WSYX, channel 6, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Columbus, Ohio, USA. WSYX is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Fox affiliate WTTE (owned by Cunningham Broadcasting) through a local marketing agreement and The CW affiliate WWHO (owned by Manhan Media) through a shared services agreement. The three stations share studios located in northwest Columbus, near the suburb of Grandview Heights; WSYX and WTTE also share a transmitter in the Franklinton section of Columbus. The station also doubled as the default ABC affiliate for the Ohio side of the Marietta/Parkersburg TV market since it doesn't have an ABC affiliate of its own.
The station began operations on September 29, 1949, as WTVN, Columbus' second television station. At its launch, the station was owned by Picture Waves Inc., a company controlled by Toledo-based attorney and investor Edward Lamb; Lamb also owned WICU-TV in Erie, Pennsylvania, which went on the air six months earlier. WTVN was an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network at its inception, and was one of only three primary affiliates of that network; it also on a secondary affiliation with ABC. Channel 6 became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1955, after DuMont closed down its operations. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. The station was first housed within the Lincoln-LeVeque Tower in Downtown Columbus until 1952, when it moved into a new facility on Harmon Avenue in Franklinton. Channel 6's present home, on Dublin Road near the Columbus-Grandview Heights border, has been in operation since 1977.
In March 1953, Picture Waves sold WTVN to Radio Cincinnati, Inc., the broadcasting interests of the Taft family of Cincinnati. Radio Cincinnati would later become the Taft Broadcasting Company. The following year, Radio Cincinnati purchased WHKC radio (610 AM) from the publishers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, renaming that station WTVN (AM) and subsequently adding a -TV suffix to channel 6's call sign. Taft would launch a second radio station in Columbus, WTVN-FM (96.3 FM, now WLVQ), in April 1960.
In the early 1970s, Taft's common ownership of WTVN-TV and WKRC-TV (channel 12) in Cincinnati was given protection under a "grandfather clause" by the Federal Communications Commission from its newly enacted "one-to-a-market" rule. The ordinance prohibited television stations with overlapping signals from sharing common ownership while protecting existing instances. One of channel 6's competitors, Crosley/Avco-owned WLWC (channel 4, now WCMH-TV), was given grandfathered protection through a similar situation with sister stations in Dayton and Cincinnati.
At times, WTVN-TV/WSYX has served as the default ABC affiliate in the western parts of the Wheeling/Steubenville market that couldn't receive WTAE-TV from Pittsburgh, which served as the de facto affiliate in most of that market; some viewers in the market are also able to receive WYTV in Youngstown. This gave viewers in the Wheeling/Steubenville market an option to watch ABC programming in pattern, since the only stations in the market (WTRF-TV and WSTV-TV/WTOV-TV) aired ABC programming only in the off-hours, and largely dropped them altogether by the 1980s. (WTOV-TV is now a sister station to WSYX) That market finally received its own full-time ABC affiliate in 2008 when WTRF-TV launched one on its third digital subchannel, although WSYX remains available on cable in the western parts of the market.
In 1987, Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner acquired a majority of Taft's shares in a hostile takeover, renaming the company Great American Broadcasting, as a subsidiary of his Great American Insurance Company. However, as the FCC considered the restructuring as an ownership change, WTVN-TV lost its grandfathered protection and could not be retained by Great American. A group of former Taft Broadcasting shareholders, led by Texas millionaire Robert Bass (who also participated in the hostile takeover), purchased WTVN-TV for their new company, called Anchor Media. The sale closed on August 31, 1987, and the new owners renamed the station WSYX that same day. WTVN and WLVQ-FM remained owned by Great American for several years.
Anchor Media, who also purchased ABC affiliates WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina (in April 1987) and KOVR in Stockton, California (in January 1989), was purchased by River City Broadcasting in 1993. River City was merged into the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996. Sinclair owned Columbus' Fox affiliate, WTTE, but could not keep both stations since the FCC did not allow common ownership of two stations in a single market. Sinclair kept the longer-established WSYX and sold WTTE to Glencairn, Ltd., owned by former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards. However, the Smith family (Sinclair's founding owners) controlled nearly all of Glencairn's stock. In effect, Sinclair now had a duopoly in Columbus in violation of FCC rules. Sinclair and Glenciarn further circumvented the rules by merging WTTE's operations with those of WSYX under a local marketing agreement, with WSYX as the senior partner.
In 2001, after the FCC allowed duopolies, Sinclair tried to acquire Glencairn outright. However, the FCC would not allow Sinclair to repurchase WTTE for two major reasons. First, the FCC does not allow duopolies between two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. Also, the Columbus market, despite its relatively large size, has only seven full-power stations—too few to legally permit a duopoly. Glencairn was renamed Cunningham Broadcasting but is still effectively owned by Sinclair because nearly all of its stock is owned by trusts controlled by the Smith family. This situation is one of many that has led to allegations that Cunningham is simply a shell corporation used by Sinclair to circumvent FCC ownership rules. Sinclair would later acquire WKRC-TV in 2012, reuniting the station with WSYX.
In 2004, WSYX (along with other ABC affiliates owned by Sinclair, including sister station WKEF in Dayton) pre-empted the special showing of Saving Private Ryan in late 2004 due to concerns that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would impose a fine on them if they had aired the World War II-set movie due to the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy earlier that year. As ABC affiliates owned by E. W. Scripps Company also pre-empted the film (including WEWS-TV in Cleveland and WCPO-TV in Cincinnati), only viewers in the far eastern (WYTV) and northwestern (then-ABC O&O WTVG in Toledo) parts of their market were able to view the film. It was later determined that the movie's broadcast was not a violation of FCC regulations.
At one point, WTVN/WSYX was one of five ABC affiliates owned by Taft. WSYX is the only one of these stations still affiliated with ABC.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||720p||16:9||WSYX DT||Main WSYX programming / ABC|
|6.2||480i||4:3||MY TV||MyNetworkTV / This TV|
In August 2006, WSYX launched a new second digital subchannel to carry programming from MyNetworkTV. This channel added programming from This TV in the daytime and overnight hours on November 1, 2008. For a long time, WSYX-DT2 had been the largest Sub-Channel-Only MyNetworkTV affiliate, but that all changed on November 17, 2014 when KMOV-DT3 "MYTV St. Louis" signed on.
WSYX shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, 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 VHF channel 13, using PSIP to display WSYX's virtual channel as 6 on digital television receivers. On December 11, 2009 the FCC issued a Report & Order granting WSYX's petition to move from VHF channel 13 to UHF channel 48 to improve signal strength and to be consistent with other Columbus stations on the UHF dial. On Monday, August 30, 2010, WSYX began broadcasting on UHF channel 48. Like all stations broadcasting on channel 6 prior to the digital switchover, WSYX's audio signal could be heard on 87.75 MHz on the FM band in Columbus and the surrounding areas.
As part of the SAFER Act, WSYX kept its analog signal on the air until June 26 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
Historically WSYX has been number-three in the local news ratings race. However, in the past several years channel 6 has been competitive in the fight with WCMH-TV for the runner-up position behind long-dominant WBNS-TV. During the 1977-83 era, WTVN-TV often passed WCMH for second place behind WBNS, and during 1987-1992, WSYX and WBNS traded second place ratings. Over the years, the station has featured high-profile Columbus anchors including Tom Ryan (who moved from WBNS to WTVN in 1979), Pat Lalama, I.J. Hudson, Michelle Gailiun, Lou Forrest (known as Louis de la Foret on CNN Headline News), Deborah Countiss, Bob Hetherington, Charlene Brown, and Liz Claman (now an anchor on Fox Business Network) and Carol Costello (now an anchor on CNN) were also one time anchor/reporter on WSYX.
WSYX and WTTE did not participate in the wider implementation of Sinclair's now-defunct, controversial News Central format for its newscasts but did air "The Point", a one-minute conservative political commentary, that was also controversial and a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts until the series was discontinued in December 2006. WSYX does provides weather forecasts to sister St. Louis ABC affiliate KDNL-TV for their Good Morning America cut-ins; KDNL sub-contracts their news/public affairs programming to an outside provider. WSYX launched their newscasts in high definition on May 10, 2008, making them the last Columbus station to make the upgrade. The WTTE newscasts were included in the switch. In addition, this was the second Sinclair-owned station to launch local newscasts in HD.
Like most local stations during the "Golden Era" of television, WTVN-TV produced a wide range of live local news and entertainment programs. Earl Green, better known as Channel 6's news anchor and director in the 1970s, began his career at the station as a movie host. Gene Fullen and Sally Flowers also hosted shows during their careers. WTVN-TV also hosted various live bowling shows including Bowling for Dollars and 'Spare Time' hosted by Gene Fullen & Sandy Hare from its in-studio bowling lanes at the Harmon Avenue studios. The bowling lanes were not relocated when WTVN-TV moved to its current studio facility at 1261 Dublin Road in 1977.
- Carol Costello – CNN anchor
- Donna Hanover – Former New York news anchor; former wife of Mayor Rudy Giuliani
- Dwight Lauderdale – news reporter; Former anchor at WPLG-TV in Miami.
- Chad Myers – CNN Weathercaster
- Liz Claman – Fox Business Network anchor
- Mike Bettes – Weather Channel meteorologist and storm chaser