|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)|
(to move to 34 (UHF))
Virtual: 38 (PSIP)
|Translators||WOLF-DT 56.2 (45.4 UHF) Hazleton|
|Affiliations||38.1: The CW (2006–present)|
38.3: Comet TV
|Owner||MPS Media, LLC|
(MPS Media of Scranton License, LLC)
|Operator||New Age Media, LLC|
(via LMA; certain services provided by Sinclair Broadcast Group)
|Founded||November 16, 1981|
|First air date||June 3, 1985|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Scranton/|
Scranton's WB (former primary affiliation)
|Sister station(s)||WOLF-TV, WQMY|
|Former callsigns||WOLF-TV (1985–1998)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
38 (UHF, 1985–2008)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1985–1986)|
The WB / UPN (1998–2006)
|Transmitter power||100 kW|
|Height||356 m (1,168 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WSWB, virtual channel 38 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States and also serving Wilkes-Barre. Owned by MPS Media, LLC, the station is operated under a local marketing agreement (LMA) by New Age Media, making it a sister station to New Age's duopoly of Hazleton-licensed Fox affiliate WOLF-TV (channel 56) and Williamsport-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate WQMY (channel 53). All three stations are, in turn, operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group under a master service agreement. The stations share studios on PA 315 in the Fox Hill section of Plains Township; WSWB's transmitter is located on Bald Mountain, northwest of Scranton and I-476.
Although WSWB transmits a digital signal of its own, reception is spotty in much of the southern portion of the market since its transmitter is located further north than the market's other stations. Therefore, the station is simulcast in standard definition on WOLF-TV's second digital subchannel. This broadcasts on UHF channel 45.4 (or virtual channel 56.2 through PSIP) from a transmitter on Penobscot Knob near Mountain Top. NextEra Energy Resources operates a digital replacement translator on UHF channel 36 that is licensed to Waymart with a transmitter in Forest City. It exists because wind turbines run by NextEra at the Waymart Wind Farm interfere with the transmission of full-power television signals.
The station first signed-on June 3, 1985 with the calls WOLF-TV, locally owned by Scranton TV Partners. It was the first independent outlet in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the market's first new commercial station in 32 years. A few days later, it added WWLF-TV in Hazleton as a full-time satellite for the southern portion of the market. After a little more than a year as an Independent, WOLF-TV became a charter affiliate of Fox on October 6, 1986. Two years later, WILF-TV in Williamsport was launched as a second full-time satellite to improve coverage in the western and northern parts of the market.
In 1993, Scranton TV Partners merged with Pegasus Communications. The latter immediately sought permission to move either the analog UHF channel 38 or channel 56 transmitters to the Northeastern Pennsylvania tower farm on Penobscot Knob. Ultimately, Pegasus was allowed to move the WWLF transmitter. On November 1, 1998, Pegasus activated the new analog channel 56 transmitter and moved the WOLF-TV call letters there. Meanwhile, channel 38 became a WB affiliate under new calls WSWB. This call sign was chosen because they could have meant "Scranton's WB" for its affiliation, or the area it serves, Scranton–Wilkes-Barre. Originally, channel 38 was given the WSWB calls in 1981, but they were changed to WOLF-TV before the station went on-the-air in 1985. WILF in Williamsport remained as a full-time satellite.
At the time of the switch, WSWB also picked up a secondary affiliation with UPN. It showed select programming from the network on Saturday nights (since there were no shows from The WB) without the branding. From 2003 to 2006, the station aired America's Next Top Model at 8:00 p.m., followed at 9:00 p.m. by WWE Friday Night SmackDown. Whenever Top Model was in repeats, WSWB would air Veronica Mars instead. All UPN programming in pattern was also available on cable in the area via superstation WWOR-TV from New York City (which was receivable over-the-air in extreme eastern portions of the market), WPSG from Philadelphia, and WLYH-TV from Harrisburg.
As a CW affiliate
On January 24, 2006, the respective parent companies of UPN and The WB, CBS Corporation and the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner, announced that they would dissolve the two networks to create The CW Television Network, a joint venture between the two media companies that initially featured programs from its two predecessor networks as well as new series specifically produced for The CW. Subsequently, on February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a network operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television that was created to primarily to provide network programming to UPN and WB stations that The CW decided against affiliating based on their local viewership standing in comparison to the outlet that The CW ultimately chose as its charter outlets, giving these stations another option besides converting to a general entertainment independent format.
On May 1, 2006, in an announcement by the network, WSWB was named as The CW's Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate; it was the obvious choice since it already carried both WB and UPN programming. At the same time, it was announced that WILF would sever the electronic umbilical cord with WSWB and become the area's charter MyNetworkTV affiliate. Since WILF's signal was more or less unviewable in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, it was also announced that it would be added to a new third digital subchannel of WOLF-TV. WILF changed its call letters to the current WQMY on July 7 to reflect the upcoming affiliation change. WQMY became a charter affiliate of MyNetworkTV when that network launched on September 5, at which time, the station ceased operating as a full-time WSWB satellite and introduced a separate programming lineup and branding. WSWB became a CW charter affiliate when that network launched two weeks later on September 18.
On September 25, 2013, New Age Media announced that it would sell most of its stations, including WOLF-TV and WQMY, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Concurrently, MPS Media planned to sell WSWB to Cunningham Broadcasting; the station would continue to be operated by WOLF-TV. On October 31, 2014, MPS Media requested the dismissal of its application to sell WSWB; the next day, Sinclair purchased the non-license assets of the stations it planned to buy from New Age Media and began operating them through a master service agreement.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media – which, through a shared services agreement with owner Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, has operated WNEP-TV since December 2013 – for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. The complicated SSA relationships that Sinclair has in the Scranton–Wilkes–Barre market with WOLF, WSWB and WQMY – the former two of which are currently the only legal television duopoly in the market – created an ownership entanglement, as WNEP and WOLF rank among the market's four highest-rated stations, and the market has too few independently owned full-power stations to permit a second legal duopoly in any event. (Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley cited Scranton–Wilkes–Barre as one of three markets, out of fourteen where ownership conflicts exist between the two groups, where the proposed acquisition would likely result in divestitures). To alleviate some of the regulatory issues that the deal incurred by selling certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies, on April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that it would sell the non-license assets of WOLF-TV, WQMY, and WSWB and the full assets of eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines and WXLV-TV in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million. Sinclair concurrently exercised its option to buy WOLF-TV and WQMY to allow Standard Media Group – the latter of which, for regulatory purposes, will continue to be licensed as a satellite of WOLF-TV – to acquire the stations outright; Standard will concurrently acquire the WOLF-TV license, which is permitted under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership regulations as WSWB is not ranked as one of the top-four stations in the market.
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Standard Media's purchases of WOLF/WQMY/WSWB and the other four Tribune- and Sinclair-operated stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|38.1||1080i||16:9||WSWB-DT||Main WSWB programming / The CW|
WSWB launched the MeTV network on May 3, 2011 on sub channel 38.2.
WSWB was among the launch group of Comet affiliates. The network launched October 31, 2015.
WSWB shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 38, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 38.
Fox required most of its affiliates to begin offering local news in 1990 in order to help the fledgling network. To satisfy this, what was then WOLF-TV entered into a news share agreement with ABC affiliate WNEP-TV in 1991. This resulted in a nightly prime time newscast known as Newswatch 16 at 10 on Fox 38. It originated from WNEP's facilities on Montage Mountain Road in Moosic. When the Fox affiliation moved to the new WOLF-TV (previously WWLF), the newscasts did as well. The show then became known as Fox 56 News at 10 with a secondary title of Newswatch 16 at 10 on Fox 56. In November 2009, it was announced that WNEP would move its production of the news at 10 to a second digital subchannel called "WNEP 2" that recently gained Retro Television Network (RTV) affiliation.
That happened December 31, 2009 after which WOLF-TV and NBC affiliate WBRE-TV entered into an agreement. Taking over production of nightly prime time newscasts on WOLF-TV starting New Year's Day 2010, WBRE expanded the show to an hour each night and changed the title to Fox 56 News First at 10. It now originates from a secondary set at WBRE's studios on South Franklin Street in Downtown Wilkes-Barre. As was the case with the WNEP-produced broadcasts, if there are network obligations or overruns of Fox programming that prevent WOLF-TV from showing the current program, it is aired on WSWB.
- Jessica Seid (January 24, 2006). "'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September". CNNMoney.com. Time Warner.
- Bill Carter (January 24, 2006). "UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- "News Corp. to launch new mini-network for UPN stations". USA Today. Gannett Company. February 22, 2006. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- John Eggerton (February 22, 2006). "News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV". Broadcasting & Cable. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Haber, Gary (September 25, 2013). "Sinclair Broadcast Group to pay $90M for eight New Age Media TV stations". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- "Sinclair To Buy 8 New Age Stations for $90M". TVNewsCheck. September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- Kirkpatrick, Daniel A. (October 31, 2014). "Re: MPS Media of Scranton License, LLC…" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
- "Sinclair Reports Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results" (PDF) (Press release). Baltimore: Sinclair Broadcast Group. November 5, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
- "Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Form 10-Q". sbgi.edgarpro.com. November 10, 2014. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
- Stephen Battaglio (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion plus debt". Los Angeles Times. Tronc. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- Cynthia Littleton (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group Sets $3.9 Billion Deal to Acquire Tribune Media". Variety. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on June 5, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- Todd Frankel (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, giving it control over 215 local TV stations". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings, LLC. Archived from the original on May 22, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- Liana Baker; Jessica Toonkel (May 7, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast nears deal for Tribune Media". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- Harry A. Jessell; Mark K. Miller (May 8, 2017). "The New Sinclair: 72% Coverage + WGNA". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017.
- "Tribune, parent company of WNEP, sold to Fox 56 owner Sinclair". The Scranton Times-Tribune. Times-Shamrock Communications. May 8, 2017. Archived from the original on May 16, 2017.
- "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. April 30, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Harry A. Jessell (April 24, 2018). "Sinclair Spins Off 23 TVs To Grease Trib Deal". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- "Sinclair Enters Into Agreements to Sell TV Stations Related to Closing Tribune Media Acquisition" (PDF) (Press release). Sinclair Broadcast Group. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- "Sinclair Revises TV Spinoff Plans For Tribune Deal, Announces Deals For Several Stations". All Access. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- "Station Trading Roundup: 7 Deals, $571.7M". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Todd Shields (July 16, 2018). "Sinclair and Tribune Fall as FCC Slams TV Station Sale Plan". Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
- Harper Neidig (July 16, 2018). "FCC chair rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger". The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Robert Feder (July 16, 2018). "FCC throws Sinclair/Tribune deal in doubt". RobertFeder.com. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Benjamin Hart (July 16, 2018). "FCC Throws Wrench Into Sinclair Media Megadeal". New York. New York Media, LLC. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Edmund Lee (July 18, 2018). "Sinclair Tries to Appease F.C.C., but Its Tribune Bid Is Challenged". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Lorraine Mirabella (July 18, 2018). "FCC orders hearing even as Sinclair changes plans to sell TV stations to address concerns about Tribune deal". Baltimore Sun. Tronc. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- "Tribune Terminates $3.9 Billion Sinclair Merger, Sues Broadcast Rival". The Wall Street Journal. News Corp. August 9, 2018.
- Mark K. Miller (August 9, 2018). "Tribune Kills Sinclair Merger, Files Suit". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media.
- Christopher Dinsmore (August 9, 2018). "Tribune Media pulls out of Sinclair Broadcast merger". Baltimore Sun. Tronc.
- Edmund Lee; Amie Tsang (August 9, 2018). "Tribune Ends Deal With Sinclair, Dashing Plan for Conservative TV Behemoth". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
- Jon Lafayette (August 9, 2018). "Tribune Ends Deal with Sinclair, Files Breach of Contract Suit". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media.
- Brian Fung; Tony Romm (August 9, 2018). "Tribune withdraws from Sinclair merger, saying it will sue for 'breach of contract'". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSWB
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.