WUTB, virtual channel 24 (digital channel 41), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station located in Baltimore, Maryland. The station is owned by Deerfield Media, and is operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group through a local marketing agreement, it is part of a virtual triopoly with Fox affiliate and Sinclair flagship WBFF (channel 45) and CW affiliate WNUV (channel 54). All three stations share studios and office facilities in the Woodberry section of Baltimore City, and WUTB's transmitter is based in Catonsville.
Prior history of channel 24 in Baltimore
The channel 24 allocation in Baltimore was originally occupied by WMET-TV, which began broadcasting on March 1, 1967 as the first UHF station in Baltimore and was touted as "Baltimore's fourth television station" in a March 3 article in the Baltimore Evening Sun. It was a low-budget and low-powered station that was sister to WFAN in Washington, D.C. Both stations were owned by United Broadcasting (which is unrelated to the United Television that was owned by Chris-Craft Industries, which later owned channel 24). The original channel 24 was headquartered in the former Avalon Theatre on Park Heights Avenue. In 1972, both stations ceased broadcasting due to financial difficulties.
Family Broadcast Group signed on a new television station on UHF channel 24 on December 24, 1985 under the callsign WKJL-TV. The call letters stood for Where the Kingdom of Jesus Lives. The station originally maintained a religious programming format, and initially broadcast for about six hours a day with Christian-based religious shows and an hour or two of low budget westerns and movies.
In January of 1986, the station quickly expanded to an 18-hour broadcast day featuring five hours of religious programming and twelve hours of family-oriented secular programs. The station began broadcasting 24 hours a day in June 1986 airing programming from the Home Shopping Network during the overnight hours. HSN announced its purchase of the station in September 1986. By November, the station aired HSN programming about 15 hours a day. The sale to HSN was finalized on January 11, 1995. It then began running HSN programming 24 hours a day and changed its call letters to WHSW.
On January 18, 1998, WNUV dropped its affiliation with UPN in favor of joining The WB; this resulted in Chris-Craft Industries (which at the time had jointly owned UPN, along with Viacom) buying channel 24, and effectively made it a UPN owned-and-operated station. On January 19 of that year, the station's call letters were changed to the current "WUTB". Chris-Craft ran the station out of then-sister station WWOR-TV's facilities in Secaucus, New Jersey and fed the station's programming to its transmitter site in Baltimore; this included WWOR's local news coverage of the September 11 attacks. On July 25, 2001, Fox Television Stations purchased WUTB and the other Chris-Craft stations. In November 2002, rumors began surfacing that the station would become a Fox affiliate as a result of the purchase, but the network's existing Baltimore affiliate WBFF made a deal to keep its affiliation with that network.
MyNetworkTV era, sale to Sinclair
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and the Warner Bros. Entertainment unit of Time Warner announced that they would shut down The WB and UPN and merge some of their programming on a new network called The CW. Unenthused with being passed over for affiliations with The CW in several key markets outside of Baltimore in favor for stations owned by CBS Television Stations (sister company to both UPN and The CW) and Tribune Broadcasting (whose WB stations served as that network's core affiliate group through Tribune's partial ownership of The WB), Fox Television Stations' UPN affiliates immediately began pulling UPN branding and promotions from on-air use; WUTB immediately dropped its "UPN 24" branding and became known on-air as "WUTB 24".
The CW announcement again touched off speculation that Fox would pull its affiliation from WBFF and move it to WUTB. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new broadcast television network called MyNetworkTV. This new network, which would be sister to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and News Corporation's syndication division, Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give stations affiliated with UPN and The WB that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides becoming independent stations, as well as to compete against The CW. It was later announced that WNUV would become Baltimore's CW affiliate with WUTB joining MyNetworkTV. On August 11, WUTB adopted the standard MyNetworkTV logo and gradually rebranded itself as "My 24". It became a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station when the network launched on September 5, while WNUV affiliated with The CW on September 18, 2006.
On May 15, 2012, as part of a five-year affiliation agreement extension between Fox and Sinclair Broadcast Group's 19 Fox affiliates (including company flagship WBFF) that will run through 2017, Fox included an option for Sinclair to purchase WUTB, exercisable from July 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. In exchange, Fox received an option to buy any combination of six Sinclair-owned CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates (two of which were standalone stations affiliated with the latter service) in three of four markets: Raleigh (WLFL and WRDC), Las Vegas (KVCW and KVMY), Cincinnati (WSTR-TV) and Norfolk (WTVZ). The WUTB option would create a virtual triopoly with WBFF and CW affiliate WNUV, which Sinclair manages under a local marketing agreement with owner Cunningham Broadcasting. On November 29, 2012, Sinclair exercised its option to purchase WUTB through Deerfield Media for $2.7 million.
In January 2013, Fox announced that it would not exercise its option to buy any of the Sinclair stations included in the purchase option. On May 6, 2013, the FCC granted its approval of WUTB to Deerfield Media, which was formally consummated on June 1. Sinclair began operating WUTB under a local marketing agreement, making it a sister station to WBFF and WNUV; the sale made CBS-owned WJZ-TV the only network-owned station in the Baltimore market, and the LMA resulted in Sinclair having some form of operational control over half of the Baltimore market's six full-power commercial stations (WMAR-TV, WJZ-TV and WBAL-TV are the only remaining stations in the market not controlled by Sinclair). At some point in time after the sale closed, Sinclair moved WUTB's operations from its studios on Seton Drive in Baltimore near the city and county line, to the Woodberry facility shared by WBFF and WNUV. Following the acquisition, WUTB's branding was changed to "MyTV Baltimore", with its logo redesigned to match that of other Sinclair-owned MyNetworkTV affiliates that brand using their region instead of a channel number.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|24.1||720p||16:9||WUTB-DT||Main WUTB programming / MyNetworkTV|
Through an affiliation agreement between the network and former owner Fox Television Stations, WUTB began carrying "Bounce TV" on 24.2 in March 2012. The network moved to WMAR-TV's 3rd subchannel on September 15, 2014.
WUTB shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, 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 41, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 24.
On September 4, 2006, WUTB began simulcasting the weekday morning and 10 p.m. newscasts from former Washington, D.C. sister station, Fox-owned WTTG. Branded by the station as My 24 News, an on-screen logo bug with the My 24 News brand was placed on the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Management at both stations cited the decision to simulcast the news programs as a by-product of cross-regional news interests and increasing overlap between the Baltimore and Washington media markets.
During the 2006 MLB postseason, WTTG's 10 p.m. newscast aired on Washington, D.C.'s MyNetworkTV station WDCA under the name Fox 5 News at 10 Special Edition, while continung to be simulcast on WUTB. The same situation occurred in 2007, but the newscast was known as My 20 News at 10. When Fox Sports or other programming delayed the 10 p.m. newscast from airing on WTTG, it was still produced for WUTB. The station dropped the morning news simulcast after the November 30, 2007 edition and the 10 p.m. simulcast was discontinued by January 2008. It cited low ratings as a reason for the removal of the simulcasts. However, many viewers who commute to the Washington area have expressed a desire to see the simulcasts restored. As a result of WUTB's sale to Deerfield Media, it remains to be seen if WBFF will produce any newscasts for WUTB or run channel 45's newscasts in the event of Fox programming overruns.
On January 8, 2016, Sinclair announced that American Sports Network would launch as a dedicated, digital multicast network under the American Sports Network name with 10 stations including WUTB on January 11, 2016.