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WHAS-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 11, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Louisville, Kentucky, United States. The station is owned by Tegna Inc. WHAS-TV's studios are located on West Chestnut Street in Downtown Louisville, and its transmitter is located in rural northeastern Floyd County, Indiana (northeast of Floyds Knobs). On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 4 in both standard and high definition.

History[]

The station first signed on the air on March 27, 1950. Originally broadcasting on VHF channel 9, it was the second television station to sign on in the Louisville market and the state of Kentucky (after NBC affiliate WAVE-TV, which started in November 1948). WHAS-TV was founded by the Bingham family, publishers of morning newspaper The Courier-Journal, afternoon newspaper The Louisville Times and operator of WHAS (840 AM), Louisville's oldest radio station. It operated from brand-new studios in the Courier-Journal/Times Building at 6th & Broadway, in downtown Louisville—even though WHAS-TV's construction permit (1946) was issued before WAVE-TV's (1947), the Bingham family waited until the new TV facility was finished to begin telecasting, 16 months after WAVE, who adapted an existing building at Preston and Broadway.

The station originally operated as a primary CBS affiliate, owing to its sister radio station's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network, with a secondary affiliation with ABC. It moved to VHF channel 11 on February 7, 1953, one of several channel shifts resulting from the Federal Communications Commission's 1952 Sixth Report and Order. Under the same decree, WAVE-TV relocated from channel 5 to channel 3.

Following the move to channel 11, the station became to first to increase its effective radiated power to 316,000 watts, the maximum allowed for a high-band VHF station, resulting in a greatly increased signal coverage area. When the FCC gradually enforced print-broadcast cross-ownership restrictions in the early 1970s, the Commission granted the Binghams a grandfathered cross-ownership waiver to retain their Louisville holdings.

Barry Bingham, Sr., patriarch of the family media empire, handed over control to his son Barry, Jr. upon his retirement from active involvement in 1971. But following nearly fifteen years of family infighting, the senior Bingham decided to break up the family's media holdings in early 1986. The decision resulted in the sales of WHAS radio (and its sister FM station, WAMZ) to Clear Channel Communications; the Courier-Journal and the Times to the Gannett Company; and WHAS-TV to the Providence Journal Company. The Journal Company merged with the Belo Corporation in 1997.

WHAS-TV lost ABC programming when WLKY (channel 32) signed on September 16, 1961, with channel 11 becoming an exclusive CBS affiliate. Nearly three decades later on September 8, 1990, channel 11 ended its long relationship with CBS and rejoined ABC, this time as an exclusive affiliate of the network. At the time of the switch, ABC was the second-most-watched network in the country (after NBC), and the network was concerned with WLKY's ratings; CBS was at a distant third during the midway-point of president Laurence Tisch's helming of the network. The last CBS network program to air on channel 11 was a repeat of the 1989 made-for-TV movie Night Walk, at 9 p.m. ET; the first ABC network program to air was Good Morning America. WLKY, which became the market's CBS affiliate, has since made strong strides in the market as cable penetration allowed WLKY's traditional disadvantage of being on the UHF band to fade, and other factors allowed the station to strengthen its news operation and adequately compete with WHAS-TV's newscasts. In addition, WLKY became the local home for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, and owing to the region's status as a college basketball hotbed with local teams such as Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana being longtime fixtures in the tournament, NCAA tournament games on WLKY are consistently among the highest-rated programs in the market during the tournament's run. Channel 11 has seen some struggles over the years during television seasons when ABC suffers from a weaker-rated schedule, while WLKY's ties to CBS have boosted that station through most of the 2000s. With ABC's current schedule, both stations usually exchange the top rankings in the Louisville market's news ratings.

On June 13, 2013, Belo announced that it would be acquired by the Gannett Company. Due to Gannett's ownership of The Courier-Journal, the company chose to spin off WHAS-TV to Sander Media, LLC (a media company operated by former Belo executive Jack Sander), with Gannett operating the station through a shared services agreement. The sale was completed on December 23. The SSA marked a re-entry into Louisville television for Gannett, which owned WLKY from 1979 (after Combined Communications merged with Gannett) until it sold the station to Pulitzer, Inc. in 1983.

On June 29, 2015, Gannett split into two publicly traded companies. The print interests retained the Gannett name, while the broadcasting and digital media interests became Tegna. Shortly afterward, Sander Media filed with the FCC to transfer WHAS-TV's license to Tegna's Belo Kentucky, Inc.; the acquisition was completed on December 3, 2015.

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