WISH-TV, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 9), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group, as part of a duopoly with Marion-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate WNDY-TV (channel 23). The two stations share studios on North Meridian Street (at the north end of the Television Row section) on the near north side of Indianapolis and transmitter facilities on Walnut Drive in the Augusta section of the city's northwest side (near Meridian Hills).
On cable, WISH-TV is available on Charter Spectrum channel 3, Comcast Xfinity channel 7 and AT&T U-verse channel 8.
The station first signed on the air at 6:00 p.m. on July 1, 1954. Founded by C. Bruce McConnell—owner of WISH radio (1310 AM, now WTLC)—it was the third television station to sign on in the Indianapolis market, after WFBM-TV (channel 6, now WRTV), which signed on in May 1949 and Bloomington-licensed WTTV (channel 10, now on channel 4), which signed on six months later in November 1949. WISH-TV originally operated as a primary ABC affiliate with a secondary affiliation with the DuMont Television Network. The station also carried several CBS and NBC programs that WFBM-TV and WTTV respectively declined to carry. WISH-TV originally transmitted its signal from a tower it shared with WISH radio; the following year, the station constructed a 1,000-foot (305 m) transmitter tower, which allowed the station to improve its signal coverage in the market.
As a CBS affiliate
In 1956, McConnell sold the station to the Indiana Broadcasting Company, the broadcasting subsidiary of J.H. Whitney & Company and owners of WANE-TV in Fort Wayne. The new owners persuaded CBS to move its programming to channel 8, taking that affiliation from WFBM. Conversely that same year, WISH-TV lost the ABC affiliation to WTTV; this resulted in WLBC-TV, channel 49 in Muncie (whose allocation is now occupied by PBS member station WIPB) serving as the de facto ABC affiliate for the northern part of the market as WTTV's signal did not extend very far north outside of Indianapolis's northern suburbs as its transmitter was located farther south than the market's other stations. Also in 1956, WISH became one of the first television stations in the United States to install a videotape machine.
Indiana Broadcasting became the Corinthian Broadcasting Corporation in 1957, with WISH-TV serving as the company's flagship station. From 1958 to 1959, it was an affiliate of the NTA Film Network. Corinthian merged with Dun & Bradstreet in 1971. Dun & Bradstreet sold its entire broadcasting unit to the Belo Corporation in February 1984. However, the merger put Belo two stations over the television ownership limits that the Federal Communications Commission had in effect at the time. As a result, the company sold WISH-TV and WANE to LIN Broadcasting (the predecessor of LIN Media) the following month in March 1984. LIN was headquartered in Indianapolis for many years, with WISH-TV serving as that company's flagship television property; the company eventually moved its headquarters to Providence, Rhode Island in the late 1990s, resulting in WPRI-TV replacing WISH as LIN's flagship station. In 1995, the station relocated its transmitter to a new tower built in the Augusta section of Indianapolis.
In 2002, WISH-TV began handling the master control operations of WANE-TV and fellow sister station WLFI-TV in Lafayette. The hub expanded to include the Buffalo duopoly of WIVB-TV and WNLO in October, with other LIN-owned stations gradually being added to the WISH hub by the summer of 2003.
LIN later acquired low-power independent station W11BV (channel 11, now WIIH-CD channel 17 and a fill-in translator for WISH-TV) in 1992. On February 10, 2005, the Paramount Stations Group subsidiary of Viacom sold UPN affiliate WNDY-TV (channel 23, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) as well as its Columbus, Ohio sister station WWHO to LIN TV for $85 million, creating a duopoly with WISH-TV when the sale was finalized that spring. On May 18, 2007, the LIN TV Corporation announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company.
On September 15, 2008, LIN and Time Warner Cable entered into an impasse during negotiations to renew retransmission consent deals for some of the group's television stations. Bright House Networks, one of two major cable providers serving Indianapolis, negotiates retransmission consent contracts through Time Warner Cable. LIN TV requested compensation for carriage of its stations in a manner similar to the deals that cable networks have with pay television providers, as other broadcast station owners began to seek compensation from cable and satellite providers for their programming. The carriage agreement with Bright House expired on October 2. By 12:35 a.m. on October 3, LIN's television stations were replaced on Time Warner Cable systems in markets where the group owns stations and where either provider operates systems with programming from other cable channels. LIN's stations (with the exception of WIIH-CA) were restored 26 days later on October 29 through a new carriage agreement reached between Time Warner Cable and LIN TV.
On March 21, 2014, Media General announced that it would buy LIN Media in a $1.6 billion deal, described as a "merger." The merger was completed on December 19.
Affiliation switch with WTTV
On August 11, 2014, Tribune Broadcasting announced that CW affiliate WTTV would become the market's CBS affiliate on January 1, 2015, as part of an agreement that also renewed the CBS affiliations on Tribune-owned stations in five other markets. The deal, which resulted in the end of WISH-TV's 58-year relationship with CBS, was reportedly struck as a result of WISH station management balking at the network's demands for sharing of retransmission consent revenue from its affiliates. This marked the second time in Indianapolis television history that WTTV took an affiliation from WISH, the first being ABC in 1956.
As the other major broadcast networks had existing affiliation deals with other area stations (WRTV's ABC affiliation was up for renewal around this time, though the E. W. Scripps Company reached a deal to allow WRTV and nine of the company's other stations to remain with ABC the day prior to the announcement), WISH announced on December 11, 2014 that it would become an independent station upon losing CBS, filling timeslots previously occupied by network shows with additional newscasts and an expanded inventory of syndicated talk shows, newsmagazines and sitcoms, including some shows relocated from sister station WNDY-TV to make up for the loss of CBS daytime and late-night programs on channel 8's schedule and a national news program from TouchVision (the latter of which was later replaced with an additional half-hour of the station's morning newscast, 24-Hour News 8's Daybreak, on July 13, 2015) to serve as a replacement for the CBS Morning News.
However, on December 22, Tribune announced that it would sell the market's CW affiliation to Media General—the deal occurred three days after the completion of the company's merger with LIN. As a result, WISH instead became a CW affiliate, in effect switching affiliations with WTTV and preventing a situation in which The CW, which WTTV originally planned on carrying over its second digital subchannel (which had previously been affiliated with This TV prior to December 2014), would be relegated to the lower digital subchannel tier on local cable systems and probable subjection to non-carriage by satellite providers for months until carriage agreements were struck. The loss of WISH's CBS affiliation also affected the Media General-LIN merger, with the purchase price being lowered by $110 million in stock, though no other factors were affected.
The station's programming model since joining The CW has evolved to resemble that of then-fellow CW affiliate WGN-TV in the nearby Chicago market (which is owned by and is the flagship station of WTTV parent Tribune Broadcasting, and had itself been stripped of its CBS affiliation when the network purchased WBBM-TV in 1953)—as it has incorporated local and regional sports events through various programming agreements to make up for the loss of CBS Sports content following CBS' move to WTTV, in addition to relying heavily on local newscasts to fill time periods not occupied by CW network and syndicated programming. As it had done throughout most of its tenure with CBS, the station has limited the incorporation of network branding as a CW affiliate—choosing to brand itself by its call letters (or alternately "WISH-TV, Channel 8"), rather than as "CW 8" under The CW's branding guidelines for its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates (which, like most of the other broadcast television networks that have launched starting with the debut of Fox in 1986, is usually stricter with station branding in comparison with CBS); however, WISH does utilize an alternate version of its existing logo (which has been used by the station since 1997) with the CW logomark augmented to its left for promotional purposes.
Sale to Nexstar
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire the Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion with the intention to name the combined group Meredith Media General if the sale were finalized. However, on September 28, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group made an unsolicited cash-and-stock merger offer for Media General, originally valued at $14.50 per share. On November 16, following opposition to the merger with Meredith by minority shareholders Oppenheimer Holdings and Starboard Capital (primarily because Meredith's magazine properties were included in the deal, which would have re-entered Media General into publishing after it sold its newspapers to BH Media in 2012 to reduce debt) and the rejection of Nexstar's initial offer by company management, Media General agreed to enter into negotiations with Nexstar on a suitable counter deal, while the Meredith merger proposal remained active; the two eventually concluded negotiations on January 6, 2016, reaching a merger agreement for valued at $17.14 per share (an evaluation of $4.6 billion, plus the assumption of $2.3 billion debt).
On January 27, Meredith formally broke off the proposed merger with Media General and accepted the termination fee of $60 million previously negotiated under the original merger proposal; Media General subsequently signed an agreement to be acquired by Nexstar, in exchange for giving Meredith right of first refusal to acquire any broadcast or digital properties that may be divested (a clause that Meredith did not exercise). Because the FCC required Media General and Nexstar to divest stations in markets where both groups had television properties, the WISH-WNDY duopoly gained new sister stations in nearby markets within Indiana: the Evansville virtual duopoly of ABC affiliate WEHT and fellow CW affiliate WTVW, and the Terre Haute virtual duopoly of NBC affiliate WTWO and ABC affiliate WAWV-TV. CBS affiliate WANE-TV in Fort Wayne was the only existing sister station of WISH and WNDY that became part of the combined group, as Media General and Nexstar each sold certain Indiana stations they already owned (Nexstar's Fox affiliate WFFT-TV in Fort Wayne and Media General's two other Indiana-based CBS affiliates, WTHI-TV in Terre Haute and WLFI-TV in Lafayette) to Heartland Media to alleviate conflicts with FCC ownership rules. The transaction was approved by the FCC on January 11, 2017; the sale was completed on January 17, at which point the existing Nexstar stations and the former Media General outlets that neither group had to sell in order to rectify ownership conflicts in certain markets became part of the renamed Nexstar Media Group.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned Fox affiliate WXIN (channel 59) since July 1996 and CBS affiliate WTTV since July 2002—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WXIN and WTTV/WTTK directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WXIN and WTTV/WTTK through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell two of the stations (including one ranking in the top four in ratings; WTTV and WTTK counting as one station) to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict, potentially creating two new duopolies.
|TV stations in Indiana|
|TV stations in Central Indiana, including Indianapolis, Bloomington and Muncie|
|WTTV 4 (CBS) |
WRTV 6 (ABC)
WISH 8 (CW)
WTHR 13 (NBC)
WREP-LD 15 (Youtoo)
WIIH-CD 17 (GetTV)
WDNI-CD 19 (TLM)
WFYI 20 (PBS)
WNDY 23 (MNTV)
WSOT-LD 27 (NRBTV)
WUDZ-LD 28 (Buzzr)
WTTK 29 (CBS)
WTIU 30 (PBS)
WSDI-LD 30 (Quest)
WHMB 40 (FBC)
WCLJ 42 (Bounce TV)
WALV-CD 46 (MeTV)
WBXI-CD 47 (Start TV)
WIPB 49 (PBS)
WIWU-CD 51 (Rel)
WXIN 59 (Fox)
WIPX 63 (Ion)
WDTI 69 (Daystar)