WUPV is the CW-affiliated television station for Central Virginia that is licensed to Ashland. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 47 (virtual channel 65.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter northeast of Richmond in King William County along the Hanover County line. Owned by American Spirit Media, the station is operated by Raycom Media though a shared services agreement (SSA) as sister to NBC affiliate WWBT. The two outlets share studios on Midlothian Turnpike/U.S. 60 in Richmond.
This channel actually began as Leased accesscable TV channel 32 on what is now Comcast in Henrico County running religious programming around 1980. Christal Inc. run by James Campana, the company leasing the channel, later decided it wanted a full-time broadcast station. It later applied for analog UHF channel 65 in Ashland. But it took most of the 1980s to get the station on-the-air. First, Christal had to pay off a competing applicant then Hanover County denied the company permission to construct a tower in its county. So the station was forced to build a tower site in neighboring King William County. It finally signed-on March 9, 1990 as a religious television station, with the calls WZXK, owned by Christal Broadcasting.
Originally offering only Christian programs such as The 700 Club and Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise The Lord, it began branching into general entertainment programs in the later afternoon/early evening hours over the next few years. By 1993, WZXK upgraded to 24-hour operations and increased non-religious programming to occupy about a third of its daily schedule. For a while, the station was calling itself "Fun 65".
Two years later, Bell Broadcasting purchased WZXK and affiliated it with the fledgling WB network while changing the calls to WAWB and identifying itself as "WB65". In 1997, Bell Broadcasting sold the station to Virginia-based Lockwood Broadcasting which negotiated with WRLH to move the UPN affiliation from being secondary on WRLH to primary on WAWB. With this move, WAWB took the current calls of WUPV.
Shortly after this move, Act III Broadcasting (owner of Fox affiliate WRLH-TV) was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group which was in the midst of changing many of its stations to The WB and was legally enjoined from doing so in Richmond due to the contract signed by Bell Broadcasting after much trying. After the affiliation swap, WB programming moved to NBC affiliate WWBT-TV in 1998 where programming aired in overnight hours through Summer 2006. This arrangement led to Richmond being one of the worst markets for WB network ratings. One problem was that WWBT could not carry the entire WB prime time line up due to time limitations, so the station opted not to carry the network's Friday Night schedule. Kids WB programming was cleared on WRLH.
In 1998, WUPV carried Pax as a secondary affiliate until the network placed a 24-hour cable channel on most systems in Richmond. It later evolved into Ion Television. In the early-2000s, several attempts to launch a standalone WB affiliate in the market fell through among them low-power channel 48 (later reallocated and now Daystar-owned WRID-LP) and full-power channel 19 (reallocated to Charlottesville and now CBS affiliate WCAV). Some UPN affiliates aired a repeat of either America's Next Top Model or Veronica Mars from that week during the weekend. WUPV aired Veronica Mars on Saturday mornings at 11 but quickly replaced it with infomercials in early-June 2006. This station was known on air as "UPN 65" from 1997 to 2002. From 2003 to 2006, it was known as "UPN Richmond".
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation (the latter of which took over UPN after Viacom's announced split in December 2005) announced that they would shut down The WB and UPN in the Fall of that year. They would then form a joint venture and create a new TV service, called The CW, which would air programming carried over from those two networks, as well as specific new content created exclusively for The CW. As the only available UPN or WB affiliate in the Richmond market, it was announced on April 4 that WUPV would affiliate with The CW. On May 29, a month after the announcement, the station started airing commercials promoting its CW affiliation which took effect on September 18.
The station continued to carry UPN programming, except for its weekend movie, until the network's closure. After WWBT dropped The WB as a secondary affiliation in late-August 2006, WUPV picked up the final two weeks of the network's programming on selected nights but did not air the final night of the network on September 17. WRLH, which offered Kids WB, began offering the other new network (News Corporation-owned MyNetworkTV) on September 5 via a new second digital subchannel.
In 2006, the station was sold to Southeastern Media Holdings (now American Spirit Media) and became sister station to WTVR-TV. WUPV moved operations into that channel's studios on Broad Street (U.S. 33/U.S. 250) in the North Side area of Richmond. A new website for WUPV was launched a short time afterward. In November 2007, Raycom purchased WWBT from Lincoln Financial Media which was closed on April 1, 2008. Raycom was prohibited from owning two major "big four" network affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) in the same market so WTVR was chosen for divestiture. The first proposed buyer turned out to be the Sinclair Broadcast Group but the United States Department of Justice refused permission for the sale under a consent decree with Raycom. On March 31, 2009, WTVR was swapped to Local TV in exchange for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama. WUPV had is operations moved again to WWBT's facilities. On September 16, 2011, the station opened its second subchannel in preparation for the Bounce TV network which premiered on September 26.
On March 5, 2007, WUPV launched a 35 minute weeknight newscast produced by WTVR called The CW News at 10. This competed against WRLH's nightly broadcast, Fox News at 10, that is produced by WWBT. Weekend newscasts began on October 20, 2007 and ended a year later on October 19. The final weeknight show aired on November 7. Three days later, WTVR announced that the WUPV broadcasts had been canceled due to high financial production costs. Meanwhile, WWBT became the first in the area to broadcast local newscasts in high definition on July 27, 2008.
However, the WRLH shows were not included in the upgrade because that channel currently lacks the necessary equipment to transmit local or syndicated programming in HD. As a result, WRLH presents the WWBT news shows in pillar-boxed 4:3standard definition. On January 5, 2009, WWBT began producing a new weeknight show for WUPV called The CW News at 6:30 in high definition. It airs against the national news on the big three stations. Airing from a secondary set, this is streamed live on WUPV's website.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|65.1||1080i||16:9||WUPV-HD||Main WUPV programming / The CW|
WUPV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 65, 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 65, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.