WPXT is the CW-affiliated television station for Southern Maine and Northern New Hampshire licensed to Portland. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 43 (or virtual channel 51.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in South Gray along I-95/Maine Turnpike/Gold Star Memorial Highway. Owned by Ironwood Communications, LLC, WPXT operates MyNetworkTV affiliate WPME (owned by Cottonwood Communications, LLC) through a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two outlets share studios on Ledgeview Drive in Westbrook. Syndicated programming on WPXT includes How I Met Your Mother, Friends, Grace Under Fire, and Divorce Court among others. Throughout its history, the station has also produced and aired several local programs.
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|51.1||1080i||16:9||WPXT-DT||Main WPXT programming / The CW|
The station signed-on September 14, 1986 as Maine's first independent station and the first new commercial station to launch in the Portland market in 32 years. After a few weeks as an independent, it became a charter affiliate with Fox on October 6. In 1996 the station's original owner Bride Communications sold WPXT to Pegasus Broadcasting.
In 2001, WPXT switched to The WB due to a monetary dispute between Pegasus and Fox; The WB had previously aired in off-hours on sister UPN affiliate WPME. This left Portland with no over-the-air Fox affiliate until early-2003, when Pax station WMPX-TV took the affiliation, becoming WPFO. In the interim, programming from the network was provided exclusively on cable through Foxnet. Pegasus declared bankruptcy in June 2004 over a dispute with DirecTV (co-owned with Fox by News Corporation) over marketing of the direct broadcast satellite service in rural areas. The Pegasus station group was sold in August 2006 to private investment firm CP Media, LLC of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for $55.5 million. Eventually, CP Media formed a new broadcast company, New Age Media.
As a WB affiliate, WPXT was originally branded on-air as "Maine's WB 51", but in 2004, changed to "Maine's WB" to reflect its status as the only off-air WB affiliate in the state. Although Bangor and Presque Isle also had affiliates, they were only provided on cable through The WB 100+ (a similar operation to Foxnet).
On January 24, 2006, TimeWarner and CBS Corporation announced that they would merge the broadcast operations of The WB and UPN to form The CW Television Network. On March 9, it was announced WPXT would become Portland's CW affiliate. Later on May 1, it was made public sister station WPME would affiliate with MyNetworkTV. With the new affiliation, its branding became "The CW Portland". In 2007, WPXT changed its on-air branding to reflect its call letters rather than a city.
WPXT ceased analog transmission August 12, 2008 (more than seven months prior to the original Federal Communications Commission (FCC) digital switchover deadline February 17, 2009) due to transmitter failure. On May 2, 2011, WPXT signed-on a new second digital subchannel to become the area's MeTV affiliate.
New Age Media announced in March 2012 that it would sell WPXT to Tyche Broadcasting for $75,000. The deal was contingent on WPME's concurrent sale from MPS Media to Triumph Broadcasting. On November 9, 2012, WPXT filed a non-consummation notice to the FCC, meaning the transaction is nulled and void. On February 13, 2013, New Age Media filed to sell WPXT to Ironwood Communications; the deal is concurrent with a planned sale of WPME to Cottonwood Communications. The FCC granted its approval of the sale on April 2. The sale was consummated on May 20.
For many years, WPXT operated a news department and produced its own local newscasts. For a time, the station's nightly prime time news at 10 was simulcasted on sister station WPME. WPXT even produced a weeknight broadcast at 7 on that station at one point but the show was eventually canceled due to poor ratings and inconsistent viewership. It made national headlines a week before the 2000 Presidential election when reporter Erin Fehlau (now at ABC affiliate WMUR-TV) revealed Republican candidate George W. Bush had been convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol 24 years earlier.
On June 15, 2002 after shuttering its own news operation, WPXT entered into a news share agreement with Maine's two NBC affiliates, WCSH and WLBZ (both owned by the Gannett Company). This arrangement resulted in a nightly half-hour prime time show at 10 to debut on the station known as NewsCenter at 10 on Maine's WB 51. On weeknights, the news and sports segments originated from WCSH's studios at Congress Square in Downtown Portland while weather forecast segments came from WLBZ's facility on Mount Hope Avenue in Bangor. Weekend broadcasts aired entirely from Portland (sister station WDSI currently operates a similar production in Chattanooga, Tennessee).
As was the case with WLBZ (which largely serves as a semi-satellite of WCSH), the prime time newscasts on WPXT took on a regional feel with coverage from Portland, Bangor or wherever news occurred from across the state. However, since WPXT is a Portland/Auburn market station, there was ultimately a focus on southern areas. With the affiliation switch to The CW in 2006, WPXT's news became known as NewsCenter at 10 on The CW, Portland. The station would not face any competition in the time slot until February 5, 2007 when current Fox affiliate WPFO entered into a similar arrangement with CBS affiliate WGME-TV allowing the latter to produce nightly thirty-minute news at 10 on the former.
On November 6, 2008, WCSH moved the WPXT show to its second digital subchannel affiliated with NBC Weather Plus. As a result, WLBZ's production involvement in the newscast was dropped and refocused to Portland. After a six-year run, the production was eventually canceled altogether. On October 31, 2011, WPXT and WCSH established another news share agreement and debuted an hour-long extension of the big three outlet's weekday morning show. Known on WPXT as NewsCenter Morning Report Xtra, this aired from 7 until 8 and competed with WGME's one-hour morning newscast on WPFO. This ceased in Spring 2014.