WGGS-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 16, is an independent television station located in Greenville, South Carolina, United States. The station is owned by Carolina Christian Broadcasting (also known as Dove Broadcasting). WGGS maintains studio facilities located on Rutherford Road in Taylors, and its transmitter is located at Paris Mountain State Park (just outside Greenville).
The station first signed on the air on October 29, 1972; Carolina Christian Broadcasting, which remains owner of WGGS to this day, founded the station. It is the oldest independent station in the state of South Carolina, and was also the first new commercial station to sign on in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market since CBS affiliate WSPA-TV signed on in April 1956. The station initially ran a mixture of secular general entertainment programming for half the broadcast day (which over the years had mainly featured classic series such as The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, The Brady Bunch, Dennis The Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and Rawhide, as well as Little Rascals, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies and Popeye shorts) and Christian-related religious programming for the other half. It aired a larger amount of secular programming on Saturdays, and exclusively carried religious programs on Sundays. The station's programming policy, then as now, was very conservative in regards to content so as not to offend the sensibilities of its mostly fundamentalist and Pentecostal viewership.
WGGS came under fire for allegedly using a copyrighted name for one of its locally produced programs after ABC premiered the newsmagazine Nightline in 1980; this was despite the fact that the program used the title Niteline long before Nightline's existence. Some of WGGS's other local productions at the time included the exercise program Beverly Exercise; a talk show hosted by Peggy Denny and the children's program Drick's Follies (running during the 1980s and 1990s), which featured public domain cartoon shorts from the 1930s to the 1950s.
In the early 1980s, Carolina Christian Broadcasting signed on two more stations: WCCT (now WACH) in Columbia and WGSE (now WFXB) in Myrtle Beach. WCCT produced its own version of Niteline once a week, and aired WGGS's version during the rest of the week. WCCT and WGSE aired far more cartoons, barter talk and game shows, and a few sitcoms than WGGS did, with Christian programming comprising only about a third of the schedules of both. Both stations were later sold off to secular interests (both WACH and WFXB are now affiliates of Fox, WACH is now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group and WFXB is now owned by Bahakel Communications).
WGGS was the only independent station in the western Carolinas until the winter of 1979, when WAIM-TV (channel 40, now MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYA-TV) lost its secondary ABC affiliation and was reformatted itself as independent station WAXA. WGGS began to phase out secular programs from its lineup in 1982, a process that sped up when WHNS (channel 21, now a Fox affiliate) signed on in April 1984. By 1986, the station almost entirely ran Christian-oriented religious programs. WGGS did acquire some additional secular cartoons and barter sitcoms to air during the late afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the early 1990s, but by 1999, the station was back to airing a schedule almost entirely made up of religious programming. The station also turned down an offer by Paxson Communications to affiliate with Pax TV in 1998. The station originally signed off on a nightly basis until the early 1990s, when it reduced its off-hours to late Sunday night/early Monday mornings; channel 16 began broadcasting on a 24-hour schedule in late 1999.
Even after the digital television transition, WGGS's transmitter only provides grade B signal coverage to the North Carolina portion of the market. From the late 1970s until 1984, WGGS operated a low-power translator in Asheville on UHF channel 21. This was necessary in the days before there was significant cable penetration in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market. When this translator was displaced by WHNS when it signed on in 1984, WGGS reached a deal with the owners of WASV-TV (channel 62, now WYCW) in Asheville, to operate it as a full-power satellite until it was sold in 1995 to former WHNS owner Pappas Telecasting Companies.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|16.1||1080i||16:9||WGGS DT||Main WGGS-TV programming|
|16.2||480i||4:3||16 TOO||Variety Programming, Gospel Music|
|16.3||SONLIFE||SonLife Broadcasting Network (formerly Gospel music programming ("Harmony"))|
WGGS-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 16, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 35 to former analog channel 16.
Out-of-market cable carriage
In recent years, WGGS has been carried on cable in areas outside of the Upstate media market, including within the Columbia market in South Carolina, the Charlotte market in North Carolina and the Augusta market in Georgia.
The station's schedule almost entirely consists of Christian programming. WGGS airs many shows hosted by televangelists, such as Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, James Robison and Joyce Meyer as well as shows such as The 700 Club, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley and some locally produced programming such as the local Christian talk/variety show Niteline.
Tammy Faye Messner, the ex-wife of former PTL and Heritage USA founder Jim Bakker, announced plans for a cooking show called You Can Make It! which began airing in May 2006 (Messner died of cancer in July 2007, but the show remains in production with a different host). The few secular programs on the station include wildlife sporting programs, family-oriented public domain television series (such as The Cisco Kid, Scaly Adventures, and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet), and home improvement, health and fitness programs (such as P. Allen Smith Garden Style). The station also airs some Christian-oriented children's programming as well as a few programs (such as Praise the Lord) sourced from the Trinity Broadcasting Network – which does not have a full-time affiliate nor has an owned-and-operated station in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market. Like many religious independents of its format, WGGS does not carry secular programming on Sundays, opting to air bible instruction programs, church services and televangelist programs.