very mountainous, particularly in the northern portion. UHF stations have never covered large areas or rugged terrain very well. By the late 1970s, cable and satellite--then as now, a must for acceptable television in much of this market--had gained enough penetration for an independent to be viable.
A construction permit had been issued for channel 23 in the 1950s with the calls WPTR-TV; that permit was canceled in 1960. Rumors had previously abounded that NBC would move its programming to the new channel 23 after WRGB switched to CBS in 1981. However, the network ended up affiliating with WNYT.
The station was owned by Albany TV 23, Inc. a group of investors led by Founding president and station manager Jim Boaz, Hollywood director Arthur Penn, and former FDIC director William Seidman. Through Penn, it was able to secure financing from movie production company Orion Pictures. It was a typical general-entertainment independent airing cartoons, movies, sports, and first-run syndicated programs.
On October 9, 1986, it became a charter affiliate of Fox. Shortly afterward, Albany TV 23 sold the station to Heritage Broadcasting. The station picked up programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN) block in 1993.
In 1994, Heritage sold the station to Clear Channel Communications, predating Clear Channel's sizable expansion of television assets in the Northeast in the following years. Clear Channel soon moved WXXA from its original studios on Central Avenue/NYS Route 5 in Albany (now a car dealership) to an expanded facility on Corporate Circle in Albany's Dunes section).
When UPN launched on January 16, 1995, WXXA dropped PTEN and aired programming from UPN off-hours on weekends. Cable viewers in virtually the entire market were also able to watch UPN in pattern on WSBK-TV in Boston, which had been available on cable in the area for decades. WXXA's secondary affiliation ended in 1998, when UPN signed WYPX as its new secondary affiliate and low-powered WVBG-LP as a primary affiliate. The network was picked up again by WXXA after this station, in partnership with Time Warner Cable, launched cable-only affiliate "WEDG-TV" in January 2000. Eventually known on-air as "UPN 4" after its channel location, the station signed-off in August 2003 concurrent with the sign-on of over-the-air UPN affiliate WNYA which was operated by WRGB.
Channel 7 Era
WXXA-DT began airing on VHF channel 7 on December 20, 2005. A combination of objections from analog co-channels WABC-TV (in New York City) and WWNY-TV (in Watertown), whose signals reach the fringes of the Albany area, was the primary reason for the late and delayed sign-on. On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station group to Providence Equity Partners' Newport Television (the deal closed in March 2008).
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of 22 of its 27 stations to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. While most of WXXA-TV's New York State sisters were sold to Nexstar, that company opted not to buy WXXA because it already owns or controls 10 stations there. Sinclair could not purchase WXXA-TV because it already owned CBS affiliate WRGB and The CW affiliate WCWN. While Nexstar and Sinclair passed on buying WXXA, the station eventually found a new owner on July 27, 2012 when Newport Television announced the sale of the station to Shield Media, LLC (owned by White Knight Broadcasting Vice President Sheldon Galloway) for $19.2 million.
Shield then entered into certain shared service and joint sales agreements with Young Broadcasting, then-owners of WTEN. The FCC granted the transaction on October 23, and it was finalized on December 14. After consummation of the sale, WXXA moved from its Corporate Circle facility into WTEN's studios on March 23, 2013. On November 8, 2013, Media General shareholders approved the company’s merger with New Young Broadcasting, which was completed on November 12. The merged company kept the Media General name, and will continue its shared service and joint sales agreements with Shield Media.
More than two years later, on January 27, 2016, it was announced that the Nexstar Broadcasting Group would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. The operations of WXXA and outright ownership of WTEN will become part of "Nexstar Media Group." Upon the sale's closure on January 17, 2017, the deal reunited WXXA with its former Newport sister stations that were sold to Nexstar in 2012.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|23.1||720p||16:9||WXXA-HD||Main WXXA-TV programming / Fox|
|23.2||480i||4:3||WXXA-CT||Capital OTB TV (streams online)|
The station's DT2 service has had a number of affiliations over the years. In January 2007, Clear Channel launched a digital-only network known as The Variety Channel. The service aired classic television shows (similar to the Retro Television Network), auto showcase programming and various home improvement programs. The service was shut down on January 5, 2009, with WXXA switching over to Untamed Sports TV. This was followed by a switch on April 15, 2011 to the music video network TheCoolTV, which was then dropped sometime in 2012 for ZUUS Country. Finally on January 1, 2015, Shield leased the channel to Capital District Off-Track Betting for their internally originated network, Capital OTB TV.
WXXA-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23, 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 VHF channel 7. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.
On October 7, 1996, the station established a news department and began airing a nightly half-hour prime time newscast known as Fox News at 10. It was not the time slot's first show in the market, as WMHQ (now WCWN) launched a WNYT-produced broadcast earlier in the year; in 1998, that production was canceled due to a lack of support, leaving WXXA as the only outlet for a prime time show.
Filling a niche in local newscasts, its prime time broadcast was expanded on weeknights to an hour in early 2000 and renamed Fox 23 News at 10. Since launching the newscast, WXXA has been very successful in the time slot with high ratings and viewership. This cannot be said for other local news offerings from the station, which have consistently struggled against Albany's big three stations.
In late 2000, the station took on the area's big three outlets for the first time with the launch of Fox 23 News at 6:30. This show offered a local alternative to the national news broadcasts seen in the time slot. This was followed by another show weeknights at 6 that directly competed with the other stations. Right from its start, the broadcast struggled to gain ratings and viewership from the Capital District's other long-established news departments.
A change in upper management led to a realignment of early weeknight shows with the 6:30 broadcast moving to 5 in September 2002 and an expansion to an hour. Fox 23 News at 6 would eventually be dropped in July 2003 due to poor performance against its competitors. WXXA re-focused its efforts to improve its popular prime time newscast at 10 by putting a significant investment in its news operation beginning in late 2003. The biggest move was the signing of former WNYT news anchor John Gray. Additional resources and capabilities were added to the station behind the scenes as well as on-the-air.
On April 17, 2006, it was announced WNYA would begin airing an hour-long extension of WRGB's weekday morning show from 7 until 8. This action could be seen as a preemptive move by WRGB to fend off a challenge by WXXA which had announced its own plans to launch a weekday morning newscast two weeks earlier. The actual launch of Fox 23 News Mornings occurred September 25, 2006 and it initially ran for three hours from 5 until 8. WRGB subsequently moved the sixty-minute extension of its morning show from WNYA to WCWN, and in 2008 began producing a 10 p.m. newscast for that station, giving WXXA its first challenger in the time slot in a decade. WXXA reduced its weekday morning broadcast to a two-hour format (from 6 until 8) in Summer 2009 due to low viewership.
A final addition to newscast offerings on WXXA occurred June 29, 2009 when it launched a half-hour broadcast weeknights at 11 following a national trend by other Fox affiliates. Although Fox 23 News at 10 has remained popular with viewers, its weekday morning show and Fox 23 News at 11 continued to struggle in the ratings against long running newscasts on competing stations. Fox 23 News at 5 (seen on weeknights) was eventually cut to a half-hour for that same reason. In 2012, Fox 23 News A.M. was moved to the 7 to 9 time slot. WXXA was the last remaining news department in the Capital District that continued to broadcast local news in 4:3 standard definition, and it never upgraded to high definition or 16:9 widescreen during the time that the newscasts were produced in-house.
With the consolidation of WXXA with WTEN, the ABC affiliate took over production of channel 23's newscasts. The two stations' reporting staffs were merged immediately following Shield Media's purchase of WXXA was completed. On January 24, 2013, WXXA discontinued its weeknight 5:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts, in order to focus more on the morning and 10:00 p.m. newscasts; in an announcement on its Facebook page; the station redirected viewers of the canceled newscasts to the WTEN newscasts in those time slots. The weekday morning (7:00-9:00 a.m.) and nightly 10:00 p.m. newscasts, which do not compete against WTEN's newscasts, remain on the station.
On March 23, the consolidation was completed when all newscasts began originating from WTEN's studios produced in high definition. WXXA simulcasts WTEN's weekday morning show from 5:30-7:00 a.m. During weather forecasts, the station features live NOAA National Weather Service Doppler radar data from four regional sites including one locally on Woodstock Road south of East Berne.
- "In Brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 2, 1982. pp. 87–88. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
- Whiteside, Lee (1995-04-06). "B5: Babylon 5 TV Station List/Times updated!". rec.arts.sf.tv. Google Groups. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- Newport Sells 22 Stations For $1 Billion, TVNewsCheck, July 19, 2012.
- Shield Buying Newport's WXXA For $19.4M, TVNewsCheck, July 27, 2012.
- "The FCC granted the transaction on October 23" (PDF). Retrieved December 6, 2012.[dead link]
- FCC Internet Services Staff. "Application Search Details". Licensing.fcc.gov. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "Media General, Young Now Officially One". TVNewsCheck. November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- Shareholders of Both Companies to Realize Immediate and Long-Term Value © 2016 Media General. All rights reserved.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WXXA
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.[permanent dead link]
- Lombardo, David (December 19, 2012). "WTEN, WXXA share staff under new plan". Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- McGuire, Mark (January 24, 2013). "Fox 23 cuts newscasts at 5 and 11". Albany Times-Union. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- McGuire, Mark (2013-02-14). "Ann Hughes out in Fox 23 layoffs". Times Union. Retrieved 2013-04-22.