WABI-TV is a dual CBS/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Bangor, Maine, United States, serving Central and Eastern Maine. It broadcasts a high definition (HD) digital signal on VHF channel 13 (or virtual channel 5 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Peaked Mountain in Dixmont. The station can also be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 1209.
Owned by Gray Television, WABI maintains studios on Hildreth Street in West Bangor. Prior to 2017, it was the flagship station of its founding owner Diversified Communications, which is owned by the Hildreth family of Bangor.
WABI-TV was the first television station in Maine. It began broadcasting on January 25, 1953, and aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5. It was owned by the Community Broadcasting Service, which was founded in 1949 by former Governor Horace Hildreth when he purchased WABI radio (910 AM, now WTOS; and 97.1 FM, now WBFB). It was managed in its early years by Murray Carpenter. The station was a primary NBC affiliate, but carried secondary affiliations with the other three major networks of the day (CBS, ABC, and DuMont). It lost CBS to WTWO (channel 2) in 1955; that station had been founded by Carpenter. It lost DuMont soon afterward when that network shut down. After Carpenter sold WTWO to the Rines-Thompson family in 1959, the new owners changed that station's calls to WLBZ-TV and swapped affiliations with WABI-TV, making channel 5 a primary CBS affiliate. The two outlets then began to share ABC programming, which had previously been exclusive to WABI. This ended when WEMT (channel 7, now WVII-TV) signed-on in 1965 and took the affiliation. During the late 1950s, WABI was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
The only other station that the Community Broadcasting Service would build and sign on was WMTW in Poland Spring, Maine. This was because the ownership of that station's founder Mount Washington Television, partially overlapped with Community Broadcasting Service. (WMTW was sold in 1964.) In 1957, it purchased WAGM-TV-AM in Presque Isle, Maine; it sold off WAGM-AM in 1981 and sold off WAGM-TV in 1984. Community Broadcasting Service merged with Journal Publications to form Diversified Communications in 1971; after the merger, it acquired such stations as WCTI-TV in New Bern, North Carolina, WYOU in Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, WPDE in Florence-Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida. Most of these stations were sold off by the late 1990s; by 2017, it was down to two stations: WABI-TV and WCJB-TV.
The radio stations were eventually spun off in 1993 and are currently under the ownership of Blueberry Broadcasting.
On July 15, 2014, WABI-TV's contract with Dish Network expired, and both the station and WABI-DT2 were blacked out early on July 16, 2014. Among the issues WABI-TV cited included financial terms, customer service issues between the station and Dish Network, and switching viewers in several counties to another CBS station outside the Bangor designated marketing area (DMA) location (such as WGME in the Portland area). After a breakdown of contract talks which picked up slowly, an agreement was reached October 8, 2014, allowing both stations to return to Dish Network later that day.
WABI-TV entered into an additional affiliation agreement with "retro" TV network Decades (a network co-owned by CBS) in 2015. The official launch date was announced as October 1, 2015; but the network soft-launched on a new third subchannel on September 24 at 2:30 p.m., a week prior to that date. However, WABI-DT3 experienced some technical difficulties that first week, losing video that night and again the following afternoon. The problem with the station's receiving satellite dish was, however, diagnosed and repaired, and no further difficulties occurred. WABI-DT3 is available to Spectrum customers in the Bangor DMA on digital channel 1255. Moosehead Enterprises also provides the channel to select customers in Greenville, Rockwood, Guilford and Monson, passing the signal through as channel 5.3. Bee Line Cable provides the channel to its subscribers on channel 5-13. There are no other announced prospective cable or satellite service pick-ups at this time.
On February 16, 2017, it was announced that WABI and its sister station WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida would be sold to Gray Television for $85 million. The deal reunited WABI with its former Diversified-owned station in Presque Isle, WAGM-TV. The sale was approved by the FCC on April 18, and the sale was completed on May 2. WABI-TV was the last station in the market to be locally owned.
WABI-DT2, branded on-air as Eastern and Central Maine's CW, is the CW+-affiliated second digital subchannel of WABI-TV, broadcasting in 720p high definition digital signal on UHF channel 13.2 (or virtual channel 5.2 via PSIP).
WABI-DT2 started broadcasting in late-1998 and had the fictional call letters "WBAN". It was part of The WB 100+ cable group as The WB required over-the-air affiliates above the top 100 markets to be on cable. "WBAN" gradually replaced low-powered WBGR-LP as the WB affiliate in Bangor. That station is now with America One and Ion Television. On Adelphia systems, this station was on channel 4 and known on-air as "Bangor's WB 4". In early 2006, it swapped channel positions with low-powered Fox affiliate WFVX-LP but continued using the same branding. On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced the two networks would end broadcasting and merge. The new combined service would be called The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of corporate parents "C"BS (the parent company of UPN) and the "W"arner Bros. unit of Time Warner. There was no UPN station in the market so Boston's WSBK-TV and Portland's WPME were piped in through cable.
On July 28, WABI announced it was creating a new second digital subchannel to become part of The CW. On the station's website, an announcement said Time Warner (which was in the process of taking over cable coverage in the Bangor area for bankrupt Adelphia) would have "WBAN" on its system. This station would then become a simulcast of WABI-DT2 to provide off-air viewers access to the new network. The arrangement was part of a three-year deal with WABI which also let the main station be on the system as well. The CW launched on WABI-DT2 (call sign used officially) September 18. On January 10, 2007, WABI introduced redesigned websites for itself and WABI-DT2.
The CW Plus is a similar operation to The WB 100+. The service provides the affiliate with programming 24/7 but allows the station to preempt certain blocks for local programs or locally acquired syndicated programs. In addition to morning and prime time preemptions designated for local news, WABI-DT2 preempts the allowed two hours in daytime (noon to 2:00 pm) for syndicated fare. The channel also preempts some CW Plus overnight infomercials in order to provide additional syndicated shows and movies. It occasionally preempts on Saturday afternoons in the fall to air SEC on CBS college football games preempted for local programming on the main station. On June 15, 2012, WABI-DT2 upgraded to high definition as part of a national upgrade of The CW Plus.
|TV stations in New England|
| WFSB, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV stations in New England|
| WCCT, Waterbury|
|TV stations in Central and Eastern Maine including Bangor and Calais|
| WLBZ 2 (NBC) |
WABI 5 (CBS)
WVII 7 (ABC/JTV)
WMEB 12 (PBS)
WMED 13 (PBS)
WEXZ-LD 13 (RTV)
WBGR-LD 18 (MeTV)
WFVX-LD 22 (Fox/MNTV/JTV)
WCKD-LP 30 (JUCE TV)