WHP-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 21, is a CBS-affiliated television station serving Lancaster, York, Lebanon and its city of license Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States.[2][3] The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It's a sister station to WXBU under a local marketing agreement. The stations share studio facilities located on North 6th Street in the Uptown section of Harrisburg, with the building bisected by the city line for Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township; the studios of rival station WHTM-TV are located directly across North 6th Street. WHP's transmitter is located on a ridge north of Linglestown Road in Susquehanna Township (it is co-located with WITF-TV and is distinguishable as the unlit red and white tower; WITF's tower is unpainted and flashes strobes at all times).

On cable television, the station is available on Comcast channel 2 and in high definition on digital channel 802. Despite the presence of WHP-TV, CBS-owned KYW-TV in Philadelphia serves as an alternate CBS affiliate for South Central Pennsylvania, as it is carried on Comcast systems in the market.

History

The station first signed on the air on July 4, 1953. It was owned by Commonwealth Communications, as was WHP radio (580 AM and 97.3 FM, now WRVV). WHP-TV operated from studios located on Locust Street in Harrisburg as a member of the DuMont Television Network. The station lost DuMont when that network folded in 1956. WHP-TV later began to share CBS programming with WLYH-TV (channel 15) in Lebanon and WSBA-TV (channel 43) in York as part of the Keystone Network. This arrangement was necessary in the days before cable television, since the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York market is very mountainous and UHF signals do not travel very far in rugged terrain. The three stations had a strong combined signal with 55 to 60% signal overlap.

WHP-TV moved from channel 55 to UHF channel 21 in 1961. Also around this time, it began airing separate local programming during off-network hours, while WLYH and WSBA-TV continued to simulcast for virtually the entire broadcast day. WLYH and WSBA-TV ran about three-quarters of the CBS schedule, compared to separately programmed and owned WHP. All three stations pre-empted moderate amounts of CBS programming, but any shows preempted by WLYH and WSBA-TV ran on WHP while shows preempted by WHP would run on WLYH and WSBA-TV. In 1975, the station relocated from its original studio facility on Locust Street to its current location on North 6th Street.

The Susquehanna Radio Corporation sold WSBA to Mohawk Broadcasting in 1983 and relaunched it as independent station WPMT (now Fox affiliate). WHP-TV and WLYH continued as the market's only CBS affiliates, with approximately 75 percent signal overlap. Both stations also stopped the arrangement in which one station ran whatever CBS shows the other declined to air, though they continued to duplicate most network shows, and continued to have separate newscasts and syndicated programs.

The unusual situation of one market having two separately-owned and programmed CBS affiliates that air most of the same network programming continued until the fall of 1995, when Commonwealth sold channel 21 to Clear Channel Communications, which subsequently entered into a local marketing agreement with WLYH's then-owner Gateway Communications. WLYH and WHP-TV merged their operations under this agreement, and on December 16, 1995, WHP-TV became the sole CBS affiliate for South Central Pennsylvania with WLYH converting into an exclusive UPN affiliate (it had carried the network as a secondary affiliation for 11 months prior starting at UPN's launch).

On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new network called MyNetworkTV.[4][5] On July 12, WHP announced that it would launch a new second digital subchannel to serve as the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate when that network launched on September 5. The subchannel became available on Comcast's digital tier while Philadelphia's WPHL-TV (which had been serving as the area's de facto WB affiliate) remained on the basic tier after becoming a MyNetworkTV affiliate. WLYH, meanwhile, joined another new network, The CW, when it debuted on September 18.

On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station group to Providence Equity Partners' Newport Television.[6] On July 19, 2012, Newport Television sold WHP-TV and five other stations to the Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a group deal to sell 22 of its 27 stations to Sinclair, Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Cox Media Group. The LMA with WLYH-TV was included in the Newport–Sinclair deal despite Nexstar owning the license to the latter station.[7] The group deal with Sinclair was completed on December 3, 2012.

On July 29, 2013, Allbritton Communications announced that it would sell its seven television stations, including WHTM-TV, to Sinclair.[8] As part of the deal, Sinclair was planning to sell the license assets of WHP-TV to Deerfield Media, but would continue to operate the station through shared services and joint sales agreements.[9] This is due to Federal Communications Commission duopoly regulations that not only disallow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market, but also require a market to be left with eight unique owners after a duopoly is formed. In this case, the Harrisburg–Lancaster–York market, despite being the 43rd-largest market at the time the purchase was announced, has only six full-power stations, which are too few to permit a legal duopoly. In addition, WHTM and WHP are respectively the second and third highest-rated stations in the market.

On December 6, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed Sinclair that applications related to the deal need to be "amended or withdrawn," as the time brokerage agreement between WHP-TV and WLYH-TV would remain with Sinclair; this would, in effect, create a new time brokerage agreement between WHTM and WLYH, even though the FCC had ruled in 1999 that such agreements made after November 5, 1996 covering more than 15% of the broadcast day would count toward the ownership limits for the brokering station's owner.[10] On March 20, 2014, as part of a restructuring of the Sinclair-Allbritton deal to address the noted ownership conflicts, Sinclair announced that it would terminate the sale of WHP-TV to Deerfield Media and instead sell the station to another third-party buyer, with whom Sinclair would not to enter into any operational or financial agreements and would assume the rights to the LMA with WLYH. Sinclair would also seek FCC consent for an asset swap with the buyer of WHP in which the station and WHTM would trade licenses, programming (including their respective network affiliations), virtual channel numbers and transmitter facilities.[11][12] On May 29, 2014, Sinclair informed the FCC that it had not yet found a buyer for WHP and that it would also consider reselling WHTM to the third-party buyer, while keeping WHP and the LMA for WLYH;[13][14] on June 23, the company announced that WHTM would be sold to Media General for $83.4 million.[15]

Programming

Syndicated programming on WHP includes Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dr. Phil and The 700 Club.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[16]
21.11080i16:9WHP-DTMain WHP-TV programming / CBS
21.2480iWHPMYMyNetworkTV
21.3720pWHPCWThe CW

Analog-to-digital conversion

WHP-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 21, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[17] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition VHF channel 4 to UHF channel 21 for post-transition operations.[18]

On February 1, 2016, the simulcast of "The CW Central PA" moved to WHP 21.3.

News operation

WHP presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition to its main studios, WHP operates a bureau in York. Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, the station does not air a midday newscast on weekdays. The station also provides weather forecasts for local radio stations WLAN-FM (96.9), WQLV (98.9 FM), and WLAN (1390 AM).

WHP has traditionally struggled in the ratings and has remained in third place for many years and sometimes even slid to fourth. The staff has earned numerous awards, including an Emmy Award in 2010 among other recognitions for its news team. WLYH's news department was shut down after being taken over by WHP, which began producing a primetime newscast at 10 p.m. for WLYH in September 1996; it was canceled in September 2003 due to low ratings.[19] WHP revived that newscast in January 2009, which competes with WPMT's longer-established 10 p.m. newscast.[20]

News broadcasts on WHP remained mainly in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition until April 14, 2012, when WHP-TV became the fourth (and last) television station in the Central Pennsylvania market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition and the third to broadcast both in-studio segments and field reports in the format. With the conversion, the station debuted a brand new, state-of-the-art HD news set, new digital microwave and editing equipment, and a new HD weather graphics system.[21]

Notable current on-air staff

Out-of-market cable and satellite coverage

WHP was carried on cable television in northern Bucks County in the 1970s and 1980s.[22]