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WFTS-TV, virtual channel 28 (UHF digital channel 29), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Tampa, Florida, United States and also serving the nearby city of St. Petersburg. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. WFTS-TV's studios are located on North Himes Avenue on Tampa's northwest side (across the street from Raymond James Stadium), and its transmitter is located in Riverview, Florida. Most cable systems in the market carry the station on channel 11.

HistoryEdit

The channel 28 allocation in Tampa Bay was to have been used by WTSS-TV, an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network in the 1950s. It is very unlikely that WTSS ever made it to air.

As an independent stationEdit

WFTS first signed on the air on December 14, 1981, operating as an independent station. As the flagship of the locally based Family Group Broadcasting, the station programmed a family-oriented general entertainment format with cartoons, off-network dramas, classic movies and religious programs. Its call letters originally stood for "Family Television Station". Family Group Broadcasting sold the station to Capital Cities Communications on April 22, 1984, becoming Capital Cities' first station in Florida, the group's first (and only) independent station, and the last station to be acquired by the group prior to its merger with ABC. Under Capital Cities, the station added more off-network sitcoms and reduced the number of religious programs and drama series on its schedule.

In 1986, Capital Cities stunned the broadcasting industry with its purchase of ABC—a network that was ten times bigger than Capital Cities was at the time. Capital Cities owned several ABC affiliates, and two CBS affiliates: KFSN-TV in Fresno, California and WTVD in Durham, North Carolina (both are now ABC owned-and-operated stations). The company's combined assets exceeded Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limits of the time, so Capital Cities decided to keep its CBS affiliates and change their affiliations to ABC, along with longtime ABC affiliates WPVI-TV in Philadelphia and KTRK-TV in Houston, and sold WFTS and the ABC owned-and-operated station in Detroit, WXYZ-TV, to the E. W. Scripps Company, while selling several other stations to minority-owned firms.

Scripps continued the general entertainment format on WFTS, running cartoons, sitcoms, movies and drama series. WFTS became the Tampa Bay market's Fox affiliate in 1988, after it was dropped by then-rival WTOG (channel 44). Just like channel 44, the station continued to program itself as an independent station until 1993 when Fox started its week-long programming schedule. It began to identify on air as "Fox 28", and soon after briefly identified its call letters as standing for "Fox Television Station". A 10 p.m. newscast was planned for the station, but ultimately did not come to fruition.

As an ABC affiliateEdit

On May 22, 1994, New World Communications signed an affiliation agreement with Fox, that resulted in twelve of New World's stations, including Tampa Bay's longtime CBS affiliate WTVT (channel 13), being tapped to switch to the network. Among the stations making the switch were longtime CBS affiliates WJBK-TV in Detroit and WJW-TV in Cleveland. Not wanting to be relegated to the UHF band, CBS heavily wooed Detroit's longtime ABC affiliate, WXYZ, as well as Cleveland's longtime ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV. Both were owned by Scripps, who told ABC that it would switch WXYZ and WEWS to CBS unless ABC affiliated with three of its stations: WFTS, KNXV-TV in Phoenix (which was also slated to lose its Fox affiliation to New World-owned CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV), and WMAR-TV in Baltimore. Scripps insisted on including WFTS and KNXV in the deal even though neither station had a news department.

As a result, on December 12, 1994, WFTS assumed the market's ABC affiliation from longtime affiliate WTSP (channel 10), which took over the CBS affiliation from WTVT. Most of WFTS' syndicated programs were then acquired by WTTA (channel 38), WTOG and/or WTMV (channel 32, now WMOR-TV), which would also air Fox Kids. In November 2004, WFTS became one of three Florida television stations, and one of the many Scripps-owned ABC affiliates that preempted Saving Private Ryan. At one time WFTS was the local over-the-air broadcast partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club. It first aired four Lightning games during the 2002–03 season.

As of the 2016–2017 TV season, Tampa–St. Petersburg–Sarasota is the sixth largest market with a major network affiliate broadcasting on the UHF band (14–51) and WFTS is currently the largest ABC affiliate by market size that is on the UHF band; although most digital television stations broadcast on a UHF frequency, most also identify through the use of a PSIP virtual channel as being on the VHF band, corresponding with the stations' former analog channel numbers. Because WFTS was formerly on UHF analog channel 28, it continues to use channel 28 as its channel number through the use of PSIP (though as described below, it has not used its channel designation in any branding the last sixteen years). The larger markets with a major network in the UHF channel range are Atlanta (CBS-affiliated WGCL-TV, virtual channel 46), Boston (Fox-affiliated WFXT, virtual channel 25), Houston (Fox O&O KRIV, virtual channel 26), Philadelphia (Fox O&O WTXF, virtual channel 29), and Chicago (Fox O&O WFLD, virtual channel 32). WFTS is also the third-largest Big 4 affiliate to not use its channel number as part of its branding, behind NBC owned-and-operated stations KNTV in San Jose, California and WBTS-LD in Boston.


TV stations in Florida
WPLG, Miami

WFTS, Tampa
WWSB, Sarasota
WCJB, Gainesville
WJXX, Jacksonville
WTXL, Tallahassee
WMBB, Panama City
WEAR, Pensacola
WFTV, Orlando
WZVN, Fort Myers
WPBF, Tequesta

TV stations in the Tampa Bay Area
WEDU 3 (PBS)
WFLA 8 (NBC)
WTSP 10 (CBS)
WTVT 13 (Fox)
WPDS-LD 14 (ETV)
W15CM-D 15 (HSN)
WEDQ 16 (PBS)
WSVT-LD 18 (Daystar)
WARP-CD 20 (Info)
WCLF 22 (CTN)
WXAX-CD 26 (AZA)
WFTS 28 (ABC)
WTAM-LD 30 (MEGA)
WMOR 32 (Ind)
W40CU-D 33 (HSN)
WSPF-CD 35 (ATeVe)
WTTA 38 (MNTV)
WSNN-LD 39 (Ind)
WWSB 40 (ABC)
W16DQ-D 43 (SBN)
WTOG 44 (CW)
WZRA-CD 48 (ETH)
WRMD-CD 49 (TLM)
WVEA 50 (UNI)
WFTT 62 (UMas)
WXPX 66 (Ion)
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