Monday December 21st, 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of WUTV Buffalo, FOX29!
Here are some information about those 50 years!
WUTV signed on the air on December 21, 1970 as a general entertainment independent station; its schedule included cartoons, such as Astro Boy and Yogi Bear. Sitcoms such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Patty Duke Show, and The Munsters. Sci-fi shows, such as Lost in Space, Ultraman, The Invaders and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, along with classic movies and drama series. WUTV's original studios were located at the transmitter site in Grand Island, New York. The station was owned by Ultravision Broadcasting Company, from which the "UTV" in the WUTV callsign originates (the WUTV call sign was originally to be used for a station on VHF channel 3 in Indianapolis, Indiana under the ownership of department store William H. Block Co., which never went on the air; the call sign was later issued to another station in Youngstown, Ohio with a construction permit on channel 21 that also never launched, with NBC affiliate WFMJ-TV purchasing that permit and moving from channel 73 to the channel 21 allocation that the Youngstown WUTV permit was originally intended to broadcast on). Ultravision was owned by Stan Jasinski, who also owned Buffalo's WMMJ (1300 AM) at the time; shortly thereafter, Jasinski spun off WMMJ to country musician Ramblin' Lou Schriver, who turned it into present-day WXRL. Jasinski had first filed an application for the station's license in 1963.
WUTV was the only independent station in Buffalo for many years and was the first commercially successful UHF station in Western New York. Previous efforts on the UHF dial, including WBES-TV (channel 59), WBUF-TV (channel 17) and WNYP-TV (channel 26) all had failed within a few years of their debuts. Ultravision Broadcasting sold the station to Whitehaven Entertainment Corporation in 1977. The station was acquired by Citadel Communications, a Bronxville-based company not related to the larger radio station owner Citadel Broadcasting, in 1984.
On October 9, 1986, WUTV became one of the original charter affiliates of the newly launched Fox network. At the time, Fox only aired late night programming five days a week, so WUTV was still essentially programmed as an independent station. However, by 1989, WUTV was one of several Fox affiliates nationwide that were disappointed with the network's weak prime time programming offerings, particularly on Saturday nights, which were bogging down WUTV's otherwise successful lineup. Fox then signed an agreement with WNYB-TV (channel 49, now WNYO-TV) to become its new Buffalo affiliate, and WUTV reverted to being an independent station full-time. Later that year, WNYB-TV's owner, Act III Broadcasting (a company controlled by Norman Lear), offered to buy WUTV, and Citadel accepted. The sale was finalized in June 1990, and Lear moved WNYB-TV's stronger programming to WUTV, and brought the Fox affiliation back to the station in turn. He then sold WNYB-TV to Tri-State Christian Television (Act III was known for such acquisition practices).
ABRY Partners, forerunners to the current Nexstar Media Group, purchased WUTV in 1994 following its acquisition of the Act III group. On January 16, 1995, WUTV became a secondary affiliate of the upstart United Paramount Network (the UPN affiliation subsequently moved to WNGS (channel 67, now WBBZ-TV) and WONS (channel 21, WVTT-CD) in 1997, and then to WNLO (channel 23) in 2003). Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired WUTV as part of its purchase of some of ABRY's assets in 1997; Sinclair then bought WNYO-TV in 2001, creating a duopoly with WUTV. Since the 1994 NFL season, the station has aired Buffalo Bills games via the NFL on Fox; they are given at least two games a season to air, usually when the team plays host to an NFC team at New Era Field; although the station has seen more games aired since 2014 when the NFL instituted cross-flex rules, meaning that games can be arbitrarily moved to the station from WIVB, which airs most of the team's games.
After Sinclair came to a retransmission consent agreement in February 2007 nationally with Time Warner Cable, WUTV and WNYO-TV's high definition feeds began to be carried locally by the provider. On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including WUTV, allowing them to continue carrying the network's programming until 2017. GritTV was added to a subchannel in October–November 2014.
Programming now: In addition to the Fox network schedule, syndicated programming on WUTV includes The People's Court, Judge Judy, Family Feud, Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men, Family Feud, Big Bang Theory, among others. Additionally, the station carries Bills games that air via the NFL on Fox. Since Fox began airing NFL games in 1994, WUTV is guaranteed to air at least two Bills games per season (when the Bills play host to an NFC opponent at New Era Field). Since 2014, however, WUTV can air more than two games via the NFL's cross-flex scheduling policy, along with a third guaranteed game starting in 2018 due to Fox's agreement to carry Thursday Night Football.
Newscasts: Until 2013, WUTV did not air news programming, making Buffalo the largest television market in the United States whose Fox affiliate did not offer any newscasts at all . The station long opted to air syndicated programming instead of carrying news programming, as it is within range of the Toronto market and features advertising targeted at Southern Ontario viewers, along with the large number of stations within the Buffalo market and those receivable in the market from Hamilton and Toronto that already produce local newscasts. This lack of local news programming ended on April 8, 2013, as the 10 p.m. newscast produced by NBC affiliate WGRZ, it was expanded to seven nights per-week, and the station also airs an encore of the final hour of WGRZ's morning show on a one-hour delay.