WFXL is the Fox-affiliated television station for Southwestern Georgia that is licensed to Albany. It airs a digital signal on VHF channel 12 (or virtual channel 31.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter, east of Doerun, along the Colquitt and Worth County line. The station transmits network programming in the native 720p high definition format but broadcasts local news and syndicated programming in unconverted standard definition. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WFXL has studios on Stuart Avenue in Albany.

History

The station signed-on February 14, 1982 as WTSG-TV and was Southwestern Georgia’s first Independent station. It was originally founded by black physician Carl Gordon Jr. It became a charter Fox affiliate on October 6, 1986. The station's original studio facilities were located on North Slappey Boulevard/US 82 in Albany. Gordon sold the station to NewSouth Broadcasting in 1987. The station changed its call letters to the current WFXL in 1989. Clarion Broadcasting purchased the station in 1996. Clarion then sold WFXL to the Wicks Broadcast Group in 1998. In March 1999, Waitt Broadcasting bought the station from Wicks. Raycom Media acquired the outlet in December 2003 through its purchase of most of Waitt Media's stations.

In March 2006, Raycom announced the sale of WFXL and eleven other stations to Barrington Broadcasting in order to meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding station ownership. The company had just acquired The Liberty Corporation, owner of NBC affiliate WALB, which it decided to keep.[2]

On June 1, 2006, a MH-47 Chinook military chopper traveling from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia to Fort Rucker in Alabama for a training mission hit a guy wire connected to WFXL's 1,000-foot-tall (300 m) tower resulting in a crash. While the tower and WALB's one nearby remained standing other than some guy wires, the stations were forced to temporarily cease over-the-air signals; broadcasts on cable were not affected.

If the WFXL tower had collapsed, this could have also caused WALB's to topple as both were only 150 feet (45 m) apart.[3][4][5] As a result, Raycom (which at that time still operated WFXL while the sale to Barrington awaited FCC approval) acquired auxiliary transmitters and antennas for both WFXL and WALB which were installed at a backup tower at WALB's studios in Albany.[6]

On June 7, the WFXL tower was demolished, but in doing so one of the tower's guy wires wrapped around one for WALB's tower, as feared. As a result, that station's tower collapsed in an incident shown on live television. Since both stations were already transmitting their signals from the tower at the WALB studios they were still on the air but at low-power. Thirteen months later, a new tower for both WFXL and WALB was constructed and began broadcasting on July 3 at 11:35 p.m.[7][8][9]

On February 28, 2013, Barrington Broadcasting announced the sale of its entire group, including WFXL, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group.[10] The sale was completed on November 25.[2] The station's second digital subchannel began carrying programming from Sinclair's American Sports Network syndication package starting with its inaugural broadcast on August 30, 2014.[2] Today as a result of recent acquisitions by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WFXL is sister to company-owned station clusters in Pensacola, FL/Mobile, AL, Gainesville, FL, and Tallahassee, FL.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
31.1720p16:9WFXL-DTMain WFXL programming / Fox
31.2480i4:3WFXL-2Bounce TV
31.3Comet TV

Analog-to-digital conversion

WFXL shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 31, 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 VHF channel 12.[2] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 31.

News operation

As a typical Fox affiliate with a weekday morning show and nightly prime time newscast at 10 (seen for an hour on weeknights; half-hour on weekends), WFXL currently airs five hours of local news on weekdays and an hour on weekends. Along with WALB, WFXL is one of two stations in Albany to produce local news that actually focus on the city.

Despite WSWG technically being the market's CBS affiliate, it serves as a semi-satellite of WCTV in Tallahassee and simulcasts most newscasts from the Florida-based station. On WSWG, there is no news coverage of Albany itself provided by WCTV as there is more of a focus on events in Thomasville and especially Valdosta and Moultrie.

In order to offer comprehensive severe weather coverage, WFXL purchased the most technologically advanced and powerful computerized weather system available in 2007. This included access to live Doppler weather radar capabilities from the National Weather Service site at Moody Air Force Base and an automated severe weather warning system. In September 2008, WFXL gave its newscasts a new look by means of updating it graphic package and the construction of a new set.

At the same time, it added a half hour to its weeknight prime time news at 10.[2] It had aired, at one point, a weeknight newscast at 6:30 that competed with the national news shows on the big three stations. However, on September 19th, 2011, WFXL replaced this newscast with a two-hour comedy block of syndicated programming. On October 24, 2011, it added a fourth hour to its weekday morning show which can now be seen from 5 until 9 a.m.

On Friday January 22nd, 2016, WFXL dropped its four-hour morning show and replaced it with syndicated and E/I programming. [2] This later came in April 2016 with the dropping of the station's only weekend newscast at 10:00pm, which was half-hour at the time. [2] The only newscast that WFXL has left is its weeknight hour-long 10:00pm newscast, but is no longer 100% produced in-house as the newscast is now produced in collaboration with its sister station, WGXA 24 in Macon. All news and weather duties are now handled at WGXA while local reporters are still assigned to Albany to provide coverage of the Southwestern Georgia area.