WEMT is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Greeneville, Tennessee, United States, serving the Tri-Cities area of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 28 (or virtual channel 39 via PSIP) from a transmitter at Rye Patch Knob on Holston Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest. The transmitter was previously located at Camp Creek Bald on Viking Mountain on the Tennessee/North Carolina border outside Greeneville. WEMT can be seen in Marion, Virginia on repeater W43BO channel 43 from a transmitter north of town on Walker Mountain.
Owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, the station is operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group through a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Bristol, Virginia-licensed NBC affiliate WCYB-TV (channel 5), whose transmitter is co-located with WEMT. However, Sinclair effectively owns WEMT as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share studios on Lee Street on the Virginia side of Bristol, straddling the Virginia–Tennessee line. On cable, WEMT can be seen on Comcast Xfinity channel 7 and Charter Spectrum channel 10.
This station has the historic distinction of having more owners (at eight) since it signed on-the-air than any other commercial television station in Tennessee. It began operations on November 8, 1985 as WETO, under the ownership of East Tennessee's Own, Inc. It was the first Independent in the area and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 39 from a transmitter on Viking Mountain's Camp Creek Bald on the Tennessee and North Carolina state line. The station first operated from studios located on Industrial Road in Greenville. Prior to WETO's sign-on, the channel allocation was occupied by a translator for ABC affiliate WKPT-TV. It had a general entertainment format consisting of cartoons, sitcoms, old movies, and religious programming.
On October 9, 1986, WETO became a Fox affiliate. East Tennessee's Own sold the station to MT Communications, a company named for and headed by Michael Thompson in 1989. On November 29, 1989, its call sign was changed to the current WEMT; the call letters were originally used by ABC affiliate WVII-TV in Bangor, Maine from 1965 to 1976. MT Communications had earlier purchased two other Tennessee stations, WCAY-TV (renamed WXMT, now WUXP-TV) in Nashville and WMKW-TV (renamed WLMT) in Memphis. All three MT stations were Fox affiliates; however, WXMT and WLMT subsequently lost their affiliations to competing stations in the respective markets under the terms of a deal between Fox and TVX Broadcast Group (those stations' former owner) stipulating any under-performing stations the company sold could lose the network affiliation. WEMT kept its Fox affiliation because it was not a TVX station, and in any event there were no viable choices for a replacement affiliate in the Tri-Cities.
MT Communications sold its three stations—WEMT, WLMT, and satellite station WMTU (now WJKT) in Jackson, Tennessee—to Television Marketing Group, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Bay Holding Company in 1992. Almost immediately, Television Marketing Group then sold the station to Max Television (later Max Media Properties) in 1993. Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired the Max Media stations in 1998. The Sinclair purchase partlially reunited the station with WUXP, which had been sold separately in the early-1990s and by then was managed by Sinclair's WZTV. WEMT's digital signal on UHF channel 38 began operations in 2001. On February 8, 2006, Sinclair sold the station to Aurora Broadcasting, Inc. The station immediately entered into a local marketing agreement with WCYB.
In mid-December 2006 as a result of WCYB owner Bluestone Television's acquisition by the Bonten Media Group, Esteem Broadcasting bought WEMT from Aurora. Esteem would then pay $1.4 million in outstanding debt. WEMT then moved from its longtime studios on Hanover Road in Johnson City to WCYB's facilities in Bristol.
On April 21, 2017, Sinclair announced its intent to purchase the Bonten stations for $240 million. As an aspect of the deal, the Esteem stations will be sold to Sinclair affiliate Cunningham Broadcasting, maintaining the current operational arrangement. The sale was completed September 1.
Retransmission consent controversies
On January 13, 2009, it was announced WEMT would be dropped from DirecTV effective January 15 over a retransmission consent dispute. That same day, an agreement was made public and the station continued to be provided on the system. On December 15, 2009, WEMT obtained a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) construction permit to move its transmitter from Camp Creek Bald to Holston High Point in order to be co-located WCYB's tower, which was completed in late November 2011. According to the construction permit, Greeneville continues to be the station's city of license and secondary cities are Bristol (both TN and VA), Kingsport, and Johnson City.
|TV stations in Tennessee|
|TV stations in the Tri-Cities, TN / VA region, including Johnson City - Kingsport - Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA|
|WETP 2 (PBS) |
WCYB 5 (NBC)
WOPI-CD 9 (Laff)
WJHL 11 (CBS)
WKPT 19 (COZI)
WAPK-CD 36 (MeTV)
WEMT 39 (Fox)
WLFG 68 (Ind)