WNCN logo.svg
Fayetteville, North Carolina
United States
City Goldsboro, North Carolina
Channels Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 17
Branding CBS 17
Affiliations 17.1: CBS
17.2: Rewind TV
17.3: Grit
17.4: Circle
Owner Nexstar Media Group
(Nexstar Media Inc.)
First air date
April 11, 1988 (33 years ago) (1988-04-11)
Former call signs
WYED (1988–1994)
Former channel number(s)
17 (UHF, 1988–2009)
55 (UHF, 1999–2009)
17 (UHF, 2009–2020)
Independent (1988–1995)
The WB (January–September 1995)
NBC (September 1995–2016; secondary February–September 1995)
Call sign meaning
"North Carolina's News"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID 50782
ERP 29 kW
HAAT 624.1 m (2,048 ft)
Transmitter coordinates 35°40′29″N 78°31′39″W / 35.67472°N 78.52750°W / 35.67472; -78.52750
Public license information
Website www.cbs17.com

WNCN, virtual channel 17 (VHF digital channel 8), branded on-air as CBS 17, is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Goldsboro, North Carolina, United States, and serving the Triangle region (RaleighDurhamChapel HillFayetteville). The station is owned by Irving, Texas–based Nexstar Media Group. WNCN's studios are located on Front Street in north Raleigh, and its transmitter is located in Auburn, North Carolina.

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] after longtime CBS affiliate WRAL-TV announced it would become the new NBC affiliate for the region.[2]


Early history

The station first signed on the air on April 11, 1988, as WYED on UHF analog channel 17, operating as a small station that primarily carried programming from the Home Shopping Network (HSN), along with some religious and hunting/fishing shows that aired on weekends. First licensed to and signed on by Randall Harvey's Group H Broadcasting, WYED was sold to George Beasley's Beasley Broadcasting Group in July 1989,[3] becoming the large national radio chain's first—and only—television property (George Beasley actually started his company with the 1961 sign-on of 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 Charter Communications) 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 The 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. This was not only due to its limited range, but because its transmitter was located further east than the other major Triangle stations. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations at the time required a station to locate its transmitter within 15 miles (24 km) of its city of license–in this case, Goldsboro, which is over 53 miles (85 km) east of Raleigh.

On August 10, 1994, the station was bought by Outlet Communications,[4] 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. When The WB Television Network debuted on January 11, 1995, WNCN nominally became the Triangle outlet for the new network. However, 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, with one exception.


One month later, NBC signed a long-term affiliation deal with Outlet Communications. Outlet had a longstanding relationship with NBC; it owned two of the network's strongest affiliates, company flagship WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio. As part of the deal, NBC agreed to move its Triangle affiliation to WNCN when the network's contract with incumbent affiliate WRDC (channel 28) ran out in the fall. As part of the deal, channel 17 immediately began to run NBC programs that were preempted by WRDC. Before then, WRDC had taken on a secondary affiliation with UPN, and aired that network's fare on Friday and Saturday nights instead of NBC's weaker prime time lineup,[5] This made WNCN the Triangle's NBC affiliate for two nights of the week.[6]

NBC had been looking for a way to get on another station in the Triangle for some time, particularly after the market's explosive growth in the 1980s. WRDC had been one of NBC's lowest-rated affiliates for years, frequently preempted NBC programming, and had axed its local newscasts completely in 1991. WNCN formally replaced WRDC as the Triangle's NBC affiliate on September 10, 1995—a month earlier than planned, by mutual agreement between the two stations.[7] WRDC became an exclusive UPN affiliate, though it had already dropped most NBC branding and largely stopped promoting NBC programming that summer. The WB affiliation moved to upstart WRAZ (channel 50), which debuted three days earlier. The station also moved its operations to its current facility in North Raleigh, which had previously been home to 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 an NBC affiliate, it marked the first time that the 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 2005 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 FCC to move its transmitter outside the 15-mile limit.

On January 9, 2006, NBC Universal announced it was putting WNCN up for sale,[8] 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.[9] This made WNCN a sister station to WNCT-TV in Greenville. The sale was finalized on June 26, 2006.[10] 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".[11] 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.[12] Coverage has since been restored following a retransmission agreement brokered by the two parties on November 16.[13]

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.[14] 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 1958 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 became part of the Nexstar Media Group upon the sale's consummation on January 17, 2017.[15][16]

"CBS North Carolina" logo, used from 2016 to 2018

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 rebranded its newscasts as North Carolina News (a backronym 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.[17] The move also made WNCN the Triangle's home for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (which includes the North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball national championship win in 2017). 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."[18] However, Raycom Sports coverage of Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season basketball and football remained on WRAL, as it was a syndicated service, with programming separate from that of CBS' coverage. The last NBC program on WNCN was an NBC Sunday Night Movie presentation of Ted at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time on February 28, 2016.[19]

CBS' ratings in the Triangle dropped significantly with the switch to WNCN. Notably, on the day of the switch, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert all lost more than half their audience share. All three fell from first place in the Triangle ratings during their time periods to third place in one stroke.[20]

On March 15, 2018, WNCN rebranded as CBS 17.[21]

News operation

WNCN broadcasts 35½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours each weekday, 3½ hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays). Shortly after being acquired by The Outlet Company, WNCN began developing a full-scale news department. The station debuted its local newscasts (which were titled at the time as NCN News) on September 4, 1995, a week ahead of its switch to NBC, with a half-hour early evening newscast at 7:00 p.m. (becoming the market's first-ever newscast in that timeslot during its run) and a late evening newscast at 11:00 p.m. nightly, followed by the launch of its hour-long weekday morning newscast at 6:00 a.m. the following day. Many changes occurred in the station's news operation during the late 1990s, including the expansion of its weekday morning newscast to two hours beginning at 5:00 a.m. and the cancellation of its 7:00 p.m. newscast due to low ratings. It 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 an NBC affiliate, WNCN's newscasts have traditionally ranked third in the ratings behind WRAL and WTVD, though they garnered far higher ratings than WRDU/WPTF/WRDC ever did as an NBC affiliate. However, since the turn of the millennium, the station has been on a path of change and ratings growth. Revamped morning and evening newscasts, an emphasis on stronger investigative reporting, a new website and more community involvement have helped lead this charge.

In recent years, WNCN's newscasts have won critical acclaim. The 2013 Edward R. Murrow Award (Radio Television Digital News Association) competition named WNCN as its regional winner for best "Video Newscast.".[22][23] WNCN also won its first Emmy awards in January 2014, including one for "Best Evening Newscast."[24] Two of those awards were in direct competition with WRAL and its sister station, Fox affiliate WRAZ.[25]

In 2007, WNCN reinstated the 7:00 p.m. newscast, which quickly became an hour-long format. The station became the first in the market to move the start time of its weekday morning newscast to 4:30 a.m. in 2010.

On January 27, 2014, WNCN launched a half-hour midday newscast at 11:00 a.m., 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 a.m. half-hour of its morning newscast and the shifting of the advertorial My Carolina Today to 11:30 a.m.[26] The show changed its name to My Carolina Talk with the switch to CBS.

In August 2014, WNCN began producing an hour-long newscast at 9:00 a.m. 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 additional hour-long editions of its weekend morning newscast at 6:00 a.m. on Saturdays and 7:00 a.m. on Sundays.

WNCN's most recent news expansion took place shortly after it was announced that WNCN would swap affiliations with WRAL-TV and join CBS, effective February 29, 2016. That same day, WNCN moved its 11:00 a.m. newscast to the traditional noontime 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 its 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 televise the soap opera at that time. This continues a quarter-century 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.[27]

On January 17, 2022, WNCN will shrink its noon newscast to 30 minutes, with The Young and the Restless moving to its traditional 12:30 p.m. timeslot. It will also introduce a 4 p.m. newscast that day as well.[28]

Technical information


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[29]
17.1 1080i 16:9 WNCN-HD Main WNCN programming / CBS
17.2 480i Rewind Rewind TV
17.3 Grit Grit
17.4 Circle Circle

NBC Weather Plus was initially offered on WNCN's digital subchannel 17.2, under the "NBC 17 WeatherPlus" brand, before it was phased out and replaced by a feed of WNCN's VIPIR radar titled "Live Precision Viper Radar". On August 1, 2011, Universal Sports replaced the VIPIR radar image, until it moved to 17.3 to make way for Antenna TV in its original 17.2 spot. When Universal Sports transitioned to cable-only distribution in January 2012, 17.3 was deactivated. Justice Network would later move into that spot.

On November 1, 2017, WNCN reorganized its digital channel offerings by moving Justice Network from 17.3 to 17.2, effectively bumping Antenna TV in the process. Two new networks were added: Grit on 17.3 (relocated from WRDC 28.2), and Escape on 17.4.[30] In February 2018, Justice Network was removed after being added by WUVC-DT as a subchannel. In September 2019, programming from Court TV began running on 17.2, and the Escape network on 17.4 was rebranded as Court TV Mystery.

Analog-to-digital conversion

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.[31]

Spectrum reallocation

On April 13, 2017, it was announced that WNCN's over-the-air broadcast spectrum was sold for $52 million during the FCC's spectrum reallocation incentive auction. Net proceeds from the sale went to former shareholders of Media General, which was acquired by Nexstar in January 2017.[32][33] On September 11, 2019, WNCN moved to channel 8 in the VHF-High band, although through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 17.

Out-of-market cable carriage

In recent years, WNCN has been carried on cable in multiple areas within the GreensboroHigh PointWinston-Salem and Greenville–New BernWashington markets.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Home | ViacomCBS".
  2. ^ "WRAL making network change to NBC". January 15, 2016.
  3. ^ https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/88-OCR/BC-1988-07-25-OCR-Page-0091.pdf#search=%22wyed%22
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Langford, Bob (January 18, 1995). "Tangled nets trap Trekkies". The News & Observer. p. 1E. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  6. ^ Marshall, Kyle (August 4, 1995). "WNCN to be part of NBC". The News & Observer. pp. 9C, 10C. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  7. ^ Langford, Bob (August 18, 1995). "Here's news: WNCN going to NBC early". The News & Observer. pp. 1D, 3D. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  8. ^ Cox, Jonathan B. (January 10, 2006). "NBC to sell station: Network puts 3 others on the block". Raleigh News & Observer.
  9. ^ "Triangle's NBC affiliate station to be sold". Raleigh News & Observer. April 6, 2006.
  10. ^ "Media General Completes Purchase of Four NBC Television Stations" (Press Release). Media General. June 26, 2006. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  11. ^ "WNCN Emphasizes Local In New Branding". TVNewsCheck. April 26, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  12. ^ Bracken, David (October 1, 2013). "WNCN-TV goes dark on Dish Network after agreement expires". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  13. ^ "Media General & DISH Network Reach Retrans Agreement". November 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "WNCN, WRAL Swap Affiliations In Raleigh". TVNewsCheck. January 15, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Nexstar Completes $4.6B Acquisition of Media General". January 17, 2017.
  17. ^ "See the new CBS programming lineup on WNCN". WNCN.com. Media General. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "FAQ: Answers to your questions about CBS North Carolina in Raleigh". WNCN. January 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "TV Listings for - February 28, 2016 - TV Tango". tvtango.com. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  20. ^ "WRAL Has 'Remarkable' First Day as NBC Affiliate". TVSpy. Adweek. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  21. ^ "CBS North Carolina rebrands as CBS 17". CBS17.com. Nexstar Media Group. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  22. ^ http://www.wncn.com/story/22013701/wncn-newscast-on-poison-in-the-water-wins-murrow-award
  23. ^ "2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award Winners".
  24. ^ http://www.wncn.com/story/24551545/wncn-wins-3-midsouth-emmy-awards-including-best-newscast
  25. ^ http://www.ncbroadcast.com/aws/NCAB/asset_manager/get_file/72041?ver=171
  26. ^ WNCN Today Announces New 11 a.m. Newscast, WNCN.com, January 20, 2014.
  27. ^ "WNCN announces CBS lineup, adds local news | WNCN". Archived from the original on January 29, 2016.
  28. ^ "CBS 17 adds 4 p.m. newscast, 'Young & Restless' to air earlier | CBS 17".
  29. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WNCN
  30. ^ Cain, Brooke (November 22, 2017). "Classic sitcom channel Antenna TV no longer available for local viewers". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  31. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  32. ^ "FCC Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction - Winning Bids" (PDF). FCC. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  33. ^ "CBS affiliate WNCN is switching channels". The News & Observer. April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.

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