WUTR is the ABC-affiliated television station for Central Upstate New York's Mohawk Valley. Licensed to Utica, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 30 (virtual channel 20.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter at its studios on Smith Hill Road in Deerfield (official address is Utica). The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 7 and in high definition on digital channel 1200.[2] Owned by Mission Broadcasting, WUTR is operated through local marketing and joint sales agreements by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. This makes it sister to Fox affiliate WFXV and low-powered MyNetworkTV affiliate WPNY-LP (all three share facilities together on Smith Hill Road). Syndicated programming on WUTR includes Steve Harvey, The Insider, Entertainment Tonight, and Inside Edition among others.

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[3]
20.1720p16:9WUTR-DTMain WUTR programming / ABC {HD}
20.2480i4:3WPNY-LPSimulcast of WPNY-LP / MyNetworkTV {SD}
20.3Escape (Launch date TBD)
20.4Laff (Launch date TBD)


WUTR signed on for the first time on February 28, 1970, as the second television station in the market. Owned by Roy H. Park Communications at the outset, the station originally sought affiliation with CBS; this was successfully opposed by WHEN-TV (now WTVH) in Syracuse, which argued Utica-Rome was part of its market coverage area. Although WHEN cited potential revenue losses as reasoning for its actions, a rivalry between the Syracuse-based Park and then-WHEN owner Meredith Corporation may also have been a factor. As a result, WUTR joined ABC (taking that affiliation from NBC affiliate WKTV) and was the only affiliate with the network owned by Park at that time. WUTR was also the only Park TV station located outside Park's native Southern U.S. (although Park maintained his operations in Ithaca, New York, in the state's Southern Tier region).

Until the 1980s, WUTR was the default ABC affiliate for much of the Watertown market and operated translators both there and in Massena. The translators were shut down after WJCK (now WWTI which later spent several years as a sister station to WUTR) began operations in 1985 on the Watertown translator allotment. After Roy Park died in 1993, the future of the group was put into doubt as his estate sold much of the group to corporate investor Gary Knapp. In turn, he sold the remnants of the Park group to Media General in 1996.

With WUTR being one of the smallest of Park's stations and the sole station the group had in the Northeast, Media General spun it off in mid-1997 to the Ackerley Group (then-owner of ABC affiliate WIXT, now WSYR-TV, in Syracuse). With the purchase, Ackerley began to build a regional strategy called the "Central New York Station Group" (CNYSG) which eventually covered most of Upstate New York and acquired stations in markets the company did not initially enter. In October 2001, Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) announced its buyout of Ackerley closing on its purchase in 2002. Though initially no changes took place, market concentration concerns with Clear Channel's radio cluster in the Utica market put WUTR's future under the company in doubt.

Given the option between potentially selling WUTR or the four-station "Sports Stars" sports radio simulcast, Clear Channel reduced budgets and redistributed resources to other stations in the CNYSG. In December 2003, Clear Channel announced it would sell WUTR to Nexstar Broadcasting Group subsidiary Mission Broadcasting; the sale was completed on April 1, 2004. At that time, Nexstar (owner of WFXV and WPNY) took over operations of WUTR under local marketing and joint sales agreements, and the three stations were eventually consolidated into WUTR's studios in Deerfield, N.Y. The station's broadcasts became digital-only, effective March 16, 2009.[4][5][6][7]

For a time in December 2010, WUTR was available in the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York area on Time Warner Cable systems. Due to an ongoing retransmission dispute, the provider dropped that market's ABC affiliate WVNY and added WUTR in its place. Rival WKTV, which at the time was co-owned with WVNY, was replaced with Nexstar-owned WBRE-TV from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Time Warner Cable's systems in Utica for the same reason.[8] Eventually, the dispute was resolved and both stations were returned to the cable system. (In November 2012, Mission would acquire WVNY from Smith, placing that station in the same family as WUTR.[9])

On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WUTR and WFXV.[10]

News operation

For its entire history, Utica-Rome's NBC affiliate, WKTV, has been the dominant local news station in the Mohawk Valley according to Nielsen ratings. Among the factors contributed to its dominance: its longevity (it was the first television station to sign on in the market) and its signal strength (consistently broadcasting on channel 2 in the days when VHF stations were more easily received by potential viewers than UHF stations such as WUTR, which broadcast on channel 20). At various times in its history, WUTR has sought to compete for local news viewers—with varying degrees of success. Its highest ratings to date, perhaps, occurred during two periods: the late 1980s and the mid-1990s.

After Clear Channel reduced funding for local news gathering, WUTR became more reliant on content originating from its sister stations in Upstate New York (particularly flagship WIXT in Syracuse), ending weekday morning and weekend newscasts in June 2002. Weeknight newscasts were discontinued and remaining news staff members were terminated in August 2003. For the rest of Clear Channel's ownership, the station simulcast news programs from WIXT, which provided some limited coverage of the Utica and Rome area.[12][13] After Nexstar/Mission assumed ownership of WUTR, the simulcasts of WIXT's newscasts were replaced with syndicated programming.

After WUTR's sale to Mission Broadcasting, insiders speculated that Nexstar would establish a combined news department for WUTR and its sister stations, WFXV and WPNY. In March 2011, the company announced it would launch a news operation for the three stations by mid-September, and said it would invest $1 million for staff and equipment. WUTR's Eyewitness News operation began on September 12, 2011, and broadcast in true high definition, making it the first station in the Utica-Rome market to air full high-definition news broadcasts. (WFXV would become the second such station four hours later, when its 10 p.m. newscast launched.)[2] WUTR's 6 p.m. newscast is repeated at 7:30 p.m. on WPNY. Late-evening newscasts are broadcast at 10 p.m. on WFXV and at 11 p.m. on WUTR. [2][2][2][2][2] As of July 6, 2015, the audio of WUTR's 6 p.m. newscast also simulcasts on Townsquare Media-owned radio station WIBX.[2]

WUTR has announced no plans for morning, noon, afternoon (4:00, 5:00 or 5:30), or weekend newscasts. As a result, the station offers the fewest weekly hours of local news of any ABC affiliate in the state of New York, surpassing WENY-TV, which carries a one-hour morning newscast in addition to news at 6:00 and 11:00 on weeknights, but like WUTR, no news at noon, in the afternoon or on weekends.

Notable former on-air staff