WPXT is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Portland, Maine, United States, serving southern Maine and eastern and northern New Hampshire. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 43 (or virtual channel 51 via PSIP) from a transmitter in South Gray along I-95/Maine Turnpike/Gold Star Memorial Highway. Owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, it is part of a duopoly with Poland Spring-licensed ABC affiliate WMTW (channel 8); the two stations share studios on Ledgeview Drive in Westbrook.
The station signed-on September 14, 1986 as Maine's first independent station and the first new commercial station to launch in the Portland market in 32 years. After a few weeks as an independent, it became a charter affiliate with Fox on October 6. In 1996, the station's original owner, Bride Communications, entered bankruptcy and WPXT was sold to Pegasus Broadcasting.
In 2001, WPXT switched to The WB due to a monetary dispute between Pegasus and Fox; The WB had previously aired in off-hours on sister UPN affiliate WPME (channel 35). This left Portland with no over-the-air Fox affiliate until early 2003, when Pax station WMPX-TV took the affiliation, becoming WPFO. In the interim, programming from the network was provided exclusively on WFXT (which was owned by the network at the time) for those living on the New Hampshire side of the market, and on Foxnet for Portland/Auburn-area cable subscribers. Pegasus declared bankruptcy in June 2004 over a dispute with DirecTV (co-owned with Fox by News Corporation) over marketing of the direct broadcast satellite service in rural areas. The Pegasus station group was sold in August 2006 to private investment firm CP Media, LLC of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for $55.5 million. Eventually, CP Media formed a new broadcast company, New Age Media.
As a WB affiliate, WPXT was originally branded on-air as "Maine's WB 51", but in 2004, changed to "Maine's WB" to reflect its status as the only over-the-air WB affiliate in the state. Although Bangor and Presque Isle also had affiliates, they were only provided on cable through The WB 100+ (a similar operation to Foxnet).
On January 24, 2006, Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that they would merge the broadcast operations of The WB and UPN to form The CW Television Network. On March 9, it was announced WPXT would become Portland's CW affiliate. Later on May 1, it was made public sister station WPME would affiliate with MyNetworkTV. With the new affiliation, WPXT's branding became "The CW Portland". In 2007, WPXT changed its on-air branding to reflect its call letters rather than a city.
WPXT ceased analog transmission August 12, 2008 (more than seven months prior to the original Federal Communications Commission (FCC) digital switchover deadline February 17, 2009) due to transmitter failure. On May 2, 2011, WPXT signed-on a new second digital subchannel to become the area's MeTV affiliate. On November 7, 2016, Escape was added to 51.3 subchannel slot.
New Age Media announced in March 2012 that it would sell WPXT to Tyche Broadcasting for $75,000. The deal was contingent on WPME's concurrent sale from MPS Media to Triumph Broadcasting. On November 9, 2012, WPXT filed a non-consummation notice to the FCC, meaning the transaction is nulled and void. On February 13, 2013, New Age Media filed to sell WPXT to Ironwood Communications for $1,525,000; the deal was concurrent with a planned sale of WPME to Cottonwood Communications. The FCC granted its approval of the sale on April 2. The sale was consummated on May 20.
On March 22, 2018, MyNetworkTV, Escape and Laff programming was moved to the third, fourth and fifth subchannels of WPXT; the three networks had been carried by WPME, which was concurrently sold to Ion Media Networks to become WIPL, an Ion Television owned-and-operated station. Hearst Television announced its acquisition of WPXT on July 30, 2018; the $3,350,000 purchase created a duopoly with ABC affiliate WMTW (channel 8). The sale was approved on September 12 and was completed on September 21, 2018; concurrently, WPXT changed its branding to "Maine's CW."
The ownership change also resulted in a streamlining of subchannels between WMTW and WPXT the next month. With Hearst's preference for its main station in the market to carry the MeTV affiliation, MeTV and H&I exchanged places, with MeTV moving to WMTW-DT2 and H&I going to WPXT-DT2, and Laff going from WPXT-DT2 to WMTW-DT3, with Escape going to WPXT-DT3 (and the likely non-renewal of the Katz Broadcasting network agreement; Hearst only tends to carry Bounce TV from that provider). The syndicated programming formerly on WPXT-DT3's "WPME" service was removed, and MyNetworkTV programming now airs in place of H&I's primetime, or sometimes during the late night hours on WPXT-DT2, an arrangement similar to the setup for the third subchannel of sister station KCCI in Des Moines, Iowa.
|TV stations in New England|
|TV stations in New England|
|WCTX, New Haven|
|TV stations in Southern Maine and Carroll and Coös Counties, New Hampshire, including Portland, Augusta, Berlin, and Rockland|
|WCSH 6 (NBC) |
WMTW 8 (ABC)
WCBB 10 (PBS)
WGME 13 (CBS)
W14DA-D 14 (Ind.)
WLLB-LD 15 (Daystar)
WGBI-LP 21 (RTV)
WPFO 23 (Fox)
WMEA 26 (PBS)
WIPL 35 (Ion)
WFYW-LP 41 (3ABN)
WPXT 51 (CW)