WVII-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 7, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Bangor, Maine, United States, serving Central and Eastern Maine. Owned by Rockfleet Broadcasting, it is a sister station to low-power Fox affiliate WFVX-LD (channel 22). The two stations share studios on Target Industrial Circle in West Bangor; WVII's transmitter is located on Black Cap Mountain along the Penobscot and Hancock county line. The station is also seen in high definition on the second digital subchannel of WFVX-LD (WFVX is likewise simulcast on WVII's second digital subchannel).
On cable, WVII is available on Charter Spectrum channel 8. WVII-TV serves as the default ABC affiliate through cable for the Presque Isle market, as that area does not have an ABC affiliate of its own.
The station signed on October 15, 1965 as WEMT under the ownership of Downeast Television, an ownership group that included Melvin Stone, owner of WGUY (1250 AM, later WNSW on 1200 AM; now defunct) and Rumford's WRUM, and Herbert Hoffman, owner of WBOS-AM-FM in Boston. Until WEMT went on the air, ABC maintained secondary affiliations with CBS affiliate WABI-TV (channel 5) and NBC affiliate WLBZ-TV (channel 2). It is the only television station in Bangor to have never switched its network affiliation. Downeast sold WEMT to Eastern Maine Broadcasting Systems (a subsidiary of Valley Communications, owner of WPNO in Auburn and WSKW and WTOS-FM in Skowhegan) on February 2, 1976. The new owners changed the station's call letters to WVII-TV that September. Although ABC was the nation's number one network by that time, Eastern Maine Broadcasting Systems suffered from massive financial problems during its ownership of WVII, bouncing paychecks, relying on an outdated Super 8mm film camera to film stories and lacking basic amenities such as air conditioning; the station went unnoticed in Bangor during this time. WVII did see some success as a border blaster when viewers in Halifax, Nova Scotia discovered the station's late-night offering, Dick Stacey's Country Jamboree. Eastern Maine Broadcasting Systems sold the station to Seaway Communications, a minority-controlled company that already owned WAEO-TV (now WJFW-TV) in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, on July 23, 1982.
WVII suffered a transmitter failure on February 9, 1995 due to a fire, knocking the station off-the-air in the middle of the 6 p.m. news, during a Bangor Hydro Electric advertisement. Within a day, TCI Cable, whose facilities shared a real property line with WVII on Target Industrial Circle, ran a transmission line from its building to the WVII studios, allowing the station to resume normal operations for Bangor cable viewers; however, until a temporary transmitter was activated on February 19, cable systems replaced WVII with WPLG from Miami in the Presque Isle market and with WMTW-TV from Portland in the Augusta–Waterville area, while over-the-air viewers lost ABC programming completely. WVII would not return to full-power broadcasting until April 1995; at that time, it became the second station in Bangor to broadcast in stereo. The cause of the fire was determined by the stations Chief Engineer to have been a snake crawling into the final on the transmitter causing an electrical short.
Seaway Broadcasting merged with current owner Rockfleet Broadcasting in 1998. Under Rockfleet, WVII ventured into low-power broadcasting in Bangor; it signed a local marketing agreement with James McLeod, owner of W30BF (the former Bangor transmitter for Maine Public Television Plus) and WBGR-LP (channel 33), in 2000, and relaunched channel 30 as UPN affiliate WCKD-LP, which also carried some Fox Sports programming (in the 1990s, WVII itself carried some sports programming from Fox on a secondary basis), in 2001. WCKD tried to become a full Fox affiliate that October after Portland's WPXT announced that it would switch to The WB, but was blocked from doing so by UPN; this did not stop the station from continuing its existing relationship with Fox Sports. After Rockfleet Broadcasting acquired W22BU (channel 22) from MS Communications in 2003, it changed that station's call letters to WFVX-LP and, on April 13, affiliated it with Fox. Rockfleet moved all of WCKD's syndicated and local programming, but not the UPN affiliation, to WFVX. That August, Rockfleet and James McLeod agreed to end the LMA with WCKD.
WVII made national news in a New York Times article on October 30, 2006 quoting General Manager Michael Palmer saying "when Bar Harbor is underwater, then we can do global warming stories. Until then," he added, "no more." According to Palmer, this policy, implemented the preceding summer, was introduced because: "a) we do local news, b) the issue evolved from hard science into hard politics and c) despite what you may have heard from the mainstream media, this science is far from conclusive." In an e-mail message to the station's operations manager, a news anchor, and a news reporter, Palmer placed "global warming stories in the same category as 'the killer African bee scare' from the 1970s or, more recently, the Y2K scare when everyone's computer was going to self-destruct." Palmer eventually told the Bangor Daily News that the e-mail was in response to a "overtly political" report from a former reporter and that the station did not intend to stop reporting on global warming altogether; on the following night's newscast, WVII broadcast a report in which residents were asked if they felt global temperatures were rising "so we could immediately dispel the rumor."
In August 2008, WVII and WFVX began to split live coverage of New England Patriots pre-season games. Channel 7 had previously shown the games in 1995 and since 2001; however, National Football League rules required WVII to show them on tape delay, despite several efforts by the station to carry live telecasts.
WVII has been digital-only since February 17, 2009, the original date when all television stations in the United States transitioned from analog broadcasts to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (the date would later change to June 12, 2009). Initially, the digital signal remained on UHF channel 14 (where it broadcast before the transition), but it subsequently returned to its former analog channel, 7.
The station received national attention when the station's main anchor team, Cindy Michaels (who also acted as WVII/WFVX's news director) and Tony Consiglio (who also doubled as executive producer), resigned their positions on-air at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast on November 20, 2012; effective immediately. Michaels and Consiglio later told the Bangor Daily News and other media outlets that they felt compelled to resign due to conflicts with upper management of both the station and Rockfleet. They claimed that management interfered with the news department so much that in the end, it was impossible to present balanced newscasts. They took the step of resigning on-air because they wanted a chance to say goodbye to their viewers. They were replaced by former WABI-TV and WQCB radio news anchor Craig Colson, who also became news director for WVII and WFVX, in December 2012.
In June 2013, WVII and WFVX reached a deal to carry Husson University sports. This was followed a month later with a deal to carry University of Maine sports; as a result, WVII and WFVX replace WABI-TV as the television flagship of the Black Bear Sports Network. As part of the deal, Black Bear sports telecasts will also be seen on Fox College Sports, and production will be handled by Pack Network (WABI had produced its telecasts in-house).
In early September 2017, WVII replaced their long-time version of the commonly-used Circle 7 logo from ABC (used among their channel 7 stations) with a different logo variation made up of a block number "7".
WVII-TV carries programming from Jewelry Television during overnights, preempting ABC's World News Now.
|TV stations in New England|
| WTNH, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV stations in Central and Eastern Maine including Bangor and Calais|
| WLBZ 2 (NBC) |
WABI 5 (CBS)
WVII 7 (ABC/JTV)
WMEB 12 (PBS)
WMED 13 (PBS)
WEXZ-LD 13 (RTV)
WBGR-LD 18 (MeTV)
WFVX-LD 22 (Fox/MNTV/JTV)
WCKD-LP 30 (JUCE TV)