In 1952 WGAL increased its power from 1,000 to 7,200 watts. Under this new grant, the station was required by the FCC to move to channel 8 to prevent interference with WRC-TV in Washington. That change took place on December 31, 1952.
WGAL has always been an NBC affiliate, but also carried some programs from CBS, DuMont, and ABC until 1963, when Nielsen made the Lancaster and Harrisburg-York areas a single market. As the only VHF station in the market, it has been the market leader for many years. It may also be the market leader because of its past owners being local major newspapers, as is common for many #1 stations of a particular market in the USA.
The Steinmans also launched WDEL-TV in Wilmington, Delaware around the same time as WGAL's launch, but sold that station off in 1955. Over the years, the Steinmans purchased two more television stations (KOAT in Albuquerque, which they sold off in 1969, and WTEV-TV in Providence), as well as several radio stations and newspapers.
The Steinmans sold both of their television stations to Pulitzer Publishing in 1979. Under Pulitzer's ownership, in 1985 WGAL became the first television station in Pennsylvania to broadcast in stereo, beating much larger stations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Pulitzer sold its entire television division, including WGAL and KOAT, to Hearst-Argyle Television in 1999. The sale closed on March 18, the station's 50th anniversary. In 2005 WGAL adopted a Hearst-styled logo somewhat similar to fellow Hearst stations WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but containing old elements. WGAL also airs the Pennsylvania Lottery televised nighttime drawings live 7 nights a week and the live Powerball on Wednesdays and Saturdays. WGAL-TV is the #1 station in the country (Top 50 markets) in terms of audience share for the 6AM and 6PM News.
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