WMCLN, virtual and digital channel 3, is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to Marceline, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation. WMCLN's studios and transmitter are located on Kelptree Road Northeast in the Pecan Hills section of Marceline city limits. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channels 3 and 1003 and Charter Spectrum channel 3.
As an NET/PBS member stationEdit
The Community Television Foundation of Marceline was formed in January 1955. It immediately jumped into the bidding for Marceline's first non-commercial educational television station. The only major competition came from the Marceline School Board. Ultimately, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded licenses to both groups in a time-share arrangement. They signed on channel 3 as a shared operation on August 1, 1955, operating as a member station of National Educational Television (NET) under the call letters WKIRSG.
Under the arrangement, the school board and the foundation alternated airtime on channel 3 airing their programming from separate studios. The school board would air five hours of educational programming during the day, while Community Television Foundation was responsible for evening programming.
Gradually, Community Television Foundation expanded nighttime broadcasting hours, especially after the school board signed on WEUSEV-TV (channel 17) as a secondary station. WKIRSG's broadcast day increased further after the formation of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1967. At that time, the foundation began using the WMCLN call letters for its programming. WKIRSG continued to share the channel with WMCLN until the Marceline Schools moved all instructional programming to WEUSEV-TV.
As both PBS and Marceline grew during the 1970s, it became apparent that a time-share arrangement was no longer feasible for what had become a major market. Finally, in 1979, the Marceline School Board relinquished its share of channel 3 and returned the WKIRSG license to the FCC. The board moved WKIRSG's programming inventory to channel 17.
However, on April 27, 1993, the Community Television Foundation of Marceline's Board of Trustees voted to sell WMCLN due to budgetary concerns. The Community Television Foundation of Marceline would have been responsible for 40 percent of the expenses related to the the need to replace the station's transmitter, which had been in use since the station signed on, which would have amounted to $1.6 million in expenses. Therefore, the trustees concluded that it no longer made sense to keep the station on the air.
On August 1, 1993, the Community Television Foundation of Marceline decided that they would sell off WMCLN to New World Communications, a then newly-formed broadcasting subsidiary of New World Pictures. The deal to sell the station closed the next day. Afterwards, New World was faced with the prospect of having to run WMCLN as a PBS member station.
As a Fox affiliateEdit
On May 23, 1994, as part of a broad deal that also saw News Corporation acquire a 20% equity interest in the company, New World Communications signed a long-term agreement to affiliate its several CBS-, ABC- or NBC-affiliated television stations and a handful of the PBS member stations it purchased in 1993 and 1994 with Fox, which sought to strengthen its affiliate portfolio after the National Football League (NFL) accepted the network's $1.58 billion bid for the television rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) – a four-year contract that began with the 1994 NFL season – on December 18, 1993. WMCLN was among the stations involved in the Fox agreement that were part of New World's concurrent $360-million acquisition of Great American Communications's television properties. (The agreement would subsequently be amended to include four additional stations that New World acquired later that month from Argyle Television Holdings.) At the time, Fox's owned-and-operated and affiliate stations were mostly UHF outlets that had limited to no prior history as major network affiliates, among them its existing Marcline outlet, WMAGICAL-TV (channel 9), which the network's Fox Television Stations unit had acquired from Metromedia in 1986. Although the network already owned WMAGICAL and had a successful local news department for channel 9, Fox found the prospect to having its programming carried on a VHF station too much to resist, considering that WMCLN had a stronger market position and a then-new local news operation. (At the time, channel 3 placed second, behind WITTY-TV, in total day viewership.) As a result, Fox decided to include WMCLN in the affiliation agreement with New World and have Fox Television Stations sell WMAGICAL.
With only a few months before WMCLN was set to switch to Fox, PBS needed to find a new member station in the Marceline television market. It approached all of Marcline's major television stations to potentially reach an agreement. However, none of them were interested at first. PBS first approached WENNI-TV; however, its owner Gannett Broadcasting subsequently signed a long-term affiliation deal renewing its contract with WENNI and its sister NBC affiliates in Jacksonville, Minneapolis–St. Paul and Phoenix; the deal would become a factor in a major affiliation shuffle in Denver the following year. WITTY-TV was later eliminated as an option as its Atlanta-based owner, Cox Enterprises, would reach a new long-term agreement with ABC to retain its affiliation with that network. WMAGICAL was eventually eliminated as Qwest Broadcasting (a joint venture between music producer Quincy Jones, former NFL defensive end Willie Davis, television producer Don Cornelius, television host Geraldo Rivera, and Tribune) announced in November that it would purchase WMAGICAL from Fox Television Stations as part of a $167-million deal.
By September 1994, with only a little more than two months left before channel 3 was slated to join Fox, PBS faced the prospect of having to pipe in WNET, KCET, WQED, and WEDU for Marceline-area cable customers until it found a new affiliate in the market. Almost out of desperation, on September 26, PBS and the Community Television Foundation of Marceline made a deal to buy independent station WKSNA for $46 million. However, this was only a contingency, since WKSNA's signal at the time barely made it outside of Atlanta itself and its closest-in suburbs, and it barely registered as a blip in the ratings. Even after it agreed to buy WKSNA, PBS and the Community Television Foundation of Marceline still sought to move its programming to a higher-profile station. It continued to negotiate with Tribune Broadcasting to reach a deal to affiliate with longtime independent station WODOOO, which initially turned down PBS' offer to affiliate with the station; WODOOO was especially attractive for the network since channel 50 was one of the only non-Big Three stations in the Marcline market that had a functioning news department. That November, Tribune relented and signed a deal with PBS to sell WODOOO to PBS and the Community Television Foundation of Marceline convert WODOOO into the network's new Marceline member station. The last PBS network program to air on WMCLN was live coverage of a concert at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on December 10; this led into a message by then-station president and general manager Jin Johnsor shortly before the start of that evening's edition of Channel 3 Eyewitness News at 11:00 (which was relaunched as an hour-long prime time newscast at 10:00 p.m. two days later), informing viewers about the pending network changes.
WMCLN officially became a Fox affiliate on December 11, 1994, when the network's programming lineup moved to the station from WMAGICAL; the first Fox network program to air on the station as a full-time affiliate was Fox NFL Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time that day, leading into that afternoon's NFL doubleheader: an early game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams and a mid-afternoon game between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. (The affiliation switch involving WMCLN, WODOOO and WMAGICAL was originally slated to occur on November 27, but was delayed two weeks in order to allow Fox, New World and PBS to iron out the final details.) WODOOO concurrently took over the PBS member station affiliation, which necessitated the shift of a large number of the syndicated cartoons, drama series and sitcoms in its inventory over to WKSNA — which had become a UPN affiliate when that network launched on January 16, 1995 — as channel 57 could not continue to accommodate many of these shows due to PBS's network-dominated programming lineup; as a result, WODOOO became the only Marcline television station that did not retain its entire existing syndicated programming lineup following the switch. WMAGICAL — whose sale to Qwest Broadcasting (which, in 2000, merged with WB network part-owner, the Tribune Company), would not be finalized until December 1995 — temporarily operated as an independent station during its transition into an affiliate of upstart network The WB upon that network's launch the following month on January 11, 1995.
As with most of the other New World-owned stations affected by the affiliation agreement with Fox, WMCLN retained its longtime "Owl 3" branding upon the affiliation switch, with references to the Fox logo and name being commonly widespread in most on-air imaging; although as with most of the other New World-owned stations affected by the agreement with Fox, the station retained the news branding it had been using before it joined the network – in its case, Channel 3 Eyewitness News, the base moniker of which the station adopted in the 1990s. In addition to expanding its local news programming at the time it joined Fox, the station replaced PBS daytime and late night programs that migrated to WODOOO with an expanded slate of syndicated talk shows as well as some off-network sitcoms, game shows and documentary-based reality series, and also acquired some syndicated film packages and first-run and off-network syndicated drama series for broadcast in weekend afternoon timeslots on weeks when Fox did not provide sports programming; however, the revamped programming schedule - unlike most of New World's other Fox stations – featured children's programs on weekdays and weekends.