WVTV-DT2, virtual channel 24 (UHF and physical digital channel 18), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station licensed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, which formerly held the call letters WCGV-TV as a separately-licensed full-power station. WVTV-DT2 is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and operates as a second digital subchannel of CW affiliate WVTV (channel 18), which began to host it as of January 8, 2018 after Sinclair sold the former WCGV spectrum in the 2016 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) incentive auction. WVTV-DT2 continues to utilize the separate branding of "My 24" from when it was a separate full-power station, along with its channel 24 designation.
WVTV-DT2's parent station maintains studio facilities on Calumet Road in the Park Place office park near the I-41/U.S. 45 interchange on Milwaukee's northwest side; its transmitter is located on North Humboldt Boulevard in Milwaukee's Estabrook Park neighborhood as part of the Milwaukee PBS tower.
As an independent stationEdit
The station first signed on the air on March 24, 1980, under the ownership of B&F Broadcasting from the former North 27th Street facilities of then-CBS affiliate WITI (channel 6), which had moved to a new facility in Brown Deer two years earlier in 1978. At the time, it operated as an independent station and ran religious programs, older movies, cartoons and drama series during the day, along with select CBS and NBC programs that WITI and WTMJ-TV (channel 4) declined to air (such as the 1983 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour and CBS Late Night). It also produced a two-hour local afternoon talk program called Tempo 24, which aired from 1980 to 1981. At night, the station ran programming from subscription television service SelecTV, which required a decoder box and a monthly subscription to view; SelecTV ran mostly first-run feature films, although Friday evenings outside of FCC-designated safe harbor hours consisted of adult programming from The Playboy Channel.
WCGV dropped SelecTV in 1984 once Warner Cable launched its Milwaukee area operations and brought traditional premium cable networks (such as HBO and Showtime) to the area, and eventually became a more serious contender against now-sister station WVTV (channel 18) for the title of the market's leading independent station. The station was branded simply as "TV-24". By then, the station had been acquired by Arlington Broadcasting, which also owned WTTO in Birmingham, WQTV (now WBPX-TV) in Boston and KNXV-TV in Phoenix; the latter two stations were later sold off.
On March 15, 1987, WCGV joined Fox after WVTV turned down an offer by the network to become its Milwaukee area affiliate in 1986, the station became branded as "Fox 24". The station joined Fox on the condition that it be allowed to preempt The Late Show, which by the time WCGV acquired the affiliation had lost Joan Rivers as its host and was not doing well in the ratings. The station also wanted to maintain as much of its existing schedule as possible, as WCGV had success counterprogramming the major network affiliates with a 10 p.m. block of two episodes of The Bob Newhart Show every weeknight until 1989, when it was replaced by the syndicated Arsenio Hall Show. From September 1993 until December 1994, the station also carried CBS' Late Show with David Letterman on a half-hour delay in lieu of WITI, which refused to carry the show due to better ratings for reruns of M*A*S*H in the timeslot.
By 1988, the station scored a major coup by acquiring the broadcast rights to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Bucks, both previously seen on WVTV. In the late 1980s, Arlington Broadcasting was sold and became known as HR Broadcasting (as in Hal Roach Studios, of Little Rascals/Our Gang fame).
WCGV and Birmingham's WTTO were purchased by Abry Communications in 1990. The station continued with its general entertainment format, along with Fox programs. WCGV entered into a local marketing agreement with WVTV (then owned by Gaylord Broadcasting) in 1994. WCGV merged its operations into WVTV's original studio facility near North 35th Street and Capitol Drive.
In early 1994, WITI was named as the market's new Fox affiliate as a result of a deal between the station's owner New World Communications and Fox as part of the network's decision to upgrade affiliates in certain markets after it acquired the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference of the NFL. For a short time between September and November 1994, the station carried Green Bay Packers games in the market through the network's NFC package as a lame-duck affiliate, though without any pre-game programming, the only break in network coverage by WITI of the team since the 1977 affiliation switch between WISN and WITI, which took place in the off-season.
WCGV lost the Fox affiliation and briefly became an independent station again on December 4, 1994; however, it did not take the CBS affiliation that WITI had dropped as a result of the switch (which went to WDJT-TV, channel 58), as the station would become a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network on January 16, 1995, following a pattern in which many former Fox affiliates in markets where New World owned a station decided to join either UPN or fellow upstart network The WB if they did not join a Big Three network displaced due to the affiliation switches. Around this time, the station changed its branding to "UPN 24", with a generic logo consisting of the station's call letters and channel number beneath the primary color UPN "shapes" logo of that time.
In 1995, Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired WCGV and the other properties owned by Abry's television station group. WVTV was purchased by Glencairn Ltd. (which was headed by former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards). The Smith family, owners and founders of Sinclair owned 97% of Glencairn's stock, so Sinclair effectively owned both stations. Glencairn was involved in similar deals, owning eleven stations that were all operated by Sinclair under LMAs. This arrangement prompted Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH coalition to bring forward litigation, citing their concerns on racial issues in the face of one entity holding two broadcast licenses in a single market. The Federal Communications Commission eventually fined Sinclair $40,000 in 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn.
In January 1998, WCGV/Sinclair decided to drop the UPN affiliation over ratings and monetary issues, as did several other Sinclair stations in other markets after the company signed a lucrative affiliation deal with The WB (which included WVTV) to shift several stations from UPN. For eight months, the station reverted to being an independent station, though the only effect on the station's schedule was the replacement of UPN programming with syndicated film packages during primetime and Saturday afternoons, and paid programming in place of UPN Kids on Sunday mornings. A few local cable providers brought in the network's New York City area affiliate WWOR-TV to keep UPN programming available in the Milwaukee area, but for the most part the network was only seen on cable systems on the fringe of the market via WACY-TV in Appleton and WPWR-TV from Chicago, as most providers had dropped WWOR's "superstation" cable feed years before due to uninteresting programming replacing the main signal after SyndEx laws came into place, and the cable feed had been discontinued by satellite distribution rights holder Advance Entertainment Corporation a year earlier to increase distribution for Animal Planet.
However, WCGV did see a viewership decline without a network affiliation. It also received complaints from vocal Star Trek fans who had to watch Voyager on UPN affiliates over-the-air from other markets, switch to the Dish Network or PrimeStar satellite services for their "superstation" packages, or through tape trading. Sinclair would eventually reverse its decision and come to terms with the network, resulting in WCGV rejoining UPN on August 4. In November of that year, WCGV made up for the pre-emptions by airing an all-day Voyager marathon, showing all 13 episodes that WCGV was not able to air during the second half of the 1997–98 season, with the permission of UPN and Paramount Television. WWOR was dropped from the few area cable systems it was on within days of the re-acquisition of WCGV's UPN affiliation.
Despite the reconciliation, the station continued to omit the mention of UPN from its own branding, and called itself "Channel 24" until the start of the 2001–2002 television season, when it brought back the "UPN 24" branding (one of only a small number of UPN stations to do so, as UPN branding was required by the network). WVTV became wholly owned by Sinclair in 2000, after the FCC overturned regulations that had prohibited television station duopolies.
WITI never held an interest in carrying any of Fox's children's programming after it joined that network due to existing local home showcase programming; therefore, Fox Kids continued to air on WCGV for ten years after the affiliation switch (which included the station continuing to maintain a Fox 24 Kids Club through most of these years). However, as time went on, WCGV began to use its own logo bug to cover all Fox logos, and advertised the block sparingly at the behest of UPN (which had its own children's block airing on the station up until it was discontinued in 2003, including a period of time where both blocks were carried back-to-back on weekdays). The station declined to renew the children's block, later known as Fox Box and then 4Kids TV, after the fall of 2004, and subsequently 4Kids TV moved to independent WMLW-CA (channel 41), where it aired on Sunday mornings until it ended on December 28, 2008.
On March 2, 2006, Sinclair announced that channel 24 would become the Milwaukee affiliate of MyNetworkTV, which was created by Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television in the wake of the January 24, 2006 announcement that UPN and The WB would cease operations in September 2006, and merge into one network, The CW. WCGV's WB-affiliated sister station WVTV was named as Milwaukee's CW affiliate two months later on May 2, 2006. This resulted in the Milwaukee duopoly becoming one of five MyNetworkTV/CW duopolies owned and/or controlled by Sinclair at the time (the other four are KVMY/KVCW in Las Vegas, WABM/WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama, WUXP/WNAB—itself part of a virtual triopoly with Fox affiliate WZTV—in Nashville, Tennessee and WRDC/WLFL in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina).
In the interim two weeks between the beginning of MyNetworkTV's and the end of UPN's existence in early to mid-September, WCGV continued to show select UPN programs on Sunday afternoons, airing Friday Night SmackDown, followed by Girlfriends, Everybody Hates Chris and All of Us from 12-5 p.m., all which were renewed by The CW and moved to channel 18. WCGV is one of the few stations in the country to have been affiliated with both News Corporation-owned networks, Fox and MyNetworkTV.
WCGV-TV carried the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway from NBC on August 19, 2017 for WTMJ, which was committed to a preseason Green Bay Packers football game.
July 2010 flooding incident and studio moveEdit
On July 22, 2010, the Milwaukee area experienced a major flash flooding event which caused major damage in several parts of Milwaukee County. The studios of WVTV/WCGV are located a half-mile south of Lincoln Creek and the building and technical equipment belonging to the stations suffered major damage, forcing channels 18 and 24 off the air for the majority of the time after 6 p.m. on July 22 until the early morning of July 24; the two stations, once they returned to the air, had their programming fed into their master control facilities via another unknown Sinclair master control. For both stations, this resulted in most of the station's paid programming and other timeslots where the Sinclair facility did not have an episode of a particular series within the schedule replaced with reruns of Coach and advertisements were replaced with direct response national advertising. Both stations eventually resumed local operations later during the week of July 25, but broadcast in 480i standard definition and did not display digital on-screen bugs at all due to damage to the station's high definition broadcasting equipment for most of the following month. HD programming was restored on August 20, 2010.
Because the flooding caused irreparable damage to the building, Sinclair immediately began a search for new facilities for WCGV and WVTV, which would allow locally produced and syndicated programs to be broadcast in high definition full-time without the complexities of rewiring an older and flood damaged studio and master control facility. On June 6, 2012, Sinclair received approval from the Milwaukee Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee to move to an existing building near the 41/145 Interchange on Milwaukee's northwest side on Calumet Road in the Park Place office park and install receiving satellite dishes, generators and a studio/transmitter link tower, with full Common Council approval coming a week later on June 12. The stations moved to the new building in December 2013, with the new master control coming online in the last week of the month.
From June 2012 until the end of December 2013, the engineering and master control of WVTV/WCGV transmitted 16:9 syndicated programming in full screen, but in standard definition as a stopgap solution until the move to the new studios. Upon the opening of the new master control, all syndicated programming available in the format now is aired in high definition.
Spectrum sale, move to WVTV's spectrum, and effects of aborted merger with Tribune MediaEdit
On April 13, 2017, the results of the FCC's 2016 spectrum auction were announced, with Sinclair successfully selling the UHF spectrum for WCGV for $84.3 million. At first, it was expected that WCGV's channels would be merged onto WVTV's spectrum sometime in the near future in a channel share arrangement, and retain their existing numbering and identification as channel 24 and being associated under the WCGV calls.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair announced the purchase of Tribune Media, including Fox affiliate WITI (channel 6). A late June 2017 update from Sinclair detailing the merger to the FCC now states that no channel sharing agreement will be made with WVTV, and the station will in technicality go off the air in full, giving up the WCGV calls, raising the possibility that the intellectual unit of WCGV, including its programming, subchannels and MyNetworkTV affiliation, would move to the channel space of WVTV or WITI as a subchannel once WCGV's license is turned in to the FCC in order to allow the purchase of WITI to go through. There would then be no regulatory complications, with the only issue being a move of physical and employee assets of WVTV and the former WCGV intellectual unit into WITI's Brown Deer facility. The FCC announced based on the dispersement date of auction funds that WCGV's last possible day on the air would be January 23, 2018, if the station had not gone off the air before that point.
In any event, like most of Sinclair's mergers of former full-power stations into subchannels of others, the "My 24" branding was kept, and carriage in its new form will remain required under Sinclair's current retransmission consent agreements with pay-TV providers in order to carry WVTV's main CW channel.
Sinclair, Weigel Broadcasting, and Milwaukee PBS decided on a switch date of January 8 for their various local spectrum moves, and WCGV left the airwaves at 5 a.m. that morning. Sinclair will utilize WVTV's spectrum and continue to map WCGV's main signal to 24.1 and Comet to 24.2 (contrary to earlier statements that it would number to its sharing partner and give up the channel 24 allocation), with Grit moving off WCGV, and the My 24 schedule replacing the former network airing on WVTV-DT2, getTV on January 2 as part of a one-week simulcast to acclimate viewers before the spectrum switch. (WTMJ-TV launched a fourth subchannel which picked up the network in early March, due to their parent company purchasing Grit owner Katz Broadcasting). The WCGV calls were required to be dropped, and unless Sinclair licenses a secondary low-power station to carry channel 24's signal separately (or holds them on an out-of-market station for warehousing to prevent competitor re-use), they will be made available again for any station to take by the FCC. However, the station has retained the existing channel 24 numbering for the "My 24" and Comet schedules.
In the end, the merger did not go through due to various regulatory concerns, and Tribune Media terminated it on their side on August 9, 2018, eventually choosing Nexstar Media Group as their new merger partner.
|TV stations in Wisconsin|
| WVTV-DT2, Milwaukee|
|TV stations in Southeastern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha|
| WTMJ 4 (NBC) |
WITI 6 (Fox)
WMVS 10 (PBS)
WISN 12 (ABC)
WVTV 18 (CW)
WMKE-CD 21 (Quest)
WVTV-DT2 24 (MNTV)
WVCY 30 (Rel)
WMVT 36 (PBS)
WTSJ-LP 38 (AZA)
WBME-CD 41 (MeTV)
WMLW 49 (Ind.)
WWRS 52 (TBN)
WPXE 55 (Ion)
WDJT 58 (CBS)
WYTU-LD 63 (TLM)
WIWN 68 (COZI)