WSTM-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 24), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Syracuse, New York, United States. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, it is a sister station to low-powered CW affiliate WSTQ-LP (analog channel 14, which WSTM simulcasts on its second digital subchannel); Sinclair also operates CBS affiliate WTVH (channel 5) through joint sales and shared services agreements with owner Granite Broadcasting. The three stations share studios on James Street/NY 290 in the Near Northeast section of Syracuse; WSTM's transmitter is located in the town of Onondaga.
The station began operations on February 15, 1950 with the call sign WSYR-TV. It was owned by Advance Publications (the Newhouse family's company) along with the Syracuse Post-Standard, Syracuse Herald-Journal, and WSYR radio (AM 570 and FM 94.5, now WYYY). It was Syracuse's second television station, signing on a year and three months after WHEN-TV (now WTVH). It originally had facilities at the Kemper Building in Downtown Syracuse. In 1958, WSYR-AM-FM-TV moved to new studios on James Street.
Unlike most NBC affiliates in two station markets, WSYR-TV did not take a secondary ABC or DuMont affiliation. WSYR-TV doubled as the NBC affiliate for Binghamton until WINR-TV (now WICZ-TV) signed-on in 1957. The station also operated a satellite station in Elmira until 1980; that station, first known as WSYE-TV and now WETM-TV, is now owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group and fed via centralcasting facilities of a Syracuse cross-town rival, which ironically now holds the WSYR-TV call letters. It remains affiliated with NBC.
The Newhouse family largely exited broadcasting in 1980. The WSYR cluster had been grandfathered after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned common ownership of newspaper and broadcasting outlets, but lost this protection when Advance dismantled its broadcasting division. Channel 3 was sold to the Times Mirror Company, who changed the television station's calls to WSTM-TV (for Syracuse Times Mirror) on March 28th and kept the James Street studios. Under Times Mirror ownership, WSTM-TV was sister to fellow NBC affiliate WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama (which later became network owned-and-operated and is now owned by Hearst Television) as well as later Fox O&O's KTVI in St. Louis, Missouri, KDFW in Dallas–Fort Worth, and KTBC in Austin, Texas (KTVI is now owned by Tribune Broadcasting).
In 1986, Times Mirror sold WSTM-TV to SJL Broadcast Management, a broadcast holding company controlled by George Lilly. SJL then sold WSTM-TV to Federal Broadcasting in 1992. That company was bought out by Raycom Media in 1997. The WSYR-TV calls returned to Syracuse in 2005 after Clear Channel Communications purchased WIXT-TV (formerly WNYS-TV) as part of the Ackerley Group acquisition three years earlier. The company changed WIXT-TV's calls to match WSYR radio, which it had owned for several years.
On March 5, 1996, WSTM-TV General Manager Charles Bivins died after collapsing at the Syracuse Track and Racquet Club. He was 48 and had previously suffered a mild heart attack two years earlier. Bivins was also a visiting professor at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications teaching television programming. In 2003, Raycom Media purchased Syracuse's low-powered UPN affiliate WAWA-LP from Venture Technologies Group for an undisclosed amount of money. The station had its call letters changed to WSTQ-LP (derived from WSTM-TV) and given the on-air branding of "UPN 6, The Q". Raycom used "6" to reflect its cable slot as a result of the station becoming offered on the basic lineup of Time Warner Cable (now Charter Spectrum) on July 1.
Before the purchase, Time Warner Cable had refused to carry WAWA-LP. The same "must-carry" rules that kept the station off the cable system eventually got WSTQ-LP on. The must-carry rules give full-powered stations the option of "retransmission consent" or requiring compensation from cable systems as a condition of carrying a station's signal. In this case, full-powered WSTM-TV can require cable systems like Time Warner Cable to offer WSTQ-LP on their systems as a condition of carrying WSTM-TV.
On March 27, 2006, Raycom Media announced the sale of WSTM-TV and WSTQ-LP to Barrington Broadcasting. The sale was finalized that August. On March 2, 2009 as a result of low ratings and slow advertising sales, it was announced that WTVH would enter into joint sales and shared service agreements with WSTM-TV. Initially, WTVH continued to operate out of its own James Street studios a block away but was eventually merged into WSTM-TV's facilities. WTVH was also integrated into WSTM-TV's website. On September 6, 2009, WTVH's transmitter was damaged after a power failure. While Granite Broadcasting worked to fix the signal, WSTM-TV's third digital subchannel carried that station. On September 12, WTVH's signal was restored.
On February 28, 2013, Barrington Broadcasting announced the sale of its entire group, including WSTM-TV and the SSA for WTVH, to Sinclair Broadcast Group (which announced that it would not renew the SSA with WTVH when it expires in March 2017). To comply with FCC ownership regulations, Sinclair initially announced its intent to transfer the license of its existing Syracuse station, Fox affiliate WSYT, along with WSYT's local marketing agreement with MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYS-TV, to Cunningham Broadcasting. Had the transfer been approved, Sinclair would have continued to effectively own WSYT because nearly all of Cunningham's stock is controlled by trusts in the names of the children of Sinclair's principals. However, in an updated filing that August, Sinclair would instead sell WSYT and the LMA for WNYS-TV to Bristlecone Broadcasting, a company owned by Northwest Broadcasting owner Brian Brady. Following the completion of the sale, Sinclair continued to operate WSYT and WNYS-TV through a transitional services agreement for six months, until May 2014. Those transactions were finalized on November 25.
Through cable coverage, WSTM-TV serves as the de facto NBC affiliate for the Ithaca/Finger Lakes region of New York State, and provides some news coverage in that area. Previously, it served as the de facto NBC affiliate for Watertown until December 1, 2016 when WVNC-LD signed on as that area's first full-time NBC affiliate. WSTM-TV also carries substantial news stories from Utica and Herkimer County even though that area has its own NBC affiliate WKTV that produces local news. WSTM-TV's analog signal reached parts of Southeastern Ontario and was carried on Cogeco systems in Kingston until February 2009 when it was replaced with Buffalo's WGRZ-TV. WSTM-TV is still (after customer protest) carried on Spectrum systems in Ogdensburg and Gouverneur along with replacement WPTZ out of Plattsburgh.
|TV stations in New York|
| WNBC, New York City|
|TV stations in Central New York, including Syracuse|
| WSTM 3 (NBC) |
WTVH 5 (CBS)
WSYR 9 (ABC)
WONO-CA 11 (COR)
WSTQ-LP 14 (CW)
WTVU-CD 22 (COR)
WCNY 24 (PBS)
WWLF-LP 35 (AMGTV)
W42EB-D 42 (Ind.)
WNYS 43 (MNTV)
WBLZ-LD 49 (Ind.)
WHSU-CD 51 (HSN)
WNYI 52 (Daystar)
WSPX 56 (Ion)
WSYT 68 (Fox)