WHBQ-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 13, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. WHBQ-TV's studios are located on South Highland Street (near the campus of the University of Memphis) in southeastern Memphis, and its transmitter is located north of I-40 in eastern Memphis.
History[edit | edit source]
Under RKO General[edit | edit source]
The station first signed on the air on September 27, 1953. It was owned by Harding College along with WHBQ radio (560 AM and 105.9 FM, now WGKX). It originally operated as a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate, sharing the latter network's programming with NBC affiliate WMCT (channel 5, now WMC-TV). Channel 13 lost the CBS affiliation when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) signed on in January 1956, assuming the affiliation through the CBS Radio Network's longtime affiliation with radio station WREC (600 AM); WHBQ-TV then became an exclusive ABC affiliate. General Teleradio, the broadcasting arm of the General Tire and Rubber Company, purchased the WHBQ stations in March 1954. In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures in order to give its television stations a programming source outside of network content and locally produced shows. RKO was merged into General Teleradio; General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were later renamed RKO General in 1957.
RKO General was under nearly continuous investigation from the 1960s onward due to a long history of lying to advertisers and regulators. For example, it was nearly forced out of broadcasting in 1980 after misleading the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about corporate misconduct at parent General Tire. Under longtime general manager Alex Bonner, WHBQ-AM-FM-TV was never accused of any wrongdoing. The regulatory pressure on RKO General continued unabated until 1987, when an FCC administrative law judge ruled the company unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to its rampant dishonesty. After the FCC advised RKO that appealing the decision was not worth the effort, RKO began unwinding its broadcast operations. The WHBQ stations were the next-to-last to be sold, shortly after Bonner retired in 1990. The new owner, Adams Communications, sold off WHBQ radio (WHBQ-FM had been sold off several years earlier).
Transition to Fox[edit | edit source]
Adams was in severe financial straits by 1994, and sold the station to the Communications Corporation of America; the sale was finalized on August 17 of that year. Only a short time later, ComCorp sold WHBQ-TV to the News Corporation, then-owner of the Fox network (which spun off the majority of its entertainment holdings to 21st Century Fox in July 2013); the sale closed on July 5, 1995. After the sale was closed, News Corporation had to run the station for over five months as an ABC affiliate, as WPTY's affiliation contract with Fox did not expire until November 30. Fox had signed a deal with New World Communications the year prior to switch the network affiliations of most of its "Big Three"-affiliated stations to the network. News Corporation's purchase of channel 13 built on this, and was in part positioning to have a station in a market that was, at the time, in contention for landing an NFL team (Fox had just gained the broadcast rights to the league's National Football Conference division in 1994, however, the anticipated team never came to Memphis).
When the station's affiliation agreement with ABC ended on December 1, 1995, Fox programming moved to WHBQ-TV (becoming the third Memphis station to affiliate with the network – WMKW-TV [channel 30, now WLMT] had been the area's original Fox affiliate from the network's October 1986 launch until it moved to WPTY in 1990); outgoing Fox station WPTY became the market's ABC affiliate. Upon the network switch, channel 13 replaced ABC's soap opera lineup with children's programs from Fox Kids (later 4Kids TV), unlike most of the other stations that switched to Fox between 1994 and 1996. WHBQ is the only television station in the Memphis market that has never changed its call letters or channel allocation, and the only one to have been an owned-and-operated station of any major network. It was also the smallest Fox O&O by market size (if WOGX in Gainesville, Florida, market #163, is not counted due to its status as a semi-satellite of WOFL in Orlando).
On June 13, 2007, News Corporation placed WHBQ-TV and eight other stations up for sale. Local TV, a broadcast holding company controlled by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, purchased the other eight stations on December 22. WHBQ-TV was not included in the sale as Local TV already owned CBS affiliate WREG-TV – FCC rules prohibit duopolies between two of the four highest-rated television stations in a media market. On January 16, 2009, Fox Television Stations withdrew WHBQ-TV from the market as the only interested buyers (other than Local TV) that were willing to pay anywhere close to the asking price were groups that already owned stations in Memphis, Newport Television (then-owner of WPTY and WLMT, which have since been divested to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group) and Raycom Media (owner of WMC-TV). In December 2008, Fox discontinued children's programming as a result of its removal of the 4Kids TV block, replacing it with the infomercial block Weekend Marketplace. On June 6, 2012, WHBQ-TV became the last Fox-owned station outside of its MyNetworkTV sister stations to switch from the EndPlay CMS platform (spun off from Fox Interactive Media) to a new Worldnow-hosted platform now used by all of the other Fox-owned stations.
Trade to Cox Media Group[edit | edit source]
On June 24, 2014, Fox Television Stations announced that it would trade WHBQ-TV and Boston sister station WFXT to the Cox Media Group in exchange for acquiring Cox's San Francisco duopoly of Fox affiliate KTVU (which has been the network's largest affiliate for several years) and independent station KICU-TV. WHBQ remains a Fox affiliate through a long-term affiliation agreement with the network. The trade was completed on October 8, 2014.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|TV stations in Tennessee|
|TV stations in Western Tennessee, Northwestern Mississippi and the Eastern Delta Region of Arkansas, including Memphis and Oxford|
|WREG 3 (CBS) |
WMC 5 (NBC)
WKNO 10 (PBS)
WHBQ 13 (Fox)
WPGF-LD 17 (ESTRELLA)
WMAV 18 (PBS)
WTWV 23 (Rel)
WATN 24 (ABC)
KPMF-LD 26 (MNTV/AMGTV)
WLMT 30 (CW)
WWTW 34 (Ind.)
WQEK-LD 36 (Cozi)
WBUY 40 (TBN)
W50EA-D 42 (3ABN)
WBXP-LP 44 (SBN)
WPXX 50 (Ion)
WPYM-LD 56 (RTV)
WDNM-LD 59 (Daystar)