|Wilmington, North Carolina|
WECT News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 44 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
6.2 Bounce TV
(WECT License Subsidiary, LLC)
|First air date||April 9, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Eastern Carolina Television|
|Sister station(s)||WSFX-TV, WMBF-TV|
|Former callsigns||WMFD-TV (1954-1958)|
|Former channel number(s)||6 (VHF analog, 1954-2008)|
|Former affiliations||DuMont (1954-1956)
NBC Weather Plus (on DT2, 2005-2008)
|Transmitter power||710 kW|
WECT is the NBC-affiliated television station for the Cape Fear and Sandhills areas of North Carolina that is licensed to Wilmington. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 44 from a transmitter southwest of Winnabow. Owned by Raycom Media, the station operates Fox affiliate WSFX-TV (owned by American Spirit Media) through a shared services agreement (SSA). The two share studios on Shipyard Boulevard (US 117) in Wilmington. Syndicated programming on WECT includes: Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! (both of which formerly aired on WWAY until 1992), Katie, America Now, Ellen, and Live! with Kelly and Michael.
As the first television station in Wilmington, it began broadcasting on April 9, 1954 with the call sign WMFD-TV. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 6 from a transmitter near White Lake. The television station was co-owned with WMFD AM 630. In 1958, the station's calls changed to the current WECT. The WMFD-TV call letters are now used by an independent television station in Mansfield, Ohio.
At its launch, channel 6 was affiliated with all four networks of the day--NBC, CBS, DuMont and ABC. However, it has always been a primary NBC affiliate. It lost DuMont when that network went silent in 1956. The station finally got local competition in 1964 when WWAY signed on. However, WWAY opted to affiliate with the much weaker ABC, forcing WECT to shoehorn NBC and CBS onto its schedule until the 1970s. It primarily carried CBS' Sunday afternoon NFL coverage. At one point, this station was carried on cable systems in the Triangle region of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Chapel Hill) for a time when NBC did not have a full-time affiliate in that market. At one time, WECT had a Fayetteville news bureau.
As a result of the station's long-held popularity, it is still carried on cable systems in Fayetteville, Southern Pines, Jacksonville and Lumberton even though their respective markets have their own NBC affiliates. The station's analog signal once served as the default NBC station for the northern and eastern portions of the nearby Florence/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina market since that area was one of the few on the East Coast without its own NBC affiliate. For many years, the channel even identified as "Wilmington/Myrtle Beach" to acknowledge its viewership in the Grand Strand. However, WECT's signal was somewhat weak on the North Carolina side of the market (such as Laurinburg), and coverage has been reduced further as a result of the digital transition which left WECT as a UHF station. With the move of the station's transmitter by 35 miles (56 km) miles from south of White Lake to Winnabow, Fayetteville viewers could not receive the digital signal. While Myrtle Beach itself is just outside the fringe area for the digital signal, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is just inside it. The southern and western portions of the Florence/Myrtle Beach area were served by another Raycom station, WIS in Columbia, South Carolina.
For many years, WECT was locally owned. The News-Press & Gazette Company acquired the station in 1986. That company then sold its entire stations group of the time to the first incarnation of New Vision Television in 1993. New Vision turned around and sold its entire group at the time to Ellis Communications in 1995. Ellis was folded into current owner Raycom in 1997. In 2006, Raycom bought out The Liberty Corporation, owner of WWAY. However, FCC duopoly rules forced Raycom to spin off WWAY to Morris Multimedia as a condition of the Raycom–Liberty merger. On May 8, 2008, the FCC announced that five stations in Wilmington (including WECT) had agreed to voluntarily cease analog broadcasting on September 8  five months ahead of the February 17, 2009 tentative date for television stations to complete the analog-to-digital transition. The market was used by the FCC as a pre-transition test market. After the digital transition, WGNI radio agreed to air emergency weather information from WECT. Previously, because channel 6 is adjacent to the FM band, its broadcasts could be heard on FM 87.7 
On August 8, 2008, WMBF-TV, a new digital-only NBC affiliate (that is also owned by Raycom Media) began broadcasting in Myrtle Beach covering the 2008 Olympic Games as part of its first network programming. On August 8, WECT disappeared from most cable systems in the Florence/Myrtle Beach market when WMBF signed-on due to FCC regulations. For long time viewers, this was controversial as this station had been on cable systems in Laurinburg and Lumberton for decades. On December 1, 2008, WECT returned to the Time Warner Cable lineup in Lumberton, but was placed in the digital tier.
This station is one of the few NBC affiliates that refused to air Poker After Dark.
In 2012, owner Raycom Media gave the station's defunct analog transmitter site to the Green Beret Foundation. On September 20, 2012, the 2,000-foot tower, built in 1969 and the tallest man-made structure east of the Mississippi River, was imploded. Plans called for the scrap metal and the 77-acre site to be sold to benefit the foundation.
|6.1||1080i||16:9||Main WECT programming / NBC|
Prior to September 26, 2012, WECT-DT2 aired a 24-hour local weather channel known as "WECT Plus". This also aired repeats of the main channel's weeknight 6 and 11 o'clock newscasts as well as local traffic and travel information. To comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) children programming requirement, the station aired shows targeted toward that age group on Sunday mornings. Occasionally, other special programming aired on WECT-DT2. From April 15, 2005 until the end of December 2008, this station offered the now-defunct NBC Weather Plus. WECT replaced the local weather channel with Bounce TV.
For its entire existence, WECT has held the number one spot in the Nielsen ratings by a wide margin. WWAY has long been in a distant second place behind WECT. Besides being the first station in Wilmington, WECT offers the most newscasts, including throughout the weekend. Low-powered CBS affiliate WILM-LD does not operate a news department of its own, unlike most big three stations. It simulcasts some shows from WRAL-TV in Raleigh with local weather inserts targeted toward Wilmington.
Since September 22, 2003, WECT has been producing a nightly prime time newscast for WSFX called Fox 26 News at 10. In the summer of 2010, a 6:30 newscast was added and the station re-branded as Fox Wilmington. On September 13, 2006, the station began to produce an hour-long extension of Carolina in the Morning on WSFX at 7. The prime time news on that station airs from the same set at WECT's studios and flat TV screens saying WSFX FOX 26 News. On August 31, 2008, it became the first station in Wilmington to air news in high definition. The upgrade came with a new graphics package and the WSFX shows were included in the change. After WWAY stopped carrying local weekend news on August 1, 2009, WECT and WSFX became the only outlets in Wilmington. Although a WWAY Sunday night broadcast at 11 was restored on October 3, 2010, the two remain the only channels in the market to air newscasts throughout the weekend. As a result of those changes, WECT retains its dominance. WECT airs news on weekdays 5–7 a.m., noon, 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. Saturdays at 6-7, 9–10 a.m., 6 and 11 p.m. and Sundays at 9–10 a.m., 6 and 11 p.m. for a total of 27.5 hours a week of news and is the only Wilmington station to have a morning show seven days a week.
- Michael Futch, "No more WECT on radio since transition," The Fayetteville Observer, March 26, 2009, Business section.
- Catherine Pritchard, "Stations don't have to provide antennas," The Fayetteville Observer, November 14, 2008, Local & State section.
- WECT TV6 - WECT.com - Wilmington, NC news and weather - Wilmington Goes Digital First
- Alison Lee Satake, "Only 52 days remain until analog television screens in the greater Wilmington region lose their pictures," Star-News, July 18, 2008, News section.
- Wayne Faulkner, "Myrtle Beach gets its own NBC affiliate," Star-News, August 7, 2008, News section.
- Brooks, Drew (2012-09-21). "Steel from demolition of TV tower in Bladen County to help Green Beret Foundation". The Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved 2012-10-16.