WJAC-TV is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States and serving West-Central Pennsylvania. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 34 (or virtual channel 6 via PSIP) from a transmitter northwest of the city in Laurel Ridge State Park along the Cambria and Westmoreland county line. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Johnstown-licensed Fox affiliate WWCP-TV, channel 8 (owned by Horseshoe Curve Communications and operated by Cunningham Broadcasting) and Altoona-licensed ABC affiliate WATM-TV, channel 23 (owned by Palm Television, L.P.) under a master service agreement.
WJAC has studios on Old Hickory Lane in Upper Yoder Township (with a Johnstown postal address). WWCP and WATM maintain separate facilities on Scalp Avenue (PA 56) in Richland Township (also with a Johnstown postal address).
History[edit | edit source]
WJAC-TV first began its broadcasting operations on September 15, 1949 originally owned by the Johnstown Automotive Company along with WJAC radio (AM 1400, now WKGE at AM 850, and FM 95.5, now WKYE at FM 96.5). At the time, it was the third smallest television station in the country market wise to be granted a commercial license on or before December 31 behind CBS affiliate WNBF-TV in Binghamton, New York and fellow NBC affiliate WICU-TV in Erie. It originally aired an analog signal on VHF channel 13 before moving to VHF channel 6 in 1952. Upon its sign-on, it aired programming from all four networks of the time (NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont). CBS disappeared from WJAC-TV's schedule when WARD-TV channel 56 (now Pittsburgh's CW affiliate WPCW on channel 19) signed-on in 1953 followed by DuMont when it shut down network operations in 1955. However, the station continued to air a few ABC shows until WWPC-TV, a satellite of Fox affiliate WWCP-TV, became a separate ABC affiliate in 1988.
In the 1960s, Johnstown Automotive sold the WJAC stations to the estate of Anderson H. Walters, the owner of The Tribune-Democrat, who held them until 1984 when tightened Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cross-ownership regulations forced the newspaper to sell off the radio stations. The Walters estate sold off the newspaper to MediaNews Group in 1987 but held on to Channel 6 until 1997 when it was sold to Sunrise Television. WJAC and new sister station WTOV-TV in the Steubenville, Ohio–Wheeling, West Virginia market were sold to Cox Enterprises in 2000. The two stations and WPXI in Pittsburgh were occasionally marketed together as a result. WJAC-TV and WTOV were updated to WPXI's on-air graphics after being acquired by Cox, despite WPXI changing its own look in 2004. Most of the graphics introduced to WJAC-TV after the acquisition were used until October 2011, when WJAC-TV updated to WPXI's current look.
WJAC-TV gained a reputation for its locally produced programs at the station throughout the years. Scholastic Quiz, a game show featuring local high school students, and Seniors Today (a public affairs program targeted to those 65 and older) would become mainstays of the station's programming and make host Ron Lorence (who would later build WADJ-AM, now WBHV, at 1330 AM and then buy WYSN-FM 101.7, now WCCL in Somerset County) a local household name. The station was also one of the stations across the country to produce a local version of the children's TV show Romper Room. In the 1950s and 1960s, WJAC-TV's slogan was "Serving Millions from Atop the Alleghenies."
On September 15, 2009, WJAC-TV celebrated its 60th year of broadcasting. During that month, WJAC-TV aired several commercials advertising the anniversary. One featured a variation of the "Serving Millions from Atop the Alleghenies" slogan creating "Serving Millions Across the Alleghenies." This old slogan was used in various ways in the station's broadcasts and mixed with the station's then-current slogan "Coverage You Can Count On" to form "Coverage You Can Count On Across the Alleghenies" the year before. On July 20, 2012, one day after Cox purchased four television stations in Jacksonville, Florida and Tulsa, Oklahoma from Newport Television, Cox put WJAC-TV, WTOV-TV, and sister stations in El Paso, Texas and Reno, Nevada, plus several radio stations in medium to small markets, on the selling block. All four of the television stations on the block are located in markets that are smaller than Tulsa. On February 25, 2013, Cox announced that it would sell the four stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group. The FCC granted its approval of the sale on April 29, and it was consummated on May 2. This made WJAC-TV a sister station to nearby WPGH-TV and WPMY in Pittsburgh though it is still connected to WPXI-TV through a news-share agreement.
On July 22, 2013, Horseshoe Curve Communications agreed to sell Fox affiliate WWCP-TV (channel 8) to Cunningham Broadcasting for $12 million. The Sinclair Broadcast Group was to operate the station through shared services and joint sales agreements. However, the majority of Cunningham's stock is held by the Smith family (owners and founders of Sinclair). As a result, Sinclair would have effectively owned WWCP as well. As WWCP's long-standing local marketing agreement to operate ABC affiliate WATM-TV (channel 23) was part of the deal, it would have resulted in the major commercial television stations in the market being controlled by just two companies. It would have essentially made WJAC-TV, WWCP, and WATM all sister stations and expanded on their existing news share arrangement (see below). However, on February 20, 2014, Horseshoe Curve informed the FCC that the sale of WWCP had fallen through.
WJAC-TV is carried on various cable systems in several counties that are located outside of the Johnstown/Altoona market. These counties include Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Westmoreland. During the 1990s, WJAC was available on cable in portions of Warren County, despite that county being a part of the Erie market. In West Virginia, it is carried in Petersburg (93 miles (150 km) away), Dorcas, Moorefield and Keyser. WJAC-TV is also broadcast over-the-air on a low-powered repeater, W29DH-D, in Moorefield, West Virginia. This repeater is owned by Valley TV Cooperative.
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