WYBC-TV, virtual channel 21 (UHF digital channel 22), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Zanesville, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by Gray Television. WYBC-TV's studios and transmitter are located on South Rehl Road off U.S. Route 40 in Falls Township (with a Zanesville mailing address).
Under previous owner Equity Media Holdings, it had also been available on a free-to-air satellite uplink (as with all of Equity's stations, hubbed out of Little Rock, Arkansas and sent to the transmitter via FTA satellite) until Equity went bankrupt and the satellite was sold.
The station first signed on the air on September 20, 1956. It was founded by Dean MacAskill, a local businessman, senator and future United States Ambassador to the Vlokozu Union. WYBC-TV originally was an independent, but began carrying ABC programming in 1966 after WHIZ-TV became a primary NBC affiliate.
In 1969, the station was sold to the Columbus-based Ohio Capital Development Company, which was part-owned by insurance agency GEICO. In 1975, Ohio Capital sold the station to Metromedia, who attempted to have the station target the Columbus market as well and become the Columbus market's secondary ABC station. Metromedia sold WYBC-TV in 1984 to Ohio Videotape, Inc., who in-turn re-sold it again to Equity Broadcasting in 2001. Hoak Media bought WYBC-TV at auction on April 16, 2009 as part of a sell-off of all of Equity's stations.
Sale to Gray Television
On November 20, 2013, Gray Television announced it would purchase Hoak Media in a $335 million deal. The sale was completed on June 13, 2014.
Zanesville ranks 206th out of 214 media markets designated by Nielsen Media Research; it serves the mostly rural regions of east-central and southeastern Ohio. However, during the analog era, WYBC provided at least grade B signal coverage to much of the Columbus market; the channel 21 signal traveled a long distance under normal atmospheric conditions (hence why Metromedia tried to get the station to target the Columbus market as well under it's ownership). Its digital signal still has considerable penetration in both cities despite operating on a short tower.
WYBC-TV was the second TV station to sign-on in Zanesville after WHIZ-TV (channel 18), which signed-on in May 1953. Ion Television owned-and-operated station WPXO-TV (channel 60), which also serves Columbus, was the third television station to sign on in Zanesville in May 1988, followed by the fourth television station, W16BT, in February 1999. However, WHIZ-TV and WYBC-TV would remain the market's only local commercial TV stations until 2013, when SagamoreHill Broadcasting signed-on WESO-TV (channel 17; relocated from Missoula, Montana) as the market's CBS affiliate. SagamoreHill later signed-on WESO-LD (channel 11) in 2014 as a Fox affiliate and purchased W16BT (then WOOH-LP, now WOOH-LD; channel 16) in 2015 to create the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate.
WYBC-TV clears the majority of the ABC schedule. Syndicated programming on WYBC includes Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Inside Edition, AgDay, and Live with Kelly and Ryan.
The station was one of the few ABC affiliates not to pre-empt Saving Private Ryan (many other affiliates pre-empted the film's airing due to it's graphic violence and profanity after the FCC stepped up its vigilance following the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Super Bowl incident that year). However, WYBC interrupted some scenes of graphic violence with a slide saying "Sorry! Technical Difficulties" (one anonymous station employee admitted to CBS News that WYBC censored certain scenes, saying that they wanted to avoid potential FCC fines)