WPXI, virtual channel 11 (UHF digital channel 48), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. WPXI's offices and studios are located on Evergreen Road in the Summer Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Its transmitter is located on Television Hill in the Fineview section of the city, on the site of the station's original studio location.
On cable, WPXI is carried on Comcast Xfinity channels 12 (channel 10 in Bethel Park and channel 11 in some outlying areas) (standard definition) and 811 (high definition), and Verizon FiOS channels 11 (standard definition) and 511 (high definition).
As WIIC (1957–1981)
On September 1, 1957, Pittsburgh's second commercial VHF station signed on as WIIC. The station's construction permit was originally issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June 1955 to WIIC Incorporated – a joint venture of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which owned WWSW radio (970 AM, now WBGG), and Pittsburgh Radio Supply House, the then-owners of WJAS radio (1320 AM). Both radio stations had competed individually for the permit grant along with other applicants. CBS, which was looking to gain its own full-time affiliate in the market, signed a contract with the then-unnamed channel 11 shortly thereafter. Before the "freeze" on television station licenses, the two stations were competing for the channel 10 license originally assigned to Pittsburgh before the FCC reallocated the channels in 1952, with channel 10 going to Altoona; the Hearst Corporation (then-owners of WCAE and eventual owners of WTAE-TV) and two other companies were also applying for the channel 10 license.
Channel 11, however, did not sign on for well over two years after its permit was granted. The primary reason for the delay was on the part of WENS-TV (channel 16, now WINP-TV), whose application for the permit had been denied and later contested the FCC's original decision. In the interim, CBS continued to have most of its programs cleared by Westinghouse-owned KDKA-TV (channel 2), at the time Pittsburgh's only commercial VHF station. When CBS decided to make KDKA-TV its full-time Pittsburgh affiliate, NBC (who shared time on KDKA-TV with CBS, ABC, and station founder DuMont since its sign-on in 1949) reached a deal to affiliate with WIIC. Also, as a condition of the license grant, WJAS radio had to be sold; NBC wound up purchasing that station in August 1957. The WJAS interests later divested their 50 percent share of WIIC to another local broadcaster.
Bill Cardille signed the station on the air. In addition to Cardille, five other announcers that were with the station when it launched in 1957 include Mal Alberts, Bob Cochran, Ed Conway, Len Johnson and Mark Schaefer. Some of the first original programming to air on WIIC included Studio Wrestling and Chiller Theatre, both hosted by Cardille. Shortly after its sign-on, WIIC was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network, sharing the affiliation with KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, and public television station WQED.
In 1964, WIIC was sold to current owner Cox Enterprises; Cox subsequently traded its share in the then new cable system (today's Buckeye CableSystem) in Toledo, Ohio to the Post-Gazette's parent company Block Communications, which is based in Toledo. The station has been the longest running NBC affiliate under Cox's ownership, especially after its sister stations in Charlotte and Atlanta switched their affiliations to ABC in 1978 and 1980, respectively. In 1970, WIIC made Pittsburgh broadcasting history when Eleanor Schano became the first woman to anchor a newscast solo. Schano also hosted a weekly 30-minute public affairs program called Face to Face.
Around 1975, Channel 11 branded itself as "e11even". Around 1977, WIIC used the "11 Alive" moniker (which had become popularized by fellow NBC affiliate WXIA-TV in Atlanta and WPIX in New York City). WIIC carried the Operation Prime Time package in 1979.
As WPXI (1981–present)
On April 20, 1981, the station's call sign was changed to WPXI (for "Pittsburgh 11", with XI being the Roman numeral for 11). Although the station has officially never had the -TV suffix since adopting the WPXI call sign, the station has on occasion been marketed as WPXI-TV. The WIIC calls in Pittsburgh were later used by a low-powered independent station that ran a music video format (that station is currently a Bounce TV affiliate).
WPXI joined the ad hoc TV network, MGM/UA Premiere Network, with the November 10, 1984 showing of Clash of the Titans.
WPXI also televised the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon as the "Love Network" affiliate of the annual fundraiser for the Pittsburgh market, until the Muscular Dystrophy Association decided to move the event from syndication to ABC (and locally to WTAE) as the MDA Show of Strength in 2013; the show ended the next year. The local portion of the telethon continued to be hosted by Bill Cardille until 2012.
In 2000, Cox Enterprises purchased WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio and WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania from Sunrise Television. Those stations—which are also NBC affiliates—often appear in channel lineups for the same viewers that watch WPXI, either by over-the-air signal or via cable provider, and due to the proximity of the three stations to each other (as well as the common affiliation with NBC), were occasionally marketed together as a result. Cox changed the stations' on-air appearances to match WPXI's look, despite WPXI changing its own look in 2004. WTOV still used WPXI's former look until October 2010, and WJAC-TV adopted WPXI's current design in October 2011.
Over the Labor Day weekend of 2007, WPXI began relocating from its longtime studios at Television Hill in Pittsburgh's Fineview neighborhood after 50 years, to a new studio facility in the city's Summer Hill neighborhood near the Parkway North. The station's transmitter tower continues to be located in the Fineview neighborhood. WPXI began broadcasting its newscasts from the Summer Hill studio on October 6 beginning with the 6 p.m. newscast. In turn, it also became the first station in the Pittsburgh market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The station was criticized for technical glitches during the initial week of the new system run but worked through the issues and set the pace of technological advances for WTAE and KDKA to follow. With the switch to HD came a new set, created by FX Group and a new graphics package designed by Hothaus Creative.
In mid-October 2008, WPXI, in collaboration with Cox's longtime partner Internet Broadcasting, launched a redesigned website. By early November 2008, the websites of all of Cox's stations east of the Mississippi River began using the new format pioneered by WPXI; the websites of the company's stations west of the Mississippi River followed suit a month later. In 2011, Cox Media Group's partnership with Internet Broadcasting was dissolved, and the Cox television stations relaunched their website operations in-house. WPXI's and WSOC-TV's websites remained under the stewardship of Internet Broadcasting until late January 2012, when they became the last two stations to have redesigned their websites to match the format of the in-house web operations of their sister stations.
With Cox Media Group's February 23, 2013 sale of WJAC and WTOV (a sale which also included KFOX-TV in El Paso, Texas and KRXI and KAME-TV in Reno, Nevada) to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of local Fox affiliate WPGH-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WPMY (which was completed on May 2), WPXI is now Cox's only remaining NBC-affiliated station. The two remain connected to WPXI under a news-share agreement it has had with WPGH-TV.
WPXI currently uses the number 11 drawn into a circle, which debuted in 1987. The "11" symbol is colored gold, while the box around it is dark blue. WPXI previously used the NBC Peacock in its logo, which was copied by sister stations WTOV and WJAC and is still used by WTOV, but revamped its own look in October 2004. WPXI's current look uses the circle 11 logo with a stylized "WPXI" below it.
On September 2, 2013, WPXI expanded its noon news to an hour, becoming Pittsburgh's first hour-long noon newscast.
On July 24, 2018, WPXI parent Cox Enterprises announced that it was "exploring strategic options" for Cox Media Group's television stations, which the company said could involve "partnering or merging these stations into a larger TV company." Cox Media Group's president, Kim Guthrie, subsequently clarified to trade publication Radio & Television Business Report that the company was solely seeking "a merger or partnership" and not an outright sale of the television stations. Any deal involving the television stations would not include Cox's radio stations or newspapers.
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