Superstation WGN in for makeover

The national version of WGN seen on cable systems and satellite (except in Chicago, where Superstation WGN is seen only on satellite), is in for a major Extreme Makeover-type overhaul. Specifics weren’t mentioned, but Superstation WGN is scheduled to be re-launched in May, but the changes may only involve imaging, and not programming.

WGN went national in 1978, linking national cable viewers with the Chicago Cubs, Bozo, and the station’s newscasts. Since the Syndicated Programming Exclusivity Rule (or Syndex, for short) went into effect in 1990, WGN had to draft a national schedule for its cable viewers, since most syndicated programming on the local station no longer could be carried on cable systems.

This drove WWOR out of business as a superstation, ceasing operations in 1996 to cable viewers and in 1999 to satellite viewers (WWOR is still available to broadcast, cable, and satellite viewers in the New York City area.)

In October, Turner split the national and local feeds of former superstation TBS, with Atlanta viewers getting a new channel in WPCH-TV, leaving WGN as the only true superstation left.

Currently, the national version of WGN carries mostly B and C -type syndicated fare, including Funniest Pets and reruns of Sister, Sister, but still carries Chicago sports (but only a handful of Chicago Bulls games), and WGN’s noon and 9 p.m. newscasts and local specials.