|Miami–Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
|Channels||Digital: 27 (UHF)|
Virtual: 39 (PSIP)
|Branding||WSFL-TV Channel 39|
|Owner||E. W. Scripps Company |
(Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC)
First air date
|October 16, 1982|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|We're in South FLorida|
|HAAT||297 m (974 ft)|
Public license information
WSFL-TV, virtual channel 39 (UHF digital channel 27), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Miami, Florida, United States and also serving Fort Lauderdale. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, as part of a duopoly with Ion Television owned-and-operated station WPXM-TV (channel 35), also licensed to Miami. WSFL-TV's studios are located on East Las Olas Boulevard and Southeast 2nd Street in Fort Lauderdale (in a building shared with the formerly co-owned Sun-Sentinel newspaper); its transmitter is located between Northwest 210th and 207th Streets in Andover. On cable, the station is carried on Comcast Xfinity channels 11 (standard definition) and 435 (high definition).
As an independent station
The station first signed on the air on October 16, 1982 as WDZL. It was originally owned by Channel 39 Broadcasting Ltd. Operating as an independent station, the station maintained a general entertainment format consisting of cartoons, off-network dramas, classic movies, a few older off-network sitcoms, and religious programs. Odyssey Partners, which would later evolve into Renaissance Broadcasting (and which had owned WTXX, now WCCT-TV, in Waterbury, Connecticut), owned an interest in WDZL.
In December 1984, Grant Broadcasting System signed on competing independent WBFS-TV (channel 33) with a stronger general entertainment lineup, and surpassed WDZL in the ratings immediately. Still, WDZL was profitable, especially with the large amount of barter cartoons that was available to the station. It was still running programs that other area stations passed on until the wave of affiliation switches in January 1989. When WCIX (channel 6, now WFOR-TV on channel 4) was sold to CBS and dropped most of its syndicated programs, Fox programming moved to WSVN (channel 7), which lost its NBC affiliation to WTVJ (channel 4, now on channel 6), which became an NBC-owned station at that time. Most of the syndicated programs dropped by WCIX, primarily cartoons and sitcoms, were acquired by WDZL, helping it to become a far stronger independent station by the early 1990s (WSVN acquired some of WCIX's cartoons to air on weekend mornings, along most of WCIX's movie packages, while WCIX retained some of its syndicated programs). In 1991, WDZL began branding its children's programming as the Fun Zone; the programming block was hosted by Lauren D. The station acquired the rights to Fox Kids after WSVN dropped the programming block in 1993.
In mid-January 1994, the station began airing the Action Pack programming block with a TekWar TV movie. The rating for the movie were 9.1/13, which was 225% more than November and more than any 2 hour movie from last year.
As a WB affiliate
WDZL became a charter WB affiliate when the network debuted on January 11, 1995. In 1997, the Tribune Company acquired Renaissance Communications' six television stations. As Kids' WB programming expanded to three hours on weekdays, the station dropped Fox Kids (which moved to Home Shopping Network station WYHS (channel 69, now WAMI-TV). Channel 39 altered its call letters to WBZL (simply replacing the "D" with a "B") in 1998 to emphasize its affiliation with The WB. Throughout its affiliation with the network, the station was branded on-air as "WB 39". By that point, WBZL began airing more first-run talk and reality shows during the daytime hours, along with children's programming, and off-network sitcoms in the evenings. By 2005, it was the only remaining station in South Florida that still ran children's programs on weekday afternoons due to the presence of Kids' WB (which would discontinue its weekday afternoon block nationwide on December 30, 2005, leaving only a five-hour lineup on Saturday mornings).
As a CW affiliate
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On the day of the announcement, Tribune Broadcasting signed a ten-year agreement to affiliate 16 of its WB affiliates, including WBZL, with The CW. However, it would not have been an upset had WBFS (which is owned by CBS Corporation subsidiary CBS Television Stations) been chosen as Miami's CW station. Representatives for the network were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations to become The CW's charter affiliates, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN stations both had relatively strong viewership. Throughout the summer, WBZL started using the CW logo in station promotions and also began referring to itself as "CW South Florida". On September 17, the station changed its call letters to WSFL-TV, to reference to its geographic location. WSFL became a charter CW affiliate when the network debuted the next day on September 18.
On September 1, 2008, in a corporate move by Tribune to de-emphasize references to The CW in the branding of its CW-affiliated stations, channel 39 was rebranded as "SFL" and it debuted a logo featuring the stylistic capital "S" in the Sun-Sentinel nameplate logo. Around the same time, WSFL moved its operations into the Fort Lauderdale offices of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. By February 2012, the station rebranded as "SFL-TV" to de-emphasize its connection to the Sun-Sentinel, as WSFL no longer offers full-scale local newscasts.
On July 10, 2013, Tribune announced plans to spin off its publishing division into a separate company. The split was finalized in 2014, and WSFL-TV remain with the Tribune Company (which retain all non-publishing assets, including the broadcasting, digital media and Media Services units), while its newspapers (including the Sun-Sentinel) became part of the similarly named Tribune Publishing Company. On February 1, 2017, the station reverted to the "CW South Florida" branding.
Aborted sales to Sinclair and Fox; sale to Nexstar; resale to Scripps
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. On February 22, 2018, Variety reported that Sinclair would sell WSFL to Fox Television Stations upon approval of the Tribune deal. On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that WSFL-TV would be one of 23 stations sold to obtain approval for the merger, though it was one of seven stations for which a buyer was not immediately disclosed. On May 9, 2018, Fox Television Stations officially announced their acquisition of WSFL, as part of a $910-million deal that also involved six Fox-affiliated stations owned by Tribune (KTXL/Sacramento, KSWB-TV/San Diego, KDVR/Denver, WJW/Cleveland and KSTU/Salt Lake City and KCPQ/Seattle). The proposed acquisition raises the possibility that Fox programming in the market may be moved from existing affiliate WSVN to WSFL-TV; in an earnings call, executives at Fox parent company 21st Century Fox declined to immediately announce any plans regarding WSFL, with CEO Lachlan Murdoch stating that "We're not making any announcements of any affiliate changes today." Any affiliation change would not take place prior to June 30, 2019, when WSVN's affiliation with Fox is scheduled to expire.
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 U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division 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 Fox's purchases of WSFL and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. The deal would make Nexstar the largest television station operator by total number of stations upon its expected closure late in the third quarter of 2019. Reports preceding the purchase announcement stated that, as it did during the group's failed purchase by Sinclair, Fox Television Stations may seek to acquire certain Fox-affiliated stations owned by Tribune from the eventual buyer of that group, which could subject WSFL to being sold to Fox. However, on March 20, 2019, the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company announced it would purchase WSFL-TV from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Scripps and Tegna Inc. in separate deals worth $1.32 billion. The acquisition would give WSFL-TV additional sister stations in nearby markets including Fort Myers (Fox affiliate WFTX-TV) and West Palm Beach (NBC affiliate WPTV-TV, Court TV affiliate WHDT, and Fox affiliate WFLX, the latter of which Scripps operates under a shared services agreement with owner Gray Television). The sale was completed on September 19, 2019.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|39.1||1080i||16:9||WSFL-DT||Main WSFL-TV programming / The CW|
|39.3||4:3||Ant TV||Antenna TV|
|39.4||This TV||Court TV|
In 2006, the station began carrying The Tube, a 24-hour music video network, on its digital subchannel 39.2 and Comcast digital cable channel 224. The network was dropped on October 1, 2007 when that network ceased operations due to a multitude of factors including issues with other station groups regarding carriage of E/I programming and financial issues.
WSFL-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on UHF channel 39, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal continued to broadcast on its pre-transition UHF channel 19. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 39.
In 1997, NBC owned-and-operated station WTVJ and the Sun-Sentinel entered into a partnership to co-produce a nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast on WDZL, titled WB 39 News at 10. When the station became a CW affiliate, the newscast's title was changed accordingly to CW News at 10. On March 5, 2008, WTVJ began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; the 10:00 p.m. broadcast on WSFL was included in the upgrade. For the duration of the 2008 Summer Olympics, WSFL's newscast utilized a two-anchor format and closely mirrored the format of the newscasts airing on WTVJ. The 10:00 p.m. newscast during this time was broadcast from WTVJ's primary news set at Peacock Plaza in Miramar, with the only alterations being differences in the set's duratrans for the WSFL newscast. The WTVJ-produced newscast on WSFL was one of a handful of newscasts that were produced through news share agreements with Tribune-owned stations, including newscasts airing sister stations WPHL-TV in Philadelphia (whose 10:00 p.m. newscast was originally produced by NBC-owned WCAU, and has since transferred production to ABC-owned WPVI-TV) and KRCW-TV in Portland, Oregon (whose prime time newscast was originally produced by NBC affiliate KGW, and has since transferred production to Nexstar-owned CBS affiliate KOIN).
On August 26, 2008, WTVJ and WSFL agreed to terminate their news share agreement, most likely due to WTVJ's planned acquisition by Post-Newsweek Stations (owner of ABC affiliate WPLG, channel 10), which was later aborted due to financial issues and lack of FCC approval; the final broadcast of the 10:00 p.m. newscast aired on August 31. WSFL later began to produce a weekday morning news program, which aired for four hours from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m., on April 13, 2009; the program was broadcast out of the Sun-Sentinel's former auditorium on the first floor of the Sun-Sentinel Building on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. The Morning Show was canceled on August 4, 2010 due to low ratings. The station continues to produce the public affairs program South Florida Voices, on Sunday mornings at 6 a.m., which is hosted by Deborah Ally; this program was relaunched with a new host and under a new title in September 2010. WSFL also began producing nightly news updates in mid-August 2010, which air five times a day. WSFL also produces local news inserts that appear during its broadcast of EyeOpener (which is produced by Dallas sister station KDAF) on weekday mornings.
On September 28, 2015, WSFL-TV became the third station to launch the Tribune-developed news format, NewsFix, launching a half-hour prime time newscast, NewsFix SFL at 10:00. The format de-emphasizes the traditional use of anchors and reporters, in favor of using footage featuring those involved and continuity provided by a narrator to help illustrate the story. As of September 2018[update], NewsFix SFL no longer airs on the station.
On November 14, 2019, Scripps announced that they will bring local news back to WSFL, originally starting in spring 2020. However, as of October 2020, WSFL has not yet started its local newscasts partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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