WXLV-TV, virtual channel 45 (UHF digital channel 29), is an ABC-affiliated television station serving the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina--Greensboro, High Point and its city of license, Winston-Salem. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV (channel 48). The two stations share studio facilities located on Myer Lee Drive in Winston-Salem (along BUS I-40), and its transmitter is located in Randleman (along I-73/U.S. 220). The station is available on channel 7 on most cable providers in the market.
The station first signed on the air on September 24, 1979 as WGNN-TV. It was the first independent station in the Piedmont Triad region, and broadcast its signal from a transmitter located west of Gap in Stokes County. The station was bought by the TVX Broadcast Group in 1980 and changed its call letters to WJTM-TV on October 20. Over the years, the station ran a general entertainment format consisting of cartoons, movies, sitcoms, and drama series. It changed its call letters to WNRW on June 8, 1984 in memory of an employee, General Sales Manager William N. Rismiller, who was murdered in a shooting at the station that year.
WNRW: Fox affiliate
WNRW became the market's Fox affiliate when the network launched on October 9, 1986. By the late 1980s, the station had dropped its longtime moniker of "TV 45" in favor of "Fox 45."
TVX sold off many of its smaller stations in 1988; it sold WNRW to Act III Broadcasting that year. Meanwhile, the other major independent in the market, WGGT (channel 48), filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s and still had not emerged from it by 1991. At that time, Act III cut a deal with WGGT's owner, Guilford Broadcasters, to purchase WGGT's stronger programming and merge it onto WNRW's lineup. WGGT then began to simulcast WNRW's schedule, creating a strong combined signal with over 60% overlap. The two stations referenced this through its on-air slogan as the "Piedmont Superstation". The two stations took on a secondary affiliation with UPN when that network debuted on January 16, 1995.
WXLV-TV: ABC affiliate
The simulcast continued after Act III Broadcasting merged with Abry Broadcast Partners in 1995. That September, when Fox acquired longtime ABC affiliate WGHP (channel 8; which the station originally acquired from New World Communications, along with WBRC), WNRW and WGGT swapped affiliations with WGHP and became the Triad's ABC affiliates while all Fox programming (including Fox Kids) went to WGHP. As such, WGHP became the only station involved in the Fox-New World deal to carry the block; other stations in the same deal declined to carry the block, which either remained on the former Fox station or moved to another station. WNRW also changed its callsign to the current WXLV-TV on September 3, 1995.
Abry merged with the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996. Sinclair then had Glencairn, Ltd. purchase WGGT from Guilford Broadcasters. In 1997, WGGT discontinued the simulcast with WXLV, and the two stations entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with WXLV as the senior partner. As part of the LMA, the UPN affiliation moved exclusively to channel 48, which changed its calls to WUPN-TV. Since the family of Sinclair founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned most of Glencairn's stock, Sinclair effectively had a duopoly in the Triad, although the FCC would not permit actual duopolies until late 1999. A similar situation existed in the Research Triangle region, where Sinclair owned WLFL and Glencairn nominally owned WRDC. Sinclair bought WUPN outright in 2000, creating the market's first (and so far, only) legal duopoly.
In 2003, Sinclair started a local news department for WUPN and WXLV, but it only operated until mid-2005.
Sinclair was later involved in a retransmission dispute with Time Warner Cable, whose original agreement ended on December 31, 2010. An agreement was reached on February 2, 2011, with no disruption to carriage of WXLV and WMYV; this same deal resulted in the a news share agreement with News 14 Carolina, Time Warner Cable's local news channel.
On January 8, 2016, Sinclair announced that American Sports Network would launch as a dedicated, digital multicast network under the American Sports Network name in 10 cities including WXLV on January 11, 2016.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|45.1||720p||16:9||WXLV HD||Main WXLV-TV programming / ABC|
|45.2||480i||4:3||ASN||American Sports Network|
On February 2, 2009, Sinclair told cable and satellite television providers via e-mail that regardless of the exact mandatory switchover date to digital-only broadcasting for full-power stations (which Congress rescheduled for June 12 days later), the station would shut down its analog signal on the original transition date of February 17, making WXLV and WMYV the first stations in the market to convert to digital-only broadcast transmissions. WXLV-TV shut down its analog signal at 11:59 p.m. on that date. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 29, using PSIP to display WXLV-TV's virtual channel as 45 on digital television receivers.
As part of the SAFER Act, WXLV-TV kept its analog signal on the air until March 13 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
The station established a news department after becoming an ABC affiliate in 1995. At the operation's height, it aired local newscasts each weeknight at 6 and 11 as well as on weekends under the branding News 45 (which was subsequently changed to ABC 45 News). The station also ran weather cut-ins during Good Morning America on weekday mornings. WXLV's sports department produced a local high school sports program known as Friday Night Football.
The station could not gain significant viewership footing and compete with WFMY-TV (channel 2), WGHP, and WXII-TV (channel 12). WXLV discontinued its weekday morning cut-ins and weekend evening newscasts in 2000. The weeknight newscasts later followed suit, as the news operation was shut down entirely on January 11, 2002.
In 2003, Sinclair started a local news department for WUPN and WXLV. Sister station WUPN began airing a nightly 10 p.m. newscast. As part of Sinclair's News Central operation, local news segments originated from the Winston-Salem studios while national news, weather, and sports segments were based at the company's headquarters on Beaver Dam Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland. In 2004, an identical 11 p.m. newscast, ABC 45 News Late Edition, premiered on WXLV. It also aired "The Point", a controversial one-minute conservative political commentary feature, that was a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts (regardless of whether it carried the News Central format or not).
Both newscasts were pulled in mid-2005 due to poor ratings; the News Central format would be phased out entirely in its other markets by March 2006. For a time afterward, News Central still provided WXLV with weekday morning weather cut-ins during Good Morning America featuring meteorologist Tony Pagnotti. Production of the cut-ins is now based from its Asheville sister station, WLOS, with meteorologist Julie Wunder providing the taped-in-advance updates.
As part of the settlement of a retransmission consent agreement between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair, local cable news channel News 14 Carolina, which is owned by the cable provider, began producing newscasts for WXLV. The newscasts, known as News 14 Carolina on ABC 45, premiered on January 2, 2012 with half-hour broadcasts at 6:30 a.m., 6 and 11 p.m. With Time Warner Cable consolidating all of its local news channels under the Time Warner Cable News name, the newscasts were renamed Time Warner Cable News on ABC 45. The newscasts are produced at Time Warner Cable News' Triad newsroom in the Centreport office complex in Greensboro, but anchored from their studios in Raleigh (or occasionally, Charlotte). Like programming on the cable channel, the newscasts on WXLV are broadcast in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.
Although Time Warner Cable-owned regional cable channels have produced news and sports content for broadcast stations in the past (such as a now-expired agreement between Kansas City's KCTV and Metro Sports for the latter to compile and produce the station's sports coverage), the WXLV/Time Warner Cable agreement is the second instance in which a cable news channel has produced news broadcasts for a television station; in Washington, DC, News Channel 8 produced a nightly 10 p.m. newscast for then UPN affiliate WDCA in 1995.