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WXBU virtual channel 15 (UHF digital channel 32), is a Comet-affiliated television station licensed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. United States and serving the Susquehanna Valley region (Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York). The station is owned by Howard Stirk Holdings, a partner company of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WXBU's advertising sales office is located on Butler Road in West Cornwall Township (with a Lebanon postal address); the station shares transmitter facilities with Sinclair-owned, Harrisburg-licensed CBS affiliate WHP-TV (channel 21) on a ridge north of Linglestown Road in Susquehanna Township.

HistoryEdit

The station first signed on the air on October 25, 1953 as WLBR-TV, operating as an independent station. Originally licensed to Lebanon, it transmitted its signal at one kilowatt on a 572-foot (174 m) tower located just north of Mount Gretna. The station was originally owned by Lebanon Television Corporation, a joint venture of the Lebanon Broadcasting Company (owner of WLBR radio [AM 1270] and WQFM [FM 100.1, now WQIC) and the Lebanon News Publishing Company (owner of the Lebanon Daily News). In October 1954, the station went dark after Hurricane Hazel knocked out the power to its transmitter.

In 1957, Triangle Publications bought the share of the dormant channel 15 license that had been owned by the Daily News. The station returned the the air with incrased power in August 1957. Under Triangle ownership, the station became a part-time ABC affiliate and received other programs from then sister station WFIL-TV (now ABC owned-and-operated station WPVI-TV) in Philadelphia. Triangle bought full control of the station in 1959, and the station's call letters were changed to WLYH-TV (representing its service area of Lebanon, York and Harrisburg). In 1961, it became a CBS affiliate as part of the Keystone Network, a three-station network serving South Central Pennsylvania that also included WHP-TV (channel 21) in Harrisburg, and WSBA-TV (channel 43, now WPMT-TV) in York. This arrangement was necessary in the days before cable television gained much penetration. South Central Pennsylvania is very mountainous, and UHF stations have never covered rugged areas very well. It created a strong combined signal with 55 percent overlap, and was a major factor in the decision to collapse South Central Pennsylvania into one giant market two years later.

Originally, the three stations aired the same programming, though they were separatey owned. Later in the 1960s, WHP-TV began airing separate programming outside of networks hours, while WLYH and WSBA-TV continued simulcasting for most of the day. All three outlets ran primetime programming, most of the daytime shows, and most of the weekend offerings from CBS. All three stations preempted moderate amounts of CBS programming. However, through a longstanding agreement, any shows that WSBA-TV and WLYH preempted aired on WHP-TV and vice versa. This allowed most of the market to view the entire CBS schedule.

Triangle was forced out of broadcasting in 1970 after then-Governor Milton J.Shapp claimed the company had used its three Pennsylvania television stations (WLYH, WFIL-TV, and WFBG-TV in Altoona) in a smear campaign against him. WLYH was among the last to be sold, going to Gateway Communications as part of a group deal with WFBG-TV (now WTAJ-TV) and WNBF-TV (now WBNG-TV) in Binghamton, New York in 1972.

In the 1980s, Gateway moved the station's city of license to Lancaster. Channel 43 left the Keystone Network in 1983 to become an independent station under new calls, WPMT. WLYH and WHP-TV continued as CBS affiliates, airing separate non-network programming and maintaining their longstanding agreement calling for programs preempted on one station to air on the other. By this time, the two stations had about 75 percent signal overlap.

Even though cable had gaind significant penetration in the region by the mid-1980s, WLYH remained a CBS affiliate rather than become and independent. This was mainly because at the time, South Central Pennsylvania was not large enough to support what would have essentially been two independent stations; even after WPMT joined Fox in 1986, it was still programmed as an independent (as was the case with most Fox stations until 1993). Even without this to consider, Philadelphia's WPHL-TV and WTAF-TV (now Fox O&O WTXF-TV), had been available on cable for years. These two factors made Gateway balk at the added cost of buying an additional 16 hours of programming per day. WLYH did, however, add a secondary affiliation with UPN when the network launched on January 16, 1995.

The unusual situation of two separately-owned and programmed Big Three affiliates in one market that aired ost of the same network programming would continue until 1995. That fall, Clear Channel Communications (which had just bought WHP-TV) entered into a 20-year local marketing agreement with Gateway. Under this agreement, WHP-TV took control of WLYH's operations, with the combined operation housed at WHP-TV's studios in Harrisburg. As part of the deal, WLYH ceded all rights to CBS programming in the area to WHP-TV and became an exclusive UPN affiliate on December 16, 1995. In 2000, Gateway sold all of its stations to SJL Broadcasting.

On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On May 18, it was announced that WLYH would become the area's CW affiliate when it launched on September 18. Meanwhile, WHP created a new second digital subchannel to air programming from another new network, MyNetworkTV. Nexstar Broadcasting Group purchased WLYH and WTAJ from SJL in late 2006.

TV stations in Pennsylvania
Independent stations Religious stations Other stations
WDPN, Wilmington W08EM-D, Wilkes-Barre WWSI, Mount Laurel/Philadelphia
WACP, Atlantic City W07DP-D, Dillsburg WUVP, Vineland/Philadelphia
WPSJ-CD, Hammonton WELL-LD, Philadelphia WFPA-CD, Philadelphia
WSCP-LP, Johnstown/Altoona/State College WPCB, Greensburg WIIC-LP, Pittsburgh
WXBU, Lancaster WKBS, Altoona WBYD-CD, Pittsburgh
WLYH, Red Lion WPCB, Greensburg WYLN-LP, Hazleton
WPHY-CD, Trenton WGTW, Millville WWAT-CD, Uniontown
WQAV-CD, Atlantic City WBPH, Allentown WMGM, Wildwood
WTVE, Willow Grove
WMCN, Princeton
WTSD-CA, Wilmington
WFMZ, Allentown
TV stations in the Susquehanna Valley, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York
WO7DP-D 7 (CTN)

WGAL 8 (NBC)
WXBU 15 (Comet)
WHP 21 (CBS)
WHTM 27 (ABC)
WITF 33 (PBS)
WPMT 43 (FOX)
WLYH 49 (Ind)

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