WBTW, channel 13, is a CBS-affiliated television stationlicensed to Florence, South Carolina, USA. WBTW is owned by Media General and has studios located in the Socastee section of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The station's transmitter is based near Dillon, South Carolina.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|13.1||1080i||16:9||News 13||Main WBTW programming / CBS|
|13.2||480i||4:3||MyTV||MyNetworkTV / Antenna TV|
In 2006, WBTW launched a new subchannel branded as My TV, carrying programming from MyNetworkTV and RTV. It is carried on Time Warner digital channel 1215, on HTC Cablevision channel 99 in Conway, and in Brunswick County, North Carolina on ATMC channel 13. In 2011, RTV was replaced with Antenna TV.
The station went on the air on October 18, 1954 on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter at its original studios on TV Road in the Back Swamp section north of the town of Quinby. It was owned by Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company (later becoming Jefferson-Pilot, now part of Lincoln Financial Group). It was Jefferson Standard's second television station behind WBTV in Charlotte. WBTW's call sign was derived from "W" being the next letter in the alphabet after "V." The two stations were programmed separately, but shared a microwave system built in 1959. On September 17, 1962, it moved to VHF channel 13 and its previous location was re-allocated to High Point, North Carolina as WGHP.
Jefferson Standard sold the station to the Shott family of Bluefield, West Virginia in 1968, publishers of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and owners of WHIS-AM-FM-TV in Bluefield. The move came because WBTV (channel 3) and WBTW had a fairly significant grade B signal overlap, and neither station would have been able to expand its signal if Jefferson Standard had kept them both.
In 1979, WBTW relocated its transmitter from its original TV Road site to its current tower on Pee Dee Church Road in rural Dillon County, southeast of the county seat of Dillon south of South Carolina Highway 9. This more than doubled its coverage area giving it at least secondary coverage as far north as Fayetteville, Raeford and Pinehurst; as far west as Polkton and Pageland; as far south as Georgetown and Summerton and as far east as Leland and Elizabethtown. Only local cable systems in Fayetteville and Pinehurst do not currently carry WBTW, but did until the 1980s and early-1990s. For many years, it was the only commercial television station located between Wilmington and Charleston. This was because of a quirk in the Federal Communications Commission's allocation of VHF channels. Most markets got at least two VHF allocations. However, Florence/Myrtle Beach is sandwiched between Wilmington to the north, Charleston to the south and Columbia to the west. This created a "doughnut" in northeastern South Carolina where there could be only one VHF license.
The station has always been a CBS affiliate, but carried some ABC shows until WPDE-TV (channel 15) signed-on in 1980. The Shotts sold most of their media holdings in 1984, with their two remaining television stations, WBTW and KIMT in Mason City, Iowa going to Spartanburg-based Spartan Radiocasting Corporation (later Spartan Communications), the founding owners of fellow CBS affiliate WSPA-TV. In the late-1980s and early-1990s, it branded itself on-air as the "Best of Two Worlds" playing off the "BTW" in its call letters. In 2000, Spartan merged with current owner Media General.
From 1995 to 2000, WBTW served as the de facto CBS affiliate for parts of the Wilmington market because former affiliate WJKA-TV switched to Fox and became WSFX-TV. That market got another CBS affiliate in 2000 when WILM-LP (now WILM-LD) picked up the affiliation. However, WBTW still serves some parts of the Wilmington area that does not receive the low-powered WILM signal over-the-air or on cable. After being known as "TV 13" for most of its history, this station re-branded itself as "News 13" in 2002. WBTW's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
On May 2, 2011 a letter was submitted to the FCC requesting that WBTW be authorized to abandon its channel 13 frequency (213 MHz) and move to channel 41 (635 MHz), and transmit a non-directional signal with a strength of 1 million watts—equivalent to 5 million watts in analog (it is 31,600 watts on channel 13). The letter requests also that the height of the transmitter elements on the tower be the same as now on channel 13.
Cable and Satellite Coverage outside of the DMA
During the CATV period of the 1970s and 1980s, WBTW had even more significant coverage in North Carolina. It was once carried in Anson (Wadesboro system), Montgomery, Moore and Lee counties. As of 2011, it is only carried in Polkton (Anson County), the counties of Richmond, Hoke, and parts of Columbus and Brunswick. WBTW is not carried on Satellite outside of the market.
Historically, WBTW has been one of the most dominant stations in the country. This is in part because it was the only station in town for a quarter-century; until WPDE signed on, viewers had to rely on cable to get programming from the other networks.
In 2004, WBTW established a news share agreement with Fox affiliate WFXB. It then began producing a weeknight 10 o'clock newscast for that station known as Fox 43 News at 10. In 2006, the title switched to Fox News at 10.
During August 2007, WBTW moved the majority of its operations to new studios in Myrtle Beach. A smaller facility at that same site had been serving as a news bureau since 1989 and was demolished in 2007. The station continued to operate some news and operations at its old facilities in Florence. A physical Lumberton Bureau closed in 2007. In March 2008, WBTW converted its news operation to all-digital. The revamp included new graphics, news set, robotic studio cameras, and newscasts in High Definition. The new HD broadcasting (Along with NBC Affiliate WMBF) leaves ABC affiliate WPDE the only local news station still broadcasting in Standard Definition16:9 until 2015.
In early 2009, the station shifted to the "digital journalism" model. It reduced the use of 2 person newsgathering teams. Now each reporter must shoot the majority of their own video. While sounding like something new, it is actually a return to the days of yesteryear for WBTW, which often used "one-man-band" reporters in the 1980s and 1990s.
On December 1, 2011, WBTW began producing an hour-long weekday morning show on WFXB. Known as Fox Morning News, the broadcast is seen from 7 until 8 offering a local alternative to the big three network morning shows. On May 19, 2012, WBTW launched an hour-long newscast on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 8-9 a.m.
On April 20, 2015, WBTW will begin producing a half-hour extension to its morning newscast at 4:30 a.m., as well as an hour-long 9:00 a.m. newscast titled News 13 NOW. The newscasts are scheduled to be the only ones on in the Myrtle Beach/Florence market, and as a result, WBTW 13 will be producing five and a half hours of weekday morning news, with two of those hours produced for WFXB.