WRGT-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for the Miami Valley in the U.S. state of Ohio. Licensed to Dayton, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 30 (or virtual channel 45 via PSIP) from a transmitter off South Gettysburg Avenue, near the New Chicago section of the city. Owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, WRGT-TV is operated through a local marketing agreement (LMA) by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of ABC affiliate WKEF. However, Sinclair effectively owns WRGT as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share a studio on Corporate Place in Miamisburg. On cable, WRGT can be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 8 and in high definition on digital channel 1008.

History

WRGT-TV signed on as an independent station on September 23, 1984, owned by Meridian Communications, based in Pittsburgh. WRGT-TV was Meridian's second station following WVAH-TV in Charleston, West Virginia two years earlier. Meridian founded WRGT-TV following a high-stakes "in-contest" competition among four potential owners in the late 1970s. The station ran a general-entertainment format consisting of cartoons, classic sitcoms, recent off-network sitcoms, old movies, drama shows, and sports. On its sign on date, WRGT-TV broadcast 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a stereo simulcast of the audio over WTUE-FM 104.7. It originally used the slogan "Off To a Flying Start", featuring an animated Wright "B" Flyer used in its first promos (the "WRGT" calls are a reference to the Wright brothers).

Prior to its sign on, the only source of non-network programming in Dayton was WTJC (now WBDT) a mostly religious station. However, WXIX-TV and WIII-TV (now WSTR-TV), both in Cincinnati, and WTTE in Columbus all reached portions of the Dayton market, and WTTV in Indianapolis was available on cable. Meridian persuaded WTJC's owner, Miami Valley Christian Television, to sell most of that station's non-religious programming to WRGT-TV. For all intents and purposes, it was now the only general-entertainment station in Dayton and the first independent since the demise of WKTR-TV in 1970 (now public station WPTD) and WSWO-TV in Springfield in 1972 (now WBDT after being WTJC from 1980 to 1988 following eight years of being silent).

Despite the competition from larger-market stations and with WXIX, WSTR and WTTV being available on cable, WRGT-TV prospered. It would not have any real competition in Dayton until 1999 when WBDT became a WB affiliate (it was a brief O&O of the Pax TV network before then). After Fox launched on October 6, 1986, WRGT-TV became a charter affiliate of the fledgling network. On October 30, 1987, Meridian sold the station to Act III Broadcasting.[5] Act III merged with Abry in 1994. A few months later, Abry merged with Sinclair. However, Sinclair then sold WRGT-TV to Sullivan Broadcasting, which outsourced channel 45's operations to Sinclair.

By 1999, more reality and talk shows would be in the station's mix. In 1998, Sullivan's managing partner Sinclair bought WKEF (then an NBC affiliate). In 2001, Sinclair purchased most of Sullivan's other stations, but could not buy WRGT-TV for two reasons. The Dayton market has only seven full-power stations, not enough to legally permit a duopoly. Also, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. With this in mind, WRGT-TV was sold to Glencairn, Ltd. However, nearly all of Glencairn's stock was controlled by trusts in the name of the Smith family who were founding owners of Sinclair. This effectively gave Sinclair a duopoly in Dayton. Glencairn later changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting. There is undeniable evidence that Glencairn/Cunningham are merely shell corporations used to circumvent FCC ownership rules.

WRGT-TV is also considered an alternate ABC affiliate airing that network's programs when WKEF is unable to do so such as during a breaking news emergency or local special. WRGT-TV, along with CBS affiliate WHIO-TV, are the only two stations in the area who have not changed their network affiliations even through the swaps of 2004.

In August 2006, it was confirmed that Fox's new sister network, MyNetworkTV, would air on a new second digital subchannel of WRGT-TV. On September 16, 2006, Time Warner Cable added My TV Dayton to its digital cable lineup. In November 2008, the subchannel additionally became a launch-day affiliate of This TV. My TV Dayton/This TV Dayton currently appears on Spectrum digital channel 995.

Around November 11, 2010, Sinclair announced that when carriage agreements expired at the end of the year, it planned to pull all of its owned and/or operated TV stations in the United States, including WRGT-TV and WKEF, from Time Warner Cable, in a dispute over "retransmission fees".[120][18][19] Negotiations began between the two parties. Around December 6, Time Warner announced that it would continue to provide Fox network programming on its systems (presumably via video on demand services), under a deal reached with Fox earlier in 2010; syndicated and local programs on Sinclair's Fox affiliates would not be seen.[6][8] On December 31, Time Warner reached an agreement with an out-of-market station, presumably Cincinnati's WXIX-TV, to provide Fox network programming at least through the end of February.[20] Later that same day, Sinclair and Time Warner extended talks for another two weeks, with continued cable carriage of Sinclair's stations, through January 14, 2011.[21] On January 15, 2011, after a 24-hour extension of the previous deadline,[22] Time Warner and Sinclair reached a tentative settlement.[5] After further negotiations, a final agreement was reached on February 2, 2011, keeping WRGT-TV and WKEF on Time Warner.[5][28][5]

On February 21, 2012, Miamisburg City Council approved a $150,000 loan to Sinclair, which planned to move the WRGT-TV/WKEF studios from Soldiers Home-West Carrollton Road in Dayton, and to move their business and sales offices from Broadcast Plaza (the former WRGT-TV studios),[5] consolidating all within the former studios of CW affiliate WBDT on Corporate Place, off Byers Road, in Miamisburg. Sinclair expected to spend $5 million on renovations to its new facility, making it fully digital and high definition.[5][5] The stations had anticipated moving into their new studios in November 2012; the move was finalized on January 27, 2013 with high definition newscasts, updated graphics and new logos on both stations.[5][31]

On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including WRGT-TV, allowing them to continue carrying Fox programming through 2017.[5]

On the network's October 31, 2015 launch, WRGT-TV added the Sinclair-owned Comet on its third digital subchannel, 45.3.

On February 28, 2017, WRGT-TV added the Sinclair-owned Charge! on its fourth digital subchannel, 45.4.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[120]
45.1720p16:9WRGT-DTMain WRGT-TV programming / Fox
45.2480iMYTV-DaMyNetworkTV & This TV
45.34:3CometComet
45.4ChargeCharge!

Analog-to-digital conversion

WRGT-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 45, 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 30.[120] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 45.

Newscasts

WRGT presently broadcasts 17¼ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (3¼ hours on weekdays and ½ hours on weekends).

In 1998, WRGT-TV started its nightly 10 o'clock newscast, now known as Fox 45 News at 10, using sister station WKEF's existing news team. In the February 2006 sweeps period, the station's 10 o'clock news was the fastest growing local broadcast in the Dayton market, on certain nights, sometimes winning the time slot. Until 2007, there was direct 10 o'clock news competition from WHIO-TV's Time Warner Cable-only Miami Valley Channel. There was no over-the-air competition until August 18, 2007, when NBC affiliate WDTN began to produce a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on CW affiliate WBDT; this beat WRGT-TV's show in Dayton's metered market household ratings on the 26th day of its broadcast.

On June 12, 2006, WKEF began airing a weekday morning program from 5 to 7, called ABC 22 Good Morning. On the same day, WRGT-TV began airing Fox 45 in the Morning from 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays.[120] In August 2008, WKEF began producing a 6:30 p.m. newscast for WRGT-TV, airing on weeknights against the national news broadcasts on the "Big Three" stations.

See also