WWMT, virtual channel 3 (VHF digital channel 8), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States and serving the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek television market. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WWMT's studios are located on West Maple Street in Kalamazoo, and its transmitter is located in northwest Yankee Springs Township on Chief Noonday Road/M-179 near Patterson Road. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum and Comcast Xfinity channel 3.
The station signed on the air on June 1, 1950 as WKZO-TV (the call letters standing for "KalamaZoO"). It was West Michigan's second television station to debut after WLAV-TV (channel 7, now WOOD-TV channel 8) and was owned by broadcasting pioneer John Fetzer, along with WKZO radio, which Fetzer had owned since 1930. It carried programming from all four networks of the time: CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont. However, it has always been a primary CBS affiliate owing to its radio sister's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network.
From the start, WKZO-TV had reception problems due to the presence of WTMJ-TV across Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, also on analog VHF channel 3. In 1953, WTMJ moved to channel 4. This, in turn, forced WBBM-TV in Chicago to move from channel 4 to channel 2 as a condition of its purchase by CBS. Until WSBT-TV signed on in 1952, WKZO-TV also served as the default CBS affiliate for South Bend, Indiana.
Channel 3 lost DuMont in 1956 after that network shut down. Soon afterward, the WKZO stations moved their operations to an old car dealership on West Maple Avenue in Kalamazoo, where the station remains based to this day. In 1960, Fetzer built a new 1,100-foot (335 m) transmitter near the northern edge of Gun Lake. The new tower was close enough to Grand Rapids to provide it with city-grade coverage, while still being within 15 miles (24 km) of Kalamazoo as required by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Soon after channel 3 activated its new tower, the FCC collapsed West Michigan into one large television market. WKZO then shared ABC with WOOD-TV until WZZM (channel 13) signed-on in 1962.
Fetzer also owned the Detroit Tigers baseball team from 1956 to 1983. During this time, channel 3 frequently pre-empted prime time CBS broadcasting for Tigers baseball games, including preseason exhibitions.[attribution needed] In 1985, Fetzer retired and began selling off his vast broadcasting empire, which by this time included, among other holdings, WWTV in Cadillac, Michigan and KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska. The FCC had grandfathered existing radio-television clusters when it barred common ownership of radio and television stations, but with Fetzer's announcement WKZO-AM-TV lost its grandfathered protection. The Fetzer television stations were initially sold to Gillett Holdings. However, due to FCC ownership limits in effect at the time, WKZO-TV and KOLN-TV were spun off to Busse Broadcasting. On December 5, 1985, per a since-repealed FCC rule restricting TV and radio stations in the same market but with different ownership from sharing the same callsigns, Busse changed the station's call letters to the current WWMT (standing for "We're West Michigan Television"). In 1995, Granite Broadcasting acquired the station. Freedom Communications purchased WWMT in 1998 from Granite, along with sister station WLAJ in Lansing.
WWMT is the second longest-tenured CBS affiliate in Michigan (behind only WLNS-TV in Lansing, which signed on one month earlier); its logos have used the CBS logo since the mid-1990s. In 2005, a company-wide consolidation of operations at Freedom's stations resulted in the move of WLAJ's master control and most internal operations to WWMT's facilities. This left behind a skeleton crew of six people out of what began with 80 staffers in Lansing.
Freedom announced on November 2, 2011 that it would exit from television and sell its stations, including WWMT, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The group deal closed on April 2, 2012. As a result, WWMT and WLAJ joined Fox affiliate WSMH in Flint as two of the three Sinclair-owned television properties in the state of Michigan. On February 16, 2016 upon the completion of the merger between Schurz Communications and Gray Television, South Bend CBS affiliate WSBT-TV (Channel 22) was spun-off to Sinclair in order to meet regulatory guidelines, allowing WWMT and WSBT to become sister operations to one another for the first time, outside of existing news video sharing agreements.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media – which has owned WPMT since 1996 – for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Sinclair was precluded from acquiring WXMI directly, as both it and WWMT rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market in total day viewership and the market has too few independently owned full-power stations to permit legal duopolies in any event. On April 24, 2018, in an amendment to the Tribune acquisition through which it proposed the sale of certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies to curry the DOJ's approval, Sinclair announced that it would sell WPMT and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, KDSM-TV in Des Moines and WXLV-TV in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million.
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Standard Media's purchases of WXMI and the other six Tribune- and Sinclair-operated stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
|TV stations in Michigan|
| WWJ, Detroit|
|TV stations in Michigan|
| WKBD, Detroit|
|TV stations in West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek|
| WWMT 3 (CBS) |
WOOD 8 (NBC)
WZZM 13 (ABC)
WXSP-CD 15 (MNTV)
WXMI 17 (Fox)
WUHQ-LD 29 (Daystar)
WGVU 35 (PBS)
WMKG-CD 38 (TFC)
WOTV 41 (ABC)
WZPX 43 (Ion)
W48CL 48 (3ABN)
WTLJ 54 (TCT)
WLLA 64 (Rel)