Des Moines, Ia. –based Meredith Corp., owner of CBS affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta, has agreed to take over day-today operations of Turner Broadcasting’s WPCH-TV (aka Peachtree TV) in a local marketing agreement giving Meredith control of the station’s marketing, promotions, advertising, and technical operations while Turner stays on as owner and licensee. The deal takes effect in the next few weeks.
Meredith owns twelve stations, including CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City and Fox affiliate KPTV in Portland, Ore. and sister station KPDX-TV. Meredith also publishes several magazines including Better Home And Gardens and produces an hour-long daily syndicated strip titled Better, which airs locally in Chicago over WPWR-TV at 7 a.m.
WPCH was Turner’s only broadcast property in a portfolio full of cable networks including TBS, which spun off WPCH. The station is found over-the-air in Atlanta on Channel 17 (the former home of WTBS) and on most Atlanta cable systems on Channel 7.
The arrangement is similar to what Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting has in place for its struggling CW affiliates in Denver and St. Louis. Local TV – owner of Fox affiliates KDVR-TV in Denver and KTVI in St. Louis – handles the day-to-day operations and other functions of Tribune’s KWGN-TV and KPLR-TV, respectively.
WPCH-TV programming lineup will likely stay the same in the short-term, but some of WGCL’s programming and local newscasts could pop up on WPCH, which hasn’t aired local news since at least 1983 (as WTBS.)
Also as part of the deal, Turner has relinquished production and advertising sales of Atlanta Braves baseball games for WPCH to Fox Sports (who holds the cable rights for its FSN and SportsSouth RSNs.) Braves games have been a longtime staple of WTBS/WPCH.
WPCH is also planning to continue airing SEC college basketball and football.
The union between WPCH and WGCL marks yet another end of an era for an Atlanta institution. The station signed on as WJRJ in 1967 and became WTCG in 1970 when Ted Turner bought the station. Turner beamed WTCG up to a satellite in 1976 and became the nation’s first cable superstation and became WTBS in 1979. On October 1, 2007, Turner split the local and national feeds for TBS with the Atlanta station becoming WPCH and adopting the nickname Peachtree TV (for more some fun facts on the history of WJRJ/WTCG/WTBS, click here and scroll down a bit.)
WGCL has been owned by Meredith Broadcasting since 1998, when it was acquired from Tribune. WGCL became a CBS affiliate in December 1994 (as WGNX) in the Fox-New World swap hoopla, which saw then New World-owned WAGA (and seven other affiliates) drop CBS in favor of Fox.