WFGX, virtual channel 35 (UHF digital channel 50), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station serving Pensacola, Florida and Mobile, Alabama, United States that is licensed to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Pensacola-licensed ABC affiliate WEAR-TV (channel 3); Sinclair also operates Mobile-licensed NBC affiliate WPMI-TV (channel 15) and Pensacola-licensed independent station WJTC (channel 44) under a local marketing agreement with owner Deerfield Media.
WFGX and WEAR share studios on Mobile Highway (U.S. 90) in unincorporated Escambia County, Florida (with a Pensacola mailing address); WFGX's transmitter is located in unincorporated Baldwin County, Alabama east of Rosinton. On cable, the station can also be seen in standard definition on Mediacom channel 7, Comcast Xfinity channel 19, and Cox channel 20, and in high definition on Mediacom digital channel 807, Xfinity digital channel 1019, and Cox digital channel 1020.
In 1995, WFGX's original local owners entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Heritage Media, then-owner of WEAR. This enabled WFGX to become the area's WB affiliate on September 29, 1996. The station's former analog signal on UHF channel 35 was very weak (509,000 watts), resulting in marginal (at best) reception outside Okaloosa County. It was barely viewable even in Pensacola, and could not be seen at all over the air on the Alabama side of the market. Despite the shortfall in coverage, WFGX has long identified as "Pensacola/Fort Walton Beach," which is unusual since the city of license is normally listed first when a station references another city in its legal on-air identification. It had to rely on cable carriage in order to reach the entire market.
Sinclair Broadcast Group took over WFGX's operations after Heritage sold its television division to Sinclair in 1997. When the stronger WBPG (channel 55, now WFNA) signed on from Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 2, 2001, it replaced WFGX as the area's WB affiliate. WFGX then became an independent station, airing home shopping programming from Jewelry Television, syndicated shows and infomercials. Sinclair purchased WFGX outright in 2004.
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced that it would launch a new network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. Sinclair opted to affiliate several of its stations (including WFGX) with the new programming service, which launched on September 5, 2006.
WFGX discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 35, 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 50. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 35.
At the same time, WFGX increased its digital signal to one million watts (equivalent to five million watts in analog), which was enough to provide a good signal to viewers in Pensacola. However, it was still practically unviewable on the Alabama side of the market. In July 2010, WFGX's digital transmitter was moved from Gulf Breeze, Florida to WEAR's tower east of Rosinton. With the same power output at the new location, it is now able to offer a signal comparable to those of the other full-powered stations in the market. Within two months, the station began offering a high definition signal over-the-air for the first time.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|35.1||720p||16:9||WFGX||Main WFGX programming / MyNetworkTV & This TV|
Cable and satellite coverage
For most of its history, WFGX was unavailable to cable customers on the Alabama side of the market, largely because its analog signal could not be seen at all in that area. Comcast's Mobile system did not carry WFGX until October 2010.
It is very likely, however, that WFGX will be available on cable throughout the market in the near future. The Federal Communications Commission's must-carry rules give full-power stations the option of "retransmission consent." This option gives such stations the right to request compensation from cable providers as a condition of carrying them. In this case, Sinclair has the right to require cable providers to carry WFGX as a condition of carrying WEAR.
Due to its new status as a full-power station for most of the market, WFGX and WEAR are encouraging viewers to call their cable provider if they are not carrying WFGX. WFGX is also available on AT&T U-verse in the Mobile/Pensacola market, in high definition on channel 1035 and in standard definition on channel 35. Dish Network and DirecTV both carry WFGX on channel 35, but only in standard definition. WFGX disappeared from Mediacom's cable systems on the Florida side of the market at midnight on January 6, 2007 due to a dispute with Sinclair over transmission rights. Since no agreement could be reached in time, Mediacom pulled all of Sinclair's stations, including WFGX. Due to it not being carried at all in Alabama and (at the time) on satellite, this left most of the market without MyNetworkTV programming. The dispute ended on February 2, when the two sides reached an agreement that restored WFGX on Mediacom.
In 1996, WFGX began producing nightly newscasts at 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. called Emerald Coast News originating from its original studios on Beach Drive in Fort Walton Beach. Each broadcast aired for 30 minutes and stories on the newscasts specifically focused on Okaloosa County, Florida helping to provide better coverage for WEAR. On December 11, 1998, Emerald Coast News was cancelled by WFGX.
On August 12, 2013, sister station WEAR-TV began producing a weeknight-only, half-hour primetime newscast at 9:00 p.m. for WFGX. The newscast competes with Fox affiliate WALA-TV (channel 10)'s long established, dominant and hour-long 9:00 p.m. newscast.