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Wchs 2009.png
Charleston/Huntington, West Virginia
United States
Branding WCHS-TV 8 (general)
Eyewitness News 8 (newscasts)
Slogan West Virginia's Source for News
Channels Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Affiliations ABC
Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WCHS Licensee, LLC)
First air date August 15, 1954 (1954-08-15)
Call letters' meaning CHarleSton
Sister station(s) WVAH-TV
Former channel number(s) Analog:
8 (VHF, 1954-2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
CBS (1954-1958, 1962-1986)
ABC (1958-1962)
TheCoolTV (2010-2012)
Transmitter power 475 kW
Height 514.1 m
Facility ID 71280
Transmitter coordinates 38°24′28.7″N 81°54′12.4″W / 38.407972°N 81.903444°W / 38.407972; -81.903444
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wchstv.com

WCHS-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia. This area is the second-largest market in terms of area east of the Mississippi River and consists of 61 counties in Central West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Southern Ohio. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 from a transmitter south of Scott Depot along the Putnam and Kanawha County line. It also serves the Parkersburg/Marietta, OH market as the de facto ABC affiliate in the Area.

Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the station operates Fox affiliate WVAH-TV (owned by Cunningham Broadcasting) through a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two share studios on Piedmont Road (along I-64/I-77) in Charleston. Syndicated programming on WCHS includes: Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy, Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Steve Harvey Show, The Queen Latifah Show, The Middle and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


WCHS-TV signed-on August 15, 1954 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 8. It was owned by the Tierney Company along with WCHS-AM 580 which is now owned by the West Virginia Radio Corporation. The station was actually the second in Charleston after WKNA-TV. That channel had launched on UHF channel 49 as an ABC affiliate in 1953 but went dark in 1955 due to lack of viewership. Originally a CBS station sharing ABC with WSAZ-TV, channel 8 became a full CBS affiliate when WHTN-TV in Huntington signed-on in 1955. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1]

In 1958, WCHS swapped affiliations with WHTN and became an ABC affiliate. The WCHS stations were sold to Rollins Telecasting in 1960. This television station reversed the swap and went back to CBS in 1962. For reasons that remain unknown, WCHS did not carry the CBS Evening News for several years after returning to CBS. In 1986, the station swapped affiliations once again with channel 13, now known as WOWK-TV.

The following year, Rollins Telecasting merged with Heritage Broadcasting to form Heritage Media. The company sold off WCHS-AM in 1991. Heritage sold all of its remaining broadcasting properties (four television stations, LMAs for two other television stations, and 24 radio stations) to Sinclair in 1997 just as Heritage itself was being swallowed up by News Corporation. As such, the former Heritage stations retained the current network affiliations instead of becoming Fox owned-and-operated stations.

The Sinclair purchase of WCHS forced the company to sell WVAH, which it had acquired three years before when it merged with Abry Communications to Glencairn as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not permit duopolies at the time. However, Glencairn's stock was almost entirely controlled by the Smith family, owners and founders of Sinclair. In effect, Sinclair now owned both stations. The company further circumvented the rules by entering into a local marketing agreement with WVAH, with WCHS as senior partner. The other station retained its own studios on Mount Vernon Road in Hurricane along I-64 even although most of its operations were merged with WCHS. Eventually, WVAH's separate facilities were put on sale.

Sinclair tried to merge with Glencairn in 2001 after the FCC decided to allow duopolies but could not repurchase WVAH because the FCC does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. Glencairn changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting and the local media agreement with WCHS continues to this day. There is overwhelming evidence that Glencairn/Cunningham is merely a shell corporation used by Sinclair to circumvent FCC ownership rules. One of the first televised presidential debates featuring John F. Kennedy took place at WCHS' studios. The nationally syndicated "Produce Corner" segments were taped at the studios as well.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
8.1 720p 16:9 WCHS-DT Main WCHS-TV programming / ABC
8.2 480i 4:3 Get-TV GetTV
8.3 Grit-TV Grit

For a period of time it carried a service called Cool TV on 8.2, but like all other Sinclair stations, it dropped this without announcement on August 31, 2012.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WCHS-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41.[3][4] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 8.

Transition to Local HD[edit]

Pre HD Transition[edit]

WCHS/WVAH started the switch over to High Definition in June 2012 by first installing a new HD Master Control room. In July 2012 the station started to remove the set from the studio that was installed in the late 90's. The old news desk, backdrop, monitors and the chroma key wall was moved to a small conference room in the station until the transition of HD news was completed. In late July 2012 the new set arrived from Devlin Design Group based out of Crested Butte, CO. During the entire month of August the new set was installed. New lighting, chroma key wall, HD cameras and rehearsing happened into the month of September.

Local High Definition News[edit]

On September 29, 2012 WCHS/WVAH became the third station in the market to launch high definition newscasts. Following in the footsteps of WOWK became 2nd station in the market to launch high definition newscasts on May 5, 2012 and WSAZ launching high definition newscasts on June 26, 2011.

Carriage disputes[edit]

Dish Network[edit]

Sinclair and Dish Network were both in a brief dispute over retransmission fees on May 17, 2005.[5] This dispute was resolved on May 20 and the notice was taken down.[6]

Suddenlink Communications[edit]

In Summer 2006, Charter Communications streamlined its operations which included selling off portions of its cable system which were "geographically non-strategic". Charter accounts in WCHS's market area were purchased by Suddenlink Communications (formerly known as Cebridge). Sinclair requested a $40 million one time fee and a $1 per sub per month fee from Suddenlink for retransmission rights of WCHS and WVAH on the Suddenlink cable system.[7] This led to a protracted media battle between the two companies and Sinclair pulled the two stations off-the-air in the Beckley market. After several weeks of negotiations, the two companies reached an agreement allowing WCHS and WVAH to continue transmission over the Suddenlink cable system. The terms of the agreement were not released to the public.[8]

Time Warner Cable[edit]

It was announced on December 20, 2006, that Time Warner Cable systems in the Charleston/Huntington market would lose WCHS and WVAH starting December 31. However, this only applied to cable subscribers that were previously owned by Adelphia.[9] An extension agreement was made until January 12, 2007 for negotiations.[10]

News operation[edit]

Former Eyewitness News 8 Open 2012-2014.

For most of its history according to Nielsen ratings, WCHS has been a distant runner up to longtime dominant WSAZ-TV. This station and WOWK are usually more competitive in Charleston but WCHS ultimately has higher viewership, however neither is competitive in Huntington, or in the counties of Ohio and Kentucky that are in the marker. This is generally because both stations generally ignore news outside of Charleston. However, in 2013 WCHS opened a small studio and news office in Huntington. WSAZ came in a close second to WCHS for a short period in late 2009-early 2010. This was due to lower lead-in numbers originated by The Jay Leno Show and WSAZ has since regained its first place ratings.

WCHS currently uses the Eyewitness News branding for its news operation and produces three newscasts for sister station WVAH. This includes Eyewitness News This Morning on Fox 11 seen for an hour on weekday mornings from 7 until 8. There is also an hour-long nightly prime time broadcast known as Eyewitness News at 10 on Fox 11. For many years, WVAH's 10:00 p.m. news broadcast was the market's only hour-long late evening newscast. This changed on March 31, 2014 when WSAZ moved their 10:00 p.m. newscast from MyNetworkTV affiliate WSAZ-DT2 to CW affiliate WQCW and expanded the broadcast from a half hour to a full hour.[11]

Notable current on-air staff[edit]


External links[edit]