WGHP, virtual channel 8 (UHF digital channel 35), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to High Point, North Carolina, United States and serving the Piedmont Triad region (Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point). The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group. WGHP's studios are located on Francis Street (just outside downtown High Point), and its transmitter is located in Sophia. The station is carried on channel 10 on cable providers throughout much of the market.
As an ABC affiliateEdit
In 1958, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigned a third VHF channel frequency to the Piedmont Triad area. The channel 8 allocation was freed up by the move of Florence, South Carolina's WBTW, to channel 13, and was short-spaced to WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia and WXEX-TV (now WRIC-TV) in Petersburg, Virginia. Applicants for the High Point channel 8 allocation included Jefferson Standard Broadcasting, owner of WBTV in Charlotte and WBTW. The owner of WTOB-TV (channel 26; whose channel allocation is now occupied by WUNL-TV) in Winston-Salem was also interested.
Southern Broadcast Company was awarded the license and signed on WGHP on October 14, 1963. It originally operated as an ABC affiliate, taking the affiliation from both WFMY-TV (channel 2) and WSJS-TV (channel 12, now WXII-TV), which shared secondary affiliations with the network starting in 1953 (WFMY carried the network from its 1949 sign-on). WGHP's original studios were located inside the Sheraton Hotel on North Main Street in downtown High Point.
WGHP was subsequently sold to Gulf Broadcasting in 1978. Gulf then sold the station to Taft Broadcasting as part of a group deal in 1984. That same year, The station moved to its current location on Francis Street outside of downtown High Point. On October 12, 1987, Taft was restructured into Great American Broadcasting after a hostile takeover. Former Taft president Dudley Taft formed a new company that took the Taft Broadcasting name and bought WGHP from Great American. The new Taft held onto channel 8 until 1992, when Great American repurchased the station. In December 1993, Great American Broadcasting filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was restructured again to become Citicasters; it then put its entire television division up for sale.
As a Fox O&OEdit
In the winter of 1993, New World Communications (which acquired stations from SCI in a similar type of business reorganization to the one Citicasters had come out of) agreed to buy WGHP and three other Citicasters-owned stations: WBRC in Birmingham, WDAF-TV in Kansas City and KSAZ-TV in Phoenix. Citicasters kept WTSP in St. Petersburg and WKRC-TV (channel 12) in Cincinnati—which were both ABC affiliates at the time. Both of those stations would later switch to CBS when Scripps-Howard Broadcasting signed a contract with ABC to move its programming to its Tampa Fox affiliate WFTS and its Cincinnati CBS affiliate WCPO-TV. Around the same time, New World had also agreed to buy Argyle Television's four television stations, including WVTM-TV in Birmingham (the transfer applications of the Argyle stations to New World were not submitted to the FCC until after New World closed on the Citicasters purchase). The two purchases combined, along with New World's existing seven stations, left the company with 15 stations—three more than the FCC had permitted a single station owner to operate at the time—and left New World with an ownership conflict in Birmingham.
On May 23, 1994, Fox agreed to affiliate with 12 of New World's stations, with WVTM, NBC affiliate KNSD in San Diego, and independent WSBK in Boston left out of the sale (the two NBC affiliates were bought by the network and became O&Os while WSBK was sold to the Paramount Stations Group and joined UPN).
New World later determined that due to the ownership conflicts and the fact it would go over the FCC's ownership limit, it would sell WGHP and WBRC to Fox directly. Since Fox was not able to immediately acquire WGHP, WBRC and Memphis's WHBQ-TV due to questions over the American citizenship of then-parent company News Corporation's Australian-born CEO Rupert Murdoch, New World decided to acquire WGHP but place it in an outside trust on September 9, 1994; WBRC was also put in this trust the following month on October 12. While WDAF switched to Fox and KSAZ became an independent station (a temporary move in preparation for its December switch to Fox) on September 12, three days after New World's purchase of those stations was consummated, ABC still had one year left on its affiliation contract with WGHP (likewise, the network's affiliation contract with WBRC would not run out for two years, which would give ABC time to find a replacement affiliate in Birmingham, which would turn out ot be WBMA-LP). These factors also led to New World's decision to sell the two stations to Fox almost immediately.
Fox's owned stations division took over the operations of both stations under local marketing agreements in September 1995; WGHP subsequently switched to Fox on September 3. Fox completed its purchases of WGHP and WBRC on January 17, 1996, with WGHP becoming a Fox owned-and-operated station, and the first commercial station in the Piedmont Triad area to be owned by a major network (WBRC had to wait another 7½ months, until September 1996, to switch from ABC to Fox). The move gave WGHP its fifth owner in a little over a decade. The market's original Fox affiliate, WNRW (channel 45), assumed the ABC affiliation and changed its call letters to WXLV-TV.
On September 10, 2007, WGHP debuted a new logo and graphics package as part of a standardized on-air look that was rolled out all of Fox's owned-and-operated stations.
Sale to Local TV and then to TribuneEdit
On December 22, 2007, Fox sold WGHP and seven other Fox O&O stations to the Oak Hill Capital Partners subsidiary Local TV, which had earlier bought nine stations from The New York Times Company; the sale was finalized on July 14, 2008. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; the sale was completed on December 27, reuniting WGHP with MyNetworkTV affiliate WPHL-TV in Philadelphia, which Tribune acquired in 1992.
Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast GroupEdit
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group—which owns WXLV-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV-TV (channel 48)—entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. While WMYV is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules and could have been retained by Sinclair in any event, the group was precluded from acquiring WGHP directly whilst retaining ownership of WXLV, as both rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point market in total day viewership, and there are too few independently owned full-power stations in the Susquehanna Valley area to permit legal duopolies in any event. On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that it would sell WXLV-TV and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines, and WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million. The transaction includes a transitional services agreement, through which Sinclair would have continued operating WXLV for six months after the sale's completion.
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Standard Media's purchases of WXLV and the other six Tribune- and Sinclair-operated stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
Pending sale to Nexstar Media GroupEdit
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group announced it would acquire Tribune Media in an all-cash deal valued at $6.4 billion, including the assumption of Tribune-held outstanding debt. The deal—which would make Nexstar the largest television station operator by total number of stations upon its expected closure late in the third quarter of 2019—would give WGHP additional sister stations in Greenville–New Bern–Washington (CBS/CW affiliate WNCT-TV) and Raleigh–Durham (CBS affiliate WNCN).
|TV stations in North Carolina|
| WRAZ, Raleigh|
|TV stations in the Piedmont Triad, including Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina|
| WFMY 2 (CBS) |
WGHP 8 (Fox)
WXII 12 (NBC)
WGPX 16 (Ion)
WGSR-LD 19 (Ind.)
WCWG 20 (CW)
WUNL 26 (PBS)
WLXI 43 (TCT)
WXLV 45 (ABC)
WMYV 48 (MNTV)