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WPSG UPN57

WPSG, channel 57, is a television station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. WPSG is owned by Viacom Corporation and was the former east coast flagship station for the United Paramount Network, which is owned jointly by CBS and Time Warner. WPSG shares a studio and office facility with sister station KYW-TV (channel 3) in Center City Philadelphia, and WPSG's transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. By market size, WPSG was the largest UPN owned-station.


HistoryEdit

In early 1994, Viacom's newly-acquired subsidiary, Paramount Pictures, announced plans to form the United Paramount Network, a joint venture with Chris-Craft Industries. In Philadelphia, Viacom owned Fox affiliate WTXF-TV. Channel 29 was the biggest station in the Paramount Stations Group, and as such it was a foregone conclusion that the station would switch to UPN. Although there was no official word that WTXF was about to change networks, Fox received enough unofficial indications that it made a tentative deal with Combined to buy WGBS and move its programming there.

However, later that year, Westinghouse Broadcasting, owners of NBC-affiliated KYW-TV, cut a deal with CBS to switch channel 3 and two of Westinghouse's other stations to CBS. New World Communications had recently partnered with Fox in most markets, and emerged as a candidate to purchase CBS' longtime owned-and-operated WCAU-TV (channel 10). Fox then canceled its preliminary deal with Combined to buy channel 57 and entered into the WCAU bidding just in case New World's offer either fell through or in case New World chose to affiliate WCAU with NBC. However, NBC and CBS opted to make a complicated multi-market station swap which gave WCAU to NBC. Viacom then opted to sell WTXF to Fox. Using the cash received from Fox for channel 29, Viacom then bought WGBS and its Miami sister station, WBFS-TV. This deal effectively resulted in Viacom buying out its partners' stakes in Combined Broadcasting. As soon as the deal was announced, Viacom announced both stations would join UPN. Ironically, of course, Viacom had been the owner of the majority of channel 57's schedule back in 1985, and in fact was one of Grant's former creditors and a part-owner of Combined. Grant had been under particularly strong pressure to repay his debt to Viacom prior to filing bankruptcy.

WGBS became Philadelphia's UPN station on January 16, 1995; the day the network was launched. After UPN launched, the station's image changed to fit its new status as an O&O. The on-air name changed to UPN Philly 57, and finally UPN 57, the graphics got simpler, and Martin was replaced by the more staid Larry Van Nuys. The UPN 57 branding was kept for the remainder of the network's run, save for one exception: when UPN launched its new logo and identity in 2002, WPSG's on-air branding was changed to simply UPN. This lasted exactly one season, and by fall of 2003 it was back to UPN 57.

Viacom officially became sole owner of WGBS on August 25, 1995, the same day Fox closed on its purchase of WTXF. On December 11 of that year, Viacom changed the call letters to WPSG, for "Paramount Stations Group." The station very slowly began phasing out the old sitcoms, such as I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Archie Bunker's Place, All in the Family, Grace Under Fire, Charles in Charge, California Dreams, Saved by the Bell, Step by Step, Full House, Sister, Sister, Martin, Living Single, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Nanny, The Andy Griffith Show, and cartoons, such as Pokémon, The Wacky World of Tex Avery, and Sailor Moon in favor of first run syndicated talk/reality/court shows, such as Forgive or Forget, The Jenny Jones Show, and Judge Mathis. Viacom bought CBS in 2000, and WPSG later moved into KYW-TV's studios on Independence Mall. In the same year Viacom also purchased Chris-Craft's 50-percent share of UPN, making WPSG UPN's largest owned-and-operated station.

In recent years, WPSG has tried to reposition itself as more of a local station, using the slogan So Philly, So You! (spelled as So Philly, So U! during the waning days of its UPN run). Weekend movie marathons, usually hosted by local personalities (or KYW/WPSG staff like Sean Murphy), have become normal, and the station recently broadcast the Philadelphia version of "Gimme the Mike!", a competition for aspiring singers. In recent years, WPSG has become Philadelphia's leading sports station. Since the late 1990s, it has acquired over-the-air rights to MLB's Philadelphia Phillies and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers in addition to its long-standing coverage of the Flyers (although the majority of those teams' games are on Comcast SportsNet). However, in November 2008, Phillies games moved to WPHL.

When Viacom and CBS Corporation split in 2005, WPSG became part of the latter company, along with the rest of Viacom's broadcasting interests.

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