WEWS-TV is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is one of two flagship television properties of the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company (the other being fellow ABC affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati), which has owned the station since its inception. WEWS-TV broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 15 (or virtual channel 5 via PSIP) from a transmitter in suburban Parma, Ohio. The station maintains studio facilities located on Euclid Avenue (near I-90) in Downtown Cleveland.


The station first signed on the air on December 17, 1947, as the first commercially licensed television station in Ohio, and the 16th overall in the United States. The call letters denote the initials of the parent company's founder, Edward Willis Scripps. The station is the oldest in Cleveland to maintain the same channel position (as an analog broadcaster), ownership and call letters since its sign-on. A few weeks before WEWS-TV's sign-on, Scripps launched WEWS-FM 102.1 (the frequency is now occupied by WDOK) as an outlet for WEWS-TV personalities to gain on-air experience before the launch of the television station. Channel 5's first broadcast was of a Christmas pageant run by the station's corporate cousin, The Cleveland Press. Its staff included capable producers Jim Breslin and Betty Cope, who would later become president of WVIZ (channel 25).

WEWS has aired two MLB World Series during the station's existence: it broadcast Cleveland's home games in the 1948 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Braves; as well as the 1995 World Series games in Cleveland between the Indians and the Atlanta Braves. The telecasts were fed to stations throughout the Midwest. During the 1995 World Series, the local broadcast was split with WKYC-TV (channel 3) due to the ABC/NBC shared Baseball Network

WEWS originally operated as a CBS affiliate, with secondary ABC and DuMont affiliations; it lost the CBS affiliation to WJW-TV (channel 8) in 1955 after that station's then-owner, Storer Broadcasting, used its influence with CBS to land the affiliation. The station later lost the DuMont affiliation when that network ceased operations in 1956. WEWS was also an affiliate of the short-lived Paramount Television Network; the station was one of the network's strongest affiliates, airing such Paramount programs as Time For Beany, Hollywood Reel, and Frosty Frolics. WEWS also aired two NBC programs, both of which had been preempted by Westinghouse-owned NBC affiliate KYW-TV (now WKYC): the network's evening newscast The Huntley-Brinkley Report, during the 1959–1960 season; and The Tonight Show, with hosts Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson, from October 1957 to February 1966.

In 1977, WEWS-TV went before the U.S. Supreme Court for recording and broadcasting the entire human cannonball act of Hugo Zacchini. He performed his circus routine at the Geauga County Fair in Burton, Ohio and the station did not compensate him, as was required by Ohio law. In Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did not shield WEWS from liability from common law copyright claims.

On May 23, 1994, as part of an overall deal in which network parent News Corporation also purchased a 20% equity interest in the group, New World Communications signed a long-term affiliation agreement with Fox to switch thirteen television stations—five that New World had already owned and eight that the company was in the process of acquiring through separate deals with Great American Communications and Argyle Television Holdings (which New World purchased one week later in a purchase option-structured deal for $717 million), including WJW-TV—to the network. The stations involved in the agreement—all of which were affiliated with one of the three major broadcast networks (CBS, ABC and NBC)—would become Fox affiliates once individual affiliation contracts with each of the stations' existing network partners had expired. The deal was motivated by the National Football League (NFL)'s awarding of the rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) television package to Fox on December 18, 1993, in which the conference's broadcast television rights moved to the network effective with the 1994 NFL season, ending a 38-year relationship with CBS.

New World's affiliation agreement with Fox prompted CBS—then in a distant third place among the major broadcast networks, with a programming lineup that skewed towards an older audience not typically sought by advertisers—to attempt to lure WEWS to replace channel 8 as the network's Cleveland outlet (CBS also sought to replace fellow New World station WJBK-TV in Detroit with WEWS sister station WXYZ-TV, which spurred ABC to buy WTVG in Toledo and WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan from SJL Broadcast Management [later Montecito Broadcast Group, now SJL Broadcasting and once again controlled by the principals of Lilly Broadcasting] as a contingency plan in case CBS was successful in convincing Scripps to switch the network affiliation of WXYZ). On June 16, 1994, ABC and Scripps-Howard Broadcasting signed a long-term deal with ABC that would keep WEWS and WXYZ as the network's Cleveland and Detroit outlets through at least 2005. As a condition of that agreement, three other Scripps-owned television stations—WFTS-TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg, KNXV-TV in Phoenix and WMAR-TV in Baltimore—also agreed to switch their affiliations to ABC. In Cleveland, CBS would reach an agreement with Malrite Communications to move its programming to Fox charter affiliate WOIO (channel 19), which joined the network on September 3, 1994, when WJW concurrently switched to Fox.

At one time, the Cleveland–Akron market was served by two ABC affiliates: in addition to WEWS, WAKR-TV (channel 23) served viewers in Akron and Canton who could not receive a clear signal from WEWS. WAKR signed on in 1953, six years after WEWS began operations, and was stuck with a less-desirable UHF signal instead of a VHF signal following the FCC's 1952 Sixth Report and Order, which resulted in a realignment of television allocations in the Midwest. WAKR-TV gained an ABC affiliation as the network could not clear its full schedule on its then-primary station in Cleveland, WXEL (now WJW), and retained it after ABC moved to WEWS full-time in 1955. As ABC soon garnered equal footing with CBS and NBC in the late 1960s, this caused cannibalization of ratings and angered WEWS station management as they did not want to compete with another station showing the same programming.

The feud ended in May 1996, when WAKC shut down its news department after being purchased by Paxson Communications (now Ion Media Networks) and dropped all ABC programming that December, adopting an infomercial and religious programming format as WVPX-TV. It would eventually settle in as the Cleveland–Akron market's outlet of the Pax TV network, which eventually became Ion Television. Despite this, WAKR/WAKC became a "farm station" of sorts for WEWS-TV; its most notable alumni were Ted Henry—who was a weather anchor at WAKR prior to his long association with WEWS, and longtime chief meteorologist Mark Johnson—a former WAKC weatherman who has been with WEWS since 1993.

TV stations in Ohio
WEWS, Cleveland

WYTV, Youngstown
WKEF, Dayton
WTVG, Toledo
WSYX, Columbus
WCPO, Cincinnati

TV stations in Northeast Ohio, including Cleveland, Akron, and Canton
WJW 8 (Fox)
W16DO-D 16 (RTV)
WDLI 17 (Ion Life)
WIVD-LD 22 (Ind)
WVPX 23 (Ion)
W27DG-D 27 (Ind)
WIVN-LD 29 (Ind)
WIVM-LD 39 (Ind)
WOHZ-CD 41 (Ind)
WUAB 43 (CW)
WIVX-LD 51 (Ind)
WGGN 52 (Rel)
WCDN-LD 53 (Daystar)
WBNX 55 (Ind)
WMFD 68 (Ind)
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