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WZDX, virtual channel 54 (UHF digital channel 18), is a dual Fox/MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station licensed to Huntsville, Alabama, United States and serving North Alabama's Tennessee Valley. The station is owned by Tegna Inc. WZDX's studios are located on North Memorial Parkway (US 72/231/431) in Huntsville, and its transmitter is located on Monte Sano Mountain in the Mountain Heights section of the city. The station is carried on channel 5 on most cable systems in the market.



History[]

WZDX first signed on April 19, 1985 as Northern Alabama's first independent station and the area's first new outlet to launch in nearly twenty years. The station originally broadcast in analog on channel 54. The inaugural program shown was an airing of the 1968 film Charly. The station's transmitter was on Green Mountain in southeastern Huntsville while its studios were in the northwestern section of the city. During the first months after its beginning, WZDX used the slogan "We're Taking You to the Top!" and ran full-page ads in The Huntsville Times with this tagline and with still pictures of movies and syndicated shows that the station was planning to air.

When the Fox network began late night service on October 9, 1986, WZDX initially abstained from affiliating with the network unlike many other strong independent TV stations across the country that had signed on with them. However, by December 5, 1987, the station started showing Fox's prime time schedule at the time, but didn't refer to itself as a Fox affiliate for another few months. On March 29, 1990, WZDX became the first property owned by a new broadcasting group founded by Milton Grant.

In 2002, it launched the second digital signal of the market on UHF channel 41. A simulcast of cable-only WB affiliate "WAWB-TV" was then added to a second digital subchannel of WZDX. That offered non-cable viewers access to WB programming for the first time. In September 2003, the broadcast tower shared by WZDX and ABC affiliate WAAY-TV (channel 31) collapsed killing three men. Until it could be replaced, WZDX and WAAY temporarily aired from the nearby tower of CBS affiliate WHNT-TV (channel 19).

On November 6, 2013, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would purchase the Grant stations, including WZDX, for $87.5 million. The sale was completed on December 1, 2014. WZDX is Nexstar's second station in Alabama; it already owned WDHN, the ABC affiliate in Dothan. On January 27, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WZDX, along with WDHN, will become part of "Nexstar Media Group" and join a cluster of stations Nexstar would own in Alabama including WIAT in Birmingham and WKRG-TV in Mobile, as well as WRBL in Columbus, Georgia, which covers much of east Alabama including Opelika and Auburn. All three of these stations are CBS affiliates.

On July 15, 2018, Nexstar agreed to acquire WHDF from Lockwood Broadcast Group for $2.25 million; Nexstar concurrently took over WHDF's operations through a time brokerage agreement. The sale was completed on November 9, creating a duopoly with WZDX.

On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned CBS affiliate WHNT-TV (channel 19) since December 2013—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar was precluded from acquiring WHNT directly or indirectly while owning WZDX, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WHNT through local marketing or shared services agreements would be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar decided to sell WZDX to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict. WHDF does not rank among the top four in total-day viewership and therefore is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules, thus, WHDF was retained by Nexstar and will merge their operations into WHNT's studios.) On March 20, 2019, Tysons, Virginia-based Tegna Inc. announced it would purchase WZDX from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; this would make WZDX the first television property in Alabama for Tegna and a sister station to NBC affiliate WBIR-TV in Knoxville and the duopoly of NBC affiliate WXIA-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WATL in Atlanta. WHDF was not included in the sale, with Nexstar intending to form a new duopoly involving WHNT. The sale was approved by the FCC on September 16 and was completed on September 19, 2019.