WXXA-TV, virtual channel 23 (VHF digital channel 7), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Albany, New York, United States and serving New York's Capital District (Albany–Schenectady–Troy) as well as Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group; Shield Media, LLC, which owns ABC affiliate WTEN (channel 10), operates WXXA under joint sales and shared services agreements. The two stations share studios on Northern Boulevard in Albany's Bishop's Gate section and transmitter facilities on the Helderberg Escarpment west of New Salem, a hamlet of New Scotland.
WXXA is the only commercial television station in Albany that has never changed its primary network affiliation or call letters.
WXXA signed on July 30, 1982 and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 23. It was the Capital District's first independent station, as well as the first new commercial station to launch in the market since WTRI (channel 35), forerunner of WNYT (channel 13), launched 28 years earlier. The Capital District had a fairly long wait for an independent station, considering its size. On paper, it had been large enough to support an independent since the late 1960s. However, the Capital District is a fairly large market geographically, stretching across a large swath of east-central New York, as well as portions of southern Vermont and western Massachusetts. Much of this area is very mountainous, particularly in the northern portion. UHF stations have never covered large areas or rugged terrain very well. By the late 1970s, cable and satellite—then as now, a must for acceptable television in much of this market—had gained enough penetration for an independent to be viable.
A construction permit had been issued for channel 23 in the 1950s with the calls WPTR-TV; that permit was canceled in 1960. Rumors had previously abounded that NBC would move its programming to the new channel 23 after WRGB (channel 6) switched to CBS in 1981. However, the network ended up affiliating with WNYT.
The station was owned by Albany TV 23, Inc. a group of investors led by president and station manager Jim Boaz, Hollywood director Arthur Penn, and former FDIC director William Seidman. Through Penn, it was able to secure financing from movie production company Orion Pictures. WXXA was a typical general-entertainment independent airing cartoons, movies, sports, and first-run syndicated programs. The station also carried business news programming from the Financial News Network.
In July 1986, WXXA-TV agreed to become a charter affiliate of Fox, which launched on October 9. Initially, WXXA-TV still programmed itself as an independent, since Fox only aired one program (The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers) until April 1987 and even then would not present an entire week's worth of programming until the 1993–94 season. Shortly after Fox's launch, Albany TV 23 sold the station to Heritage Broadcasting Group (a Detroit-based company, unrelated to the similarly-named Heritage Communications and Heritage Media, that was also in the process of acquiring WWTV in Cadillac, Michigan) for $10.1 million. The station picked up programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN) block in 1993.
In 1994, Heritage sold the station to Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) for $25.5 million, predating Clear Channel's sizable expansion of television assets in the Northeast in the following years. Clear Channel soon moved WXXA from its original studios on Central Avenue/NYS Route 5 in Albany (now a car dealership) to an expanded facility on Corporate Circle in Albany's Dunes section).
When UPN launched on January 16, 1995, WXXA aired programming from UPN off-hours on weekends. Cable viewers in virtually the entire market were also able to watch UPN in pattern on WSBK-TV in Boston, which had been available on cable in the area for decades. WXXA's secondary affiliation ended in 1998, when UPN signed WYPX (channel 55) as its new secondary affiliate and low-powered WVBG-LP (channel 25) as a primary affiliate. The network was picked up again by WXXA after Clear Channel, in partnership with Time Warner Cable, launched cable-only affiliate "WEDG-TV" in January 2000. Eventually known on-air as "UPN 4" after its channel location, "WEDG" signed-off in August 2003 concurrent with the sign-on of over-the-air UPN affiliate WNYA (channel 51), which was operated by WRGB.
WXXA-DT began airing on VHF channel 7 on December 20, 2005. A combination of objections from analog co-channels WABC-TV (in New York City) and WWNY-TV (in Watertown), whose signals reach the fringes of the Albany area, was the primary reason for the late and delayed sign-on. On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station group to Providence Equity Partners' Newport Television (the deal closed in March 2008).
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of 22 of its 27 stations to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. While most of WXXA-TV's New York State sisters were sold to Nexstar, that company opted not to buy channel 23; Sinclair could not purchase WXXA-TV because it already owned WRGB and CW affiliate WCWN (channel 45). While Nexstar and Sinclair passed on buying WXXA, the station eventually found a new owner on July 27, 2012 when Newport Television announced the sale of the station to Shield Media, LLC (owned by White Knight Broadcasting Vice President Sheldon Galloway) for $19.2 million. Shield then entered into certain shared service and joint sales agreements with Young Broadcasting, then-owners of WTEN. The FCC granted the transaction on October 23, and it was finalized on December 14. After consummation of the sale, WXXA moved from its Corporate Circle facility into WTEN's studios on March 23, 2013.
On November 8, 2013, Media General shareholders approved the company's merger with New Young Broadcasting, which was completed on November 12. The merged company kept the Media General name, and continued its agreements with Shield Media. More than two years later, on January 27, 2016, it was announced that the Nexstar Broadcasting Group would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. The operations of WXXA and outright ownership of WTEN became part of "Nexstar Media Group." Upon the sale's closure on January 17, 2017, the deal reunited WXXA with its former Newport sister stations that were sold to Nexstar in 2012.
|TV stations in New York|
|WNYW, New York City|
|TV stations in the Capital District of New York and Berkshire County, Massachusetts, including Albany and Pittsfield|
|WYCX-CD 2 (H&I/MNTV) |
WRGB 6 (CBS)
WNCE-CD 8 (Youtoo)
WTEN 10 (ABC)
WNYT 13 (NBC)
WMHT 17 (PBS)
WXXA 23 (Fox)
WVER 28 (PBS)
WCWN 45 (CW)
WNYA 51 (MNTV)
WYPX 55 (Ion)