ABC 7 or WZVN-TV is an ABC affiliated TV channel serving Fort Myers. The channel was founded in 1974. It offers mainly local newscasts.
WZVN-TV, virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 28), is an ABC-affiliated television station serving Fort Myers, Florida, United States that is licensed to Naples (as such, it is one of two Fort Myers-based full-power stations licensed in Naples, alongside CW affiliate WXCW, channel 46).
The station is owned by Montclair Communications; locally based Waterman Broadcasting, which owns Fort Myers-licensed NBC affiliate and company flagship WBBH-TV (channel 20), operates WZVN-TV under a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two stations share studios on Central Avenue in Fort Myers and transmitter facilities along SR 31 in unincorporated southeastern Charlotte County.
WZVN-TV is branded as ABC 7, in reference to its channel location on most Fort Myers area cable systems, including Comcast Xfinity and CenturyLink.
Home News era
In May 1978, Gulfshore announced the sale of channel 26 to Caloosa Television, a subsidiary of the Home News Company, for a total of $3.3 million.WEVU was the seventh broadcasting property owned by Home News and second TV station. For years, it had been a standing complaint of viewers, and southwest Florida’s TV stations, that Miami Dolphins games that did not sell out could not be aired in the Fort Myers–Naples market. In 1979, then-new news director Jack Speiss was surprised when the station did not air a Monday Night Football game because of a blackout; he eventually was able to telephone Joe Robbie, who told him in no uncertain terms, “I’m not going to allow you to broadcast it.” Tension over what came to be known locally as the “Robbie Rule” boiled over in 1984 when the Dolphins blacked out WEVU again on Monday night. However, once WEVU’s scheduled movie ended, and with the game still going on, channel 26 joined the network telecast in progress, and the general manager issued a statement criticizing the “Robbie Rule” which was read on the station’s late newscast.
The late 1980s saw two significant upgrades. In 1987, WEVU moved to new studio facilities in the Bonita Bay Executive Center, where the front entrance was designed to also double as an outdoor studio and the station would have more space to operate. (The previous studios were then occupied by WSFP-TV, giving the PBS station its first proper headquarters. Its second upgrade, a new tower on the Lee-Collier county line, was more controversial. The National Audubon Society warned that the construction of the tower would cause potential harm to a sanctuary of wood storks and asked the ABC network to intervene in the dispute, which it refused. In October 1987, Lee County approved the zoning for the new transmitter tower; a 1989 settlement brokered by Governor Bob Martinez enabled WEVU to finally build the facility and begin broadcasting from it that summer. The relocated tower improved WEVU’s signal in the northern and eastern portions of the market, particularly in Charlotte County. However, by 1991, WEVU still had half the audience share of either WINK or WBBH.
A side venture for WEVU began in the late 1980s with a low-power TV station permit in Fort Myers held by Caloosa that the station wasn’t using. Ultimately, Caloosa sold 49 percent of it to Tim Pipher, and the station signed on in August 1988 as W07BR; the station was noted for its extensive affiliations with baseball team networks, carrying more than 180 games a season.