WEMT
In a white box with blue trim: The Fox network logo in blue. To the right, a white 39 in a red box. Beneath both, in a blue-box, the word "Tri-Cities" all caps in a different sans serif.
CityGreeneville, Tennessee
Channels
BrandingFox 39 Tri-Cities
Programming
Affiliations
Ownership
Owner
OperatorSinclair Broadcast Group
WCYB-TV
History
First air date
November 4, 1985 (38 years ago) (1985-11-04)
Former call signs
WETO (1985–1989)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 39 (UHF, 1985–2009)
  • Digital: 38 (UHF, 2002–2019)
Independent (1985–1986)
Call sign meaning
East Tennessee and former owner MT Communications, founded by Michael Thompson
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID40761
ERP1,000 kW
HAAT719.3 m (2,360 ft)
Transmitter coordinates36°26′58.2″N 82°6′28.7″W / 36.449500°N 82.107972°W / 36.449500; -82.107972
Links
Public license information

WEMT (channel 39) is a television station licensed to Greeneville, Tennessee, United States, serving as the Fox affiliate for the Tri-Cities area. It is owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, which maintains a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of Bristol, Virginia–licensed dual NBC/CW affiliate WCYB-TV (channel 5), for the provision of certain services. However, Sinclair effectively owns WEMT; the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. Both stations share studios on Lee Street on the Virginia side of Bristol (straddling the Virginia–Tennessee line), while WEMT's transmitter is located at Rye Patch Knob on Holston Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest.

Channel 39 began in November 1985 as WETO ("East Tennessee's Own"), the market's first independent station, under local ownership and with studios and offices in Greeneville. WETO affiliated with Fox the next year, but the undercapitalized local owners sold the station in 1989 to MT Communications, which changed the call letters to WEMT. The station was sold again in 1992; it moved its studios to Johnson City, Tennessee. In 2006, then-WCYB-TV owner BlueStone Television acquired the station's non-license assets, while another group purchased the license; WCYB-TV has operated WEMT ever since under three different group owners. The WCYB newsroom produces a 10 p.m. newscast for WEMT.

History

East Tennessee's Own

Medium Rare Inc., a company headed by Greeneville[2] men Jay Austin and Robert Lochte, filed on October 20, 1982, for a construction permit to build a station on channel 39 in Greeneville.[3] The Federal Communications Commission granted the permit on May 25, 1983;[4] Medium Rare then sold WMGL, an FM radio station it owned in Pulaski, Tennessee.[5]

WETO ("East Tennessee's Own") announced its forthcoming existence in March 1985; the station would have a general-entertainment independent format and studios in a Greeneville industrial park.[6] The antenna, on a tower on Camp Creek Bald[2] of Viking Mountain near Greeneville, was installed in September,[7] The station, which began broadcasting on November 4, 1985,[8] represented a $1.6 million investment for the owners.[9]

WETO affiliated with Fox when the network launched in 1986.[10] This made it the closest Fox affiliate to Knoxville, where it took a year for WKCH-TV to link up with the fourth network.[11]

As a business, WETO-TV suffered after several years. Undercapitalized from the start, Austin and Lochte failed to anticipate a surge in programming costs or difficulties achieving cable carriage from the repeal of must-carry rules requiring systems to offer local stations.[12] At first, East Tennessee's Own Inc. (the former Medium Rare) reached a deal in October 1988 to sell the station to MT Communications of Los Angeles, with most of the purchase price in assumption of debt.[13] The original MT deal never took place,[14] and in the meantime, the station was sued for failing to pay ASCAP dues and thereby broadcasting copyrighted music, including the theme to the Fox series Duet, without permission.[15]

MT Communications ownership

On July 7, 1989, a public auction was held at the WETO studios in Greeneville.[14] The original winning bid of $1.9 million came from Elvin Feltner and his company, Krypton Broadcasting.[16][a] When Krypton failed to put together financing for the deal, MT Communications won the auction with its bid of $1.85 million.[17]

MT Communications took over on November 15, 1989, and changed the call sign to WEMT on December 1.[18] This call sign change coincided with similar moves at its Fox affiliates in Memphis (WMKW-TV to WLMT) and Nashville (WCAY-TV to WXMT).[19] MT Communications also acquired WJWT, a struggling Fox affiliate in Jackson, and converted it to a semi-satellite of WLMT with local advertising that December;[20] it became WMTU in January 1990.[21]

MT Communications had its own struggles, though the Tri-Cities were not as affected; revenues at WEMT increased 130 percent in 1990 and another 35 percent in 1991.[22] In 1990, its stations in Memphis and Nashville lost their Fox affiliations to higher-rated independents in their markets, the latter in a deal in which the Nashville station sold much of its programming inventory.[23][24] WMTU continued to air Fox programming until 1992, when it resumed broadcasting WLMT on a full-time basis.[25][26]

Max Media and Sinclair ownership

In December 1991, MT Communications moved to sell three of its four stations—WMTU, WLMT, and WEMT—to former Virginia lieutenant governor Dick Davis. Max Media—a Virginia company founded by three former officers of TVX Broadcast Group—then would manage the stations for Davis.[27] Max Media began the process of moving WEMT out of Greeneville and to a more centrally located site in the Tri-Cities. The station already had a sales office in Johnson City, Tennessee, but it was insufficient to house the whole station.[28] The entire operation moved to a new building on Hanover Road in Johnson City in February 1993. The station also analyzed the eventual possibility of starting a local newscast at this time.[29] Max Media, which had only been serving as manager, acquired WEMT outright in 1994.[30]

The company's stations were acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1998.[31] Even though the larger deal closed in July 1998, Sinclair had to wait to acquire WEMT because it owned a station with an overlapping coverage area; it instead took over operations under a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Max Media.[32]

Operation with WCYB

In 2005, Sinclair sold WEMT's license for $1.4 million to Aurora Broadcasting Inc. and the non-license assets for $5.6 million to BlueStone Television, which owned NBC affiliate WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia. As part of the deal, WCYB-TV assumed most of the station's operations and began producing a local 10 p.m. newscast for WEMT.[33] The Aurora purchase closed in February 2006;[34] that May, BlueStone put all of its television properties on the market,[35] and parallel with Bonten Media Group acquiring BlueStone, Esteem Broadcasting purchased WEMT from Aurora.[36]

WEMT shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 39, on June 12, 2009, the official date on 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 38, using virtual channel 39.[37] However, the station continued to broadcast from Viking Mountain until November 2011, when its transmitter was moved to Holston Mountain, a shift northeast that improved the signal strength and coverage in the Tri-Cities and southwest Virginia while removing areas around Knoxville from the service area.[38]

On April 21, 2017, Sinclair announced its intent to purchase the Bonten stations for $240 million. As an aspect of the deal, the Esteem stations were sold to Sinclair affiliate Cunningham Broadcasting, maintaining the current operational arrangement.[39] The sale was completed on September 1.[40]

WEMT relocated its signal from channel 38 to channel 28 on April 12, 2019, as a result of the 2016 United States wireless spectrum auction.[41]

Subchannels

The station's signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WEMT[42]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
39.1 720p 16:9 WEMT-HD Main WEMT programming / Fox
39.2 480i DABL Dabl
39.3 4:3 Charge!
39.4 TBD

Notes

  1. ^ For more information on Feltner and Krypton, see WTVX.

References

  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WEMT". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ a b "WETO-TV to be on air in 6-8 months". Kingsport Times-News. March 30, 1985. p. 10A. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "For the Record". Broadcasting. November 22, 1982. p. 71. ProQuest 1014698738.
  4. ^ "For the Record". Broadcasting. June 20, 1983. p. 83. ProQuest 963241717.
  5. ^ "For the Record". Broadcasting. October 24, 1983. p. 71. ProQuest 963229008.
  6. ^ Patterson, Rick (March 30, 1985). "New television station planned in region". Johnson City Press-Chronicle. pp. 1, 20. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Ruetz, Jon (September 25, 1985). "WETO to bring new programming to Tri-Cities". Johnson City Press-Chronicle (Evening ed.). p. 16. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "WETO to begin broadcasting". Johnson City Press-Chronicle. November 2, 1985. p. 11. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ williams, Bill (October 18, 1985). "WETO-TV: Greeneville's channel 39 region's 1st independent". Kingsport Times-News. p. 1D. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Carter, Reon (August 15, 1986). "Some viewers will see Joan Rivers". The Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. B5. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Carter, Reon (June 25, 1987). "WKCH joins fourth network". The Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. B7. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Fox-affiliate WETO sells for $1.9 million". Kingsport Times-News. July 8, 1989. p. 3A. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ Hutchinson, Rose (October 19, 1988). "Greeneville's WETO-TV sold: Station manager Jay Austin says lack of capital forced sale". Kingsport Times-News. p. 1B. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ a b "WETO television station set for auction in July". Kingsport Times-News. Associated Press. May 25, 1989. p. 7A. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Mechem, Allison (April 25, 1989). "Music companies file suit against WETO-TV alleging infringement on copyrights". Kingsport Times-News. p. 3B. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "New York businessman buys WETO". Bristol Herald Courier/Virginia Tennessean. July 8, 1989. p. 5A. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ Fleet, Lee Ann (July 26, 1989). "Probable new WETO-TV owner: Warner sees rosy future for station". Kingsport Times-News. p. 7A. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "WETO Call Letters to Change". Kingsport Times-News. November 26, 1989. p. 1C. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ Walter, Tom (October 4, 1989). "Juke Box available for a fee". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, Tennessee. p. C2. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved March 25, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ Robertson, Brenda (December 20, 1989). "WJWT joins Nashville firm's TV holdings". The Jackson Sun. Jackson, Tennessee. p. 7A. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Robertson, Brenda (January 15, 1990). "New owner marks former WJWT-TV with his initials in call letters". The Jackson Sun. Jackson, Tennessee. p. 1B. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ Paine-Brooks, Lesia (February 5, 1992). "Max Media to acquire Fox-affiliated WEMT". Johnson City Press. p. 7. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Walter, Tom (May 30, 1990). "Fox to flip channel to WPTY-TV's 24". The Commercial Appeal. p. C4. Archived from the original on March 25, 2023. Retrieved March 25, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ Schweid, Richard (February 6, 1990). "Ch. 17 owner buys chunk of Ch. 30". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. p. 1D. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved December 29, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ Robertson, Brenda (June 2, 1990). "Jackson station to get live feed from Fox in unprecedented agreement with broadcaster". The Jackson Sun. p. 3A. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ Diel, Stan (March 26, 1992). "Channel 16 eliminates local sales: Jackson's Fox station merges with parent". The Jackson Sun. Jackson, Tennessee. p. 1B. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Walter, Tom (December 28, 1991). "TV 30 gets new bosses; sale pends". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, Tennessee. p. C1, C3. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ Purser, Becky (August 14, 1992). "WEMT-TV to move station to Tri-Cities". Kingsport Times-News. p. 3C. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ Paine-Brooks, Lesia (January 20, 1993). "WEMT to relocate television studios". Johnson City Press. p. 7. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ Paine Brooks, Lesia (February 19, 1994). "Max Media buys WEMT-TV station". Johnson City Press. p. 14. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ Elswick, Mike (December 5, 1997). "Baltimore media group to purchase Longview's KETK station". Longview News-Journal. p. 1B, 2B. Archived from the original on March 7, 2023. Retrieved March 7, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ Lamm, Kristine (July 13, 1998). "Sinclair closes deals, has more pending". Broadcasting & Cable. p. 73. ProQuest 225348026.
  33. ^ "WCYB parent buys local FOX station". Bristol Herald Courier. May 17, 2005. p. A8. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  34. ^ "SBG Closes on Sale of WEMT-TV in Tri-Cities" (Press release). Sinclair Broadcast Group. February 8, 2006. Archived from the original on September 23, 2006.
  35. ^ Geraghty, Joe (May 31, 2006). "Three Tri-Cities TV stations for sale". Bristol Herald Courier. p. B4. Retrieved July 10, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  36. ^ "Application for Consent to Transfer Control of Entity Holding Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License (BTCCT-20061127AID)". Consolidated Database System. Federal Communications Commission. February 26, 2007. Archived from the original on July 10, 2023. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  37. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. May 23, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  38. ^ Smith, Ken (November 29, 2011). "Fox Tri-Cities Now Broadcasting In New Areas". WCYB. Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  39. ^ "Sinclair Buying Bonten Stations For $240M". TVNewsCheck. April 21, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  40. ^ "Consummation Notice". Consolidated Database System. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on July 10, 2023. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  41. ^ "FCC TV Spectrum Phase Assignment Table" (CSV). Federal Communications Commission. April 13, 2017. Archived from the original on April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  42. ^ "TV Query for WEMT". RabbitEars.