WSJV, virtual and UHF digital channel 28, is a television station serving South Bend, Indiana, United States that is licensed to Elkhart. The station is owned by Quincy Media. WSJV's studios are located on County Road 7 in unincorporated Elkhart County, and its transmitter is located on Johnson Road in unincorporated St. Joseph County, east of Gulivoire Park.

WSJV currently broadcasts the digital subchannel network Heroes & Icons; from 1995 through 2016, it served as the market's Fox affiliate. On August 1, 2016, WSJV traded the affiliation to Sinclair Broadcast Group's WSBT-TV in exchange for Quincy acquiring the ABC and CW affiliations of Peoria, Illinois' WHOI for sister station WEEK-TV.

History

Early history

WSJV began broadcasting on March 15, 1954 on channel 52. It was initially an NBC affiliate, sharing ABC with CBS affiliate WSBT-TV. The South Bend/Elkhart market was unique because it was a UHF island; it was sandwiched between Chicago to the west, Grand Rapids to the north, Lansing/Jackson and Detroit to the east and Indianapolis to the south, meaning that no VHF licenses could be assigned to South Bend. It was owned by the Truth Publishing Company, along with Elkhart's main newspaper, The Elkhart Truth. When WNDU-TV signed on in July 1955, it took the NBC affiliation, leaving WSJV to become the first primary ABC affiliate in Indiana.

WSJV moved its channel allocation to the stronger channel 28 in 1958. After the station invested in purchasing color tape and film equipment, WSJV began broadcasting in color in 1966, five years after ABC began airing some of its programs in color in 1961. WSJV eventually bought two color television cameras, and began airing all of its locally produced shows in color in 1968. In 1971 and 1972, its studios were completely remodeled and enlarged into the present facility.

In 1974, Truth Publishing sold WSJV to Quincy Newspapers after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began tightening its cross-ownership rules to forbid common ownership of a newspaper and a broadcasting outlet in the same market, except in a few grandfathered cases. While the FCC granted grandfathered status to Schurz Communications for its combination of the South Bend Tribune and WSBT-AM-FM-TV, it would not do the same for Truth Publishing's combination of The Truth and WSJV. As a result, Truth Publishing was forced to divest WSJV.

As a Fox affiliate

In 1993, Fox gained the broadcast rights to televise games from the NFL's National Football Conference, which firmly established Fox as the fourth national network. As a result of the deal, Fox sought to upgrade its affiliates in several markets over the next three years, moving Fox affiliations in several markets to longtime affiliates of the Big Three television networks, generally those with established news departments. Fox had previously aired in South Bend on low-powered W58BT, but sought to move its affiliation to a full-power station, especially in hopes of reaching more of the Chicago Bears' fan base; the Bears have long considered Michiana to be a secondary portion of their home territory. Fox reached an agreement with WSJV to join the network on April 21, 1995.[75] On October 18, 1995, WSJV affiliated with Fox after a 40-year stint as an ABC affiliate, while W58BT took the ABC affiliation (that station is now WBND-LP, which moved from UHF channel 58 to channel 57 in 2002 to allow WSJV to use that channel for its pre-transition digital signal). Before the switch, WSJV was the longest-tenured ABC affiliate in the state of Indiana; an honor now held by WPTA in Fort Wayne.

Loss of Fox affiliation

In June and July 2016, the station's general manager and news director stepped down and moved to other Quincy Media stations; the South Bend Tribune reported the possibility that Quincy was planning to shut down WSJV and consolidate its Fox affiliation onto another station in the market, so it could sell WSJV in the FCC's upcoming spectrum incentive auction—which will allow stations to relinquish their broadcast spectrum to the FCC in exchange for a share of the profit from its resale to wireless providers as part of a reallocation process. Spectrum is said to be valuable from the South Bend market due to its proximity to several major markets such as Chicago and Indianapolis.[16][17]

On July 25, 2016, Quincy announced the transfer of the Fox affiliation rights to Sinclair Broadcast Group's WSBT-TV in exchange for the ABC and CW affiliations in Peoria, Illinois from Sinclair-owned WHOI.[18] WSBT then announced that they would be replacing its two subchannels with Fox Michiana, beginning on August 1, 2016. For a 60-day transition period until September 30, WSBT-DT2 was simulcast by WSJV to allow viewers to transition from the former signal, along with pay television providers.[19] WSJV's staff was reduced to an FCC-minimum skeleton crew of two employees (one engineer and one manager) in order to continue broadcasting the Heroes & Icons network, with the majority of its employees being transferred to other Quincy Media stations, WSBT, or laid off.[20]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[8]
28.1720p16:9WSJVH&IHeroes & Icons
28.2

Analog-to-digital conversion

WSJV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 28, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later changed to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 58, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 28 for post-transition operations.

News operation

As a Fox affiliate, WSJV broadcast 21 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours seen on weekdays and ½ hour each on Saturdays and Sundays).

After gaining the Fox affiliation in August 1995, this station revamped its local news offerings: local news programming began running on weekdays from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. (the morning newscast being extended by one hour and syndicated programming filling the 8 a.m. hour to fill timeslots vacated by the departure of Good Morning America; it was later expanded until 9:00 a.m. several years later). The 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts were dropped and replaced with syndicated programming, while the 11 p.m. newscast was moved to 10 p.m. Unlike most former Big Three affiliates that joined Fox in the 1990s, WSJV did not retain a news schedule similar to the one it had as an ABC affiliate. Instead, it partly resembled the common newscast scheduling of most of the network's early affiliates that, then as now, relied more heavily on syndicated programming. A half-hour 5 p.m. newscast was later added to the schedule by the mid-2000s, but was cancelled in 2008.

The station began having competition to its weeknight prime time broadcast on September 5, 2006 after CBS affiliate WSBT-TV (channel 22) added its own weeknight 10 p.m. newscast on its second digital subchannel after WSBT-DT2 converted into an independent station. On January 19, 2012, WSJV became the fourth and last television station in the South Bend market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. WSJV newscast also competed with a nightly 10 p.m. newscast on CW affiliate WCWW-LD (channel 25) that is produced by that station's co-owned ABC affiliate WBND; however, the WCWW newscast airs for only 30 minutes whereas WSJV's newscast aired for one hour.

Following the trading of the Fox affiliation to WSBT-TV, WSJV ceased production of local news. News production for South Bend's Fox station was taken over by WSBT, which only retained a small number of former staff from WSJV.