|Channels||Digital: 26 (UHF)|
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group |
(WGXA Licensee, LLC)
|Cable: Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast|
First air date
|April 21, 1982|
Former call signs
|WWLG (CP, 1980–1982)|
Former channel number(s)
24 (UHF, 1982–2009)
16 (UHF, 2000–2019)
Call sign meaning
|uses "G" and "A" from Georgia's postal abbreviation|
|HAAT||243 m (797 ft)|
Public license information
WGXA (channel 24) is a television station in Macon, Georgia, United States, affiliated with Fox and ABC. Owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, the station maintains studios on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (GA 11/GA 22/GA 49/US 80/US 129) in Downtown Macon, and its transmitter is located on GA 87/US 23/US 129 ALT (Golden Isles Highway), along the Twiggs–Bibb county line.
Aside from the brief existence of WETV/WNEX-TV/WOKA-TV from 1953 to 1955, Macon had one television service (WMAZ-TV, channel 13) from 1955 to 1968, when WCWB-TV (channel 41) signed on. WMAZ had been a secondary affiliate of ABC since 1954, but by the 1970s, Macon was among the largest markets remaining without full three-network service; only cable viewers or those lucky enough to receive stations from Atlanta or Columbus could see ABC shows. An effort in 1970 to get WMCN-TV off the ground on channel 24 failed, and it was not until movement started in earnest to bring Middle Georgia its third commercial TV station. A trio of WMAZ-TV employees—Lloyd Harris, Stan Carey, and Bill Manly—formed Broadcasting Dynamics and began planning a third station, which prompted WMAZ to fire them in September 1977.
A year later, Russell-Rowe Communications of Atlanta filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a construction permit to build channel 24. Just days later, Rowe died, but Russell pressed on, joined by the Broadcasting Dynamics team, which had decided they did not have the money to pursue their own application. Lewis Television of Savannah, Georgia, owned by Julius Curtis Lewis Jr., also filed for channel 24, but it dropped its application in October 1979, clearing the way for Russell-Rowe to get the permit in January 1980.
While Russell-Rowe hoped to name the station WROW in honor of the deceased Rowe, the first call letters on the construction permit were WWLG. The station purchased the former site of the Brown Hotel in downtown Macon, while a tower went up on the Cochran Short Route, near the other TV transmission facilities for the Macon area. While WGXA made its on-air debut on April 21, 1982, it was nowhere near fully ready. The studio was unlit; equipment was still in boxes, while other components had not yet arrived. The first local newscast did not air until October 18, six months later.
During its years as an ABC affiliate, WGXA preempted various network news programs such as the Saturday and Sunday editions of World News Tonight (opting to show syndicated reruns of various shows instead), ABC World News This Morning (opting to air cartoons), Nightline (instead showing The Arsenio Hall Show during the early 1990s), and This Week with David Brinkley. When Fox assumed the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference television package from CBS in 1994, WGXA carried Fox's NFL telecasts on Sunday afternoons until December 1994, three months before WPGA-TV (channel 58) signed on as the area's first Fox affiliate. The station was purchased by GOCOM Communications in July 1994.
On September 10, 1995, GOCOM Media announced that it had signed an agreement with Fox to move its affiliation to WGXA, effectively ending WPGA's tenure with the network at the end of that year (after only ten months as a Fox station). Shortly afterward, Register Communications signed an affiliation agreement to make WPGA the Macon market's new ABC affiliate. The affiliation swap took place on January 1, 1996, ending WGXA's fourteen-year tenure with ABC.
On March 24, 2014, Frontier Radio Management reached a deal to sell WGXA to the Sinclair Broadcast Group for $33 million; the sale was completed on September 3, 2014.
WGXA-DT2, branded on-air as ABC 16, is the ABC-affiliated second digital subchannel of WGXA, broadcasting in high definition on channel 24.2.
On October 29, 2009, WPGA owner Register Communications announced it would drop ABC and become an independent station effective January 1, 2010. The company cited that ABC had aired programming that was not "family-friendly", specifically including homosexual content, that conflicted with the station's programming focus as its reason for dropping the network. Shortly afterward, WGXA entered into a long-term agreement with ABC to carry the network's programming on a new second digital subchannel. In effect, this resulted in the station rejoining the network after fourteen years. The new subchannel used its digital physical channel at the time, channel 16, for its branding.
Cox had intended to remove WPGA from its lineup and place WGXA-DT2 on channel 6 with its high definition feed being placed on digital channel 706 (both replacing WGXA's standard definition and high definition feeds). However, on December 22, WPGA was granted a temporary restraining order requiring Cox to continue to carry that station on those channels. As a result, WGXA-DT2 was instead placed on channel 15, taking over the channel space previously occupied by INSP, until Cox's channel placement issues with WPGA were settled. On April 30, 2010, the court dismissed WPGA's case; while this would have allowed Cox to move WGXA-DT2 to channels 6 and 706 while WPGA moved to another channel, Register filed an appeal. In light of this, a judge ordered Cox to leave WPGA on its existing SD and HD channel slots until an appeals court heard the case. In addition, Register also filed a petition with the FCC over the status of WPGA.
On June 23, 2011, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the ruling that would enable Cox to drop WPGA from its lineup, effective July 28. On that date, WGXA-DT2 would begin to be carried on both channel 6 and its existing channel 15 position; with the subchannel being carried exclusively on channel 6 starting August 28 (channel 15 would then be taken out of service and its bandwidth would be reserved for the system's high-definition channels). On July 12, 2011, Register filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, seeking an injunction to prevent Cox from not only dropping WPGA but from giving the channel 6 slot to WGXA-DT2. However, Cox announced that it would go forward with the channel shuffle despite the complaint, as the previous court case authorized the provider to make the changes. The FCC ruled on December 5, 2011 that WPGA's contract with Cox rendered it a station that elected retransmission consent.
WGXA began producing local newscasts on October 18, 1982. The launch of News 24 brought the market back to two full-service television newsrooms; WCWB had, the month before, dropped its full-length newscasts to produce inserts into CNN Headline News. Nearly immediately, the station made a more credible showing than WCWB, attracting about half the audience of the dominant WMAZ.
For a brief time in the mid-1990s as an ABC affiliate, the station rebroadcast its weeknight 6:00 p.m. broadcast at 10:00 p.m. on then-UPN affiliate WGNM (channel 45). After WGXA became a Fox affiliate in 1996, the station expanded its weekday morning newscast from one to three hours (with two hours added from 7–9 a.m.), dropped its early evening newscasts, and moved its 11:00 p.m. newscast to 10:00 and expanded it to one hour. The station expanded its 10:00 p.m. newscast to weekend evenings on January 5, 2008.
WGXA began producing half-hour evening newscasts at 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. each weeknight (the former of which competes with a newscast in the same timeslot on the MyNetworkTV-affiliated second digital subchannel of WMGT-TV), along with weekday morning weather cut-ins during Good Morning America (which air concurrently with WGXA's two-hour morning newscast from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.), on March 1, 2010; this resulted in an expansion of the station's news department personnel. With the launch of the broadcasts, WGXA rebranded its newscasts under the umbrella NewsCentral brand (no relation to the now-defunct newscast format used by future owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's stations from 2002 to 2006). These newscasts originally used anchor teams separate from those seen on the main channel's newscasts, but utilize the same reporting staff, weather and sports personnel; eventually, the evening newscasts began using the same anchors that appear on the evening newscasts seen on the main channel. That same day, the station also launched a half-hour early evening newscast, airing at 5:30 p.m. each weeknight on its main channel.
On May 28, 2010, The Macon Telegraph reported that WPGA-TV would drop its weekday morning news/talk/information/entertainment program, which was simulcast on WPGA-FM (100.9) after the July 20 broadcast; the program, hosted by Kenny Burgamy, Charles Richardson and Liz Fabian, began airing on WGXA through a simulcast partnership with WMAC (940 AM) on July 26, airing weekdays from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. on WGXA-DT2 and from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. (airing in simulcast with WGXA-DT2 during the first hour) on the station's main channel. Known as NewsTalk Central, it aired each weekday from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. on WGXA-DT2 and from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. (airing in simulcast with WGXA-DT2 during the first hour) on the station's main channel.
In the summer of 2012, WGXA began producing a half-hour 6:00 p.m. newscast for WGXA-DT2; the station also expanded the early evening newscast on its main channel to one hour and moved it to 5:00 p.m. On October 1, 2012, WGXA launched a new weekday morning newscast (replacing NewsTalk Central, which ended on September 29, 2012); the first 90 minutes of the program airs on WGXA-DT2 from 5:30 to 7:00 a.m. with the final two hours airing afterward on the main channel. On September 18, 2013, WGXA rebranded its local newscasts as WGXA News, although it had been used by WGXA's anchor and reporter staff vocally on-air as well as the opening of the station's newscasts alongside the previous NewsCentral title until September 18. On July 27, 2015 the newscast on WGXA-DT2 has been renamed separately ABC 16 News, while the newscast on the main channel retains the current WGXA News title.
On February 7, 2018, WGXA upgraded its newscasts to widescreen high definition, making it the last news-producing station in the Macon TV market to do so.
WGXA handles production of a weeknight hour-long 10 p.m. newscast for sister station WFXL in Albany. All news and weather duties are handled at WGXA while WFXL has local reporters assigned to Albany to provide coverage of the Southwestern Georgia area.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|24.1||720p||16:9||WGXA-D1||Main WGXA programming / Fox|
WGXA's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
WGXA was a charter carrier of Comet TV network on its October 31, 2015 launch day.
On June 14, 2019, WGXA transitioned from digital channel 16 to 26 as part of the FCC's spectrum repack, but both channels retained their "ABC 16" and "Fox 24" branding.
On January 1, 2011, Dish Network removed WGXA and its ABC subchannel from its lineup due to a dispute with the satellite provider over retransmission fees. Both channels has since been restored on Dish Network.
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