WJZY, virtual channel 46 (UHF digital channel 47), is a Fox owned-and-operated television station serving Charlotte, North Carolina, United States that is licensed to Belmont. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, as part of a duopoly with Rock Hill, South Carolina-licensed MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WMYT-TV (channel 55). The two stations share studio facilities located on Performance Road (along I-85) in unincorporated western Mecklenburg County (with a Charlotte address); WJZY's transmitter is located in Dallas, North Carolina, along the Catawba River.
On cable, WJZY is carried on channel 8 in most areas, and on AT&T U-Verse channel 46.
The station first signed on the air on March 9, 1987, originally operating as an independent station. It was the first full-power station to sign on in the Charlotte area since WCTU-TV (channel 36, now WCNC-TV) launched in July 1967. It was originally owned by Metro-Crescent Communications, a locally based group that included then-Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt and longtime Charlotte broadcasters Bob Hilker and Bill Rollins. The station was originally licensed with the callsign WMHU, but prior to the station's official debut, the calls were changed to WJZY in November 1986. According to Rollins, the change was made because no other Charlotte station had a "J" or "Z" in its call letters at the time.
The station spent most of the spring testing its transmitter by airing movies that were presented without commercial interruption. It began full-time operations that summer, running a format of cartoons, westerns, older movies and syndicated drama series. It also aired Baltimore Orioles baseball games. On the day it began full-time operations, WJZY displaced Washington, D.C.'s WDCA – which had been available in the Charlotte area as a regional superstation since cable television arrived in the market in the early 1970s – on area cable systems, taking WDCA's old location on cable channel 8. Less than a year later, the Capitol Broadcasting Company, owner of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, bought WJZY. At that time, classic sitcoms, and more recent off-network sitcoms and movies were added to channel 46's schedule.
WJZY owned a large amount of syndicated programming, but did not have nearly enough time in its broadcast day to air all of it. A solution came with the sign-on of WFVT (channel 55, later WWWB and now WMYT-TV) in September 1994. Capitol Broadcasting entered into a local marketing agreement with WFVT's Indiana-based owner, Family 55. Under this LMA, WJZY bought WFVT's entire broadcast day, and placed much of this extra programming on WFVT.
The station became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) when the network launched on January 16, 1995. WFVT joined The WB Television Network at the same time, creating one of the first UPN/WB partnerships in the country. For most of UPN's run, WJZY was one of the network's strongest affiliates. At one point, it was tied with UPN's Atlanta owned-and-operated station WUPA as the network's fifth highest-rated station.
Starting in the mid-1990s, the station added more talk and reality shows, and shifted away from incorporating classic sitcoms and movies on its schedule. In 2003, network-supplied children's programs were dropped from the station after UPN discontinued the network's Disney's One Too block (network children's shows eventually returned to WJZY when the station became a CW affiliate in 2006).
WJZY served as the over-the-air home of NBA's Charlotte Hornets from 1992 to 1998, during the height of the team's popularity. It shared flagship status from 1996 onward with sister station WFVT. When the Hornets returned as the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004, WJZY served as the team's over-the-air flagship until the telecasts moved to WMYT in 2006. WJZY also occasionally aired Atlantic Coast Conference football and basketball games that were not carried by CBS affiliate WBTV (channel 3). The station began transmitting its network programming in high definition with the launch of its digital signal in September 2002.
On January 24, 2006, Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that they would shut down The WB and UPN that fall. In place of these networks, the two companies would form The CW, a new network combining the most popular programs from both UPN and The WB with new series produced specifically for the network. On March 1, the Capitol Broadcasting Company announced that WJZY would become the Charlotte area affiliate of The CW, making it the first station outside of the core Tribune Company and CBS Television Stations groups (the latter being a sister company to The CW through CBS Corporation's stake in the network) to agree to carry the new network. WJZY affiliated with The CW upon the network's debut on September 18, 2006. The station changed its branding to "WJZY CW 46," although an earlier plan was to change the branding to "CW 8," in reference to its cable channel position on most Charlotte systems. In addition, sister station WMYT affiliated with MyNetworkTV two weeks earlier on September 5, making Capitol the first company to own a duopoly of CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates in the same market. It would not have been an upset had WMYT been chosen as Charlotte's CW affiliate, however. Network officials were on record as wanting the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates, and Charlotte was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN affiliates were both relatively strong ratings-wise.
In 2009, the station changed its branding to "Charlotte's WJZY" in an effort to brand itself as a more local station. Late in the afternoon on March 28, 2010, a severe thunderstorm packing strong winds blew down trees causing damage to its transmission building (which houses a 2,000 feet (610 m) tall tower that is used by WJZY and three FM radio outlets (WNKS 95.1; WIBT 96.1, now WHQC; and WPEG 97.9) that is owned by CBC Real Estate, Incorporated. On September 12, 2011, the station's branding reverted to "CW 46".
Sale to Fox Television Stations and switch to Fox
On January 14, 2013, Fox Television Stations entered into an agreement to acquire WJZY and WMYT from the Capitol Broadcasting for $18 million (the sale was formally announced on January 28). Although Charlotte's longtime Fox affiliate, WCCB (channel 18), had been one of the network's strongest performers, Fox had been interested in buying a station in a market that had recently ascended to major status (as of the 2012-13 television season, Charlotte ranks as the 25th-largest television market according to Nielsen Media Research). Another likely factor in the purchase was an option by Fox to purchase Raleigh-Durham's WLFL and WRDC from Sinclair Broadcast Group. Had this deal gone through, it would have resulted in then-sister station WRAZ losing its Fox affiliation to WLFL, which had been the original Fox affiliate in the Triangle from 1986 to 1998.
The acquisition marked a re-entry into North Carolina for Fox, which owned High Point's WGHP from 1996 to 2008 (an acquisition that was related to Fox's 1994 affiliation deal with New World Communications, which sold the station to Fox as multiple ongoing station acquisitions put New World over FCC ownership limits). The deal included a time brokerage agreement clause that would have had Fox take over the operations of WJZY and WMYT, and acquire the duopoly's non-license assets for $8.24 million, if the deal was not closed by June 1. The FCC granted its approval of the sale on March 11, and the deal was consummated on April 17. This made WJZY and WMYT the first commercial outlets in the Charlotte television market to be owned by a major broadcast network, with WMYT becoming the first owned-and-operated station in Charlotte due to its affiliation with MyNetworkTV. However, WCCB's affiliation contract with Fox did not run out until July 1. Until then, Fox Television Stations ran WJZY as a CW affiliate, an irony considering that The CW passed over Fox's UPN affiliates – which later served as MyNetworkTV's core station group – for charter affiliations in key markets (in favor of stations owned by CBS and Tribune), when the network's launch was announced in January 2006.
On April 18, WCCB announced that it would become the new CW affiliate for the Charlotte market on July 1. On May 6, WJZY began airing a promo announcing that it would switch to Fox itself on July 1, which made WJZY the first station in Charlotte to be an owned-and-operated station of one of the "Big Four" networks. Fox also announced that the station would adopt the on-air brand "Fox 46 Carolinas" at that time. Under normal Fox O&O branding conventions, the moniker should have been "Fox 46 Charlotte." However, Fox initially chose a regional brand to acknowledge WJZY's primary coverage area of 22 counties in North and South Carolina.
The transition from The CW to Fox began soon after Fox took control of the station in April 2013. WJZY dropped all references to The CW and its programming from its on-air branding, and solely branded itself as "WJZY 46" on-air. The station's CW-era Website became a bare-bones "ghost site" soon afterward, when Capitol Broadcasting employees stopped updating it. A new website ("myfoxcarolinas.com") and Facebook page were established for the station in June 2013; upon its launch, the station's new website only contained advertising for the station and Fox primetime programs. By September 2013, a full MyFox Carolinas website was launched through Fox Television Stations' digital partner WorldNow, adding local news coverage. With the switch to Fox, WJZY became the network's third-smallest O&O (ahead of only KTBC in Austin and WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee) and the smallest in the Eastern Time Zone. WOGX in Ocala, Florida is based in a smaller market, but operates as a semi-satellite of WOFL in Orlando and is counted as part of that station for regulatory purposes.
The switch to Fox also made WJZY the unofficial "home" station of the National Football League's Carolina Panthers. Through Fox's broadcast rights to the National Football Conference, where the Panthers play, WJZY carries most Panthers regular-season games. However, WCCB will continue to broadcast preseason games under its existing rights contract with the team. Charlotte had been the third-largest NFC market (behind the Bay Area and Seattle), and the only one in the Eastern Time Zone, where the local Fox station was not owned by the network. Indeed, Fox Television Stations president Jack Abernathy said that Fox had set its sights on buying a station in Charlotte specifically because it was an NFC market. (The FCC approved Cox Media's sale of KTVU in San Francisco to Fox on October 3, 2014, which now makes Seattle the largest NFC market whose Fox affiliate is not an O&O.) On March 2, 2015, WJZY changed its branding to "Fox 46 Charlotte"; later in 2015, it changed again to "Fox 46 WJZY."
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|46.1||720p||16:9||WJZY-HD||Main WJZY programming / Fox|
|46.3||Heroes||Heroes & Icons|
Prior to April 2011, WJZY had broadcast a standard-definition simulcast of the station's main channel on its second digital subchannel. No programming was seen on that subchannel until Antenna TV was added on July 22, 2011 (three days before the originally-announced launch date). On December 7, 2011, a third subchannel was added with programming from the SonLife Broadcasting Network, which duplicated WMYT's third subchannel. On January 24, 2012, WJZY replaced SBN with The Country Network (now ZUUS Country), but technical issues kept The Country Network from broadcasting full-time on the station until January 31. On September 6, 2012, WJZY announced it was adding This TV on digital channel 46.3 on September 17, moving The Country Network to a new subchannel. On September 10, 2012, it launched digital subchannel 46.4, and changed the PSIP short name of 46.3 to THISTV, and moved the TCN PSIP name to 46.4. The Country Network was broadcast on both the 46.3 and 46.4 subchannels until September 16, when This TV launched on 46.3, a day earlier than originally reported. On June 23, 2013, This TV was dropped from the third subchannel and moved to WMYT's second subchannel. When WJZY switched to Fox on July 1, ZUUS Country was also dropped, and the third and fourth subchannels were completely removed. On July 1, 2014, Antenna TV was replaced with Movies!, a network co-owned by Fox Television Stations that specializes in feature films. On February 25, 2015, WJZY added a simulcast of the main WMYT-TV signal on its third digital subchannel due to the station experiencing antenna issues. The channel was deleted after WMYT-TV upgraded its signal. 46.3 was re-activated once again on October 1, 2015, carrying the Heroes & Icons network.
WJZY shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 46, on June 12, 2009, the official date in 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 47. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 46.
As part of the SAFER Act, WJZY kept its analog signal on the air until July 6 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters. Since July 2012, WJZY began to transmit its main channel in the 720p resolution format to accommodate its subchannels. This meant that no technical work had to be done upon the purchase by Fox, which transmits network programming in the 720p format, though it was under The CW's 1080i preference.
Out-of-market cable carriage
In recent years, WJZY has been carried on cable in several areas outside of the Charlotte media market. That includes cable systems within the adjacent Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point market, the Asheville market in North Carolina and South Carolina, the Columbia market in South Carolina, and the Tri-Cities market in Tennessee. Fox's strict contractual policies against network signal duplication from out-of-market signals in other markets will likely mean the discontinuation of out-of-market distribution of the station in the near future; all of the communities listed have their own Fox affiliates.
From May 1994 to June 1995, and again from September 2003 to April 8, 2012, CBS affiliate WBTV produced a nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast for WJZY through separate news share agreements. During the February 2012 ratings sweeps period, the program placed a distant third behind WCCB's in-house newscast and the newscast on WAXN-TV (channel 64) that is produced by ABC affiliate WSOC-TV (channel 9); the low ratings for the program on WJZY were cited as the reason for its move to WJZY's duopoly partner WMYT on April 9, 2012. It was simulcast by both stations for one week, before syndicated reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent replaced the simulcast on WJZY on April 16, 2012. WJZY previously aired the statewide-syndicated weekly public affairs program NC Spin, as well as producing a local public affairs show called Charlotte Now with Mike Collins, which was discontinued following its June 30, 2013 edition, one day before the official switch to Fox.
With Fox's purchase of the WJZY/WMYT duopoly, Fox built a standalone news department for WJZY. In the meantime, WBTV's 10:00 p.m. production returned to WJZY from WMYT when channel 46 officially joined Fox on July 1, 2013. Initial reports suggested that Fox would move WJZY/WMYT to a facility in Charlotte's University City section that also housed the studios of the defunct Fox-owned cable channel Speed, and currently serves as the Charlotte studio for its replacement, Fox Sports 1, since the Performance Road facility was presumably too small to house a news department. However, on June 28, news director Geoff Roth, who recently arrived from fellow Fox station KRIV in Houston, Texas; said that Fox would heavily renovate and expand the Performance Road studio to accommodate the news department. WJZY soft-launched its news operation on December 18, 2013, in the form of an online-only rehearsal newscast that was streamed on the station's website nightly (except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) through December 31 and airing concurrently with the WBTV-produced 10:00 p.m. news on channel 46. The news department formally launched on WJZY on January 1, 2014 with the debut of a nightly hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast titled MyFox Carolinas Primetime.
In its initial form, the newscast was produced in a somewhat non-traditional fashion designed to target younger viewers, carrying characteristics of the similarly unconventional public affairs program Chasing New Jersey from MyNetworkTV flagship WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey; however, while Chasing was patterned off the format of TMZ, WJZY's newscast still contained some conventional traits. Abernethy felt that "when you’re not being held by an existing show, it’s much easier to do things differently." WJZY's newscast originally did not use a traditional set or main anchor desk, taking place within the newsroom itself. Stories were introduced by anchor Cheryl Brayboy from reporters' desks or elsewhere in the newsroom (similar to the news format previously used by City flagship station CITY-DT in Toronto), and weather reports were done from a large display near the center of the room. The newscast was conducted in a more "casual" style than its competitors, but still contains an emphasis on traditional storytelling. The station also employed newer technologies as part of its operation, such as cellular and Wi-Fi-based equipment for outside broadcasting instead of microwave transmission (the station initially planned to obtain a microwave truck as a backup, but has since dropped those plans). The differences in its operation were also reflected in differing job titles: former news director Roth's formal title was "vice president of local content;" the reporters are called "digital journalists," with lead anchor Brayboy (and later Barbara Lash) referred to as a "senior digital journalist." WJZY also operates five bureaus in Charlotte's outer suburbs staffed by reporters living in those communities to bolster its regional emphasis. WJZY expanded its news operation on June 30, 2014 with the introduction of the hour-long evening newscast MyFox Carolinas Live, followed by the August 25, 2014 introduction of the station's morning show, Good Day Carolinas, described as having "more of a sofa-and-coffee-table production" than its competitors.
Despite having the highly viewed Fox primetime lineup as its lead-in, the station continued to lose viewers at 10:00 p.m. to WAXN and WCCB, and according to Nielsen ratings, the station's morning news was in fifth place among Charlotte stations, and airings of The People's Court on sister station WMYT had slightly better ratings than WJZY's evening news. Additionally, the newscast was viewed as being somewhat amateurish due to inexperienced reporters and technical problems. It was somewhat difficult to fill the entire hour with local news. By June 2015, WJZY had begun shifting back towards a traditional format; The Charlotte Observer explained that "after aiming to re-engineer local news, Fox 46 has retreated to the formula it once mocked: chasing fire trucks and standard urban crime." However, the station's news department has also been faced with staff turnover, including the departure of general manager Karen Adams.