|Channels||Digital: 20 (UHF)|
|Branding||Fox 17 (general)|
Fox 17 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||We Are Fox 17|
17.2: TBD (O&O)
17.3: Antenna TV
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group |
(WZTV Licensee, LLC)
|broadcast: WNAB, WUXP-TV|
cable: Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast
First air date
|August 5, 1968 (52 years ago) as WMCV|
March 6, 1976 (45 years ago)
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
17 (UHF, 1968–1971, 1976–2009)
15 (UHF, 2001–2019)
Independent (1968–1971, 1976–1990)
WeatherNation TV (2014–2017)
Call sign meaning
|We're Zenith TeleVision|
|HAAT||427 m (1,401 ft)|
Public license information
WZTV, virtual channel 17 (UHF digital channel 20), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WUXP-TV (channel 30); Sinclair also operates CW affiliate WNAB (channel 58) under an outsourcing agreement with owner Tennessee Broadcasting. The three stations share studios on Mainstream Drive along the Cumberland River; WZTV's transmitter is located along I-24 in Whites Creek.
The station originally began broadcasting on August 5, 1968 as WMCV from a small studio in West Nashville. It was the area's first UHF station, as well as the state's first independent station. Not surprisingly with three well-established network affiliates in the market, WMCV did not attract many advertisers and relied mainly on old movies, cartoons, religious programs, and syndicated fare. Additionally, the Nashville market is a fairly large market geographically; UHF stations usually do not carry very well over long distances. Many area households probably did not have sets capable of receiving the station's signal anyway. This was very typical of UHF start-ups in the late-1960s and early-1970s. WMCV went off the air on March 10, 1971. After a false start ended hopes for a 1974 return, new owner Reel Broadcasting brought the station back as WZTV on March 6, 1976, initially branding it as "Z TV" and later "Z 17".
WZTV's first several years showed far more promise than WMCV ever did. With wealthier ownership, it was able to buy the rights to college basketball and Cincinnati Reds baseball supplementing the usual independent syndicated program assortment such as cartoons, classic sitcoms, older movies, westerns, and reruns of old network dramas. Even though the station placed ads in TV Guide in 1979 and 1980 offering assistance to Middle Tennessee viewers who had problems receiving its UHF signal, the problem became mostly a moot one as many households could now view the station clearly via cable.
In the early 1980s, WZTV was sold to Multimedia, which owned several NBC and CBS affiliates around the country. WZTV soon got some competition in the form of Murfreesboro-based WFYZ (channel 39), which took to the air in 1983. Soon after, in 1984, TVX Broadcast Group signed on WCAY-TV (channel 30). However, WZTV not only remained the dominant independent station in Middle Tennessee, but was the only one that was profitable.
Nashville was only a medium-sized market at the time, and by 1985, it was obvious that it was not big enough for three independent stations. However, Multimedia and TVX had more resources than Murfreesboro TV Corporation, owners of WFYZ, could possibly hope to match. With this scenario, channel 39 opted to broadcast only music videos (similar to MTV). Later that year, the Christian Television Network bought WFYZ and switched it to an all-religious format in 1986 under new calls, WHTN. WZTV then acquired most of WFYZ's former shows.
In 1988, Multimedia sold WZTV to Act III Broadcasting, who had a reputation for buying its competitors' stronger programming inventory. However, this strategy wasn't successful in Nashville, since TVX was far wealthier than Act III's competition in most other markets. In 1987, TVX affiliated all of its stations, including WCAY, with the newly launched Fox network. However, WCAY did not get a substantial ratings boost. TVX bought Taft Broadcasting's five non-Big Three stations later that year; two of these stations were Fox affiliates, while the other three were independent. TVX acquired massive debt as well, and was forced to sell some of its underperforming medium-market stations to service the new debt. WCAY and sister station WMKW in Memphis were sold to MT Communications. After the sale was complete, WCAY changed its call sign to WXMT.
The deal between Fox and TVX had one catch. If one of TVX's underperforming stations (like WCAY/WXMT) was sold, that station could lose its Fox affiliation. As a result, in 1990, Fox pulled its affiliation from WXMT and moved it to WZTV. Act III was not done yet. The company approached MT about buying WXMT's syndicated programming inventory and moving it to WZTV, which would have left WXMT with only religious shows and Home Shopping Network programming. MT initially agreed, but backed out of the deal a few days later. He came up with another idea in which WXMT would sell its sitcoms, dramas and movies to WZTV, while WXMT would keep barter shows and cartoons. The deal closed in mid-February, around the same time that WZTV changed its on-air name to the current "Fox 17".
Over the years, WZTV's schedule began migrating towards more first-run talk, court, and reality shows. Most of channel 17's sitcoms and cartoons moved to WXMT around this time. In 1994, Act III merged with Abry Communications. Only a year later, Sinclair Broadcast Group bought most of Abry's stations, including WZTV. Sinclair then entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with channel 30, which was now UPN affiliate WUXP. Most of WZTV's sitcoms and cartoons moved to WUXP; Sinclair eventually bought that station outright in 2001. Fox discontinued its weekday cartoon block in 2001, allowing its affiliates to add even more first-run syndicated shows. Today, WZTV offers Fox programming, first-run reality, talk and court shows, and recent sitcoms.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including WZTV, that will run through 2017.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. The deal has brought concerns by Fox who see Sinclair as a competitor towards conservative-leaning news, as well as increased leverage by Sinclair on reverse compensation to air Fox programming.
On August 2, 2017, it was reported that Fox Television Stations was in talks with Ion Media to create a joint venture that would own their respective stations. The partnership was said to include plans to shift affiliations from Sinclair stations in favor of Ion-owned stations, such as those whose affiliation agreements are soon to expire. In Nashville's case, this would include shifting Fox from WZTV to WNPX-TV (channel 28). In the event that WZTV loses its Fox affiliation, the station may return to independent status.
The chances of WZTV keeping its Fox affiliation increased in October 2017 when Ion elected its stations to have must-carry status instead of retransmission consent, which the FCC ruled Ion must keep for three years. However, must-carry only applies to a main signal, allowing Fox to possibly affiliate with a digital subchannel on WNPX-TV and other Ion stations.
On December 6, 2017, it was reported that Sinclair and Fox were working on a deal that would see its Fox affiliates renew their affiliation agreement in exchange for Sinclair selling some of its Fox affiliates directly to Fox Television Stations. The deal would have seen between six and ten Fox affiliates owned by Sinclair and Tribune (all in markets with an NFL team) become Fox owned-and-operated stations. It was not known if WZTV will be one of the stations sold, although the stations being sold to Fox were expected to be from Tribune Media (notably KCPQ in Seattle, where Sinclair already owns KOMO-TV), many of which were previously owned by Fox. On May 9, 2018, Sinclair announced that seven Fox affiliates would be sold to FTS, but WZTV was not included and an affiliation renewal was announced for that station instead, keeping WZTV with Sinclair.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|17.1||720p||16:9||FOX17||Main WZTV programming / Fox|
|30.1||720p||16:9||WUXP-MY||ATSC 1.0 simulcast of WUXP-TV / MyNetworkTV|
|30.2||480i||4:3||GetTV||ATSC 1.0 simulcast of WUXP-DT2 / getTV|
|30.3||16:9||Comet||ATSC 1.0 simulcast of WUXP-DT3 / Comet|
WZTV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 17, on February 17, 2009, which was intended to be the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The deadline was moved to June 12, 2009, but the station decided to convert on the original deadline. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 15. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 17.
WZTV-DT2 was initially a standard definition simulcast of the main channel from its 2008 launch until the subchannel was temporarily deleted in 2010. On October 27, 2014, WeatherNation TV and Sinclair Broadcasting signed an affiliation agreement to carry that network on a subchannel of Baltimore sister station and fellow Fox affiliate WBFF-TV, which is Sinclair's flagship station. Additional Sinclair-owned stations were added to the agreement. WZTV-DT2 began carrying WeatherNation TV on December 16, 2014. On June 1, 2017, WeatherNation TV was replaced with TBD, a Pop Culture & Documentary Network devoted to the Internet.
On January 1, 2016, WZTV-DT3 launched as the station's third digital subchannel, and became an affiliate of Tribune Broadcasting-owned Antenna TV, thus stripping the affiliation with WRTN-LD3. This is part of a new deal between Sinclair and Tribune for the carriage of Antenna TV on the subchannels of Sinclair-owned and/or operated stations.
In addition to the Fox network schedule, Syndicated programming on WZTV, as of September 2017, includes Daily Mail TV, Entertainment Tonight, Hot Bench, Judge Judy, and Jeopardy! (the program's carriage by WZTV being a rarity for a Fox affiliate). In a particular example from this list, the Nashville market is one of the few that carries Jeopardy! on a separate station because Wheel of Fortune airs on ABC affiliate WKRN-TV (channel 2). The station does not air the Xploration Station children's educational programming block.
WZTV was the television home of Nashville Sounds baseball from 1982 to 1992.
WZTV, along with sister station WUXP carry the locally produced sports program, Titans All Access, a 30-minute game preview show hosted by famed Tennessee Titans Radio personality Mike Keith. It provides highlights behind the scenes of the games, and analysis and predictions for the next game that is played after the broadcast of this program. Since the Fox network's sports division carries the NFC package, the only time WZTV carries any Titans games (as they have since 1997, when the team was still known as the Tennessee Oilers, and at least two games a season) is when they play a home game against an NFC opponent because the Titans play in the AFC or, since 2014, if a Titans game is flex-scheduled from CBS to Fox to balance both networks' schedules.
In some occasions mainly during the month of March, WZTV aired some Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball games from the ACC Network by Raycom Sports in the event that WUXP's sports schedules conflict between ACC Network games and the TSSAA state high school basketball championships and/or American Sports Network's Ohio Valley Conference and/or Conference USA basketball packages. Those scheduling conflicts usually only ensued on weekends. WNAB or one of WUXP's digital subchannels may also pick up some C-USA programming from ASN since that station is considered one of ASN's alternate affiliates in Nashville.
WZTV and WUXP currently hold the broadcasting rights for Major League Soccer's Nashville SC.
WZTV previously simulcast all of the Titans appearances on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football if they were to be scheduled during any week between 9-17. WZTV also simulcast TNF appearances of the Titans at any time during the season, but this changed in 2014, when CBS partnered up with the NFL Network to simulcast TNF in weeks 2-9. As a result, WZTV's simulcasting of any Tennessee Titans game on TNF was limited to if the Titans have TNF games scheduled for weeks 9-17 (second half of regular season), with local CBS station WTVF showing Thursday night games during weeks 2-9 in the first half of the season, regardless of the teams involved. Beginning with the Tennessee Titans-Jacksonville Jaguars game on November 19, 2015, WTVF simulcast all of the team's TNF appearances to go along with the network's TNF simulcasts in the early half of the season. Beginning with the 2018 season, WZTV broadcasts TNF games as part of Fox's rights to the package.
WZTV broadcasts 34½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours each weekday and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). On July 7, 1997, WZTV premiered a half-hour prime time newscast called Fox News at 9 that aired Sunday through Friday evenings and was produced by ABC affiliate WKRN-TV (channel 2) through a news share agreement, as a result of a demand from Fox that its affiliates air local newscasts. This station was one of the few Fox stations in the top 50 markets that did not air any local news programming prior to the launch of the program. On July 9, 2000, the news share agreement with WKRN ended, and WZTV began production of their own newscasts.
In 2004, WZTV began incorporating national news and sports, and local weather segments from Sinclair's News Central division into its newscast, which were based at the company's headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland; the station retained anchors and reporters to provide local news stories for the broadcasts. That year, it also launched a half-hour newscast at 10 p.m., Fox 17 News: Late Edition, to compete against late night newscasts from Nashville's big three network affiliates (WKRN-TV, WSMV-TV and WTVF). This came around the time that most Fox stations in larger markets were adding newscasts at 10 p.m. Central (11 p.m. Eastern). After News Central was shut down in March 2006, WZTV reformatted the program as Fox 17 News at 10 adding local sports and expanding the local news and weather segments, resulting in the hiring of additional on-air staff members.
On September 11, 2011, WZTV became the third station in the Nashville market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. This included a new news set designed by Devlin Design Group as well as an updated logo, which now uses a red, white and blue color scheme.
At one point in September 2014, WZTV began airing a 30-minute newscast that began at 5:30 p.m.
Since the Bowling Green, Kentucky media market didn't have a Fox affiliate of its own, WZTV was the default Fox affiliate for that area on cable from 1990 to January 1992, when WKNT became that market's first Fox affiliate. After WKNT (now WNKY) became an NBC affiliate on March 27, 2001, WZTV once again became Bowling Green's default Fox affiliate for a second time on cable and over-the-air. On September 5, 2006, Bowling Green area ABC affiliate WBKO began to broadcast Fox programming on a new second digital subchannel. However, in spite of the existence of WBKO-DT2, Mediacom still offers WZTV on its cable systems in Butler and Edmonson counties, including Morgantown and Brownsville, respectively.
WZTV's over-the-air signal can still be picked up in select areas of the Bowling Green market, and it had long been available on cable in that area, although providers in Glasgow and Munfordville actually piped in Louisville Fox affiliate WDRB. In addition, WZTV also remains on WesternCable, the on-campus cable system fed to classrooms and residence halls at Western Kentucky University.
From 1979 to sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, WZTV was also carried on certain cable systems in the Huntsville, Alabama market along with Nashville's big three stations (WTVF, WSMV [as WSM-TV] and WKRN). They were all gradually dropped sometime in the 1980s and early 1990s as new national cable channels launched over time.