WABI TV is a CBS affiliated TV channel which serves the city of Bangor in the State of Maine. The channel was founded in 1953. The channel offers mainly news, traffic and weather updates.
WABI-TV, virtual channel 5 (VHF digital channel 13), is a dual CBS/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Bangor, Maine, United States, serving Central and Eastern Maine. The station is owned by Gray Television. WABI-TV’s studios are located on Hildreth Street in West Bangor, and its transmitter is located on Peaked Mountain in Dixmont. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 1209.
Prior to 2017, WABI-TV was the flagship station of its founding owner Diversified Communications, which was owned by the Hildreth family of Bangor.
WABI-TV was the first television station in Maine. It began broadcasting on January 25, 1953, and aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5. It was owned by the Community Broadcasting Service, which was founded in 1949 by former Governor Horace Hildreth when he purchased WABI radio (910 AM, now WTOS; and 97.1 FM, now WBFB). It was managed in its early years by Murray Carpenter. The station was a primary NBC affiliate, but carried secondary affiliations with the other three major networks of the day (CBS, ABC, and DuMont). It lost CBS to WTWO (channel 2) in 1955; that station had been founded by Carpenter. It lost DuMont soon afterward when that network shut down. After Carpenter sold WTWO to the Rines-Thompson family in 1959, the new owners changed that station’s calls to WLBZ-TV and swapped affiliations with WABI-TV, making channel 5 a primary CBS affiliate. The two outlets then began to share ABC programming, which had previously been exclusive to WABI. This ended when WEMT (channel 7, now WVII-TV) signed-on in 1965 and took the affiliation. During the late 1950s, WABI was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
The only other station that the Community Broadcasting Service would build and sign on was WMTW in Poland Spring, Maine. This was because the ownership of that station’s founder Mount Washington Television, partially overlapped with Community Broadcasting Service. (WMTW was sold in 1964.) In 1957, it purchased WAGM-TV-AM in Presque Isle, Maine; it sold off WAGM-AM in 1981 and sold off WAGM-TV in 1984. Community Broadcasting Service merged with Journal Publications to form Diversified Communications in 1971; after the merger, it acquired such stations as WCTI-TV in New Bern, North Carolina, WYOU in Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, WPDE in Florence–Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida. Most of these stations were sold off by the late 1990s; by 2017, it was down to two stations: WABI-TV and WCJB-TV.
The radio stations were eventually spun off in 1993 and are currently under the ownership of Blueberry Broadcasting.
On July 15, 2014, WABI-TV’s contract with Dish Network expired, and both the station and WABI-DT2 were blacked out early on July 16, 2014. Among the issues WABI-TV cited included financial terms, customer service issues between the station and Dish Network, and switching viewers in several counties to another CBS station outside the Bangor designated marketing area (DMA) location (such as WGME in the Portland area). After a breakdown of contract talks which picked up slowly, an agreement was reached October 8, 2014, allowing both stations to return to Dish Network later that day.
WABI-TV entered into an additional affiliation agreement with “retro” TV network Decades (a network co-owned by CBS) in 2015. The official launch date was announced as October 1, 2015; but the network soft-launched on a new third subchannel on September 24 at 2:30 p.m., a week prior to that date. However, WABI-DT3 experienced some technical difficulties that first week, losing video that night and again the following afternoon. The problem with the station’s receiving satellite dish was, however, diagnosed and repaired, and no further difficulties occurred. WABI-DT3 is available to Spectrum customers in the Bangor DMA on digital channel 1255. Moosehead Enterprises also provides the channel to select customers in Greenville, Rockwood, Guilford and Monson, passing the signal through as channel 5.3. Bee Line Cable provides the channel to its subscribers on channel 5-13. There are no other announced prospective cable or satellite service pick-ups at this time.
On February 16, 2017, it was announced that WABI and its sister station WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida would be sold to Gray Television for $85 million. The deal reunited WABI with its former Diversified-owned station in Presque Isle, WAGM-TV. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on April 18, and the sale was completed on May 2. WABI-TV was the last station in the market to be locally owned.