Fox buys Charlotte combo; boots WCCB out the door

Charlotte, North Carolina at night.
Charlotte, North Carolina at night.

Fox Television Stations, owners of WFLD and WPWR here in Chicago, has announced an intention to purchase Capitol Broadcasting’s WJZY (CW) and WMYT (My Network TV). The sale likely ends Fox’s relationship with Bahakel Communications’ WCCB-TV after 26 years.  The deal of course, is contingent on FCC approval.

Fox would likely land on WJZY, the strongest of the duopoly, meaning the CW would have to find a new home, with WCCB the most likely destination. The last Fox affiliation switch in a major market was in 2008, when Fox signed a deal with Tribune Broadcasting’s KSWB-TV in San Diego and ditched longtime affiliate XETV, who later joined CW.

This marks Fox’s return to North Carolina after selling WGHP-TV in Greensboro to Local TV, LLC in 2007. Fox acquired WGHP after its buyout of New World Communications in 1997. New World struck a deal in 1994 to switch ten Big Three network stations to Fox, considered a huge coup for Rupert Murdoch’s then-fledgling network. After 32 years as an ABC affiliate, WGHP switched to Fox in 1995.

How unlucky is this for WCCB? This is the second time the station lost a network affiliation: after being dissatisfied with the performance of NBC, Cox’s WSOC-TV dumped the peacock network for ABC in 1978, snatching the affiliation away from WCCB. NBC opted to sign with start-up independent WRET (now WCNC) instead of affiliating with WCCB. And who was the owner of WRET at the time? None other than Ted Turner.