WINK-TV, virtual channel 11 (UHF digital channel 50), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Fort Myers, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the McBride family and their Fort Myers Broadcasting Company. WINK's transmitter is located north of Fort Myers Shores. The station broadcasts on Comcast channel 5 and in high definition on digital channel 433.


The station began broadcasting on March 23, 1954, owned by the family of taxicab magnate and Cleveland Browns founder Mickey McBride along with WINK radio (1240 AM, now WJUA at 1200 AM; and 96.9 FM). WINK-TV was the first television station in Southwest Florida and is the fifth-oldest surviving station in the state. Although the call letters appear to be an outgrowth of its CBS affiliation, in fact they were simply carried over from its radio sister, which adopted them in 1944--seven years before the CBS Eye made its first appearance.[2] It carried programming from the four major networks of its era: CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont in the first two decades of its existence. However, it has always been a primary CBS affiliate.

The DuMont network ended operations in 1956. In December 1968, WINK-TV finally gained a local competitor when WBBH-TV signed on and took the NBC affiliation. The two stations continued to share ABC until WEVU-TV (now WZVN-TV) signed on in 1974. However, viewers could watch the full ABC and NBC schedules via stations from Miami/Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Tampa/St. Petersburg, which were and continue to be available with outdoor antennas.

WINK-TV was a major beneficiary of a quirk in the FCC's plan for allocating stations. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available and 69 UHF channels (later reduced to 55 in 1983). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried longer distances. Since there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced.

After the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze and opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas would be designated as "UHF islands" since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" represented non-commercial educational stations, and "1/2" became ABC (which was the weakest network usually winding up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available).

However, Fort Myers is sandwiched between Miami/Fort Lauderdale (channels 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10) and West Palm Beach (channels 5 and 12) to the east and Tampa Bay (channels 3, 8, 10, and 13) to the north. This created a large doughnut in southwest Florida where there could be only one VHF license. WINK-TV was fortunate to gain that license, and as a result was the only local station that provided a clear picture to outlying portions of the market until cable television arrived in the mid-1970s.

The station has identified almost exclusively with its call letters since the mid-1980s. This is due in large part to the extremely high penetration of cable and satellite in Southwest Florida--one of the highest in the nation. Cable and satellite are all but essential for acceptable television in much of the market, even in digital.

On October 20, 2007, WINK-TV became the first television station in Southwest Florida to begin broadcasting in high definition. In January 2008, several programming changes were made on WINK-TV. It began airing The Early Show (which was replaced by CBS This Morning in January 2012) in its entirety after CBS began requiring all of its affiliates to air the full two-hour broadcast of the program.

On May 26, 2011, WINK-TV debuted an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast, one of many added on television stations around the United States on that date to replace The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ended its 25-year run the day before.[3] On June 11, 2011 WINK-TV debuted a 90-minute morning newscast on Saturday and Sunday mornings.[4] WINK-TV also added a half-hour late morning newscast at 10 a.m. on September 6, 2011.[5] On September 16, 2013, WINK-TV expanded its weekday morning newscast a half-hour early to 4:30 a.m. and expanded the extension of that program on WXCW by one hour to 7 to 10 a.m.[6] In January of 2015, WINK-TV expanded the 6:30 p.m. newscast to weekends on WXCW.[7]

In August 2015, Matt Dougherty, a former WINK-TV investigative reporter and weekend news anchor filed a lawsuit against the station's owner, Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, alleging he was fired by the station's news director for refusing to hinder a federal investigation and participate in an illegal cover-up. [8][9][2] [2][2] The station settled with Dougherty in March 2016 and the news director was "ousted" from his job.[2][14] News director Russ Kilgore had been in the position at WINK-TV for more than seven years.[14]

Notable former staff include Hoda Kotb (1989-1991), Trey Radel[2] and Kerry Sanders.


Syndicated programs broadcast on WINK-TV include Live! with Kelly and Michael, TMZ on TV, Castle, Inside Edition, and Rachael Ray. WINK-TV broadcasts 40 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with seven hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays). WINK-TV operates two news bureaus: the Charlotte County Bureau in the Charlotte Sun newsroom in Charlotte Harbor the Collier County Bureau in Naples. The station's weather radar is located next to its studios. The Boston Red Sox have held spring training in Fort Myers since 1993, and WINK-TV shares its coverage of the team with fellow CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston. WINK-TV is one of two Fort Myers stations carried by Comcast in Venice and Wauchula. It is the only Southwest Florida-based station carried on Comcast's Sebring system. [2]

Digital television

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
11.11080i16:9WINK HDMain WINK-TV programming / CBS
11.2480i4:3WINK D224/7 Weather

WINK-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, at noon on February 17, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 9.[2] The station's digital signal relocated to UHF channel 50 in mid-2011[2] using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 11.