WACH, virtual channel 57 (UHF digital channel 48), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Columbia, South Carolina, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WACH's studios are located on Pickens Street in downtown Columbia, and its transmitter is located on Rush Road (southeast of I-20) in rural southwestern Kershaw County. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 6 in both standard and high definition.
After several false starts dating back to 1980, the station first signed on the air on September 1, 1981 as WCCT-TV; founded by Carolina Christian Broadcasting, which also owned WGGS-TV (channel 16) in Greenville, it was the first independent station in Columbia as well as the first commercial television station to sign-on in the market since WIS (channel 10) signed on in September 1953. The station's original studios were located on Sunset Boulevard (US 378) in West Columbia. Initially, it ran religious programming for most of the broadcast day, such as The 700 Club and The PTL Club, and televangelist programs from Richard Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart. It also ran WGGS' locally produced Christian program, Niteline; WCCT eventually began producing its own local version of the show. The rest of the day was taken up by secular syndicated programming, including cartoons, classic sitcoms, westerns, and hunting and sports programs. However, its programming policy was very conservative so as not to offend the sensibilities of its mostly fundamentalist and Pentecostal viewership. Notably, it refused to run any programming that contained any profanity, violence or sexual content.
On June 11, 1988, the station was sold to FCVS Communications. On the day FCVS closed on its purchase of channel 57, it changed the call letters to WACH (the WCCT-TV calls are presently used by a CW-affiliated station in Waterbury, Connecticut, serving the Hartford–New Haven market) and relaunched it as the market's Fox affiliate, branding as "WACH-TV 57" (pronounced as "watch TV 57"). For the first two years of Fox's existence, Columbia residents were only able to watch the network's programming via its Washington, D.C. owned-and-operated station WTTG, which had been available on area cable systems for many years. That station continued to be available on Columbia's two major cable providers, Wometco and TCI, for several years afterward. FCVS significantly upgraded the station's programming, adding somewhat racier programming to the schedule. At first, WACH kept Christian-oriented religious programming on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from midnight to 2:00 a.m. per an agreement with Carolina Christian Broadcasting. It also agreed to continue producing and airing Niteline for an hour a day for five years. The program was dropped from the schedule by 1993, along with most of the religious programs. WACH eventually changed its branding to "WACH Fox 57" in the 1990s.
FCVS eventually bought two other stations, WKCH-TV (now WTNZ) in Knoxville, Tennessee and WEVU-TV (now WZVN-TV) in Naples, Florida. FCVS sold its entire television division to Ellis Communications in 1993. Ellis merged with AFLAC to form Raycom Media in 1996. Raycom merged with The Liberty Corporation, owner of WIS, in 2005. Raycom could not keep both stations because the Federal Communications Commission's duopoly rules forbid the common ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in a single market. Additionally, Columbia has only eight full-power stations, too few to permit a duopoly in any case. The FCC requires a market to have eight unique station owners once a duopoly is formed. Ultimately, Raycom opted to keep long-dominant WIS and put WACH on the market. On March 27, 2006, Raycom announced it would sell WACH and 11 other stations to Barrington Broadcasting. The transaction was completed on August 11, 2006.
WACH's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
On February 28, 2013, Barrington Broadcasting announced it would merge with the Sinclair Broadcast Group in a $370 million deal. The sale was completed on November 25.
|TV stations in South Carolina|
| WACH, Columbia|
|TV stations in the Midlands of South Carolina, including Columbia|
| WIS 10 (NBC) |
WLTX 19 (CBS)
WOLO 25 (ABC)
WRJA 27 (PBS)
WRLK 35 (PBS)
WZRB 47 (Ion)
WKDC-LD 50 (Daystar)
WACH 57 (Fox)
WKTC 63 (CW/MNTV)