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WJXT, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 42), is an independent television station licensed to Jacksonville, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the Graham Media Group subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WCWJ (channel 17). The two stations share studio facilities at 4 Broadcast Place on the south bank of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville; WJXT's transmitter is located on Eve Drive in the city's Killarney Shores section.

On cable, the station can be seen on channel 3 on Comcast Xfinity (cable channel 4 is occupied by the Home Shopping Network; this was an artifact of preventing analog-era co-channel interference within Jacksonville proper) and channel 4 in most outlying areas of the market, and in high definition on Xfinity digital channel 437. It is also available on Cox channels 19 and 1019 in Gainesville.

HistoryEdit

As a CBS affiliateEdit

The station first signed on the air on September 15, 1949 as WMBR-TV; it was the second television station to sign on in the state of Florida (after WTVJ) and the first that was licensed outside of Miami. The station was co-owned alongside WMBR radio (1460 AM, now WQOP; and 96.1 FM, now WEJZ). Though the station was originally a primary CBS affiliate, it also maintained secondary affiliations with NBC, ABC and the DuMont Television Network. In 1953, the WMBR stations were purchased by The Washington Post Company. WMBR-TV dropped the DuMont affiliation in 1955, less than a year before the network ceased operations. Since its only competition in the Jacksonville market came from UHF station WJHP-TV (which signed on in 1953 and went dark three years later), channel 4 had a virtual television monopoly in northern Florida until September 1957, when it lost the NBC affiliation to upstart WFGA (channel 12, now WTLV).

The Washington Post Company sold off WMBR-AM-FM in 1958, while it kept the television station, whose callsign it changed to the current WJXT. WJXT remained a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate until WJKS-TV (channel 17, now CW sister station WCWJ) took the ABC affiliation upon its sign-on in February 1966, leaving WJXT exclusively with CBS. For much of its tenure as a CBS affiliate, WJXT was the only station affiliated with the network that was located between Savannah, Georgia and Orlando, Florida and was thus carried on many cable systems between Jacksonville and Orlando.

In 2001, WJXT was awarded the local broadcast rights to Jacksonville Jaguars preseason football games, replacing WTLV as the official station for the NFL franchise (WTLV had carried preseason games and Jaguars-related programs starting with the team's 1995 inaugural season); the deal also included carriage of the team's coaches show and other Jaguars-related television programs. The station had already been airing Jaguars games since 1998, when CBS gained the national broadcast rights to football games from the NFL's American Football Conference division. That year, speculation arose that WJXT would become an independent station after it had only reached a one-year affiliation renewal with the network, instead of a four to eight-year affiliation agreement that stations usually obtain from the major broadcast networks.

IndependenceEdit

During negotiations between Post-Newsweek Stations and CBS on a new affiliation agreement in early 2002, CBS supplied Post-Newsweek with a list of demands that would have resulted in WJXT no longer receiving monetary compensation for the carriage of the network's programming (CBS was moving toward a reverse compensation model for its affiliates during this time) and would have required the station to run the entire CBS network schedule in pattern without pre-emptions, except for extended local breaking news and severe weather coverage. Station and Post-Newsweek company management believed these stipulations would come at the expense of local programming.[5][6] Rather than give in to CBS's demands, Post-Newsweek Stations announced on April 3, 2002 that it would not renew channel 4's affiliation agreement with CBS, which was set to expire on July 10.

UPN affiliate WTEV-TV (channel 47, now WJAX-TV)—at that time owned by Clear Channel Communications—subsequently signed an agreement with CBS to become the network's new Jacksonville affiliate two weeks after WJXT's disaffiliation announcement on April 23, 2002. The affiliation switch became official at 5:00 a.m. on July 15, 2002, ending WJXT's 53-year association with CBS. The shift made Jacksonville one of the only television markets in the United States with all six major broadcast networks at the time (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and The WB) having affiliations with only five stations in a six-station market (which remains the case with UPN and The WB's successors The CW and MyNetworkTV in the present day), the only market in which each affiliate of the Big Four networks are controlled by two companies (Tegna currently owns WTLV and ABC affiliate WJXX (channel 25); at the time, Clear Channel owned both Fox affiliate WAWS (channel 30, now WFOX-TV) and WTEV, Cox Media Group presently owns WFOX outright and operates WJAX under a joint sales and shared services agreement), and one of the few markets where an analog-era VHF station has no network affiliation while the market's other commercial stations (one VHF and five UHF) do. In addition, this triggered an affiliation switch in Gainesville where WGFL became a CBS affiliate; that station was a primary affiliate of The WB at the time.

As an independent, WJXT expanded its news programming and began filling daytime, primetime and late night timeslots that were formerly occupied by CBS programs with additional syndicated programming, as well as replacing network sports coverage with SEC college football and basketball telecasts from the syndicated sports provider Jefferson Pilot Sports (now Raycom Sports). WJXT retained rights to Jaguars preseason games for one additional year following the switch, despite the fact that the AFC regular season and playoff football games had moved to WTEV due to national broadcast rights held by CBS and a contract stipulation that reserved the team the right to move local broadcasts of preseason games and other Jaguars programs to another station if WJXT changed its network affiliation. The team cut ties with WJXT after the 2002 NFL preseason and moved its preseason games to WTEV-TV in 2003.

WJXT does not entirely follow the same "Local" branding scheme as its Graham Media sister stations, although it uses the on-air slogan "The Local Station", and in 2014, the station adopted a slanted logo similar to Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, but with elements of its previous boxed 4, alongside changing its news branding to News4JAX.

On May 27, 2016, it was announced that CW affiliate WCWJ, along with WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, would be sold to Graham Media for $120 million as part of the station divestitures required as a result of the pending merger of the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, then-owners of WCWJ, and WCWJ's former owner Media General. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on January 11, 2017 and completed January 17, making WJXT part of a duopoly (Graham Media's first) with WCWJ.

TV stations in Florida
Miami – Fort Lauderdale Tampa – St. Petersburg Jacksonville Orlando – Daytona Beach – Melbourne Gainesville West Palm Beach – Fort Pierce Panama City Fort Myers – Naples Pensacola / Mobile
WCAY-CD, Key West WPDS-LD, Largo WJXT, Jacksonville WDSC, Daytona Beach WRUF-LD, Gainesville WWCI-CD, Vero Beach WPCT, Panama City Beach WGPS-LP, Fort Myers WRBD-LP, Pensacola
WURH-CD, Miami WARP-CD, Tampa WQXT-CD, St. Augustine WRDQ, Orlando WBXG-CA, Gainesville WHDT, Stuart WBQP-CD, Pensacola
WBEC, Ft. Lauderdale WTAM-LD, Tampa WBXJ-CD, Jacksonville WFEF-LD, Orlando WYME-CD, Gainesville WBEC, Boca Raton WJTC, Pensacola
WMOR, Lakeland W39DF-D, Jacksonville WRCF-CD, Winter Park WXOD-LD, Wabasso WFBD, Destin
WZRA-CA, Oldsmar WEFS, Cocoa W05DH-D, Jupiter WPAN, Fort Walton Beach
WHDO-CD, Orlando WAWD, Fort Walton Beach
WZXZ-CD, Orlando
TV stations in the First Coast and Colonial Coast, including Jacksonville and Brunswick
WJXT 4 (Ind)
WJCT 7 (PBS)
WXGA 8 (PBS)
WTLV 12 (NBC)
WCWJ 17 (CW)
WUJX-LD 18 (UNI)
WKBJ-LD 20 (BUZZR)
WPXC 21 (Ion)
WQXT-CD 22 (RTV)
WJXX 25 (ABC)
WWRJ-LP 27 (Rel)
WFOX 30 (Fox)
WUJF-LD 33 (Daystar)
WRCZ-LD 35 (GRIT)
W39DF-D 39 (HSN)
WBXJ-CD 43 (BIZ)
WJAX 47 (CBS)
WJGV-CD 48 (Ind)
W50CO-D 50 (3ABN)
WJEB 59 (TBN)
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