WGTW-TV, virtual channel 48 (UHF digital channel 36), is a TBN owned-and-operated television station licensed to Millville, New Jersey, United States. The station previously served the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania television market, but can now only be received in Southern New Jersey. The station is owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. WGTW's studios are located on Columbia Avenue in suburban Folcroft, Pennsylvania. Its transmitter was previously located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, but is now shared with Justice Network affiliate WMGM-TV (channel 40) along Avalon Boulevard in the Swainton section of Middle Township, east of the Garden State Parkway off Exit 13.
Channel 48 was once the home of Burlington, New Jersey-licensed WKBS-TV, which operated from September 1965 until August 1983, when owner Field Communications voluntarily took the station off-the-air and returned its license to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Six months later, the FCC put channel 48's frequency back up for auction. Among those bidding on the open channel were Dorothy Brunson, an African-American radio executive and station owner from Baltimore; Sinclair Broadcast Group, another Baltimore-based firm; and Cornerstone Television, a Christian television network based in Pittsburgh. After a two-year process, the auction ended with Brunson winning a construction permit in February 1986. During the interim, Cornerstone purchased channel 48's transmitter, moved it to Altoona, and used it to sign on a new station in 1985 on channel 47, ironically enough under the WKBS-TV call letters.
Channel 48 signed back on the air on August 15, 1992, under the call letters WGTW-TV, an independent station. Initially the station ran public domain movies, infomercials (including religious programs), and home-shopping programs. By 1994, WGTW had a larger variety of programming, including off-network series, first-run syndicated shows, and children's programs. The station also aired NBC daytime programs that were pre-empted by then-affiliate KYW-TV (channel 3).
By 2001, however, WGTW found its programming choices significantly reduced. All six network stations in the market were now owned-and-operated stations of their respective networks, and hence no longer pre-empted network programming. In addition to the rise of UPN and The WB locally on WPSG and WPHL-TV, the non-talk and court show programming on the syndication market significantly dwindled. There simply wasn't enough programming to go around, even for a market as large as Philadelphia. It was also hamstrung by financial issues, resulting in the station filling most of its broadcast day with paid programming to maintain operations.
In 2004, TBN was looking to acquire stations in major markets as part of a larger strategy of purchasing full-power stations to acquire compulsory must-carry carriage on that market's cable systems. TBN offered to purchase WGTW from Brunson, an offer that was accepted. On October 1, 2004, the sale was closed and TBN took over all operations of the station. Since then, WGTW has mostly been a simulcast of the TBN national feed. However, it airs two hours of weekly locally-originated programming. It also produces a public affairs show called Joy in Our Town and a local version of Praise the Lord, TBN's flagship show. The latter two programs are recorded at WGTW's studio facilities in Folcroft, north of Philadelphia International Airport across Darby Creek. As of 2017, this programming was cancelled.
In 2002, WGTW launched an hour-long news and public affairs show, known as 48 Update, which aired weeknights at 7:00 p.m. The final edition of 48 Update aired on October 1, 2004, one hour before the station switched to TBN programming.
WKBS/WGTW license facts conflict
WGTW operates under the same allocation, or place on the TV broadcast spectrum, as WKBS-TV, but not under the same license. Although Brunson did purchase the same license that WKBS-TV vacated from the FCC, WKBS' license expired on June 1, 1984, and was never renewed. The current Channel 48 license is a new construction permit for WGTW, dating from July 14, 1988.
|TV stations in Pennsylvania|
|Independent stations||Religious stations||Other stations|
|WDPN, Wilmington||W08EM-D, Wilkes-Barre||WWSI, Mount Laurel/Philadelphia|
|WACP, Atlantic City||W07DP-D, Dillsburg||WUVP, Vineland/Philadelphia|
|WPSJ-CD, Hammonton||WELL-LD, Philadelphia||WFPA-CD, Philadelphia|
|WSCP-LP, Johnstown/Altoona/State College||WPCB, Greensburg||WIIC-LP, Pittsburgh|
|WXBU, Lancaster||WKBS, Altoona||WBYD-CD, Pittsburgh|
|WLYH, Red Lion||WPCB, Greensburg||WYLN-LP, Hazleton|
|WPHY-CD, Trenton||WGTW, Millville||WWAT-CD, Uniontown|
|WQAV-CD, Atlantic City||WBPH, Allentown||WMGM, Wildwood|
|WTVE, Willow Grove|
|TV stations in Philadelphia, including the Lehigh Valley and Tri State Area|
|WDPN 2 (MeTV)|
KYW 3 (CBS)