Spartanburg, South Carolina/
Asheville, North Carolina
|City||Anderson, South Carolina|
|Channels||Digital: 35 (UHF)|
|Owner||Cunningham Broadcasting |
(Anderson (WFBC-TV) Licensee, Inc.)
|Operator||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
First air date
|September 5, 1953|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|MyNetworkTV Anderson (former affiliation)|
|HAAT||320 m (1,050 ft)|
Public license information
WMYA-TV (channel 40) is a television station licensed to Anderson, South Carolina, United States, broadcasting the digital multicast network Dabl to Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina. It is owned by Cunningham Broadcasting and operated under a local marketing agreement (LMA) by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of Asheville, North Carolina–based ABC affiliate WLOS (channel 13). However, Sinclair effectively owns WMYA-TV, as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share studios on Technology Drive (near I-26/US 74) in Asheville; WMYA-TV's transmitter is located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.
Founded as WAIM-TV in 1953, the station primarily broadcast local network programming to the Anderson area, especially from ABC. However, it lost ABC affiliation at the start of 1979 and failed as an independent station after six months, leading to more than five years of silence. It reemerged as WAXA and had more success serving the market, including two years as the region's first Fox affiliate. However, after the death of its owner in 1987 and more than a year off the air, the station was sold to WLOS for use as a rebroadcaster to reach areas of the Upstate that its Asheville-centric signal could not. In 1995, WLOS converted WAXA to separate programming as independent WFBC-TV. It then became an affiliate of The WB and later MyNetworkTV. Its programming was moved to a subchannel of WLOS in 2021, leaving WMYA to rebroadcast national digital subchannels.
The station first signed on the air September 5, 1953, as WAIM-TV. It was the fourth television station to sign on in South Carolina, the second that was located outside of the capital city of Columbia, and the first in the Upstate. The station was founded by Wilton E. Hall, publisher of the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail (since merged as the Anderson Independent-Mail), along with radio stations WAIM (1230 AM) and WCAC-FM (101.1 FM, now WROQ). The station originally operated as a primary CBS affiliate with secondary affiliation with ABC.
When WSPA-TV (channel 7) signed-on from Spartanburg in April 1956 and took the CBS affiliation—after protests by WGVL and WAIM-TV—channel 40 was left exclusively with ABC, keeping the affiliation even though WLOS had become the market's ABC affiliate of record two years earlier. Until 1976, WAIM-TV still carried many CBS programs on a secondary basis. Hall sold the newspapers to Harte-Hanks Communications in 1972, continuing to own WAIM and WCAC.
The underpowered channel 40 only provided a strong signal to Anderson and Pickens counties, while nearby Greenville could only receive a fringe signal. It failed to reach the entirety of what had become a much larger media market. As a result, the station never thrived; only the revenues from its sister radio stations kept it afloat. All efforts to boost its signal were defeated due to protests from the owners of WLOS. Although WAIM-TV never posed a serious threat to WLOS in the ratings, WLOS owner Wometco Enterprises pressured ABC to strip channel 40 of its affiliation from the 1960s onward.
For about a year in the mid-1970s, the station would not sign-on until 11:00 a.m. on weekdays, when ABC's afternoon programs began. It would sign-off at 11:00 p.m. (when most ABC stations in the Eastern United States usually aired late local newscasts) after the network's primetime schedule ended. The tiny bit of non-network programming during this time mainly consisted of religious programs and travelogues. The station would eventually resume a 7:00 a.m. sign-on, but would sign-off around midnight even during the late 1970s.
In 1977, Hall announced the sale of his broadcasting properties to Frank L. Outlaw II of Greenville; the $850,000 transaction marked his retirement. Outlaw promised to begin live TV broadcasts from the Anderson studio. The sale was approved by the FCC the next year—with Outlaw selling a half-stake to Frank Nations and doing business under the name "The ONE Corporation" (Outlaw-Nations Entertainment)—but it also started the clock ticking on the need to reinvent channel 40. The owners had feared that they could have had to shutter the station on July 1, but ABC gave the station an extra six months to continue broadcasting its programming through the end of 1978, and in the last two months of the year, the station began to transition its schedule to that of an independent. On January 1, 1979, WAIM-TV became a full-time independent station. The market already had a religious independent, WGGS-TV (channel 16) in Greenville.
Rather quickly, Nations and Outlaw II found that Anderson merchants weren't ready to do much television advertising, and cable penetration was so low that, even though some systems added WAIM-TV, it was not enough to meaningfully increase the station's potential audience. In January 1979, daily program hours were cut back from 16 to 8; they soon put the station on the market. In mid-May 1979, the transmitter broke down, plunging channel 40 into a silence that would last five years.
Nations and Outlaw II sold a minority stake in the station to Ivey Communications of Orlando, Florida. Plans were formulated to return the station to service by the summer of 1980 with an upgraded physical plant. By December 1980, mid-1981 was cited as a date for the station's return.
New South Television sold WAIM-TV in 1983 to Mark III Broadcasting of South Carolina, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Agronomics, Inc. Agronomics changed the call letters to WAXA, obtained approval for a new tower site for the station, and broke ground in November 1983 on studios on the U.S. 29 bypass. The new transmitter facility would permit the station to cover the entire Upstate, though not Asheville; WAXA applied for a translator to cover that area.
After five and a half years, channel 40 returned to South Carolina screens on October 1, 1984, with a lineup mostly consisting of movies and syndicated reruns. Several local programs were added, including three music video shows and public affairs program Straight Talk. Stereo sound broadcasting began in March, making WAXA the first station in South Carolina to provide it.
WAXA was the area's first Fox affiliate when the network started on October 9, 1986; it also debuted on Asheville cable the next month, a major development for a station that had long struggled to reach viewers in western North Carolina.
However, momentum soon was halted by the death of Agronomics owner Anthony Kupris in October 1987; his widow Mary was largely an absentee owner who at one point told the Greenville News, "I'm not a broadcaster". In May 1988, Mary reached a deal to sell WAXA to Jones Commercial, Inc., of Chicago. Another major setback occurred while the deal was pending when Pappas Telecasting Companies, owner of competing independent WHNS (channel 21), secured a group affiliation deal with Fox; one of the reasons cited for the change was that channel 40 had been unhappy with the poor performance of Fox's Saturday night lineup. No contract was ever finalized with Jones, and while WAXA claimed that getting out of its Fox affiliation was reducing programming costs, it did lay off some staff in late 1988 for what it termed "budgetary reasons".
In March 1989, it was reported that AnchorMedia, the owner of WLOS, was interested in acquiring WAXA. The next month, a sale contract was announced, as were plans for AnchorMedia to run the station as a satellite of WLOS for the benefit of viewers who received a marginal signal from that station.
The AnchorMedia deal required FCC approval, which was its own wrinkle because it would have created overlap with WLOS. At the time, one company could not own two television stations in the same media market. Awaiting this approval, and with many program contracts expiring, WAXA went off the air on September 1, 1989. Six months later, the FCC ruled; it found that the purchase of WAXA was not in the public interest and denied the transaction. However, the two parties continued to negotiate a simulcast agreement by which the station would not be sold outright but still simulcast WLOS.
In January 1991, WAXA returned to the air as a near-total simulcast of WLOS. Anchor and Mary Kupris appealed the FCC's denial of the outright sale of the station and won a victory at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ordered the FCC to reconsider its denial; one concurring statement by Laurence Silberman noted that the court even considered ordering the transfer granted and expressed the opinion that "there is no alternative use for the frequency". That August, a public affairs program for the Anderson area, Viewpoint 40, was introduced as an opt-out for WAXA viewers only. In 1992, WLOS reached a deal with the Independent-Mail to share news material and announced it would start producing a South Carolina newscast at 6 p.m. for air on channel 40.
AnchorMedia, under the name Continental Broadcasting, sold its three television stations to River City Broadcasting of St. Louis in 1994. River City embarked on a strategy to operate channel 40 with separate programming from WLOS. On September 2, 1995, the station became independent station WFBC-TV (call letters previously used by WYFF from 1953 to 1983), using a mix of newly acquired programs and shows to which WLOS already held the rights.
River City sold its assets to Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996. Sinclair sold WFBC-TV to Glencairn, Ltd., a new group headed by former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards. The family of Sinclair Broadcast Group founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned 97% of Glencairn's stock (Glencairn was, in turn, to be paid with Sinclair stock for the purchases), effectively making WLOS and WFBC-TV a duopoly in violation of FCC rules. Sinclair further circumvented the rules by taking over WFBC-TV's operations under a local marketing agreement with WLOS as the senior partner. The combined operation was based at WLOS's facilities in Asheville.
WFBC became a WB affiliate on September 6, 1999, and changed its call letters to WBSC to reflect its status as the only full-time WB affiliate serving a South Carolina-based market. The Rainbow/PUSH coalition (headed by Jesse Jackson) to file challenges against Glencairn's planned merger with Sinclair, citing concerns over a single company holding two broadcast licenses in one market and arguing that Glencairn passed itself off as a minority-owned company (its president, former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards, is African American) when it was really an arm of Sinclair, and used the LMA to gain control of the station. The FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair in 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn, and refused to allow Sinclair to buy WBSC and five other Glencairn stations. Locally, the Commission had already allowed WSPA owner Media General to buy LMA partner WASV-TV (channel 62, now CW affiliate WYCW) outright earlier that year; a Sinclair purchase of WBSC would have left the market with only seven unique station owners, in violation of FCC rules that require a market to have eight unique station owners after a duopoly is formed. Glencairn subsequently changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting, but its stock is still almost entirely owned by the Smith family. As a result, Sinclair still effectively has a duopoly in the market. There is considerable evidence that Cunningham simply acts as a shell corporation used by Sinclair to evade FCC rules. The WLOS/WBSC arrangement led to the formation of Sinclair Media Watch, an Asheville-based grassroots organization, which filed an informal objection to license renewals of WBSC and WLOS in 2004. The station had previously signed off on late Sunday nights/early Monday mornings, until sometime in 2004, when channel 40 began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule full-time.
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against another upstart network that would launch at the same time that September, The CW (an amalgamated network that originally consisted primarily of UPN and The WB's higher-rated programs) as well as to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations. On March 2, Sinclair announced that WBSC would become the MyNetworkTV affiliate for the market. Nearly four weeks later on March 28, Media General confirmed that WASV would join The CW. On June 19, WBSC changed its call letters to WMYA-TV to reflect its upcoming affiliation. On January 21, 2010, WMYA went off-the-air due to technical problems affecting the station's transmitter; the station's over-the-air signal was not restored until January 24.
On September 20, 2021, the MyNetworkTV affiliation moved to WLOS' second digital subchannel; Dabl moved from 40.5 to 40.1.
Syndicated programs broadcast on WMYA-TV include Daily Mail TV, Steve Wilkos, Family Feud, Paternity Court, and TMZ on TV. WMYA-TV carries Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin from the ABC-syndicated programming block Litton's Weekend Adventure on a one-day delay, as sister station WLOS preempts the first half-hour of the block; WLOS carries the remaining 2½ hours.
WLOS presently produces 6 hours of locally produced newscasts each week for WMYA (with one hour each weekday and a half-hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). WLOS produces local newscasts for WMYA, which includes a half-hour newscast each weeknight at 6:30 p.m. and nightly half-hour broadcast at 10:00 p.m. (branded as News 13 on My 40). The earlier program competes against the national evening news programs aired by WYFF, WSPA-TV and sister station WLOS, while the primetime broadcast competes with an hour-long newscast on CW affiliate WYCW that is produced by its duopoly partner WSPA and an hour-long in-house newscast on Fox affiliate WHNS. In addition to its main studios, WLOS operates news bureaus in Greenville, South Carolina (on Verdae Boulevard) and in Waynesville, North Carolina (on South Main Street/US 23). On September 17, 2008, WLOS began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; the WMYA broadcasts were included in the upgrade.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
WMYA previously carried a standard-definition simulcast of sister station WLOS on its second digital subchannel. In 2010, the WLOS simulcast was replaced with music video network TheCoolTV. On August 31, 2012, TheCoolTV was removed from about 30 of Sinclair's stations. On July 1, 2014, WMYA added GetTV on their second subchannel. WMYA previously carried ZUUS Country on the station's third digital subchannel, as part of an affiliation agreement with the network that was signed by Sinclair in August 2010. It was replaced with Bounce TV on January 27, 2015. On January 1, 2016, WMYA-TV launched a new fourth digital subchannel carrying programming from Grit, taking that affiliation from WLOS-DT3 who joined Antenna TV on that same date.
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 WLOS and WMYA the first stations in the market to convert to digital-only broadcast transmissions.
WMYA discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 40, at midnight on February 18, 2009, one day after the original date for full-power television stations in the United States to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 14. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 40.
As part of the SAFER Act, WMYA kept its analog signal on the air until March 3 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements (alternating in English and Spanish) from the National Association of Broadcasters.
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