WBIR-TV is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 10 from a transmitter on Sharp's Ridge in North Knoxville. Owned by Tegna, WBIR-TV maintains studios on Bill Williams Avenue in the Belle Morris section of the city.
On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 9 in SD and 709 in HD, as well as Comcast Xfinity channels 9 and 1010, WOW! channels 9 and 903, and AT&T U-Verse channels 10 and 1010.
WBIR-TV signed on the air on August 12, 1956, as a CBS affiliate, taking that affiliation away from WTVK (channel 26, now WVLT-TV on channel 8). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. WBIR-TV was originally owned by a consortium headed by J. Lindsay Nunn and his son, Gilmore Nunn, owners of WBIR radio (1240 AM, now WIFA; and FM 103.5, now WIMZ-FM) The station's call letters come from Jesse W. "Jay" Birdwell, who founded WBIR radio in 1941; Birdwell sold the station to the Nunns in 1944. The Nunns shared ownership with WBIR general manager John P. Hart; Knoxville residents Robert and Martha Ashe, and the Taft family of Cincinnati. In October 1959 the Tafts' broadcast subsidiary, Radio Cincinnati, Inc., purchased the remaining 70 percent of the WBIR stations outright from the other parties.
In January 1961 the Tafts sold WBIR-AM-FM-TV to the News-Piedmont Company of Greenville, South Carolina, owner of WFBC-AM-FM-TV in its hometown. In 1967, News-Piedmont merged with Southern Broadcasting to form the Southeastern Broadcasting Corporation. Soon afterward, Southeastern sold off most of its radio stations (including WBIR-AM-FM), purchased four more television stations and changed its name to Multimedia, Inc. WBIR shared flagship status with WFBC-TV (now WYFF).
On September 10, 1988, WBIR became an NBC affiliate, swapping affiliations with WTVK just before it moved to channel 8 as WKXT-TV in December. Ironically, this marked CBS' return to its original affiliate in Knoxville. At the time, NBC was the top-rated network while CBS was in third place near the midpoint of the Laurence Tisch period of that network's history. The biggest reason was that most of Multimedia's stations were NBC affiliates. Companies that own several stations affiliated with the same network generally have more clout with that network. NBC was more than willing to make the switch, since WTVK had been one of its weakest affiliates while WBIR was a solid runner-up to WATE-TV. With the switch, channel 10 became the last major commercial station in Knoxville to change affiliations. The switch also made channel 10 the third station in Knoxville to carry NBC; the network had previously aired on WATE from 1953 to 1979 before moving to WTVK in 1979. Multimedia merged with Gannett in 1995.
For a time in the 1980s, WBIR was seen on several ten-watt translators across East Tennessee and even Virginia. One of them, W04BM, was licensed to LaFollette, Tennessee and operated on channel 4.
In 2008, WBIR-TV debuted new graphics and news music. On June 1, 2011, WBIR-TV and Fox affiliate WTNZ-TV, for whom WBIR-TV was producing a 10 p.m. newscast, debuted a new high-definition news set and weather studio and a full makeover of branding. However, WBIR-TV retained their logo by adding the HD symbol to the right of the logo.
Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for WBIR. Gannett threatened to pull WBIR from Dish should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement (WTNZ was not involved in the dispute, as the station is owned by Raycom Media, rather than by Gannett, which continues to produce its newscasts via WBIR). The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.
On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. WBIR was retained by the latter company, named Tegna.
|TV stations in Tennessee|
| WSMV, Nashville|
|TV stations in East Tennessee, including Knoxville|
| WATE 6 (ABC) |
WKNX 7 (Ind)
WVLT 8 (CBS)
WBIR 10 (NBC)
W14CX-D 14 (3ABN)
WKOP 15 (PBS)
WBXX 20 (CW)
WDTT-LD 24 (Daystar)
WTNZ 43 (Fox)
WAGV 44 (Ind)
W45DF-D 45 (HSN)
WVLR 48 (CTN)
WPXK 54 (Ion)