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WHAS-TV station began broadcasting on March 27, 1950 on channel 9 as both Louisville’s and Kentucky’s second television station. The station’s founders were the Bingham family, publishers of the Courier-Journal (morning) and Louisville Times (afternoon) newspapers and operator of WHAS (840 AM), Louisville’s oldest radio station. The station originally was a primary CBS affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation, owing to its radio sister’s long affiliation with the CBS Radio Network.
WHAS-TV moved to channel 11 on February 7, 1953, one of several channel shifts resulting from the Federal Communications Commission’s 1952 Sixth Report and Order. Under the same decree WAVE-TV, Kentucky’s pioneer TV station, relocated from channel 5 to channel 3. Following the move to channel 11, the station became to first to increase its effective radiated power to 316,000 watts, the maximum allowed for a high-band VHF station, resulting in a greatly-increased coverage area. When the FCC gradually enforced print-broadcast cross-ownership restrictions in the early 1970s, the agency allowed the Binghams to retain their Lousiville holdings under a grandfather clause.
Barry Bingham, Sr., patriarch of the family media empire, handed over control to his son Barry, Jr. upon his retirement from active involvement in 1971. Following a 15-year dispute, a decision was made to split up the family’s media holdings in 1986. The decision, made by the senior Bingham, resulted in the sales of WHAS radio (and its FM adjunct, WAMZ) to Clear Channel Communications; of both newspapers to the Gannett Company; and of WHAS-TV to the Providence Journal Company. The Journal Company merged with Belo in 1997.