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|Rochester, New York|
|Branding||10 NBC (general)|
News 10 NBC (newscasts)
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)|
Virtual: 10 (PSIP)
10.3: Weather → Start TV (soon)
10.4: Ion Television
|First air date||November 1, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Hickson Electric Company|
(founders of WHEC radio)
|Former callsigns||WVET-TV (shared operation, 1953–1961)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
10 (VHF, 1953–2009)
58 (UHF, 2002–2009)
|Transmitter power||18.1 kW|
|Height||153 m (502 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WHEC-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 10, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Rochester, New York, United States. The station is owned by Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting. WHEC-TV's studios are located on East Avenue in Downtown Rochester, and its transmitter is located on Pinnacle Hill in Brighton, New York.
In March 1953, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded the construction permit of Rochester's second VHF station to two local firms who competed for the open channel. In what was the first arrangement of its kind, the Gannett Company, then the Rochester-based publisher of the Democrat and Chronicle and the Times-Union and owners of CBS Radio Network affiliate WHEC (1460 AM); and the Veterans Broadcasting Company, owners of WVET radio (1280 AM, now WHTK), were granted shared operation of channel 10; the two separately-owned stations would use the same broadcast license and transmitter, but broadcast from separate studios.
Both stations–Veterans-owned WVET-TV, based at the Central Trust Building; and Gannett-owned WHEC-TV, with studios at the Bank of Rochester building, both in downtown Rochester–commenced operations on November 1, 1953. The combined channel 10 operation carried a primary affiliation with the CBS Television Network, and also carried ABC programs on a secondary basis. The WHEC stations moved from the Bank of Rochester building to WHEC-TV's present location, on East Avenue, in May 1958.
On November 15, 1961, the split-channel, shared-time arrangement ended as Veterans sold its half of channel 10 to Gannett. Veterans subsequently acquired its own, fully owned station, WROC-TV (then on channel 5) from Transcontinent Broadcasting. The completion of the deal made WHEC-TV the sole occupant of the channel 10 frequency in Rochester. The following year WHEC-TV became a full-time CBS affiliate, as the ABC affiliation moved to newly signed-on WOKR (channel 13, now WHAM-TV). In 1966, channel 10 was one of the founding members of the "Love Network" that aired the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon every Labor Day until 2012, when it moved from first-run syndication to ABC and was renamed the MDA Show of Strength, and ended in 2014 when MDA discontinued the event on May 1, 2015. WHEC-TV was the creator of the "cut-ins" that local stations insert into the national telethon, a concept that has since spread across the country.
Gannett split up its radio/TV holdings in 1971 when WHEC radio was sold to Sande Broadcasting, a locally based group (the station is now known as WHIC). Channel 10 was allowed to retain the WHEC-TV call letters, and would remain as the Gannett Company's lone broadcast holding until 1979 when Gannett sold the station in the wake of its purchase of Combined Communications. Gannett feared the FCC, who several years earlier decided to eliminate several small-market print/broadcast ownership combinations, would force it to sell either the television station or the newspaper. Gannett retained both the Democrat and Chronicle and the Times-Union, the latter of which was merged into the former in 1997. Gannett continues to publish the Democrat and Chronicle as of 2019, though the company relocated its headquarters from Rochester to the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. in 1985 (The Gannett Company would split up its radio/TV and press holdings again in 2015, when the radio/TV unit became part of a company named TEGNA).
The new owners of channel 10 made U.S. television history: WHEC-TV became the first VHF, network-affiliated station to be purchased and wholly owned by an African-American group, led by investor Ragan Henry. Despite the historical connotation, the Henry-led group's stewardship of WHEC-TV would be short-lived. In 1983, the Henry group traded channel 10 to the original Viacom in exchange for a pair of radio stations, WDIA in Memphis and KDIA (now KMKY) in Oakland.
Under Viacom ownership, channel 10 took part in another trade—this one the first (and only) network affiliation switch in Rochester. On April 6, 1989, WHEC-TV announced that it would join the NBC network, replacing WROC-TV (now on channel 8) in the Peacock Network's roster. This move was the result of WROC-TV's poor performance and constant pre-emptions of NBC network programming (NBC was very intolerant of pre-emptions at this time). The swap brought channel 10 in-line with sister stations WNYT in Albany and WVIT in New Britain, Connecticut, which had recently renewed their NBC relationships. In addition, NBC's strong primetime programming—NBC was the most-watched network at the time, while CBS was in a distant third near the midpoint of the Laurence Tisch era—was another major factor. The network switch became official on August 13, 1989.
Viacom purchased Paramount Pictures in 1994, and merged its five-station group (WHEC-TV, WNYT, WVIT, KMOV in St. Louis, and KSLA-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana) into the Paramount Stations Group. Shortly thereafter, the merged company decided to divest itself of all of its major network affiliates to focus on stations that carried its then-upstart United Paramount Network (UPN). In June 1996, Viacom/Paramount agreed to trade WHEC-TV and WNYT to Hubbard Broadcasting in return for UPN affiliate WTOG in St. Petersburg, Florida.
WHEC-TV's digital signal on UHF channel 58 signed-on September 27, 2002 under a special temporary authority. For many years WHEC-TV was one of three Rochester area stations offered on cable in the Ottawa–Gatineau and Eastern Ontario regions. The Rochester area stations were replaced with Detroit stations when the microwave relay system that provided these signals was discontinued. WHEC-TV and other Rochester stations were available on cable in several communities along the north shore of Lake Ontario such as Belleville and Cobourg, Ontario. All Rochester affiliates with the exception of Fox affiliate WUHF (channel 31) were replaced with Buffalo stations in January 2009.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|10.1||1080i||16:9||WHEC-TV||Main WHEC-TV programming / NBC|
|10.3||WHEC-WX||News 10 NBC First Alert Weather → Start TV (soon)|
WHEC-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 10, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 58, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 10.
WHEC-TV presently broadcasts 27 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5 hours on weekdays and 1 hour each on Saturdays and Sundays).
During Viacom ownership, WHEC-TV stayed steadily in second place in the Nielsen ratings between WHAM-TV and WROC-TV. This was also because ABC was in first place while NBC was a distant third in the viewership ratings during that period. On January 30, 2006, the station launched a 24-hour weather station known as "News 10 NBC WeatherPlus" on a new second digital subchannel and Time Warner Cable digital systems. After the national service shut down on December 1, 2008, WHEC-DT2 reverted to a local weather channel. WHEC-TV was the first station in Rochester to launch a weeknight newscast at 7 in 2008.
Even with ownership change to Hubbard, WHEC-TV remained a solid runner-up in Rochester for many years. However, during the November 2008 ratings period, WHEC-TV's weeknight broadcast at 11 fell to third place behind WHAM-TV and WROC-TV while the ratings for its other shows also plummeted (largely due to NBC's ratings struggles at the time). It fell to a distant second overall closer to third-place WROC-TV than it is to WHAM-TV. However, this station recovered during the May 2009 sweeps with the weeknight news at 11 virtually tying WHAM-TV and both are just ahead of WROC-TV in that time slot.
The three stations became competitive during the May 2009 ratings period each winning different contests. WHAM-TV still won total-day ratings with WHEC-TV's biggest strength at the time being its late-night newscast. Meanwhile, WROC-TV led in prime time. It has a fairly long-standing partnership with local news-talk outlet WYSL AM 1040. The radio station simulcasts all weekday newscasts from WHEC-TV except weeknights at 7. This arrangement is in exchange for advertisement time. In addition to the main studios, the station maintains a Finger Lakes Bureau in the Messenger-Post newsroom on Buffalo Street in Canandaigua.
During the ratings periods of 2011 (through July), WHEC-TV's newscasts remained in second place for most time slots. With WROC-TV's upgrade to high definition local newscasts on September 4, 2012 (with the newscast on WUHF included in the switch), WHEC-TV remains the only major station in Rochester which has not yet upgraded its newscasts to high definition or 16:9 widescreen. In December 2012, WHEC-TV introduced a new graphics package based upon the one currently used by NBC's owned and operated stations. On March 28, 2013, reporter Joangel Concepcion tweeted "Great news! News10NBC got the green light to go HD & widescreen!!" on her official Twitter account. However, WHEC-TV has not formally announced any specific details about this. Since 2013, WHEC-TV has been broadcasting its newscasts in 16:9 widescreen, but not in full HD.
However, a steady decline in ratings began to turn around after the station parted ways with long-time meteorologist Kevin Williams and anchor Rebecca LeClair in 2017. WHEC took over the top spot in the ratings for viewers 25–54 years old (key demographics for advertisers) in the mornings and at 11 p.m. in November 2017.
The WHEC news team won the New York Emmy Award for best newscast in April 2018 and the National Edward R. Murrow award for Best Newscast in June 2018. Both were first time achievements for any station in the Rochester market.
Notable former on-air staff
- Maggie Brooks - reporter (1980-1994). Former Republican Monroe County Executive now with RGRTA
- Steve Scully - anchor/reporter (1980s). Now with C-SPAN.
- Rich Funke - reporter/anchor (1974-2012). Now Republican 55th District New York State Senator.
- "For the record–Actions of the FCC–New TV stations–Decisions." Broadcasting - Telecasting, March 23, 1953, pp. 99-100. 
- "2d television outlet by next fall promised as FCC allots Channel 10 to WHEC, WVET on sharing basis". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. March 13, 1953. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- "Record 29 new TV grants puts FCC at end of 'A' and 'B' priorities." Broadcasting - Telecasting, March 16, 1953, pp. 42, 46, 48, 50. 
- "New TV programs go on air". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. November 2, 1953. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- "Eight stations, 5 VHF, 3 UHF, begin commercial operation." Broadcasting - Telecasting, November 2, 1953, pg. 64.
- "2d TV station to join 2 networks". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. August 9, 1953. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- WHEC-TV/WVET-TV advertisement. Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 26, 1953, pg. 75.
- "FCC okays $30 million in station sales." Broadcasting, August 7, 1961, pg. 90.
- "TV sharetimers split in Rochester deal." Broadcasting, November 20, 1961, pg. 91.
- WHEC-TV advertisement. Broadcasting, December 18, 1961, pg. 61.
- "Gannett broadcast roster down to WHEC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 29, 1971. p. 64. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- "Gannett goes from mostly newspapers to multiple media in one big deal." Broadcasting, May 15, 1978, pp. 26-27. 
- "FCC clears biggest deal ever." Broadcasting, June 11, 1979, pp. 19-20. 
- "Deal under way for the first black VHF TV." Broadcasting, August 28, 1978, pp. 30-31. 
- "Changing hands–Proposed" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 25, 1983. p. 86. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- Dorland, Charles, and Mary Lynne Vellinga. "Channel 10 dropping CBS in switch to top-ranked NBC." Democrat and Chronicle, April 7, 1989, pp. 1A, 7A. Accessed April 29, 2019. 
- "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 10, 1989. p. 96. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- Dorland, Charles. "WROC-TV, WHEC-TV switch network links on Aug. 13." Democrat and Chronicle, June 6, 1989, pp. 1C, 7A. Accessed April 29, 2019. 
- Foisie, Geoffrey, and Christopher Stern. "Viacom, Paramount say 'I do.'" Broadcasting and Cable, September 20, 1993, pp. 14-16. Accessed January 8, 2019. 
- Foisie, Geoffrey. "At long last: Viacom Paramount." Broadcasting and Cable, February 21, 1994, pp. 7, 10, 14. Accessed January 8, 2019. 
- Zier, Julie A., and Steve McClellan. "Minority-led group eyes Viacom stations." Broadcasting and Cable, November 7, 1994, pp. 6. Accessed January 8, 2019. 
- Rathburn, Elizabeth A. (June 17, 1996). "Station swaps highlight week in trading" (PDF). Broadcasting and Cable. p. 13. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
- Rathburn, Elizabeth A. (August 19, 1996). "Changing hands: Viacom, Hubbard agree to swap" (PDF). Broadcasting and Cable. p. 38. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WHEC
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- "Joangel Concepcion Official Twitter Account" Twitter, March 28, 2013. 
- "Interview with Steve Scully, C-SPAN -- December 2004". journalismjobs.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011.