WFSB, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 33), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Hartford, Connecticut. The station is currently owned by the Meredith Corporation, pending a sale to another entity. WFSB's studios and offices are located on Capitol Blvd in Rocky Hill and its transmitter is located on Talcott Mountain in Avon, Connecticut.
Most of WFSB's programs are seen in Springfield, Massachusetts over a low-power semi-satellite station, WSHM-LD (channel 3.5). That station is based at the facilities of ABC/Fox sister station WGGB-TV (channel 40) in Springfield, although some master control and other internal operations are hubbed through WFSB.
WFSB signed on the air on September 21, 1957 as WTIC-TV, owned by the Hartford-based Travelers Insurance Company, along with WTIC radio (1080 AM and 96.5 FM). As Connecticut's second VHF station, WTIC-TV was one of the most powerful stations in New England, not only covering the entire state but a large chunk of western Massachusetts and providing secondary coverage to much of the southern sections of Vermont and New Hampshire. During its first year on the air, Channel 3 was an independent station, as ABC was affiliated with the state's other VHF outlet, WNHC-TV (channel 8, now WTNH) in New Haven; while CBS and NBC had owned-and-operated stations on the UHF band in the market, WHCT-TV (channel 18, now WUVN) in Hartford and WNBC (channel 30, now WVIT) in New Britain, respectively. With no network affiliation, WTIC-TV devoted much of its airtime to movies, syndicated programs, and three daily newscasts (including one at 10 p.m.).
In 1958, CBS was looking to sell WHCT-TV. The network's ratings had been alarmingly low in the market because television manufacturers were not required to have UHF tuners at the time. Many viewers northeast of Hartford got a better signal for CBS programming from WNAC-TV (now WHDH) in Boston or WPRO-TV (now WPRI-TV) in Providence, while those southwest of Hartford with an outdoor antenna were able to watch the network via New York City flagship station WCBS-TV. Network head William S. Paley decided that it was better to have CBS air its programming on a VHF station, even if it was only an affiliate. WTIC-TV was the obvious choice due to its massive coverage area. Paley quickly negotiated an affiliation deal, and channel 3 became the network's new affiliate in the fall of 1958. Ironically, WTIC radio had been with NBC Radio for over thirty years. Soon after the affiliation switch, channel 3 surged to the top of the ratings, and has remained there more or less ever since.
The switch to WTIC-TV for CBS had repercussions in Springfield, Massachusetts, as it forced WHYN-TV (channel 40, now sister station WGGB-TV) to drop its original CBS affiliation, which it replaced with ABC (previously, some ABC programs had been seen on WWLP). Over the years, WTIC-TV repeatedly blocked WHYN's attempts to switch back to CBS.
In 1962, the WTIC stations moved to Broadcast House, a state-of-the-art facility in the Constitution Plaza development in downtown Hartford. A decade later, in late 1972, Travelers Insurance decided to exit broadcasting. The announcement was made to the staff at an employee meeting held in Studio A on January 15, 1973. While the WTIC radio stations were spun off to a company formed by station management called 1080 Corporation, WTIC-TV was sold to The Washington Post Company. The sale of all three stations was closed on March 8, 1974 and the Post's broadcasting division, Post-Newsweek Stations, changed Channel 3's call letters on that date to the current WFSB in honor of broadcasting division president Frederick (Fritz) Sessions Beebe (Frederick S. Beebe). To get the WFSB call letters, the Post had to convince Framingham State College in Framingham, Massachusetts to give up those call letters, which were used on the college's low-power FM radio station, whose call letters were changed to WDJM-FM as a result of the switch. The WTIC call letters returned to Connecticut television in 1984 when Arch Communications, owned by the son of the then-owner of WTIC radio, launched a new independent station on channel 61.
In the late-1980s, Post-Newsweek moved its corporate offices from Washington D.C. to space located alongside Broadcast House making the station the company's flagship. This was part of a strategy move by the Post to give its various sub-corporations their own independent identities, which worked well at first. By the mid-1990s, however, WFSB found itself in a shrinking market without any significant growth opportunities. In June 1997, Post-Newsweek sold the station to the Meredith Corporation in exchange for WCPX-TV (now WKMG-TV) in Orlando, Florida. The sale closed that October although the Post-Newsweek group maintained its base in Hartford until 2000, when the company relocated to its then-largest station, WDIV in Detroit.
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire Meredith for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General once the sale is finalized. Because Media General already owned WTNH, and the two stations ranked among the four highest-rated stations in the Hartford-New Haven market in total day viewership, the companies would have been required to sell either WFSB or WTNH to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements. MyNetworkTV affiliate WCTX (channel 59), which is also owned by Media General, is the only one of the three stations that were previously affected by the merger that could have been legally be acquired by Meredith Media General, as its total day viewership ranks below the top-four ratings threshold. However, on January 27, 2016, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Media General and that Meredith agreed to the termination of its acquisition by Media General.
On April 15, 2015, WFSB-DT added subchannels for Escape TV and Laff TV.
WFSB-DT2 was a standard definition digital feed of sister station WSHM, removed in Autumn, 2012. WFSB-DT3, Charter digital channel 243, Comcast digital channel 247, and Cox digital channel 801, is a 24-hour local news and weather channel known as "Eyewitness News NOW". To comply with the E/I requirements, Eyewitness News NOW airs three hours of Gina D's Kids Club every Saturday morning starting at 9am ET, the same time as CBS Dream Team on the main channel.
Even though Fairfield County is part of the New York City market where CBS flagship WCBS-TV is based, WFSB targets viewers in the area through "WFSB Fairfield County" on a fourth digital subchannel and the digital tier of Cablevision systems; it is essentially a simulcast of WFSB except for a preemption of Live! with Kelly and Michael (which is produced by and seen on WABC-TV).
WFSB's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WFSB||Main WFSB programming / CBS|
|3.4||WFSB-4||"WFSB Fairfield County"|
WSHM's digital signal uses 3.5 for its broadcast feed and 3.6 for its own 24-hour local weather channel that is mirrored after "Eyewitness News NOW". These subchannels are available only in areas covered by WSHM's digital signal, which broadcasts at a low power.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.5||1080i||16:9||WSHM-HD||WSHM-LD "CBS 3 Springfield"|
WFSB shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, 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 33, using PSIP to display WFSB's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers. WFSB was the only Connecticut station that participated in the "analog nightlight" program, with the analog signal remaining in operation until June 26. The signoff included A clip of the first Sign on of WFSB when they were WTIC and it repeated itself before the actual switch occored,
Weeknights, WFSB airs a repeat of the evening's Entertainment Tonight after The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, placing The Late Late Show with James Corden on a 30-minute tape delay, one of several affiliates (the others being KHOU, WWL-TV, KMOV, KOTV-DT, and WKMG-TV) to do so. Additionally, until January 2008, the station pre-empted the first hour of The Early Show in favor of a third hour of its weekday morning newscast. The change was made after CBS began requiring all affiliates to carry The Early Show in its entirety.
WFSB presently broadcasts 33 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). The station operates its own weather radar known as "Early Warning Pinpoint Doppler". Located above one of the passenger terminals at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, this is also used by sister station WSHM (branded similarly as "Pinpoint Doppler"). The Springfield station will often share resources with WFSB and this station doing the same for coverage from Connecticut.
After Post-Newsweek took control of the station in 1974, WFSB adopted the Eyewitness News title and format pioneered at KYW-TV in Philadelphia. Ironically, rival WTNH-TV used the Action News format made famous at then-Philadelphia sister station WPVI-TV and even used the same "Move Closer to Your World" music package. WFSB is the most-watched among the local newscast market's stations according to the Nielsen ratings, second only to the WTIC-TV's current weeknight newscasts.
For many years, WTNH had been a distant runner-up in the market to WFSB. However, in recent times, it has fended off a spirited challenge from WVIT. The two stations have spent the last decade trading the runner-up spot. Historically, WTNH's ratings for news and local programming are far higher in Nielsen's "Metro B" area (New Haven County) than "Metro A" (Hartford County). This is because of all the news operations in Connecticut, WTNH provides the most coverage of Fairfield County and the Long Island Sound shoreline. On February 5, 2007, WFSB began operating a 24-hour local news and weather channel known as "Eyewitness News NOW" on a new third digital subchannel; however, it was replaced in April 2015 by Laff.
In addition to its main studios, WFSB operates three news bureaus in the state. This includes a base of operation in New London, on Chapel Street in Downtown New Haven, and at the new Connecticut Science Center on Columbus Boulevard in Downtown Hartford. WFSB's lifestyle and entertainment magazine program Better Connecticut that airs weekday afternoons at 3 p.m. is filmed in a secondary set within its Main Rocky Hill Location. In 2009, Better Connecticut began airing in 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition.
On May 31, 2011, WFSB began broadcasting newscasts in high definition, becoming the fourth station in the market to do so. Face the State and Better Connecticut have also made the transition. However, WSHM continued to broadcast its newscasts in 4:3 standard-definition until 2015, when its news production was upgraded to HD following its consolidation with now sister station WGGB.
On January 13, 2012, WFSB began simulcasting its weekday noon and 6 p.m. newscasts on radio stations WLIS (1420 AM) in Old Saybrook and WMRD (1150 AM) in Middletown. On February 28, 2012, WFSB entered into a partnership with the The Bulletin in which the two media properties share news footage and stories, along with WFSB providing local forecasts for the Norwich-based newspaper.
On January 26, 2015, WFSB finished a complete overhaul of its main news studio, revealing it 3 days later during the station's evening newscast on January 29 (which was delayed several days due to the 2015 blizzard). This new studio is a "state of the art broadcasting and multimedia news facility", which was "specifically designed to provide our viewers with the most relevant news and information across all platforms".