||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2011)|
|Carthage/Watertown, New York|
|Branding||WWNY-TV 7 (general)
7 News (newscasts)
Fox 28 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Serving Northern New York & Southeast Ontario|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF) &
WWNY-CD 18.2 (UHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP) & WWNY-CD 28.2 (PSIP)
|Owner||United Communications Corporation|
|First air date||October 22, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Watertown,
|Sister station(s)||WNYF-CD, KEYC-TV|
|Former callsigns||WCNY-TV (1954-1965)|
|Former channel number(s)||7 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)
35 (UHF digital, 2003-2009)
|Former affiliations||DuMont (1954-1955)
|Transmitter power||42 kW
4 kW (WWNY-CD2)
241 m (WWNY-CD2)
WWNY-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for Upstate New York's North Country that is licensed to Carthage. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 7 from a transmitter along NY 126/State Street on Champion Hill. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 4 and in high definition on digital channel 1205. Owned by the United Communications Corporation, WWNY is sister to Fox affiliate WNYF-CD and the two outlets share studios on Arcade Street in downtown Watertown (along NY 3/NY 12).
WWNY can also be seen in Massena (in high definition) on the second digital subchannel of WWNY-CD (physical channel 18.2 or virtual channel 28.2) from a transmitter in Colton along NY 56.
|7.1||WWNY-HD||1080i||16:9||Main WWNY-TV programming / CBS|
|7.2||WNYF-SD||480i||Simulcast of WNYF-CD|
The station signed-on October 22, 1954 as WCNY-TV, the North Country's first television station. It was locally-owned by the Johnson family along with the Watertown Daily Times and WWNY radio (AM 790, now WTNY; and FM 100.5, now silent). The station carried programming from all four networks of the day, (CBS, DuMont, ABC, and NBC) but then has now was a primary CBS affiliate. During the late-1950s, WCNY was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. By the mid-1960s, the station benefited from the ratings-dominant CBS programming lineup and established a large viewership base, including much of eastern Ontario, Canada. In 1965, it changed call letters to WWNY-TV to match its radio sisters. The WCNY-FM/WCNY-TV calls now reside on Central New York NPR/PBS member stations serving Syracuse.
From 1958 until 1971, WCNY/WWNY also aired educational programming through NET (becoming PBS in 1970) provided by the St. Lawrence Valley Educational Television Council. When the council established its own station, WNPE-TV (now WPBS-DT) in 1971, WWNY donated its original studios to the new station as it had moved to its current location near the Watertown Daily Times offices on Arcade Street in Downtown Watertown in mid-February 1970. The Johnson family sold WWNY to current owner United Communications Corporation in 1981 for $8.2 million.
Until WFYF-TV (now WWTI) signed-on in 1987 replacing a small WUTR repeater on analog UHF channel 50 and taking the ABC affiliation, WWNY was Watertown's only commercial station. As a primary CBS affiliate, WWNY carried the network's full prime time schedule and news programs while cherry-picking the most popular ABC and NBC shows aired at other hours. The station also aired some Fox programming starting in 1987 while Sunday Fox Sports National Football League games aired on WWTI. When cable arrived in the region in the 1970s, viewers could watch the full network schedules via NBC affiliate WSTM-TV and ABC affiliate WIXT (now WSYR-TV) in Syracuse or NBC affiliate WPTZ in Plattsburgh.
Channel 7 gradually phased out non-CBS programming in the 1980s. ABC completely disappeared from the schedule when WFYF signed-on. NBC programs (including Today and The Tonight Show) remained on WWNY into the 1980s with some prime time programming (which aired delayed) lasting until 1995. Since then, WSTM in Syracuse haS served as the NBC affiliate for most of the market while WPTZ is seen on cable in St. Lawrence County. Fox programs largely disappeared in the early-1990s with the exception of Major League Baseball games from Fox Sports which lasted until 1998.
In 2001, United Communications entered into an agreement with Smith Broadcasting to operate Fox affiliate WNYF with transmitters in Watertown and Massena. After a year of joint operation, United Communications took complete ownership of WNYF. In May 2003, WWNY started broadcasting its digital signal on UHF channel 35 and began offering CBS programming in high definition. It then created a new second digital subchannel to offer a digital signal of WNYF as that station did not operate one of its own due to Class A and low-powered signals.
On February 17, 2009, WWNY remained on channel 7 when the analog to digital conversion was completed  during a broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman. Both broadcasts of WWNY and WWTI were set to become digital-only starting on February 17. However, the latter's plans were delayed to June 12 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). WWNY-DT's previous digital facilities on channel 35 were eventually re-employed by sister station WNYF to offer Fox in high definition for the first time.
Its coverage area includes Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties in Northern New York State as well as Kingston and Brockville in Southeastern Ontario, Canada. The most distant analog reception for the station fell just short of Ottawa approximately a hundred miles distant. In the United States, the outer limit of WWNY coverage falls near Massena and Tupper Lake to the east. It was distributed by cable systems in Ottawa from the late-1960s until the early-1980s but signal strength was poor and the station was dropped after area television stations complained that WWNY was broadcasting Ottawa commercials and competing with them for revenue.
At the time, the station had a sales office in Canada and was able to convince advertisers in Ontario to buy ads. The Ottawa cable companies eventually dropped WWNY and set up a series of microwave relay towers to carry American networks from affiliates in Rochester, New York. These were later replaced by satellite feeds from Detroit. For many years, WWNY's largest viewership was in Kingston because for nearly twenty years it was the only reliable over-the-air analog signal aside from the local CBC Television affiliate CKWS-TV. Prior to 2005, WWNY was also carried on cable in Belleville, Ontario.
On the same night it began airing in 1954, WWNY produced a five minute local update at 11:15. For its entire existence, the station has held the number one spot in area Nielsen ratings by a wide margin. WWNY has traditionally been the dominant outlet in the North Country because it had the market to itself until WWTI signed-on in 1987. Even after that station began maintaining a minimal local news presence for several years, WWNY remained the most-watched and highest-rated station. In 1981, this station's weekday morning show only consisted of two five minute cut-ins. As late as 1998, it was broadcasting for thirty minutes. In 2004, the station began producing ninety minutes of news on weekday mornings. Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WWNY still does not offer a full two-hour weekday morning show and/or newscasts in the weeknight 5 o'clock hour.
WWTI's original news team was quite small compared with other big three stations operating news departments. Its first attempt at airing newscasts and competing with WWNY ceased in early-1991. Four years later, a second attempt was established and WWTI maintained a small news team similar to the previous effort. After the Ackerley Group acquired that station, it became more reliant on content originating from its sister outlets in Upstate New York particularly flagship WIXT in Syracuse.
On April 11, 2001, WWNY began airing a 35 minute weeknight prime time broadcast at 10 on WNYF called 7 News Tonight on Fox. However, it was only seen by a handful of viewers able to receive that station's two low-powered over-the-air signals because WNYF was not yet being offered on cable. An agreement with Time Warner Cable in Fall 2001 placed the station on the system and the prime time news debuted for the rest of the area on October 4. Having never successfully competed with WWNY, WWTI's nightly newscasts were canceled in 2004.
For a short time afterward, that station featured a 24 Hour News Source-style series of short hourly news updates seen throughout the day. After this, it continued to air several daily news and weather updates. In December 2006, WWTI added a news and weather update on weeknights known as 5 at 5. On June 5, 2009, the station's news department was shut down completely after owner Newport Television implemented across the board cuts. Even though WWTI lost a Watertown-based news operation, it began simulcasting WSYR's nightly newscast at 11 through a news share agreement. On September 8, 2009, the station began simulcasting WSYR's weekday morning and nightly 6 o'clock broadcasts. Occasionally, a reporter based in the North Country will contribute content to WSYR but most local coverage is seen on WWTI's website consisting of short headlines and features.
WNYF currently simulcasts the 6 o'clock hour of WWNY's weekday morning news. It then offers a second hour at 7 seen exclusively on the Fox affiliate while this station airs CBS This Morning. The simulcast and separate show is known on WNYF as 7 News This Morning on Fox. There is no weekday morning or noon meteorologist; news anchor Beth Hall presents a forecast from Accuweather during these segments. During the nightly evening weather forecasts, the station features a live National Weather Service weather radar based in Montague's Parkers section. WWNY remains the only station operating a news department based in the North Country but Time Warner Cable News (operated by Time Warner Cable) covers Watertown and Massena from a Syracuse-based newsroom with regional content.
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13
- WWNY Going Digital February 17, WWNY-TV, February 10, 2009
- "FCC delays stations' switch to digital, WWNY TO APPEAL: Local affiliates told to keep analog signal on", Nancy Madsen, Watertown (New York) Daily Times, February 14, 2009
- It's Definite…WWNY Will Transition to All DTV Broadcasts 2/17/09, WWNY-TV 7News, February 16, 2009