WTVF, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 25), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. WTVF's studios are located on James Robertson Parkway in downtown Nashville, and its transmitter is located north of downtown along I-24 near Whites Creek.

History[edit | edit source]

WTVF first signed on the air August 6, 1954 as WLAC-TV; it was owned by the Life and Casualty Insurance Company, along with Nashville businessmen Guilford Dudley, Al Beaman and Thomas Baker. Life and Casualty's chairman of the board Paul Mountcastle and his investment group also held a majority ownership of WATE-TV, Channel 6, in Knoxville, but the two stations were not considered to be co-owned. Ever since its inception, WLAC-TV's analog signal was short-spaced to Memphis' WMC-TV also on VHF channel 5 (coincidentally, WMC-TV began on channel 4 and was immediately short-spaced to WSM-TV in Nashville, now WSMV). WLAC-TV was owned alongside WLAC radio (1510 AM) and later WLAC-FM (105.9 FM, now WNRQ). The call sign reflected the initials of the insurance company. It immediately took the CBS affiliation from WSIX-TV (channel 8, eventually WKRN-TV on channel 2) because WLAC (AM) had been Nashville's CBS Radio affiliate since 1928. With WLAC-TV, Nashville became one of the smallest cities in the United States to have three fully separate network-affiliated commercial television stations. American General Corporation, a Houston-based insurer, bought L&C and WLAC-AM-FM-TV in the 1960s.

WLAC-TV was sold in 1975 to the Hobby family (owners of KPRC AM-TV and the now-defunct Houston Post), who changed the station's call letters to the current WTVF on December 1 (the call letter change was brought on due to an FCC rule in place at the time forbidding TV and radio stations in the same city, but with different owners from sharing the same call letters). American General/L&C eventually sold WLAC-AM-FM to other interests and the other stations have had several owners over the years. In 1983, the Hobbys reorganized their broadcast holdings as H&C Communications after the Post was sold. Landmark Communications, based in Norfolk, Virginia, bought WTVF from the Hobbys in 1994.

On January 30, 2008, Landmark announced its intention to sell WTVF, along with sister station KLAS-TV in Las Vegas and cable network The Weather Channel. This was followed on July 14, 2008 with an announcement that WTVF would be sold to Bonten Media Group, which already owned 16 broadcast television stations in five states. However, the deal was called off due to the economic crisis of 2008 as Bonten informed Landmark that it could not close on the purchase after its key financial backer for that purchase, Lehman Brothers, filed for what remains the largest bankruptcy in American history. Landmark Communications changed its name to Landmark Media Enterprises in September 2008.

Although the sale of The Weather Channel and some other assets was eventually completed, Landmark took most of its other properties off the market in October 2008. As a result, WTVF and KLAS remained owned by Landmark. WTVF would have become the largest station owned by Bonten, as well as the first CBS affiliate in its portfolio.

On May 1 and 2, 2010, WTVF's newsroom was flooded with three feet (0.91 m) of water, and became non-operational for three months as it was being rebuilt. During the flooding, equipment was hastily moved to other locations around the building to prevent disruption of the station's news operation.

On September 4, 2012, Milwaukee-based Journal Communications announced that it would purchase WTVF from Landmark for $215 million. The FCC approved the sale on October 22, and it was consummated on December 6. With the transaction's completion, WTVF became the largest Journal-owned station by market size (displacing flagship WTMJ-TV, which became the second largest). It also made WTVF the sister station of KLAS's rival, KTNV-TV.

On July 30, 2014, less than two years after Landmark sold the station to Journal, it was announced that Journal Communications would be bought out by the E. W. Scripps Company in an all-stock transaction. Scripps retained the companies' broadcast holdings, including WTVF, and spun off their print holdings into Journal Media Group. This marks the second time that Scripps has owned a Tennessee television station, as it owned WMC-TV in Memphis from its 1948 sign-on until 1993. The FCC approved the deal on December 12, 2014. It was approved by the two companies' shareholders on March 11, 2015, and it closed on April 1.

TV stations in Tennessee
WTVF, Nashville

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

TV stations in Middle Tennessee, including Nashville, Murfreesboro and Clarksville
WRTN-LP 6 (Daystar)
WETV-LP 11 (Ind)
WIIW-LP 14 (Silent → Ind)
WZTV 17 (Fox)
WCKV-LD 21 (The Walk TV)
WNPX-LP 24 (Silent → Daystar)
WNTU-LP 26 (Daystar)
WNPX 28 (Ion)
WJDE-LD 31 (H&I)
WKUW-LD 40 (Buzzr)
WNAB 58 (CW)
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