WPMT, virtual channel 43 (UHF digital channel 47), is the Fox-affiliated television station serving South Central Pennsylvania. Licensed to York, the station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WPMT maintains studio facilities located on South Queen Street in Spring Garden Township (with a York mailing address), and its transmitter is located in Hallam. The station is available on Comcast cable channel 5 and in high definition on digital channel 804.
The station first signed on the air on December 21, 1952 as WSBA-TV, originally operating as an ABC affiliate. It was owned by the Susquehanna Radio Corporation, a subsidiary of the Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff conglomerate, along with radio station WSBA (910 AM). It was one of the first commercially licensed UHF television stations in the United States, signing on the air just over three months after KPTV in Portland, Oregon which originally broadcast on channel 27 when it signed on in 1952, before moving to VHF channel 12 five years later. This makes WPMT the second-oldest continuously broadcasting UHF station in the country, only behind WSBT-TV in South Bend, Indiana (although WSBT moved from its original channel 34 to channel 22 in the late 1950s, making WPMT the oldest UHF station that broadcasts continuously on the same virtual channel number to this day).
In 1961, the station became a CBS affiliate and joined WHP-TV (channel 21) in Harrisburg and WLYH-TV (channel 15) in Lebanon to form the Keystone Network. The three stations provided a strong combined signal with about 55% overlap. Initially, WHP-TV, WLYH and WSBA aired the same programming despite separate ownership. By the late 1960s, while all three stations ran most of the CBS programming schedule, WHP-TV ran different local programming during non-network hours, while WLYH and WSBA continued to simulcast for nearly the entire broadcast day. WHP ran CBS shows that WSBA and WLYH preempted, while the latter two stations ran programming that WHP preempted, allowing most of the market to view the entire CBS schedule. All three ran most of the CBS lineup, duplicating over three-quarters of the network's programs. This arrangement was necessary in the days before cable gained significant penetration.
In May 1983, Susquehanna sold WSBA-TV to Idaho-based Mohawk Broadcasting, who changed its call letters to the current WPMT. The station signed off in August and returned to the air the following month as the Susquehanna Valley's first general entertainment independent station. Until then, the only over-the-air source of non-network programming in South Central Pennsylvania was WGCB-TV (channel 49) in Red Lion, a religious station that had been on the air since 1979. WPMT was a typical UHF independent with a schedule heavy on cartoons, sitcoms, movies, dramas, sports and westerns.
In 1986, Mohawk sold the station to Renaissance Broadcasting. On October 6, 1986, WPMT became one of the charter affiliates of the newly launched Fox network. From 1990 to 2004, WPMT featured original children's programming hosted by the station's mascot, a clown named Pete McTee (a play on the station's call letters). The station was acquired by Tribune Broadcasting following the company's purchase of Renaissance in 1996. A year earlier, WPMT had added programming from The WB, half-owned by Tribune, in off-hours. However, cable customers could watch the full WB schedule on WPHL-TV in Philadelphia.
The station's newscasts were seen in a fictional sense in the 2010 film Unstoppable, which is set in the station's market area.
The station's signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|43.1||720p||16:9||WPMT-DT||Main WPMT programming / Fox|
On October 26, 2009, WPMT launched a 24-hour news channel, known as "Fox 43 News 24/7", which is available on its second digital subchannel, and on Blue Ridge Communications digital channel 126 and Comcast digital channel 244. Programming consists of simulcasts and rebroadcasts of local news programming from the station's main channel. Beginning on January 1, 2011, WPMT began carrying the Tribune-owned network Antenna TV on digital subchannel 43.2. On July 18, 2015 WPMT began carrying This TV on digital subchannel 43.3, replacing the 24-hour news channel, known as "Fox 43 News 24/7". Fox 43 News 24/7 can still be viewed through a livestream link on their webpage.
WPMT discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 43, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 47, using PSIP to display WPMT's virtual channel as 43 on digital television receivers.
WPMT presently broadcasts 42 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with eight hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York market.
As a CBS affiliate, WSBA-TV ran a small news department branded as NewsWatch 43. In 1980, a much larger news department relaunched as TeleJournal News. The station's signal prevented the competitive newscast from being seen throughout the market. It was discontinued in 1983. Local newscasts did not return to the station until the formation of WPMT's current news department in 1994, with the debut of an hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast on weeknights.
Eventually, the 10 p.m. newscast was expanded to weekend evenings, later followed by the addition of a weekday morning news program by 2000. The weeknight 10:00 broadcast competes with CW affiliate WLYH, which runs a primetime newscast produced by CBS-affiliated sister station WHP-TV. On September 4, 2009, WPMT began airing a local sports highlight program called High School Football Frenzy, that airs Friday nights at 6:00 during the high school football season. On September 21, 2009, the station debuted a half-hour weeknight newscast at 6:30, that competed against the national network newscasts on WHP, WGAL (channel 8) and WHTM-TV (channel 27). The station launched a weeknight 11:00 p.m. newscast on January 11, 2010.
On January 15, 2011, WPMT became the first station in Central Pennsylvania and the last Tribune-owned Fox affiliate to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (rival WGAL was the first station in the market to offer local newscasts in the 16:9 format, albeit in enhanced definition widescreen in mid-December 2010; WGAL switched to full HD on August 29, 2011). WPMT was the first television station in the market to provide news video from the field in true high definition, as it upgraded its ENG vehicles, satellite truck, studio and field cameras and other equipment in order to broadcast news footage from the field in high definition, in addition to segments broadcast from the main studio.
On January 9, 2012, WPMT expanded its early evening newscast to one hour with the addition of a half-hour at 6:00 p.m. On February 13, 2013, WPMT expanded its weekday morning newscast to five hours, with its start time moving one hour early to 4:00 a.m., becoming the first and only station in the market, and the fifth Tribune-owned station to begin its morning newscast at 4:00 a.m. (WGAL and WHTM start their morning newscasts at 4:30, while WHP's continues to start at 5:00 a.m.) WPMT debuted two hour-long newscasts at 4 and 5 p.m. weekdays on August 5, 2013, while discontinuing its hour-long 6:00 p.m. newscast. The station's 11:00 p.m. newscast was discontinued the following month on September 6, and was replaced by the second incarnation of The Arsenio Hall Show (which was produced by Tribune) three days later.