WGN America (formerly known as "Superstation WGN" and "WGN Superstation") is a Chicago-based American superstation feed ofWGN-TV, owned by Tribune Broadcasting. WGN America offers its national programming across North America without the CW network programming and some syndicated programs that are carried on the Chicago area feed. It is the only remaining national superstation afterTBS became a regular cable channel on October 1, 2007; although WGN America is still not available on most cable systems in the New England region of the United States, including parts of the New York metropolitan area.
|Network||The WB/Kids' WB (1995-1999)|
|Owned by||Tribune Company|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Slogan||Chicago's Very Own(used only during WGN newscasts)|
|Broadcast area||United States|
New York (sales)
|Formerly called||WGN (1978-2001)
WGN Superstation (2001-2002) Superstation WGN (2002-2008)
|Sister channel(s)||WGN-TV, CLTV, WGN (AM)|
|DirecTV||Channel 307 (SD/HD)|
|Dish Network||Channel 239 (SD/HD)|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 568 (HD)|
|Available on most cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 180 (SD)
Channel 1180 (HD)
WGN America is available on cable providers in the United States, via satellite to DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers, and to subscribers of AT&T U-verse (outside of the Chicago area) and Verizon FiOS; is it also carried on some smaller Canadian cable companies, although most Canadian viewers which previously received the previous Superstation WGN feed now receive the WGN-TVChicago feed. In the Chicagoland area, WGN America is not available on over-the-air digital television or cable, but is available on DirecTV and Dish Network. Most American cable and IPTV providers carry WGN America on a "limited basic" programming tier (which also includeslocal broadcast stations and public, educational and government access channels).
WGN America has no separate coastal feeds; as such, channel promos refer to shows airing at the same time on the Eastern Time Zoneand the Pacific Time Zone (ex., America's Funniest Home Videos would be advertised as airing at "7 p.m. East/4 p.m. West", which it has used since the 2008 rebrand in lieu of referring to those zones as Eastern and Pacific). As a result, the weekday noon and nightly 9 p.m. newscasts from WGN-TV air in the Central Time Zone at the same time as the Pacific, Mountain and Eastern time zones, but is shown earlier or later depending on the location.
Differences between the Chicago and national feeds
In October 1978, United Video Satellite Group uplinked the signal of WGN-TV (channel 9) in Chicago to the Satcom-3 satellite for cable and satellite subscribers nationwide. For over 11 years, the national program schedule was the same as Chicago's.
In 1989, a new law known as the Syndication Exclusivity Rule, or "SyndEx", was passed. This law means that whenever a local station has the exclusive rights to air a syndicated program in their market, it must be blacked out on any out-of-town stations by the local cable company. On January 1, 1990, a separate national feed of WGN-TV was launched to avoid any blackouts, save for some sports programming, similar to WWOR-TV's "WWOR EMI Service", only with fewer blackouts.
One major programming difference between the national and Chicago area feeds is that WGN America does not carry CW Network programming (which does appear on WGN-TV Chicago), as that network is available in most markets around the country. Superstation WGN did carry programming from the former WB Network, which Tribune had an ownership interest in, nationwide from the network's launch in 1995 until 1999, when local station coverage was deemed sufficient enough by Time Warner and Tribune to discontinue airing The WB on Superstation WGN, giving the network an early advantage over UPN (which declined to allow former superstation WWOR to carry their network nationwide). Moreover, some markets with Tribune-owned stations do not have WGN America on analog or digital cable. During this period, Superstation WGN also carried Kids' WB, which was carried only on the Superstation due to WGN's local morning newscast; it was seen in Chicago at the time on WCIU-TV (channel 26).
By the early 1990s, WGN began to increase its national cable coverage when many cable systems began to swap Secaucus, New Jersey-based superstation WWOR for the WGN superstation feed. However in 1996, WGN's news, sports, entertainment and WB network programming had gone missing from many areas served by Tele-Communications, Inc.outside the Chicago area as the now-defunct provider dropped the superstation feed from its systems in several markets, the move was in part to make room for additional channels; this was around the time that WGN temporarily lost the rights to Chicago Bulls basketball games due to a lawsuit between WGN-TV and the National Basketball Association; however due to viewer outcry in some markerts over the decision, TCI would later back off plans to drop WGN's programming in five Midwestern states. In 1997, TCI and Tribune had also discussed a move to convert the WGN superstation feed into a basic cable channel (similar to what Atlanta superstation WTBS did that same year), with TCI owning 50%.
Change to WGN America
On May 24, 2008, Superstation WGN formally changed its name to WGN America. Initially, its use was limited to promos, as the Superstation WGN IDs remained in use. The new name and logo went into fulltime use on the channel on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008; the new logo was also the first used by the superstation feed to not include a variant of WGN-TV's logo. The logo featured the eyes of a female (similar in resemblance to the 1988-1997 logo used by The Movie Channel), used alongside the channel's new slogan "TV You Can't Ignore". The channel would soon begin a slow change in its programming lineup, starting with the Sunday night "Out of Sight Retro Night" block, featuring older programs such as WKRP in Cincinnati, Newhart, Alf, Barney Miller and The Honeymooners, some of which aired on WGN prior to the Syndex era, or even after the start of Syndex on the Chicago signal only.
A few shows, such as former WGN staples U.S. Farm Report and Soul Train, had been dropped, mostly due to the dissolution of Tribune's television production and distribution division. The transition process for a full rebranding was expected to take 12 to 18 months. In late July 2008, the network's logo bug was revised - the eyes element of the logo morphed into the words WGN America, and have also remained a part of the general logo in all other uses until the beginning of 2009. From January to April 2009, the text of the WGN America logo bug became the main logo with the eyes element.
In April 2009, WGN America rebranded the channel, with a new retro-style logo (which was given a slight update on July 1, 2010 with the rounded trapezoid containing the "WGN" simplified into rounded squares and the word "america" spaced), a new five note sounder equivalent to the NBC chimes (this same sounder is also in use on WGN Radio in Chicago), new graphics, a new slogan ("Everywhere America Calls Home"), and new original programming. The channel did so to increase cable carriage outside the network's traditional carriage area and position itself as a general entertainment channel that programs to the entire nation, not just Chicago and the Midwest.Tribune Chairman/CEO Sam Zell and CEO Randy Michaels have also stated to the media during a nationwide tour of Tribune properties that they would like to lure comedian Jay Leno into the Tribune fold as the host of a new late night program after the end of Leno's run as host of The Tonight Show on NBC in 2009, by launching it on Tribune stations and using WGN America as a linchpin for the show. However, in December 2008 NBC retained the rights to Leno by moving his show to 10:00 and creating The Jay Leno Show.
ProgrammingMain article: List of programs broadcast by WGN America
The network now relies primarily on a variety of re-runs, such as I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, America's Funniest Home Videos (from the Bergeron and Fugelsang/Fuentes era of that series), Scrubs, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Curb Your Enthusiasm, South Park, In the Heat of the Night, How I Met Your Mother, Dharma & Greg, Walker, Texas Ranger, Entourage, Matlock, Monk and The Unit. Movies are now shown on the weekends exclusively and airing late at night most of the time due to live sports airings during the day.
Films, which formed the majority of the station's primetime schedule until the "Superstation WGN" branding era, also continue to air on the network, but as of September 13, 2010, they no longer air in primetime, since September 18, 2010 movies air only on Sunday afternoons and weekend late nights. The channel at present is heavily reliant on classic series during the late morning and afternoon hours, and from August 2007 until September 5, 2010 aired a Sunday night classic comedy block called Outta Sight Retro Night, which consisted of reruns ofThe Cosby Show, Newhart, Barney Miller and Cheers; the lineup started at 5 p.m. ET, broke away at 10 p.m. ET for WGN News at Nine and Instant Replay, and resumed from 11-2 a.m. ET.
In recent years, WGN America has acquired syndication rights to series that have run previously on the channel in first-run form in the mid-late 1990s when it carried WB network programming. 7th Heaven, The Wayans Bros., Sister, Sister and The Parent 'Hood have all aired in first-run and off-network syndication form on WGN America in the past. Between 2006 and 2009, WGN America ran sitcoms aimed at teen and preteen audiences during the mid-afternoon hours, such as Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens and Sister, Sister, only to move these shows to late night graveyard slots, when the show's target audiences are usually not awake, after a short time and eventually dropped them, likely due to the restructuring of Tribune's television division and a deal with the Disney Channel which proved too expensive to maintain.
WGN America programming chief Sean Compton revealed in an October 2009 edition of Variety, that 30 Rock will be joining the line-up in September 2011 along with another sitcom Compton would not reveal. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has been reported to be an addition to the WGN line-up in 2011. 
On August 21, 2008, it was announced that radio hosts Bob and Tom would join the WGN America line-up on November 3, 2008; the video simulcast of that show is produced for Tribune's Indianapolis sister operation WXIN/WTTV by B&T flagship station WFBQ. Originally airing in a standard late night slot, it has since been moved to overnights and as of September 13, 2010 is no longer airing nationally on WGN America.
In April 2010, WGN America announced it would begin carrying Earl Pitts Uhmerikun, a television version of the radio commentary series created by Gary Burbank, it began airing that same month. Burbank has long been close with the current Tribune Company management, who approached him about bringing the series to television. The commentary is aired in the form of a series of 90-second short segments airing usually during WGN-TV newscasts.
WGN America's national feed at present carries 12 hours worth of WGN-TV's local newscasts each week, approximately ⅓ of the 46½ hours of newscasts that WGN-TV produces per week (with two hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); WGN America carries only the noon-1 p.m. portion of the weekday-only WGN Midday News and the nightly 9 p.m. newscast (all times Central), as well as the Sunday night sports highlight show Instant Replay. Since 2008, WGN-TV anchors typically reference the national simulcast immediately before the top story of the noon and 9 p.m. newscasts (except at the beginning of the weekend 9 p.m. newscasts, as well as in the event the newscast is preempted on the superstation feed); however ironically, WGN America does not air promos for the WGN-TV newscasts, though sports telecasts aired on WGN-TV that are carried nationally are promoted on WGN America.
For unknown reasons, WGN America has not cleared the 11 a.m.-noon portion of the WGN Midday News, the weeknight 5 p.m. newscast and the weekend morning newscasts for broadcast on the superstation feed since they each launched in October 2009, September 2008 and October 2010, respectively (these newscasts are, however, carried via live streaming on WGNTV.com); the WGN Morning News also does not air outside of WGN-TV's over-the-air broadcast area and cable, satellite and IPTV systems in northeastern Illinois carrying the WGN-TV local feed, although it did air nationally from its 1994 debut until 1996, when it was dropped reportedly due to SyndEx rules on some segments.
As of September 13, 2010, due to the removal of movies from the Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday primetime lineups in favor of sitcom reruns nightly in primetime, the nightly newscast is preempted on WGN America only in rare instances where certain sporting events airing on WGN-TV are not cleared to air outside of Chicago, and the game is scheduled to run past 9 p.m. CT; prior to this, episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos (from either the 2001–present Tom Bergeron run or the 1997-1999 Daisy Fuentes-John Fugelsang run) aired in the newscast's place in the event the newscast is to be preempted by sporting events not cleared nationally or by a primetime movie (reruns of Just Shoot Memay air if a preemption of the 9 p.m. newscast does occur); the noon-1 p.m. CT portion of the midday newscast may still be preempted on occasions where a Cubs or White Sox baseball game airs at 1 p.m. ET.
Other WGN-TV programming
Other local programs shared between the local Chicago area and national superstation feeds include the Saturday morning public affairs programs Adelante, Chicago and People to People (which rotate on the schedule on a bi-weekly basis) and select movies (though they are aired in different timeslots than they air on WGN-TV Chicago). Through WGN-TV's longtime association as the MDA Love Network station for the Chicago market, WGN America also simulcasts the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, with the local segments featuring WGN-TV personalities included; as a result, donations to the Chicago-based segments of the telethon come from both in and outside of the Chicagoland area. WGN America also simulcasts or airs on a delayed basis other Chicago-based programs produced by WGN's local programming department, such as local parades, event coverage, or retrospective shows on WGN's past (these include the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade and the special Bozo, Gar and Ray: WGN TV Classics).
Although the program schedules between WGN's Chicago area and national superstation feeds were similar at first in the years following the enaction of the SyndEx rules, having featured much of the same programming as one another with limited programming substitutions outside of Chicago, the local Chicago area and national superstation feeds of WGN-TV (particularly since the rebrand of the superstation to "WGN America") have begun to feature fewer common programs compared to in years past with vastly different programming between the two feeds. As of November 2010, the only "SyndEx-proof" shows shared between WGN America and WGN-TV Chicago are People to People and Adelante, Chicago, syndicated reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage, and the religious programs Singsation!, Tomorrow's World and Believer's Walk of Faith with Pastor Bill Winston.
As WGN America simulcasts the lottery's drawings, the Illinois Lottery is the only U.S. state lottery which televises their non multi-jurisdictional drawings to a national audience; the live drawings air every weekday during the midday newscast and nightly during the primetime newscast, respectively at 12:40 and 9:22 p.m. CT; the winning numbers for all games drawn in the midday and evening drawings are also shown if either the noon or 9 p.m. newscasts are preempted, and on weekend afternoons during scheduled programming in the 1 p.m. ET time slot, where the numbers are shown during a commercial break; in addition, the Tuesday and Friday night Mega Millions and Wednesday and Saturday night Powerball multi-state lottery drawings (both of which the Illinois Lottery also participates in) are also simulcast on WGN America after the 9 p.m. CT newscast on those nights.
WGN America airs all Cubs and White Sox baseball games televised on WGN-TV's local Chicago feed, as well as a select amount of Bulls basketball games. Due to NBA broadcast rights restrictions, most Bulls games contracted to air on WGN-TV are seen in the Chicago area only; WGN America airs movies and other syndicated programming instead. With former superstation TBS having moved its national broadcasts of the Atlanta Braves to its local Atlanta WPCH-TV feed in 2008, it leaves WGN as the only superstation broadcasting local sports to a national audience. WGN gained the over-the-air rights for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in 2008. However, due to NHL broadcasting restrictions, these games are exclusive to WGN-TV and syndicated programming or movies air in its place on WGN America.
WGN in Canada
On January 17, 2007, many cable systems in Canada, as well as Star Choice (now Shaw Direct), switched to the WGN-TV Chicago feed, duplicating CW Network and many syndicated programs already available on other channels. This is a result of Shaw Broadcast Services (the main supplier of the WGN feed in Canada) switching to the local feed. It is believed that the switch was made to avoid fees required to carry Superstation WGN. WGN America continues to be carried on other cable systems in Canada (such as MTS TV), while Bell TV has been carrying the WGN-TV Chicago feed for several years. WGN also shows up on Centre Ice in Canada as well.
WGN America HD
WGN America HD is a high definition simulcast of WGN America, broadcasting programming available in HD in the 1080i picture format. Cubs and White Sox baseball, Bulls basketball,WWE Superstars and WGN noon and 9 p.m. newscasts are currently broadcast in high definition. WGN-TV began broadcasting its newscasts in high definition on July 19, 2008. It is available on Cox Communications, Comcast, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, Dish Network and other select cable providers. DirecTV added the HD channel on May 19, 2010.
- Chicago's Very Own (1983–present; used during WGN newscasts)
- Entertaining America (1997–2001)
- It's Great to Be Home (2005–2008)
- TV You Can't Ignore (2008–2009)
- Everywhere America Calls Home (2009–2010)
- WGN Radio 720
- List of DirecTV channels
- List of Dish Network channels
- ^ WGN-TV
- ^ Umstead, R. Thomas. "Midwest systems switch out WWOR; cable television operators sign up WGN", Multichannel News, January 13, 1992. Retrieved March 1, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- ^ Katz, Richard. "Networks on chopping block; TCI makes mincemeat of programmers' lineups", Multichannel News, December 2, 1996. Retrieved February 24, 2011 fromHighBeam Research.
- ^ Becker, Dave. "TCI Will Retain WGN in Madison, The Superstation Will Be Available in Five States", The Wisconsin State Journal, December 20, 1996. Retrieved March 1, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- ^ Colman, Price. "WGN-TV moving toward basic: superstation is discussing plan that would have TCI owning 50%", Broadcasting & Cable, April 28, 1997. Retrieved March 1, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- ^ . http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/chi-wed-rosenthal-28may28,0,458215.column.[dead link]
- ^ . http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/chi-wed-rosenthal-4jun04,0,7170008.column.[dead link]
- ^ WGN AMERICA IS EVERYWHERE AMERICA CALLS HOME -- NETWORK COMPLETES REBRAND AND RELAUNCHES IN APRIL The Futon Critic April 9, 2009
- ^ http://blog.sitcomsonline.com/2010/07/wgn-america-fall-2010-schedule-tca.html
- ^  Retrieved November 9, 2008.
- ^ http://www.wgnamerica.com/pages/outta_sight_retro_night
- ^  Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- ^ http://www.wgnamerica.com/bobandtom.html
- ^ "WGN America Enters the Ring". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- ^ http://cincinnati.com/blogs/tv/2010/04/02/wake-up-wgn-uhmerika-here-comes-earl-pitts/
- ^ http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=270367
- ^ http://web.archive.org/20080603192225/www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002802979%7C1