WKTV is an NBC/CBS/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Utica, New York, United States and serving Central Upstate New York's Mohawk Valley. It broadcasts a 720p high definition digital signal (downconverted from the networks' native 1080i resolutions) on UHF channel 29 (or virtual channel 2 via PSIP) from a transmitter in the Eatonville section of Fairfield. Owned by Heartland Media, it has studios on Smith Hill Road in Deerfield (with a Utica postal address).
On cable, the station's NBC-affiliated primary channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 4 and in full 1080i high definition on channel 1203.
The station launched on December 1, 1949 as Utica's first television station, operating on VHF channel 13. It was the 93rd television station in the United States to sign-on. This made Utica one of the smallest cities in the nation with a television station. It was owned by Copper City Broadcasting Corporation, controlled by Myron Kallet, along with WKAL (1450 AM). As the only station in its area, it was affiliated with all four major networks at the time: NBC, DuMont, ABC, and CBS, with NBC being its primary affiliation. It lost DuMont in 1956 following the network's closure, and lost CBS soon afterward following a dispute with the network; after that, WHEN-TV/WTVH in Syracuse served as the default CBS affiliate for the Utica area until 2015.
In 1951, a young local radio announcer named Dick Clark joined the staff at WKTV. He was a talented and good-looking announcer that quickly gathered a loyal following. Clark's father was the manager of Utica radio station WRUN (1150 AM, later to become WUTI and shut down in 2013; and 104.3 FM, now WFRG-FM), and his son wanted to avoid the name recognition factor. To avoid confusion, the younger Clark became known on-air as "Dick Clay". Eventually, Clark would anchor the weeknight newscasts on WKTV (replacing Robert Earle, who would later host the GE College Bowl). In 1952, Clark departed WKTV for WFIL AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia.
In 1958, Kallet sold WKTV and WKAL to a group led by Paul Harron and Gordon Gray, who had previously owned WIBG AM-FM in Philadelphia and WPFH in Wilmington, Delaware. Soon afterward, on January 1, 1959, WKTV moved to VHF channel 2 in a dial realignment, which allowed WTRI (channel 35) in Albany to move to channel 13 (where it became WAST, now WNYT), and (along with the earlier move of a channel 13 allocation in Hamilton, Ontario to channel 11, becoming CHCH-TV) led to a channel 13 allocation being assigned to Rochester (which signed on in 1962 as WOKR and is now WHAM-TV). With the switch, WKTV upgraded its signal and began to cover a fairly wide area stretching from as far south as the Catskill Mountains, as far east as The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts and into Southern Ontario, Canada. The Harron/Gray group, Mid New York Broadcasting, sold WKAL in 1961, but retained WKTV, and in subsequent years acquired several additional stations, including KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas and WMTW-FM-TV on Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Harron also operated a chain of cable systems in the Northeastern United States, including a system in Utica, Central New York Cable TV (Later, Harron Cable TV) built in 1963. The company eventually became known as Harron Communications Corporation.
WKTV enjoyed a monopoly in the Utica television market until February 28, 1970 when WUTR signed on as an ABC affiliate. WKTV then became affiliated solely with NBC, and is now one of the network's longest-serving affiliates. In the mid-1980s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled on cross-ownership of broadcast, cable and print media in the same market. The FCC grandfathered Harron. A few years later Harron acquired the nearby Canajoharie, New York cable system, then owned by a local appliance dealer. The Canajoharie plant extended well within a 20-mile (32 km) contour of WKTV's Middleville, New York transmitter site. The FCC revoked Harron's grandfather status and required divestiture of either its cable or television assets in the region. In 1992, Harron sold controlling interest in WKTV to Smith Broadcasting (the cable system was later sold to Adelphia and is now part of Charter Communications). In 2004, Boston Ventures, acquired the Smith Broadcasting stations, and formed Smith Media, LLC, after founder Bob Smith died in 2003.
WKTV has been broadcasting its digital signal on UHF channel 29 since May 2006 and in high definition starting with the 2008 Summer Olympics. The station signed-off its analog signal on February 18, 2009, and began broadcasting exclusively in digital. This left some viewers without a reachable signal and others looking for an outdoor UHF antenna. To continue serving those areas, WKTV began simulcasting its weekday newscasts at noon and 5 p.m. on WUTQ (1550 AM, now WUSP) and WADR (1480 AM, now WRCK). In May 2011, the radio stations began simulcasting the second hour of WKTV's weekday morning show. On March 16, 2012, WUTQ-FM (100.7 FM), then simulcasting WUTQ/WRCK, began simulcasting the newscasts. WUTQ/WRCK broke from the simulcast later that year when WUTQ-FM owner Ken Roser sold the stations to Good Guys Broadcasting Corporation. WUTQ-FM continues to simulcast WKTV's 5 p.m. newscast and its weekday morning show; however, it now simulcasts the first hour due to an expansion of its popular morning talk show Talk Of The Town.
Due to an ongoing retransmission dispute, Time Warner Cable replaced WKTV with fellow NBC affiliate WBRE-TV from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on December 16, 2010. WKTV-DT2 was also dropped and eventually replaced by HBO Family. On the same date, rival WUTR began to be seen in the Burlington, Vermont–Plattsburgh, New York market on Time Warner Cable after sister station WVNY was dropped for the same reason. Nexstar Broadcasting Group, owner of WBRE, and Mission Broadcasting (a broadcaster whose stations are operated by Nexstar), owner of WUTR, opposed the use of their stations as replacement programming and requested the Time Warner Cable franchise for the affected regions be revoked. WKTV and Time Warner reached an agreement, the terms of which both sides refused to reveal, on January 8, 2011, allowing WKTV and the CW subchannel to return to the cable system the next day. (Ironically, WVNY would later be sold to Mission Broadcasting, making it a sister station to WUTR.)
On October 1, 2013, Smith Media reached a deal to sell WKTV to Heartland Media, a newly-formed company owned by former Gray Television executive Bob Prather. The sale was completed on March 20, 2014. WKTV launched a third digital subchannel eight months later on November 10, carrying programming from MeTV.
WKTV-DT2 is the CBS-affiliated second digital subchannel of WKTV, broadcasting in 720p high definition on UHF channel 29.2 (or virtual channel 2.2 via PSIP). The subchannel can also be seen on Spectrum channel 5 and in full 1080i high definition on digital channel 1209.
WKTV-DT2 signed-on in September 1998 alongside the creation of The WB 100+. WKTV partnered with the group to launch a cable-only WB affiliate. This new service replaced network flagship WPIX from New York City on Time Warner Cable systems in the Mohawk Valley and it used the "WBU" (standing for The WB Utica) call sign in a fictional manner.
In January 2006, The WB and UPN announced that they would merge and form The CW Television Network, from which affiliates were to be drawn from existing WB and UPN affiliates. "WBU" was chosen to become the CW affiliate for Utica, while UPN affiliate WPNY-LP associated itself with MyNetworkTV (a network started by Fox, whose Utica affiliate WFXV was a sister station to WPNY-LP) for UPN or WB affiliates not chosen by The CW. Responding to the selection, WKTV launched a new second digital subchannel to simulcast "WBU" and offer off-air access to CW programming, which begun along with the CW on September 18. The station then began using the WKTV-DT2 calls in an official manner. Originally, this subchannel was known on-air as Central New York's CW but was eventually re-branded to Central New York's CW 11 (and more recently The CW 11) to reflect its location on Time Warner Cable systems. Ultimately, the new subchannel replaced "WBU" altogether.
On October 26, 2015, WKTV announced that it would change WKTV-DT2's affiliation from The CW to CBS on November 22 (rebranding the subchannel as CBS Utica). The new affiliation marks the first time CBS has had an affiliate in Utica since the end of WKTV's secondary affiliation with the network in the mid-1950s, as well as the first time CBS has ever had a full-time affiliate in Utica. (Prior to this, WTVH in Syracuse and WBNG in Binghamton served as the default CBS affiliates for the Utica market.) WKTV-DT2's former CW affiliation, as well as its programming and cable channel position, moved to WKTV's third subchannel, and MeTV in turn was transferred to a new fourth subchannel. Within a month, WKTV-DT2 had replaced WTVH on Time Warner Cable channel 5 in Utica proper, while DirecTV later added WKTV-DT2 to its local packages, as did Dish Network shortly after the new year. On July 1, 2016, WKTV-DT2 was re-launched in the rest of the Utica DMA when the station replaced WTVH in Herkimer County and WBNG in Otsego County. However, as a result of viewer complaints in Otsego County, WBNG was restored to Time Warner Cable systems in that area (alongside WKTV-DT2) on January 25, 2017.
In May 2016, WKTV-DT2 upgraded their over-the-air digital signal into 720p high definition; thus offering a locally operated in-market over-the-air HD feed for CBS for the first time in the Utica–Rome market.
WKTV-DT3 is the CW+-affiliated third digital subchannel of WKTV, broadcasting in 720p high definition on UHF channel 29.6 (or virtual channel 2.3 via PSIP). The subchannel is also available on Spectrum channel 11 and in high definition on digital channel 1212.
The station signed-on November 10, 2014 as an affiliate of MeTV. As recommended by Weigel Broadcasting, MeTV's owners, WKTV-DT3 cleared the entire MeTV schedule. After much deliberation between WKTV and Time Warner Cable, WKTV-DT3 was added to Time Warner Cable's Utica line-up in the summer of 2015 on channel 1245.
On October 26, 2015, it was announced that WKTV-DT3 would switch its affiliation from MeTV to The CW (WKTV-DT2's former affiliation), while MeTV programs were moved to a newly created fourth subchannel on November 22 of that year, making WKTV-DT2 CBS' first full-time affiliate in Utica. WKTV-DT3 subsequently inherited WKTV-DT2's cable channel position, as well as its programming from The CW Plus, while the new fourth subchannel immediately took over WKTV-DT3's former cable channel position.
In May 2016, WKTV-DT3 upgraded its over-the-air digital signal into 720p high definition; thus offering over-the-air access to The CW's HD feed for the first time in the Utica–Rome market.
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