WKBW-TV, virtual channel 7 (UHF digital channel 38), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Buffalo, New York, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. WKBW-TV's studios are located at 7 Broadcast Plaza in downtown Buffalo, and its transmitter is located at 8909 Center Street in Colden. It is one of many local Buffalo television stations that are available over-the-air and on cable television in Canada, particularly in Southern Ontario. For many years, it was carried via microwave to cable systems in such areas as Corning and Horseheads; this ended when WENY-TV signed on as the ABC affiliate for the Elmira market.
Clinton Churchill/CapCities ownership (1957–1986)
The Channel 7 frequency was hotly contested during the 1950s; the Buffalo Courier-Express and former WBUF-TV owner Sherwin Grossman tried several times to gain rights to the channel allocation (to compete with The Buffalo News's WBEN-TV), but was unable to secure a license. The competition for the channel 7 allocation continued to grow when the city's first UHF station, WBES-TV, failed. Clinton Churchill, original owner of 50,000 watt radio station WKBW (1520 AM, now WWKB), was granted the license to operate the station in 1957. WKBW-TV was originally intended to be an independent station. However, when NBC shut down its owned-and-operated station, WBUF-TV (channel 17, now WNED-TV), on September 30, 1958, then-ABC affiliate WGR-TV (channel 2, now WGRZ) went back to NBC. As a result of the network shuffle, WKBW-TV premiered as ABC's new Buffalo affiliate when it went on the air on November 30, 1958. The station's studios were originally located at 1420 Main Street in the former Churchill Tabernacle Church, with WKBW radio located next door at 1430 Main Street.
Churchill sold the WKBW stations to Capital Cities Broadcasting (which later became Capital Cities Communications) in 1961, earning a handsome return on his original investment into WKBW radio in 1926. CapCities would serve as WKBW-TV's longest-tenured owner, owning it and its radio sister for 25 years, and the station would reach its peak during Capital Cities' ownership. WKBW-TV produced iconic children's programing such as Rocketship 7 and The Commander Tom Show from the 1960s to the 1980s. A staple of its morning programming for many years was Dialing for Dollars, which later became AM Buffalo after the Dialing for Dollars franchise was discontinued; AM Buffalo still airs today. Under Capital Cities' ownership, in 1978 the WKBW stations moved their studios from Main Street to their present location on Church Street a few blocks southwest of Niagara Square.
In 1977, WKBW-TV unsuccessfully sued the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) over simultaneous substitution rules. In Capital Cities Communications Inc v Canadian Radio-Television Commission, WKBW-TV argued that the CRTC did not have jurisdiction to enforce simultaneous substitution if the stations simulcasting an American program did not broadcast across a provincial line (in WKBW's case, the stations in question were in Toronto and Hamilton, both of which were primarily carried only in the province of Ontario). The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the CRTC's favor, declaring broadcasting to be a federal undertaking under Canadian law, and that whether the station broadcast across a provincial line was irrelevant to that fact.
Queen City Broadcasting/Granite Broadcasting Co. years (1986–2014)
When Capital Cities merged with ABC in 1986 and needed to divest stations to stay within Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limits of the era, it sold WKBW-TV to J. Bruce Llewelyn's Queen City Broadcasting. At that point, WKBW radio was sold to Price Communications and had its call letters changed to WWKB (that station is currently owned by Entercom Communications). In late 1993, Granite Broadcasting acquired a 45% minority stake in WKBW-TV from Queen City Broadcasting. A year-and-a-half later, in June 1995, Granite bought the remaining 55% interest in the station. Until 2000, New York Lottery drawings were shown on WKBW-TV (these have since moved to WGRZ and were discontinued in October 2013; they have since been reinstated). WKBW-TV, through at least the early 2000s, operated the Niagara Frontier radio reading service on its second audio program feed, though it was pulled after the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime-show controversy in 2004 due to content concerns and the FCC's stricter enforcement of obscenity laws, which included some RRS titles. WNED-FM's subcarrier then was contracted to carry the service from then on. From 2006 to April 2009, WKBW-TV operated WNGS, owned at the time by Equity Media Holdings, under a local marketing agreement for most of that time while channel 67 was affiliated with the then-Equity-owned Retro Television Network. Equity went bankrupt in 2009, selling off RTN to company shareholder Henry Luken's Luken Communications by January 2009 (which led to WNGS and other Equity stations dropping the network) and the Equity stations being liquidated, with WNGS sold to the Daystar Television Network in April 2009 (the station has since been resold to a local group run by Philip A. Arno). As a result of the changes, WKBW-TV ended the LMA with WNGS which has since changed its call to WBBZ-TV.
The Scripps era (2014–present)
On February 10, 2014, the E. W. Scripps Company announced that it would acquire WKBW-TV as well as MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYD in Detroit, Michigan from Granite Broadcasting for $110 million. The FCC approved the sale on May 2. The sale was completed on June 16. With Scripps' acquisition of WKBW-TV, each of Buffalo's "Big Three" network affiliates will have at one point or another been owned by a company with newspaper interests; WIVB-TV, founded in 1948 as WBEN-TV, was owned by the Butler family, then-owners of the Buffalo Evening News, from its inception until the early '70s (and both have shared partial ownership by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway since 2014, via BH's stake in Media General); Gannett Company, publishers of USA Today and various other newspapers around the country, acquired WGRZ-TV in 1996. E.W. Scripps spun-off their papers to Journal Media Group on April 1, 2015, while Gannett's publishing and digital media operations were spun off to the new Tegna on June 29, 2015.
|TV stations in New York|
|WABC, New York City|
|TV stations in Western New York, including Buffalo and Niagara Falls|
|WGRZ 2 (NBC) |
WIVB 4 (CBS)
WKBW 7 (ABC)
WNED 17 (PBS)
WNLO 23 (CW)
WVTT 25 (THIS)
WNYB 26 (TCT)
WUTV 29 (Fox)
WDTB-LD 39 (Daystar)
WNYO 49 (MNTV)
WPXJ 51 (Ion)
WBXZ-LP 56 (Cozi)
WBBZ 67 (Ind.)