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Nexstar reclaims Chicago’s CW affiliation for WGN-TV

It will mark the first time that "Chicago's Very Own" has carried CW Network programming since 2016.

It will mark the first time that "Chicago's Very Own" has carried CW Network programming since 2016.

The logo of WGN-TV Chicago. (Courtesy logo, Graphic by The Desk)
The logo of WGN-TV Chicago. (Courtesy logo, Graphic by The Desk)

Nexstar Media Group will move its CW Network back to its owned-and-operated station WGN-TV in Chicago, the company affirmed this week.

The move will happen on September 1 when an agreement between Nexstar and Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU (Channel 26) for the CW Network expires. It will be the first time since 2016 that WGN-TV (Channel 9) has carried the CW Network, which has changed affiliations at least twice over the past decade.

Chicago will become the second-largest owned-and-operated CW Network affiliate under Nexstar’s direct ownership after KTLA (Channel 5) in Los Angeles. The company operates New York’s CW Network affiliate, WPIX-TV (Channel 11), through a local marketing agreement with Mission Broadcasting that drew the ire of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year.

The move to WGN-TV will be less controversial, and comes at a time when Nexstar is increasingly looking for ways to own or operate as many CW Network stations as it possibly can without running afoul of federal ownership rules.

In addition to WGN-TV landing the CW Network affiliation in September, two other stations — WVBT (Channel 43, Fox) and KLFY (Channel 10, CBS) — will also start carrying the CW Network. Nexstar is expected to place CW Network programming on a digital sub-channel of those two stations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“The addition of these Nexstar-owned stations as affiliates — two of which are among the country’s Top-50 largest markets, highlighted by Chicago, at number 3 — will bring the number of Nexstar-owned CW stations to 42, covering more than 36% of U.S. TV Households,” Andrew Alford, the President of Nexstar’s Broadcasting Division, said in a statement.

Alford continued: “As The CW’s number 1 affiliate group, Nexstar is very pleased to be bringing the network’s programming to these stations this fall, especially with NASCAR Xfinity series racing and the WWE’s NXT joining a very robust lineup of sports programming, including LIV Golf and ACC college football and basketball. Adding the CW’s programming to them will offer advertisers a variety of new linear and digital opportunities to reach millions of viewers.”

WVBT will assume the CW Network affiliation from WGNT (Channel 27) in Norfolk, Virginia, while KLFY will replace KATC (Channel 3) as the CW Network affiliate in Lafayette, Louisiana. In both markets, the station losing the CW Network affiliate is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, which is dropping the network from five other stations across the country.

Nexstar is still exploring new affiliation agreements with stations in the other five markets — Tucson, Detroit, Miami, San Luis Obispo and Corpus Christi. In Detroit, the CW Network was made available on WMYD (Channel 20) after spending about two months on independent station WALD (Channel 38) last year.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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