WUPV is a CW-affiliated television station serving Richmond, Virginia, United States that is licensed to Ashland. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 (or virtual channel 65 via PSIP) from a transmitter northeast of Richmond in King William County along the Hanover County line. Owned by Gray Television, WUPV is part of a duopoly with Richmond-licensed NBC affiliate WWBT (channel 12); the two stations share studios on Midlothian Turnpike (U.S. 60) in Richmond.
This channel actually began as leased access cable channel 32 on what is now Comcast Xfinity in Henrico County running religious programming around 1980. Christal Inc. run by James Campana, the company leasing the channel, later decided it wanted a full-time broadcast station. It later applied for analog UHF channel 65 in Ashland. But it took most of the 1980s to get the station on-the-air. First, Christal had to pay off a competing applicant then Hanover County denied the company permission to construct a tower in its county. So the station was forced to build a tower site in neighboring King William County. It finally signed-on March 9, 1990 as a religious television station, with the calls WZXK, owned by Christal Broadcasting.
Originally offering only Christian programs such as The 700 Club and Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord, it began branching into general entertainment programs in the later afternoon/early evening hours over the next few years. By 1993, WZXK upgraded to 24-hour operations and increased non-religious programming to occupy about a third of its daily schedule. For a while, the station was calling itself "Fun 65".
Two years later, Bell Broadcasting purchased WZXK and affiliated it with the fledgling WB network while changing the calls to WAWB and identifying itself as "WB65". In 1997, Bell Broadcasting sold the station to Virginia-based Lockwood Broadcasting which negotiated with Fox affiliate WRLH-TV to move the UPN affiliation from being secondary on WRLH to primary on WAWB. With this move, WAWB took the current calls of WUPV.
Shortly after this move, Act III Broadcasting (owner of WRLH-TV) was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group which was in the midst of changing many of its stations to The WB and was legally enjoined from doing so in Richmond due to the contract signed by Bell Broadcasting after much trying. After the affiliation swap, WB programming moved to NBC affiliate WWBT-TV in 1998 where programming aired in overnight hours through summer 2006. This arrangement led to Richmond being one of the worst markets for WB network ratings. One problem was that WWBT could not carry the entire WB prime time lineup due to time limitations, so the station opted not to carry the network's Friday night schedule. Kids' WB programming was cleared on WRLH.
In 1998, WUPV carried Pax as a secondary affiliate until the network placed a 24-hour cable channel on most systems in Richmond. It later evolved into Ion Television. In the early-2000s, several attempts to launch a standalone WB affiliate in the market fell through among them low-power channel 48 (later reallocated and now Daystar-owned WRID-LD) and full-power channel 19 (reallocated to Charlottesville and now CBS affiliate WCAV). Some UPN affiliates aired a repeat of either America's Next Top Model or Veronica Mars from that week during the weekend. WUPV aired Veronica Mars on Saturday mornings at 11 but quickly replaced it with infomercials in early-June 2006. This station was known on air as "UPN 65" from 1997 to 2002. From 2003 to 2006, it was known as "UPN Richmond".
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation (the latter of which took over UPN after Viacom's announced split in December 2005) announced that they would shut down The WB and UPN in the Fall of that year. They would then form a joint venture and create a new TV service, called The CW, which would air programming carried over from those two networks, as well as specific new content created exclusively for The CW. As the only available UPN or WB affiliate in the Richmond market, it was announced on April 4 that WUPV would affiliate with The CW. On May 29, a month after the announcement, the station started airing commercials promoting its CW affiliation which took effect on September 18.
The station continued to carry UPN programming, except for its weekend movie, until the network's closure. After WWBT dropped The WB as a secondary affiliation in late-August 2006, WUPV picked up the final two weeks of the network's programming on selected nights but did not air the final night of the network on September 17. WRLH, which offered Kids' WB, began offering the other new network (News Corporation-owned MyNetworkTV) on September 5 via a new second digital subchannel.
In 2006, the station was sold to Southeastern Media Holdings and became sister station to WTVR-TV, then owned by Raycom Media. WUPV moved operations into that station's studios on Broad Street (U.S. 33/U.S. 250) in the North Side area of Richmond. A new website for WUPV was launched a short time afterward. In November 2007, Raycom purchased WWBT from Lincoln Financial Media which was closed on April 1, 2008. Raycom was prohibited from owning two major "big four" network affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) in the same market so WTVR was chosen for divestiture. The first proposed buyer turned out to be the Sinclair Broadcast Group but the United States Department of Justice refused permission for the sale under a consent decree with Raycom. On March 31, 2009, WTVR was swapped to Local TV in exchange for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama. WUPV had its operations moved again to WWBT's facilities.
In 2011, Community Newspaper Holdings sold Southeastern Media Holdings and its four stations (including WUPV) to Thomas Henson (which later transferred in the same year its shares to American Spirit Media, which he owns) for $24 million and the assumption of $50 million in debt. On September 16, 2011, the station opened its second subchannel in preparation for the Bounce TV network which premiered on September 26.
Sale to Gray Television
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, and Gray's 93 television stations) under the former's corporate umbrella. As part of the cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion – in which Gray shareholders would acquire preferred stock currently held by Raycom – Gray would acquire WUPV and WWBT outright. In advance of the merger, Raycom exercised its options to purchase WUPV and KYOU in Ottumwa, Iowa outright from American Spirit Media. This would make WUPV and WWBT becoming sister stations to CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, ABC affiliate WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg and CBS affiliate WCAV in Charlottesville, along with their low-powered sister stations. The sale was approved on December 20, and was completed on January 2, 2019.
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
|WGNT, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in Central Virginia, including Richmond and Petersburg|
|WTVR 6 (CBS) |
WRIC 8 (ABC)
WWBT 12 (NBC)
WXOB-LP 17 (Ind)
WCVE 23 (PBS)
WRLH 35 (Fox)
WZTD-LD 45 (TLM)
WRID-LD 48 (Daystar)
WCVW 57 (PBS)
WUPV 65 (CW)