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WREG-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 28), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee, United States. Its third digital subchannel serves as an owned-and-operated station of the classic TV network Antenna TV. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WREG's studios are located on Channel 3 Drive (off of I-55) near the Mississippi River on the west side of Memphis, and its transmitter is located between I-40 and Whitten Road, approximately 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Bartlett.

HistoryEdit

The station first signed on the air on January 1, 1956 as WREC-TV, and began regular broadcasts the following day on January 2. It was originally owned by electrical engineer and radio dealer Hoyt Wooten (who had applied for one of the first television licenses in the country in 1928), along with WREC radio (AM 600 and FM 102.7, now WEGR). The call letters stood for Wooten's radio store, the Wooten Radio-Electric Company, where he had founded WREC radio in 1922. It took the CBS affiliation from WHBQ-TV (channel 13, which had been a CBS affiliate since it signed on in September 1953), as WREC-AM had been a CBS Radio affiliate since 1929. WREC-TV's original studios were located inside the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.

For its first six years, WREC-TV was the only locally owned station in Memphis (WHBQ-TV was owned by General Tire and NBC affiliate WMC-TV was owned by Scripps-Howard). However, in 1963, Wooten sold WREC-AM-FM-TV to Cowles Communications, earning a handsome return on his original investment of 40 years earlier. In turn, Cowles sold WREC-TV to The New York Times Company in 1971. Cowles later sold the radio stations to other interests. Four years later, the Times Company built new studio facilities for WREC on one of the highest points on Chickasaw Bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River. The station had long since outgrown the Peabody Hotel, and management felt that building a new studio near the Mississippi would be appropriate since Memphis has long been identified with the river. On March 2, 1975, channel 3 signed off from the Peabody Hotel for the last time as WREC-TV, and signed back on 45 minutes later, re-branded as WREG-TV, with its first transmission from the new studios on Channel 3 Drive. The station also maintained studio space in the Peabody Place shopping center, adjacent to the Peabody Hotel, marking a partial return of sorts to its early years. The studio was shut down in 2011 when Peabody Place closed.

On September 12, 2006, The New York Times Company announced its intention to sell its nine television stations. On January 4, 2007, the company entered into an agreement with private equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners to sell the stations to the Oak Hill-operated holding company Local TV, the sale was finalized on May 7. On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that it would sell its stations to Tribune Broadcasting (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) for $2.75 billion. The sale was completed on December 27.

Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast GroupEdit

On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Fox's purchases of KSTU and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.

Pending sale to Nexstar Media GroupEdit

On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned ABC affiliate WATN-TV (channel 24) and CW affiliate WLMT (channel 30) since December 2012—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WREG directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WREG through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WREG-TV or WATN-TV to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict. (As WLMT does not rank among the top four in total-day viewership and therefore is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules, that station optionally can be retained by Nexstar regardless of whether it chooses to retain ownership of WATN or sell WATN in order to acquire WREG or, should it be divested, be sold to the prospective buyer of WATN.) On March 20, 2019, it was announced that Nexstar would sell the WATN/WLMT duopoly to McLean, Virginia-based Tegna Inc. and buy WREG-TV, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; this would make the WATN/WLMT duopoly sister stations to NBC affiliate WBIR-TV in Knoxville and CBS affiliate KTHV in Little Rock.


TV stations in Tennessee
WTVF, Nashville

WREG, Memphis
WDEF, Chattanooga
WJHL, Johnson City/Kingsport/Bristol
WVLT, Knoxville
WBBJ-DT3, Jackson

TV stations in Western Tennessee, Northwestern Mississippi and the Eastern Delta Region of Arkansas, including Memphis and Oxford
WREG 3 (CBS)
WMC 5 (NBC)
WKNO 10 (PBS)
WHBQ 13 (Fox)
WPGF-LD 17 (ESTRELLA)
WMAV 18 (PBS)
WTWV 23 (Rel)
WATN 24 (ABC)
KPMF-LD 26 (MNTV/AMGTV)
WLMT 30 (CW)
WWTW 34 (Ind.)
WQEK-LD 36 (Cozi)
WBUY 40 (TBN)
W50EA-D 42 (3ABN)
WBXP-LP 44 (SBN)
WPXX 50 (Ion)
WPYM-LD 56 (RTV)
WDNM-LD 59 (Daystar)
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