WTVZ-TV, channel 33, is a television station licensed to Norfolk, Virginia, USA, serving as the MyNetworkTV affiliate for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (comprising the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach and environs), and the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. WTVZ is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, and has its studios and offices located on Granby Street in downtown Norfolk. The station's transmitter is based in Suffolk, Virginia.
In the late 1970s, the Hampton Roads area was unique in that it was one of the smallest media markets to have four commercial television stations: NBC affiliate WAVY-TV, CBS station WTAR-TV (now WTKR), ABC affiliate WVEC-TV, and independent station WYAH-TV (now WGNT)–the latter of which was owned by the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network. WYAH-TV ran a fairly conservative program schedule–about three-quarters split between secular, general-entertainment fare (off-network reruns, movies, children's programming, etc.) and religious programming, such as CBN's own The 700 Club. Still, Norfolk businessman Tim McDonald felt that there was a need for a second independent station in that market, though a few markets far larger than Hampton Roads still didn't have independent stations (San Antonio, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama for example). In 1976, McDonald formed TVX Broadcast Group and secured a construction permit for Norfolk's vacant channel 33.
WTVZ began operations on September 24, 1979 as the area's fifth commercial station. The station ran a general entertainment format similar to WYAH but with a little less religious programming (for example it ran the PTL Club between 10 AM and Noon). WTVZ experienced early success, mostly through airing a moderate amount of programming that had been considered too objectionable for WYAH. By 1981, WTVZ had passed WYAH in the ratings. Both stations had fairly similar shows (some of WTVZ's shows were ones that fell off WYAH shortly before), though WTVZ had stronger, better known, and more recent movies. Besides vintage movies, WTVZ aired a lot of cartoons, classic and recent off network sitcoms, and a few drama shows.
TVX began expanding outside of Norfolk and launched WRLH-TV (channel 35) in nearby Richmond in 1982. TVX also bought independent stations in Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina, New Orleans, and Little Rock, Arkansas and launched new independents in Nashville, Memphis, San Antonio and Buffalo, New York throughout the mid-1980s. In 1986, TVX affiliated all of its stations, including WTVZ, with the Fox Broadcasting Company.
In February 1987 TVX purchased Taft Broadcasting's Fox affiliates and independent stations, all of which were located in larger markets such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. However, the company began to run into financial troubles due to debt incurred from the Taft purchase, and proceeded to sell its smaller-market stations one by one. In 1989, WTVZ was sold to Sullivan Broadcasting. The station was acquired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996. The Sinclair deal reunited channel 33 with several of its former TVX sister stations which had also been purchased by Sinclair.
WTVZ kept its Fox affiliation until August 1998, when it became a WB affiliate as a result of a corporate deal between Sinclair and WB. WVBT (channel 43), the market's original WB affiliate, became the Fox affiliate. Throughout the 1990s, classic sitcoms, older movies, and older cartoons made way for more talk/reality shows, court shows, and more first run prime time shows from WB. Like virtually every independent station (including UPN (before 2006), Fox, My Network TV (after 2006), and WB/CW stations), the weekday cartoons also gradually disappeared from about 2000 to 2006, due to changes in the broadcast industry in general.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which split from Viacom in December 2005) and Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment (the division that operated The WB) announced that they would dissolve UPN and The WB, and move some of their programs to a newly created network operated as a joint venture between the companies, The CW Television Network, to launch on September 18, 2006. Former UPN affiliate WGNT became the CW's Hampton Roads affiliate. On March 2, 2006, Sinclair announced that WTVZ and sixteen of its sister stations would become MyNetworkTV affiliates, that affect in September. MyNetworkTV is operated by Fox and its parent company, the News Corporation. As a MyNetworkTV affiliate, the station changed its branding to "MyTVZ". This also made WTVZ one of the few stations to have been affiliated with both News Corporation-owned networks, Fox and MyNetworkTV.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year affiliation agreement extension for Sinclair's 19 Fox-affiliated stations until 2017. This includes an option, exercisable between July 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, for Fox parent News Corporation to buy a combination of six Sinclair-owned stations (two CW/MyNetworkTV duopolies and two standalone MyNetworkTV affiliates) in three out of four markets; WTVZ is included in the Fox purchase option, along with stations in Cincinnati (WSTR-TV), Raleigh (WLFL and WRDC) and Las Vegas (KVCW and KVMY). In January 2013, Fox has announced that it will not exercise its option to buy any of the Sinclair stations in those four markets mentioned.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|33.1||720p||16:9||WTVZ-HD||Main WTVZ-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
|33.2||480i||4:3||ASN||American Sports Network|
WTVZ-TV carried The Tube Music Network on digital subchannel 33.2 from July to December 2006. From 2010 until August 31, 2012, it carried TheCoolTV on 33.2 until Sinclair dropped the network on all of its stations. On July 2, 2014, WTVZ added GetTV on 33.2. On December 31, 2014, Grit replaced ZUUS Country on 33.3. In January, 2016 Comet was placed on 33.3, and Grit was subsequently moved to 33.4. On February 4, 2016, the American Sports Network diginet replaced GetTV (which moved to WAVY 10.3) on 33.2.
WTVZ-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 33, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 38 to former UHF analog channel 33 in late April 2009.