WANE-TV, virtual channel 15 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by Media General. WANE's studios and transmitter are located on West State Boulevard in the Tower Heights section of northwest Fort Wayne.
The station signed on the air on September 26, 1954 as WINT, originally broadcasting its signal from a transmitter in Auburn. It was Fort Wayne's second television station to launch but was technically licensed to, and had studios in, Waterloo. The station's original owner, Tri-State Television (not to be confused with Tri-State Christian Television, owners of WINM channel 12), took advantage of peculiarities in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to direct the signal to Fort Wayne. Although the city was big enough to support three full network affiliates, the FCC had originally allocated only a single station, WKJG-TV (now WISE-TV) on UHF channel 33, to the city. This circumstance attracted the attention of Congress and led to changes in how broadcast licenses were assigned.
The Indiana Broadcasting Company, owner of WISH-TV in Indianapolis and WANE radio (1450 AM, now WLYV), purchased WINT in 1956. The new owners changed the station's call letters to WANE-TV, reflecting its radio sister, and moved the station's entire operations to Fort Wayne. The analog transmitter remained at its rural Auburn location until 1957. Indiana Broadcasting became known as the Corinthian Broadcasting Company in 1957. Since then, WANE-TV and WISH-TV have become close sister stations and for a time used same news theme as WISH-TV from 1997 until 2012 and currently uses separate graphics packages. The stations share resources, which allows WANE to use WISH-TV's resources for breaking news, live events and sports coverage.
The station has always been a CBS affiliate, but also maintained a secondary affiliation with ABC until WPTA (channel 21) signed on in September 1957; during the late-1950s, WANE was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. WANE radio was sold off in 1966. The station produced local programming shows such as "The Ann Colone Show".
Corinthian was purchased by Dun & Bradstreet in 1970 who in turn sold the station to the Belo Corporation in 1983. However, WANE left Belo with two stations over the FCC's television station ownership limit at the time, so the company sold the station and WISH to the LIN TV Corporation. In September 1999, WANE-TV acquired the local rights to Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune from NBC affiliate WKJG-TV, which had run both programs starting in September 1990.
After the launch of UPN on January 16, 1995, Fox affiliate WFFT (channel 55) began a secondary affiliation with the fledgling network. The network's programming eventually moved to WANE-TV full-time in 2003 after it launched a new second digital subchannel. WANE-DT2 also featured repeats of newscasts seen on the main channel as well as Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne basketball games. In September 2006, UPN programming was dropped after the network merged with The WB (seen locally on WPTA-operated cable-only outlet "WBFW") to form The CW.
On September 15, 2008, WANE announced LIN TV, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks had not been able to reach an agreement to renew carriage of WANE and other LIN-owned stations on the two cable providers due to a dispute over compensation for the stations' carriage. The company reached agreements with all television service providers in the Fort Wayne area, except for TWC and Bright House. The contract with those providers expired on October 2, 2008. At 12:35 a.m. on October 3, the LIN-owned stations were removed from TWC and Bright House systems nationwide. It would not be until October 29 when WANE-TV was restored to Time Warner Cable in Northwest Ohio. However, it did not reappear on Bright House Networks systems in Grant County, Indiana.
Shortly thereafter, after an aborted merger plan with Meredith Corporation, Media General announced on January 27, 2016 that it was being acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group with the new company named "Nexstar Media Group". As Nexstar already owns WFFT and since the Fort Wayne market is too small to allow duopolies in any case, in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit future joint sales agreements, the company will be required to sell either WFFT or WANE to another company. Nexstar announced on June 13, 2016 that it would keep WANE and sell WFFT-TV as well as four other stations (including soon-to-be former sister stations WLFI Lafayette and WTHI-TV in Terre Haute) to Heartland Media, through its USA Television MidAmerica Holdings joint venture with MSouth Equity Partners, for $115 million.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|15.1||1080i||16:9||WANE-HD||Main WANE-TV programming / CBS|
WANE-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 15, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 15.
WANE-TV presently broadcasts 24 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 3½ hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in addition, the station produces the sports highlight program The Highlight Zone, which airs Friday through Sunday evenings at 11:15 p.m. Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, the station does not air local newscasts in the weeknight 5:30 p.m. timeslot; however, the station is home to the market's only weekend morning newscast, which runs for one hour at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It operates a Doppler weather radar known as "Live Doppler 15 FURY" at its studio facility. WANE-TV's news department has won awards including the Jack R. Howard Award in 1998 for reporting on drug abuse, the Peabody Award in 1999 for reporting on organ donation, and the Edward R. Murrow Award in 2003 for flooding and sports coverage.
After having its operations taken over by the Granite Broadcasting Corporation, WISE-TV's news department was combined with ABC affiliate WPTA. There was a decrease in ratings for the new Indiana's NewsCenter newscasts, which resulted in WANE-TV becoming the market's dominant news station (according to Nielsen Media Research) since it was the only other news-producing station in the area prior to WFFT-TV beginning a nightly newscast in 2009. This was most easily attributed to continued viewer resentment towards WPTA and Granite for the elimination of WISE-TV's news department and arguably its identity and history. WPTA management said the changes were part of a longer-term plan that would need up to five years to take hold with viewers, but the success never materialized and the branding of Indiana's NewsCenter was abandoned in 2013.
On May 18, 2009, WPTA and WISE-TV became the first two television stations in the Fort Wayne market to upgrade their newscasts to 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition. Although not truly high definition, the aspect ratio matched those of HD television screens. Broadcasts on WANE-TV were previously in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition, though by July 2012, the station began the process of transitioning its newscasts to high definition. The upgrade to HD occurred, along with the debut of a new set and graphics on September 10, 2012, making it the second station (and first network-affiliated station) in the Fort Wayne market to have made the upgrade (WFFT-TV, a former Fox affiliate that has since rejoined the network, was the first but did not make the upgrade until after the station had lost its Fox affiliation in 2011). This left WPTA and WISE-TV (which co-produce local news that are essentially the same in terms of coverage and format) as the last remaining local news operation to continue to broadcast their news programming in SD until upgrading to HD in mid-October.