WMYA-TV, virtual channel 40 (UHF digital channel 14), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station for Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina. It is licensed to Anderson, South Carolina, United States. The station is owned by Cunningham Broadcasting; Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns ABC affiliate WLOS (channel 13), operates WMYA-TV under a local marketing agreement. The two stations share studio facilities located on Technology Drive (near I-26/US 74) in Asheville, North Carolina; WMYA maintains transmitter facilities located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.
Even though WMYA has a digital signal of its own, that station's broadcasting radius only provides Grade B coverage to the North Carolina side of the market. Therefore, the station is simulcast over WLOS's second digital subchannel in order to reach the entire market. This signal can be seen on VHF channel 13.2 from a transmitter on Mount Pisgah in Haywood County, North Carolina.
The station first signed on the air September 5, 1953 as WAIM-TV. It was the fourth television station to sign on in South Carolina, the second that was located outside of the capital city of Columbia, and the first in the Upstate. The station was founded by Wilton E. Hall, publisher of the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail (which served as the basis for the station's call letters; both newspapers have since merged as the Anderson Independent-Mail), along with radio stations WAIM (1230 AM) and WCAC-FM (101.1 FM, now WROQ). The station originally operated as a primary CBS affiliate with secondary affiliation with ABC.
When WSPA-TV (channel 7) signed-on from Spartanburg in April 1956 and took the CBS affiliation, WAIM-TV was left exclusively with ABC, keeping the affiliation even though WLOS had become the market's ABC affiliate of record two years earlier. Until 1976, WAIM-TV still carried many CBS programs on a secondary basis. Hall sold his media interests to Harte-Hanks Communications in 1972. Harte-Hanks planned on upgrading the station and making it a more aggressive competitor in the market. However, it was plagued by a weak signal. WAIM's transmitter was built before Greenville, Spartanburg, and Asheville were collapsed into a single television market. Channel 40 only provided a strong signal to Anderson and Pickens Counties, while nearby Greenville could only receive a fringe signal. As a result, the station never thrived; only the revenues from its sister radio stations kept it afloat. All efforts to boost its signal were defeated due to protests from the owners of WLOS. Although WAIM-TV never posed a serious threat to WLOS in the ratings, from the 1960s onward, WLOS owner Wometco Enterprises, pressured ABC to strip channel 40 of its affiliation.
For about a year in the mid-1970s, the station would not sign-on until 11:00 a.m. on weekdays, when ABC's afternoon programs began. It would sign-off at 11:00 p.m. (when most ABC stations in the Eastern United States usually aired late local newscasts) after the network's primetime schedule ended. The tiny bit of non-network programming during this time mainly consisted of religious programs and travelogues. The station would eventually resume a 7:00 a.m. sign-on, but would sign-off around midnight even during the late 1970s.
WLOS finally persuaded ABC to yank its programming from WAIM-TV in the winter of 1979, leaving channel 40 as the first full-time general entertainment independent station in South Carolina. The Upstate already had an independent station in WGGS-TV (channel 16), but that station emphasized religious programming and had a rather conservative policy regarding secular programming. As an independent, the station initially signed on during the early afternoon hours and carried a mix of cartoons, a couple of low-budget barter syndicated series, and some religious programs. Later in 1979, Harte-Hanks sold the station to Frank Outlaw, who changed the station's calls to WAXA. The station began signing on at 7:00 a.m. every day and added low-budget syndicated shows such as very old sitcoms, westerns, and older movies to the lineup.
In the fall of 1979, WAXA began operating its signal from a more powerful transmitter in Fountain Inn, south of Greenville, that more than doubled its coverage area. The transmitter was close enough to Anderson to meet Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requirements that a station's transmitter be located no further than 15 miles (24 km) from its city of license. However, the station was still more or less unviewable over-the-air in the North Carolina side of the market, and did not get much penetration there until cable television service arrived in the Western Carolinas in the early 1980s. The station's schedule was filled mostly with cartoons, barter sitcoms, low-budget syndicated talk shows, wildlife programs, low-budget and public domain movies, as well as other programs that other area stations passed on that did not cost any money to air. It also aired programs from NBC and CBS that WYFF (channel 4) and WSPA turned down. One of the NBC programs carried by the station was the game show Super Password, which WYFF preempted for its entire run. As barter cartoons became more available, WAXA aired about three hours of them in mornings and afternoons.
The station prospered until WHNS (channel 21) signed on in April 1984 as the first general entertainment station that decently covered the entire market. Although WHNS had a stronger signal and richer ownership (Pappas Telecasting Companies), WAXA beat out WHNS to become the area's charter Fox affiliate at the network's launch on October 9, 1986. As a condition of winning the Fox affiliation, Outlaw promised to boost the station's transmission power to a full five million watts, which would have provided decent coverage of the entire market.
The Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market was not big enough at the time to support what were essentially two independent stations. Like most Fox stations during the network's early years, WAXA was still programmed essentially as an independent. Fox would not offer a full week's worth of programming until September 1993. Nonetheless, Outlaw had major plans for the station in the late 1980s well beyond boosting its signal strength. However, he died suddenly in 1988. His widow did not have the enthusiasm that her husband did for WAXA, and it quickly suffered from financial and management problems. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall of 1988 and lost the Fox affiliation to WHNS. WAXA never recovered from the loss of network programming and ceased operations on August 31, 1989.
River City Broadcasting, owner of WLOS, bought the dormant WAXA license and returned the station to the air in 1991 as a full-time satellite of WLOS. This created a strong combined signal with about 60% overlap. River City merged with the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1995. That fall, Sinclair sold WAXA to Glencairn, Ltd. a new group headed by former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards. In September 1995, Glencairn dropped the simulcast with WLOS and changed channel 40's call letters to WFBC-TV (which were previously used from 1953 to 1983 by what is now WYFF). The station reverted to a typical general entertainment independent format running cartoons, off-network sitcoms and dramas, movies, and some first-run talk and reality shows. The family of Sinclair Broadcast Group founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned 97% of Glencairn's stock (Glencairn was, in turn, to be paid with Sinclair stock for the purchases), effectively making WLOS and WFBC a duopoly in violation of FCC rules. Glencairn and Sinclair further circumvented the rules by moving WFBC's operations to WLOS's Technology Drive facilities in Asheville as part of a local marketing agreement in which WLOS served as the senior partner.
WFBC became a WB affiliate on September 6, 1999 and changed its call letters to WBSC to reflect its status as the only full-time WB affiliate serving a South Carolina-based market. The Rainbow/PUSH coalition (headed by Jesse Jackson) to file challenges against Glencairn's planned merger with Sinclair, citing concerns over a single company holding two broadcast licenses in one market and arguing that Glencairn passed itself off as a minority-owned company (its president, former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards, is African American) when it was really an arm of Sinclair, and used the LMA to gain control of the station. The FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair in 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn, and refused to allow Sinclair to buy WBSC and five other Glencairn stations. Locally, the Commission had already allowed WSPA owner Media General to buy LMA partner WASV-TV (channel 62, now WYCW) outright earlier that year; a Sinclair purchase of WBSC would have left the market with only seven unique station owners, in violation of FCC rules that require a market to have eight unique station owners after a duopoly is formed. Glencairn subsequently changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting, but its stock is still almost entirely owned by the Smith family. As a result, Sinclair still effectively has a duopoly in the market. There is considerable evidence that Cunningham simply acts as a shell corporation used by Sinclair to evade FCC rules. The WLOS/WBSC arrangement led to the formation of Sinclair Media Watch, an Asheville-based grassroots organization, which filed an informal objection to license renewals of WBSC and WLOS in 2004. The station had previously signed-off on late Sunday nights/early Monday mornings, until sometime in 2004, when channel 40 began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule full-time.
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against another upstart network that would launch at the same time that September, The CW (an amalgamated network that originally consisted primarily of UPN and The WB's higher-rated programs) as well as to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations. On March 2, Sinclair was announced that WBSC would become the MyNetworkTV affiliate for the market. Nearly four weeks later on March 28, Media General confirmed that WASV would join The CW. On June 19, WBSC changed its call letters to WMYA-TV to reflect its upcoming affiliation. On January 21, 2010, WMYA went off-the-air due to technical problems affecting the station's transmitter; the station's over-the-air signal was not restored until January 24.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|40.1||720p||16:9||WMYA-MN||Main WMYA programming / MyNetworkTV|
WMYA previously carried a standard-definition simulcast of sister station WLOS on its second digital subchannel. In 2010, the WLOS simulcast was replaced with music video network TheCoolTV. On August 31, 2012, TheCoolTV was removed from about 30 of Sinclair's stations. On July 1, 2014, WMYA added GetTV on their second subchannel. WMYA previously carried ZUUS Country on the station's third digital subchannel, as part of an affiliation agreement with the network that was signed by Sinclair in August 2010. It was replaced with Bounce TV on January 27, 2015. On January 1, 2016, WMYA-TV launched a new fourth digital subchannel carrying programming from Grit, taking that affiliation from WLOS-DT3 who joined Antenna TV on that same date.
On February 2, 2009, Sinclair told cable and satellite television providers via e-mail that regardless of the exact mandatory switchover date to digital-only broadcasting for full-power stations (which Congress rescheduled for June 12 days later), the station would shut down its analog signal on the original transition date of February 17, making WLOS and WMYA the first stations in the market to convert to digital-only broadcast transmissions.
WMYA discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 40, at midnight on February 18, 2009, one day after the original date for full-power television stations in the United States to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 14. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 40.
As part of the SAFER Act, WMYA kept its analog signal on the air until March 3 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements (alternating in English and Spanish) from the National Association of Broadcasters.
Out-of-market cable carriage
Syndicated programs broadcast on WMYA-TV include Jerry Springer, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Family Feud, Paternity Court, and TMZ on TV. WMYA-TV carries Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin from the ABC-syndicated programming block Litton's Weekend Adventure on a one-day delay, as sister station WLOS preempts the first half-hour of the block; the station carries the remaining 2½ hours.
WLOS presently produces 13½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for WMYA (with 1½ hours on weekdays). WLOS produces two weekday newscasts for WMYA which includes one half-hour newscast each weeknight at 6:30 p.m. and an hour-long broadcast at 10:00 p.m. (branded as News 13 on My 40). The earlier program competes against the national evening news programs aired by WYFF, WSPA-TV and sister station WLOS, while the primetime broadcast competes with a half-hour newscast on CW affiliate WYCW that is produced by its duopoly partner WSPA and an hour-long in-house newscast on Fox affiliate WHNS. In addition to its main studios, WLOS operates news bureaus in Greenville, South Carolina (on Verdae Boulevard) and in Waynesville, North Carolina (on South Main Street/US 23). On September 17, 2008, WLOS began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; the WMYA broadcasts were included in the upgrade.