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For the former New York City radio station called WNCN-FM, see WAXQ.
Not to be confused with WCNC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina.
WNCN Logo 2016.png
Fayetteville, North Carolina
United States
City Goldsboro, North Carolina
Branding CBS North Carolina (general)
North Carolina News (newscasts)
Slogan North Carolina News Now
Channels Digital: 17 (UHF)
Virtual: 17 (PSIP)
Subchannels 17.1 CBS
17.2 Antenna TV
17.3 Justice Network
Affiliations CBS (2016–present)
Owner Media General
(sale to Nexstar Broadcasting Group pending)
(Media General Communications Holdings, LLC)
First air date April 11, 1988; 28 years ago (1988-04-11)
Call letters' meaning a portmanteau of
*North Carolina's News
*North Carolina's NBC (former affiliation)
Former callsigns WYED (1988–1994)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
17 (UHF, 1988–2009)
55 (UHF, –2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1988–1995)
The WB (1995)
NBC (1995–2016)
Transmitter power 291 kW
Height 611 m
Facility ID 50782
Transmitter coordinates 35°40′29″N 78°31′40″W / 35.67472°N 78.52778°W / 35.67472; -78.52778
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website wncn.com

WNCN, channel 17, is a CBS-affiliated television station that is licensed to Goldsboro, North Carolina, United States, and serves North Carolina's Triangle region. The station's studios are located on Front Street in North Raleigh, and its transmitter is located in Auburn, North Carolina. The station is carried on cable channel 6 in Raleigh; cable channel 2 in Durham and Chapel Hill; channel 10 in Wilson, Fayetteville and Southern Pines; channel 13 in Goldsboro; channel 9 in Carrboro; and cable channel 7 in most other places, including Cary. In recent years, WNCN has been carried on cable in multiple areas within the Greensboro and Greenville markets.

On January 15, 2016, CBS and WNCN announced that WNCN would become the new CBS affiliate for the Triangle market, effective February 29, 2016--ending a 20-year affiliation with NBC.[1] The same day, longtime CBS affiliate WRAL-TV announced it would become the new NBC affiliate for the region.[2]


Early history[edit]

The station first signed on the air on April 11, 1988 as WYED-TV, a small station that primarily carried programming from the Home Shopping Network, along with some ministry and sportsman shows that aired on weekends. WYED was the first (and only) television station owned by the Beasley Broadcasting Group, run by George Beasley, who got his start in 1961 by signing on radio station WPYB (1130 AM) in nearby Benson. Channel 17's original studios were located at 622 South Barbour Street in Clayton, with a 1,550-foot (470 m) transmitter tower located nearby, broadcasting with 2.6 million watts of power. The station had limited cable carriage, mainly on smaller providers outside the core counties in the metropolitan area. In 1992, Cablevision (whose Triangle area system is now operated by Time Warner Cable) added WYED to its Durham and Raleigh lineups; the station gradually shifted towards a more general entertainment independent format and added children's programming (such as Super Mario Bros. Super Show!) and syndicated talk shows. While the station could be seen clearly in Raleigh and Durham, its signal could not be seen as clearly in the far western and northern reaches of the Triangle.

On August 10, 1994, the station was bought by The Outlet Company,[3] and on January 1, 1995, its call letters were changed to the current WNCN (standing for "North Carolina's News). The station's transmitter power was increased to five million watts, giving it a signal comparable to the other major Triangle stations. The station also added more sitcoms and first-run syndicated shows. WNCN nominally became the market's affiliate of The WB Television Network when it debuted on January 11, 1995, but since the network initially had only one night of programming each week (on Wednesdays) for its first eight months, WNCN was essentially still programmed as an independent station.


One month later, NBC signed a long-term affiliation deal with The Outlet Company. Outlet had very good relations with NBC and owned two of the network's strongest affiliates, WJAR-TV in the company's home city of Providence, Rhode Island and WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio. Channel 17 immediately began to run NBC programs that were preempted by the network's existing affiliate, WRDC-TV (channel 28), which had been one of NBC's lowest-rated affiliates for several years. NBC had been looking for a way to get on another station for some time, especially since WRDC frequently preempted its programming. WNCN completely replaced WRDC as the Triangle's NBC affiliate on September 3, 1995 after WRDC's affiliation contract ran out, sending the WB affiliation to upstart WRAZ (channel 50), which debuted four days later. The station also moved its operations into a studio facility in North Raleigh that was formerly occupied by then-Fox affiliate WLFL (channel 22, now a CW affiliate).

WNCN was the fourth station in the Triangle to have a primary affiliation with NBC. The network had first been affiliated with WTVD (channel 11) from 1954 to 1956, then moved to WRAL-TV (channel 5) from 1956 to 1962. After WRAL became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1962, WTVD shoehorned CBS and NBC programs onto its schedule until 1968, when WRDC-TV signed on that year as WRDU-TV (channel 28 later used the WPTF-TV callsign from 1978 to 1991). When WNCN became a NBC affiliate, it marked the first time that network's complete schedule had aired in the Triangle since WRAL added ABC part-time in 1959.

Outlet sold its broadcasting holdings to NBC in 1996. This resulted in WNCN becoming NBC's first owned-and-operated station on the UHF band since the 1950s. During that decade the network briefly owned WBUF-TV (later to become PBS station WNED-TV) in Buffalo, New York and the then-WNBC-TV in New Britain, Connecticut, the latter of which NBC reacquired as WVIT in 1997. When WNCN was owned by NBC, it was one of three network-owned stations on the UHF dial (alongside KNSD in San Diego and WVIT in Hartford) and was also one of two network-owned stations in the Raleigh-Durham market (alongside ABC-owned WTVD, which continues to be owned by that network's corporate parent The Walt Disney Company). After WNCN became an NBC-owned station, it began branding itself as "NBC 17."

WNCN's previous logo as NBC 17, used from 2002 to 2013. Retained after Media General bought the station from NBC.

In 2000, WNCN relocated its transmitter facilities from the Clayton tower to a nearly 2,000-foot (610 m) perch on an arm of Capitol Broadcasting Company's new digital candelabra tower 8 miles (13 km) closer to Raleigh, near Auburn. WNCN signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 55 at the same time. The station had to get a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move to the Auburn tower, as FCC rules require a station's transmitter to be no further than 15 miles (24 km) from its city of license.

On January 9, 2006, NBC Universal announced it was putting WNCN up for sale,[4] along with WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama and the other two former Outlet stations, WJAR and WCMH. On April 6, 2006, Media General announced that it would acquire the four stations.[5] This made WNCN a sister station to WNCT-TV in Greenville. The sale was finalized on June 26, 2006.[6] In April 2013, as part of a new branding campaign, the station switched its branding from "NBC 17" to just WNCN. The new brand is intended to emphasize the station's "strong desire to more aggressively serve its local communities".[7] For the past 17 years, the station had almost never used its call letters on-air, except during legal IDs.

On October 1, 2013, WNCN and other Media General stations were dropped from Dish Network when its retransmission contract expired.[8] Coverage has since been restored following a retransmission agreement brokered by the two parties on November 16.[9]

Switch to CBS, sale to Nexstar[edit]

Final WNCN logo as an NBC affiliate, from 2013 to 2016

On January 15, 2016, it was announced that WNCN would switch to CBS on February 29, 2016, after existing affiliate WRAL-TV decided not to renew its affiliation. Media General CEO Vincent Sandusky stated that, as its 23rd station affiliated with the network, that "CBS has been a longstanding and valued partner for many years, and we are pleased to build upon our relationship with a new affiliation in Raleigh." NBC, in turn, returned to WRAL-TV, which, as mentioned above, had been the Triangle's NBC affiliate from 1956 to 1962.[10] WNCN became the fourth station in the Triangle to affiliate with CBS. The network had originally aligned with WNAO-TV (channel 28, frequency now occupied by WRDC) in 1954 and moved to WTVD in 1957 before aligning with WRAL-TV in 1985.

Soon thereafter, on January 27, 2016, it was announced that the Nexstar Broadcasting Group would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WNCN will become part of "Nexstar Media Group."[11]

Upon the switch to CBS, the station changed its on-air branding to "CBS North Carolina", largely relegating mentions of its call letters to legal IDs. It also re-branded its newscasts as North Carolina News (a retronym of its call letters). It plans to put greater emphasis on news from around the state. WNCN also emphasized that CBS programming has long been a strong ratings performer in the Triangle, and CBS prime-time content is highly watched in the region.[12] The move will also make WNCN the Triangle's home for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The Triangle has long been a hotbed for college basketball, and WNCN stressed that the NCAA Tournament rights are one of many reasons that CBS was "a perfect fit for what viewers here (in the Triangle) want."[13] However, Raycom Sports coverage of Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season basketball and football will remain on WRAL, as that contract is separate from the broadcast network contract.

CBS' ratings in the Triangle initially dropped significantly with the switch to WNCN. Notably, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert all lost more than half their audience share, falling from first in their time periods to third at one stroke.[14]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[15]
17.1 1080i 16:9 WNCN-HD Main WNCN programming / CBS
17.2 480i 4:3 WNCN-SD Antenna TV
17.3 Justice Justice Network

NBC Weather Plus was offered on WNCN's digital subchannel 17.3, under the "NBC 17 WeatherPlus" brand. It was later replaced by a feed of WNCN's VIPIR radar titled "Live Precision Viper Radar". On August 1, 2011, it was replaced by Universal Sports, when it moved to 17.3 to make way for Antenna TV in its original 17.2 spot. 17.3 was removed when Universal Sports transitioned to cable-only distribution in January 2012.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WNCN discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 17, at 12:30 p.m. 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 55, 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 UHF channel 17.[16]

News operation[edit]

Shortly after being acquired by The Outlet Company, WNCN began developing a full-scale news department. The station debuted its local newscasts concurrent on September 3, 1995, its first day as an NBC affiliate, with a half-hour early evening newscast at 6:00 pm and a late evening newscast at 11:00 pm nightly. During the late 1990s, the station debuted a two-hour weekday morning newscast, and was the first television station in the market to produce a 4:00 P.M. newscast, even though it had a brief run.

Since its days as a NBC affiliate, WNCN's newscasts have traditionally ranked third in the ratings behind WRAL and WTVD, though they garnered far higher ratings than WPTF ever did as an NBC affiliate. However, in recent years the station has been on a path of change and ratings growth. The station still is in third place with WTVD and WRAL leading in the market. Revamped morning and evening newscasts, an emphasis on stronger investigative reporting, a new website and more community involvement has helped lead this charge. The station is positioned for further growth with the addition of CBS programming.

Since the station's revamping, WNCN has received national recognition. The 2013 Edward R. Murrow Award (Radio Television Digital News Association) competition named WNCN as its regional winner for best "Video Newscast.".[17][18] WNCN also won its first Emmy awards in January 2014, including one for "Best Evening Newscast."[19] Two of those awards were in direct competition with WRAL and its FOX affiliate WRAZ.[20]

In 2007, WNCN debuted a half-hour newscast at 7:00 pm, becoming the market's first local newscast in that timeslot. The station became the first in the market to move the start time of its weekday morning newscast to 4:30 am in 2010.

On January 27, 2014, WNCN launched a half-hour weekday news program at 11:00 am, featuring talent from "WNCN Today." It is the market's first local newscast in that timeslot. The launch coincided with the discontinuation of the 4:30 am half-hour morning news and the shifting of the advertorial "My Carolina Today" to 11:30 am.[21] The show changed its name to "My Carolina Talk" with the switch to CBS.

In August 2014, WNCN began producing a 9:00-10:00 a.m. newscast on Saturday and Sunday Mornings because the weather cut-in through The Today Show showed the radar that boosted the debut. Then the weekend after, it debuted a Saturday morning newscast from 6:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 a.m., with a Sunday morning newscast from 7:00-8:00 and 9:00-10:00 a.m..

WNCN currently broadcasts five hours of local news per day during the week. The station's most recent news expansion took place shortly after it was announced that WNCN would swap affiliations with WRAL-TV and join CBS. Beginning February 29, WNCN moved its 11:00 a.m. newscast to the traditional noon time slot (following The Price is Right), and began an hour of news at 5 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. newscast, while dropping the 7 p.m. newscast. The Young and the Restless airs at 4 p.m. as a lead-in to WNCN's early-evening news block, making WNCN one of the few CBS affiliates in the country that televises the soap opera at that time (and continuing a tradition in the Triangle, as WRAL-TV also aired The Young and the Restless at 4 p.m. from 1993 until it switched to NBC).[22]


WNCN-TV won three categories in the 28th Midsouth Emmy Awards: Graphic Arts, Evening Newscast and Promo Campaign.

WNCN News at 7:00 pm won best Evening Newscast for its investigative special "Poison in the Water." The report earned national fame after exposing the existence of toxic chemicals in the private wells of some Wake Forest neighborhoods and the state's failure to warn neighbors. The coverage sparked legislative action encouraging private well water testing and a public service announcement by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The station was also nominated for its news special, "The Wilmington 10." The special broadcast looked back on one of North Carolina's most heralded civil rights cases and featured a rare interview with the prosecutor Jay Stroud, in which he said he had no regrets for the way he handled the case.[19]

WNCN has been named regional winner for "Video Newscast" by the 2013 Edward R. Murrow Award (Radio Television Digital News Association) competition for its 7:00 pm newscast on Oct. 25, 2012.

The award-winning show began by tracking Superstorm Sandy before quickly transitioning into comprehensive coverage of a special investigative report -- "Poison in the Water."

The report exposed statewide groundwater contamination and the failure of multiple government agencies to notify citizens. It also included live reaction from residents in one of the affected neighborhoods after they gathered to view the report's premiere.[17]

In June 2014, the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters awarded WNCN the honor of "Outstanding Newscast" for its 11:00 pm show airing on Oct. 24, 2013.[23] The award is given each year to the North Carolina television station that "best exemplifies the highest standard of news broadcasting." The winning newscast focused on the breaking news of the North Carolina State Fair's accident, which injured five people all between the ages of 14 and 39 years old.[24]

WNCN had an outstanding day at the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas awards banquet in November 2014.

WNCN won first place for Best Newscast, Best News Website, Best Hard News Feature, Best Sports Special and Best Health-Medicine story. WNCN also won Best Newscast for North Carolina as selected by the Associated Press.[25]


  1. ^ https://www.cbscorporation.com/2016/01/cbs-and-media-general-inc-announce-new-affiliation-agreement-for-wncn-tv-in-raleigh-n-c/
  2. ^ http://www.wral.com/wral-shifting-affiliation-to-nbc/15239067/
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Cox, Jonathan B. (January 10, 2006). "NBC to sell station: Network puts 3 others on the block". Raleigh News & Observer. 
  5. ^ "Triangle's NBC affiliate station to be sold". Raleigh News & Observer. April 6, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Media General Completes Purchase of Four NBC Television Stations" (Press Release). Media General. June 26, 2006. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  7. ^ "WNCN Emphasizes Local In New Branding". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Bracken, David (October 1, 2013). "WNCN-TV goes dark on Dish Network after agreement expires". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ "WNCN, WRAL Swap Affiliations In Raleigh". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  11. ^ http://www.mediageneral.com/press/2016/jan27_2016nexs.html
  12. ^ "See the new CBS programming lineup on WNCN". WNCN.com. Media General. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "FAQ: Answers to your questions about CBS North Carolina in Raleigh". WNCN. 2016-01-29. 
  14. ^ "WRAL Has 'Remarkable' First Day as NBC Affiliate". TVSpy. Adweek. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  15. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WNCN
  16. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  17. ^ a b http://www.wncn.com/story/22013701/wncn-newscast-on-poison-in-the-water-wins-murrow-award
  18. ^ https://www.rtdna.org/content/2013_regional_edward_r_murrow_award_winners##region8
  19. ^ a b http://www.wncn.com/story/24551545/wncn-wins-3-midsouth-emmy-awards-including-best-newscast
  20. ^ http://www.ncbroadcast.com/aws/NCAB/asset_manager/get_file/72041?ver=171
  21. ^ WNCN Today Announces New 11 a.m. Newscast, WNCN.com, January 20th, 2014.
  22. ^ http://wncn.com/2016/01/27/wncn-announces-cbs-lineup-adds-local-news/
  23. ^ http://www.wncn.com/story/25860607/nc-broadcasters-honor-wncn-with-award-for-outstanding-newscast
  24. ^ North Carolina State Fair#Accidents and incidents
  25. ^ http://www.rtdnac.org/awards/#TVI

External links[edit]