The Nexstar independent station — and the market’s former Fox affil — is back as the market’s Fox home on March 1. The move comes following a settlement of an antitrust lawsuit between Nexstar and Granite Broadcasting, owner of NBC affil WISE, which has been carrying Fox on a subchannel since 2011.
Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a new affiliation agreement with the Fox Broadcasting Co. for WFFT Fort Wayne, Ind. (DMA 109), beginning March 1.
WFFT had been the market’s Fox affiliate from the network’s launch on Oct. 9, 1986, until July 31, 2011, when Nexstar and Fox couldn’t agree on terms for a new affiliation contract and the affiliation moved to a subchannel on Granite Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate WISE.
In a statement announcing the move back to WFFT, Nexstar said: “Nexstar Broadcasting Inc., Granite Broadcasting Corp., WISE-TV Inc. and WISE-TV License LLC mutually agreed to the settlement of the [antitrust] lawsuit filed by Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. against Granite Broadcasting Corp, WISE-TV Inc. and WISE-TV License LLC that is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with prejudice, without any costs being borne by either party.”
WFFT Local First News at 10, Fort Wayne’s only primetime hour-long news program broadcast in full HD, will continue to air at 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday immediately following Fox’s primetime lineup. The Locker Room, a live weekly sports program will continue to air on WFFT at 10:30 p.m. every Friday.
Bill Ritchhart, WFFT VP-GM, commented: “We are looking forward to the return of Fox’s programming to WFFT Local where we are committed to providing the most relevant, compelling and informative content and community-focused programming to our viewers. Eighteen months ago we expanded that commitment to our viewers through increased news content, locally-produced programming and significant technical investments upgrading our broadcasts to transform WFFT Local into Fort Wayne’s first fully functional HD platform. We are now proud to expand our commitment once again by bringing back Fox’s exceptional array of primetime, sports and event programming exclusively on WFFT Local.
“Our affiliation with Fox, combined with our station’s First News at 10 and unique community-focused programming, underscores our promise to address the changing dynamics of local viewer interests. In addition, WFFT Local remains focused on providing unparalleled marketing solutions for our advertisers through multiple media platforms.”
Jon Hookstratten, Fox’s EVP, broadcast distribution, said: “We are delighted to bring back Fox Broadcasting’s primetime entertainment and sports programming to WFFT Local and the local Fort Wayne community. Through their efforts and initiatives, Nexstar Broadcasting and the team at WFFT Local launched the market’s first fully functional HD platform and actively worked to establish a strong local brand, unique community programming and award-winning primetime local news. Fox and Nexstar are dedicated to supporting the needs and interests of the greater Fort Wayne viewing community, and we look forward to our partnership in providing highly-rated content to viewers across the station’s reach in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.”