WXLV-TV, virtual channel 45 (UHF digital channel 29), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States and serving the Piedmont Triad region (Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point). The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Greensboro-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV (channel 48). The two stations share studios on Myer Lee Drive in Winston-Salem (along Business I-40); WXLV's transmitter is located in Randleman (along I-73/U.S. 220). On cable, WXLV is available on channel 7 on most providers in the market.
The station first signed on the air on September 24, 1979 as WGNN-TV. It was the first independent station in the Piedmont Triad region, and broadcast its signal from a transmitter located west of Gap in Stokes County. The station was bought by the TVX Broadcast Group in 1980 and changed its call letters to WJTM-TV on October 20. Over the years, the station ran a general entertainment format consisting of cartoons, movies, sitcoms, and drama series. It changed its call letters to WNRW on June 8, 1984 in memory of an employee, General Sales Manager William N. Rismiller, who was murdered in a shooting at the station that year.
WNRW: Fox affiliate
WNRW became the market's Fox affiliate when the network launched on October 9, 1986. By the late 1980s, the station had dropped its longtime moniker of "TV 45" in favor of "Fox 45."
TVX sold off many of its smaller stations in 1988; it sold WNRW to Act III Broadcasting that year. Meanwhile, the other major independent in the market, WGGT (channel 48), filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s and still had not emerged from it by 1991. At that time, Act III cut a deal with WGGT's owner, Guilford Broadcasters, to purchase WGGT's stronger programming and merge it onto WNRW's lineup. WGGT then began to simulcast WNRW's schedule, creating a strong combined signal with over 60% overlap. The two stations referenced this through its on-air slogan as the "Piedmont Superstation". The two stations took on a secondary affiliation with UPN when that network debuted on January 16, 1995.
WXLV-TV: ABC affiliate
The simulcast continued after Act III Broadcasting merged with Abry Broadcast Partners in 1995. That September, when Fox acquired longtime ABC affiliate WGHP (channel 8; which the station originally acquired from New World Communications, along with WBRC), WNRW and WGGT swapped affiliations with WGHP and became the Triad's ABC affiliates while all Fox programming (including Fox Kids) went to WGHP. As such, WGHP became the only station involved in the Fox-New World deal to carry the block; other stations in the same deal declined to carry the block, which either remained on the former Fox station or moved to another station. WNRW also changed its callsign to the current WXLV-TV on September 3, 1995.
Abry merged with the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996. Sinclair then had Glencairn, Ltd. purchase WGGT from Guilford Broadcasters. In 1997, WGGT discontinued the simulcast with WXLV, and the two stations entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with WXLV as the senior partner. As part of the LMA, the UPN affiliation moved exclusively to channel 48, which changed its calls to WUPN-TV. Since the family of Sinclair founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned most of Glencairn's stock, Sinclair effectively had a duopoly in the Triad, although the FCC would not permit actual duopolies until late 1999. A similar situation existed in the Research Triangle region, where Sinclair owned WLFL and Glencairn nominally owned WRDC. Sinclair bought WUPN outright in 2000, creating the market's first (and so far, only) legal duopoly.
In 2003, Sinclair started a local news department for WUPN and WXLV, but it only operated until mid-2005.
Sinclair was later involved in a retransmission dispute with Time Warner Cable, whose original agreement ended on December 31, 2010. An agreement was reached on February 2, 2011, with no disruption to carriage of WXLV and WMYV. The same deal resulted in the a news share agreement with News 14 Carolina, Time Warner Cable's local news channel.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media – which has owned WGHP since December 2013 – for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. While WMYV is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules and could have been retained by Sinclair in any event, the group was precluded from acquiring WGHP directly whilst retaining ownership of WXLV, as both rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Piedmont Triad in total day viewership, and there are too few independently owned full-power stations in the area to permit legal duopolies in any event. On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that it would sell WXLV-TV and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines, and WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids – 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. The transaction includes a transitional services agreement, through which Sinclair would have continued operating WXLV for six months after the sale's completion.
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 WXLV and the other six Sinclair- and Tribune-operated stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
|TV stations in North Carolina|
|TV stations in the Piedmont Triad, including Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina|
|WFMY 2 (CBS) |
WGHP 8 (Fox)
WXII 12 (NBC)
WGPX 16 (Ion)
WGSR-LD 19 (Ind.)
WCWG 20 (CW)
WUNL 26 (PBS)
WLXI 43 (TCT)
WXLV 45 (ABC)
WMYV 48 (MNTV)