WBFF, channel 45, is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Baltimore, Maryland. WBFF is the flagship station of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Baltimore's CW affiliate, WNUV-TV (channel 54), through a local marketing agreement. The two stations share studios and transmission facilities in the Woodberry section of Baltimore.
|Branding||Fox 45 (general)
Fox 45 News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 46 (UHF)Virtual: 45 (PSIP)|
|Subchannels||45.1 Fox45.2 This TV45.3 The Country Network|
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(Chesapeake Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||April 11, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||Baltimore's Forty-Five(former analog and current virtual digital channel number)or
Baltimore's Finest Features
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:45 (UHF, 1971-2009)|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1971-1986)|
|Transmitter power||550 kW|
Until September 2008, WBFF also broadcast "Good TV" on its second digital subchannel (45.2) and on local Comcast cable systems on digital cable channel 206. Syndicated programming on WBFF includes: Friends, Judge Judy and The King of Queens.
WBFF signed on on April 11, 1971, founded by what was then called Chesapeake Television Corporation, which was controlled by Julian Sinclair Smith. At once, it was Baltimore's second commercial UHF station and second independent station, signing-on four years after WMET-TV (channel 24) began operations. Both stations aired general-entertainment programming, but WMET's owners experienced financial problems and were forced to take their station off the air in 1972.
Even without direct competition, and operating on a small budget, WBFF still struggled for programming during the 1970s as Baltimore's network affiliates (WBAL-TV, WJZ-TV, andWMAR-TV) continued to acquire syndicated, off-network programs during this period. Channel 45 did find an advantage in having a decent library of movies and sitcoms at its disposal. Like other independent stations of that era, WBFF also ran network programs pre-empted by the local afflilates, local public-affairs programs, and played cartoons in the afternoon in a show hosted by Captain Chesapeake (played by George Lewis), who was a fixture on WBFF until 1990.
In 1985, Julian Smith merged his companies and renamed them as the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and around this time one of his sons, David D. Smith, took a prominent role in the operations of the three stations. In 1986 Sinclair agreed to affiliate WBFF and WTTE with the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company. The growth and rise of Fox coincided with that of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which expanded its reach during the 1990s. But first, Sinclair attempted to exand the reach of its flagship station in a big way.
Despite its financial restraints, WBFF became enough of a profitable operation that Julian Smith decided to expand his broadcast interests. Through a Chesapeake Television subsidiary, Commercial Radio Institute, Smith launched a new independent station in Pittsburgh, WPTT (now WPMY), in 1978. In 1984, Commercial Radio Institute signed-on Smith's third station, independent WTTE in Columbus, Ohio. That same year, WBFF received local competition again when WNUV-TV, then a two-year-old subscription television outlet, began to adopt a general-entertainment schedule.
In early 1991 Sinclair announced plans to purchase WMAR-TV with the intent to move WBFF into WMAR's channel 2 allocation, and subsequently selling the channel 45 license. However, those plans never materialized, and WMAR-TV (then affiliated with NBC) was sold to the E.W. Scripps Company instead. Stuck on channel 45, Sinclair refocused on strengthening that station, and in June 1991 opened up WBFF's news department with Baltimore's first 10:00 p.m. newscast.
While WBFF entered the new century thriving as both locally and as a Fox affiliate, its network partner threatened the station's immediate future. In 2001 Fox's parent company, the News Corporation, became the new owner of Baltimore's UPN affiliate WUTB (the former WMET-TV) through its purchase of Chris-Craft Industries. Rumors abounded that Fox was considering moving its programming from WBFF to WUTB. In a move made clearly to protect its home interests, Sinclair persuaded Fox to sign a longterm contract to keep WBFF with the network.Sinclair purchased Abry Communications, owner of WNUV, in 1994. As duopolies weren't allowed at the time, channel 54 was spun off to Glencairn Ltd., a company owned by former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards. However, Glencairn's stock was almost entirely owned by the Smith family. In effect, Sinclair now had a duopoly in Baltimore—and had emasculated its major rival in its hometown. Sinclair further circumvented the rules by taking over WNUV under a local marketing agreement, with WBFF as senior partner. Sinclair tried to buy Glencairn outright in 2001, but was unable to buy WNUV because the Baltimore market has only seven full-power stations, too few to legally permit a duopoly. Glencairn changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting and retained ownership of WNUV. However, nearly all of Cunningham's stock is held in trusts owned by the Smiths. This de facto duopoly continues to this day, while the larger one between Sinclair and Glencairn/Cunningham has led to claims that Cunningham is merely a corporate shell Sinclair uses to evade FCC ownership restrictions.
The same threat re-emerged in January 2006, when WUTB lost its status as a UPN affiliate when UPN and the WB Television Networkannounced their merger. However, WBFF breathed a sigh of relief when Fox announced that WUTB would become an affiliate of their newMyNetworkTV service.
On May 2, 2006, the same day Sinclair committed its eight remaining WB and independent stations to the CW, Sinclair and Fox agreed to a six-year affiliation extension for Sinclair's 19 Fox affiliates. As a result, Fox will remain on WBFF at least through the 2011-2012 television season. WBFF remains the only Baltimore television station that has never changed its network affiliation.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|45.1||WBFF-DT||main WBFF/Fox programming|
|45.3||WBFF-DT3||The Country Network|
WBFF shut down its analog signal on February 17, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 46  using PSIP to display WBFF's virtual channel as 45.
On May 1, 2006, WBFF launched a new service on its second digital subchannel (45.2) originally called WBFF-2. It was later renamed Good TV. This digital-only channel featured classic television programms like Magnum, P.I., Mission: Impossible, All in the Family, Sanford and Son, In the Heat of the Night, and Good Times. In addition, "Good TV" offered expanded coverage of church services on Sunday mornings, local events, syndicated shows, and paid programming. This channel ceased broadcasting on or around September 30, 2008, to make way for a new service.
Jeff Barnd, a WBFF news anchor, also hosts and provides commentary for the syndicated Sinclair news program American Crossroads. WBFF was featured in an episode during the third season of The Simple Life. On that episode, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie took control of the station's weekday morning newscast. The two read the weather forecast and messed with the teleprompter.Tony Harris, later a CNN anchor, was once WBFF's lead anchor.
WBFF launched a 10 p.m. newscast on June 3, 1991. The station added a weekday morning newscast in March 2000. In February 2003, it added a weeknight 11 o'clock newscast that broadcasted from Sinclair's now-defunct centralized news service, News Central, located in Hunt Valley. Newscasts at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. were subsequently added to the schedule in January 2005. On June 2, 2008, WBFF became the first Baltimore television station to broadcast their local newscast in high definition.
Every Wednesday morning during the regular school year, a randomly selected child nominated by his or her teacher is selected to help meteorologist Steve Fertig during the 6:30 and 6:40 a.m. forecast segments. The child usually helps with the weather report, gets a tour of WBFF, and receives a video copy of their performance. The segment is called "Weather Kid Wednesday".
On January 24, 2011; WBFF expanded their morning news from 5-9 a.m. to 5-10 a.m. weekdays with the 9 a.m edition called "Fox 45 Good Day Baltimore". That is now a total of over 7 hours of news a day.
- WBFF's Evening News (1975–1981)
- Metro News 45 (1981–1987)
- Channel 45 News (1987–1991)
- Fox 45 News (1991–present)
- Fox 45 Good Day Baltimore (2011–present)
- Jeff Abell - Saturdays at 10 p.m.; also weeknight reporter and fill-in anchor
- Jeff Barnd - weeknights at 5:30, 10 and 11 p.m.
- Jennifer Gilbert - Monday-Thursdays at 5:30 and 11, and Sunday-Thursdays at 10 p.m.
- Patrice Harris - weekday mornings "Fox 45 Morning News" (5-10 a.m.)
- Karen Parks - Fridays at 5:30 and 11, and Friday-Saturdays at 10 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
SkyWatch Weather Team
- Vytas Reid (AMS Member) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5:30, 10 and 11 p.m.
- Steve Fertig (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "Fox 45 Morning News" (5-10 a.m.)
- Emily Gracey - Meteorologist; fill-in, also "Hometown Hot Spot" feature reporter
Sports team (both co-host "Sports Unlimited" on Sunday nights)
- Bruce Cunningham - Sports Director; weeknights at 10 and 11 p.m.
- Morgan Adsit- Sports Anchor; weekends at 10 p.m.
- Kathleen Cairns - general assignment reporter
- Lauren Cook - traffic reporter ("Traffic Edge")
- Keith Daniels - general assignment reporter
- Candace Dold - entertainment and traffic reporter ("Traffic Edge")
- Megan Gilliland - weekday morning reporter
- Judy Kurtz - general assignment and feature reporter
- Joy Lepola - investigative reporter
- Melinda Roeder - general assignment reporter
- John Rydell - general assignment reporter
- Joel D. Smith - weekday morning reporter
- Myranda Stephens - general assignment reporter
- Tony Harris (now at CNN)
- George Lewis ("Captain Chesapeake")
- Jon Lieberman
- Amber Theoharis (now with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network)
- ^ "Sinclair links with The Country Network to fill digital TV tier". Television Business Report. August 25, 2010. Retrieved October 24, 2010.
- ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
- ^ CDBS Print
- ^ http://www.foxbaltimore.com/sections/station/news_team/index.shtml