WBRE-TV, virtual channel 28 (VHF digital channel 11), is a television station licensed to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States, serving as the NBC affiliate for the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre television market. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group, which also operates Scranton-licensed CBS affiliate WYOU (channel 22) under a shared services agreement with owner Mission Broadcasting. The two stations share studios on South Franklin Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre; WBRE's transmitter is located at the Penobscot Knob antenna farm near Mountain Top.
On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity and Service Electric channel 3. There is a high definition feed offered on Xfinity digital channel 808 and Service Electric digital channel 503.
WBRE signed on New Year's Day 1953 becoming the first television station in the market. It was owned by the Baltimore family along with WBRE radio (1340 AM now WYCK and 98.5 FM now WKRZ). Although it appears that the call letters stand for Wilkes-BaRrE, they actually refer to Baltimore Radio Exchange, the Baltimore family's company. The radio stations were sold off in 1980.
For much of its early history, channel 28 was unable to get a direct feed from NBC because AT&T microwave and wireline operations weren't available in northeast Pennsylvania. Station engineers were thus forced to switch to and from the signals of network flagship WNBT in New York City (now WNBC) and WPTZ in Philadelphia (now CBS owned-and-operated station KYW-TV) when NBC programming was airing. WPTZ was used as a backup. In efforts to improve the quality and reliability of the received signals, WBRE built its own relay site on Pimple Hill on the west side of Route 115, just south of Pocono Raceway. Reception of the New York stations is very clear and reliable from that site; indeed, it served as a microwave retransmission site for many of the area's cable systems well into the 1990s until fiber optics made microwave transmission obsolete.
In 1972, disaster struck at WBRE when its offices were flooded by Hurricane Agnes. Most of the station's equipment was moved above ground and survived but a film archive in the basement was destroyed. After 31 years of ownership, the Baltimore family sold WBRE to New York-based Northeastern Television Investors in 1984, which in turn sold it to Adams Communications in 1989. Current owner Nexstar Broadcasting Group acquired the station in 1997. Nexstar already owned WYOU but opted to keep WBRE and sold WYOU to Mission Broadcasting. However, Nexstar continues to control WYOU's operations through a joint sales agreement. On January 3, 2007, Nexstar named Louis J. Abitabilo as Vice President and General Manager for the two stations.
The station's news operation made a fictional appearance within the NBC comedy series The Office, set in Scranton, in the 6th season episodes The Chump and Whistleblower, interviewing Michael Scott about reports of malfunctioning printers.
In September 2011, the station was evacuated once again due to potential flooding by heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee. For 48 hours, the station operated remotely out of the garage of the local Fox affiliate, WOLF-TV. They provided coverage for the entire duration of the evacuation period, nearly 63 hours. Luckily, the station and the majority of the city of Wilkes-Barre were protected by the levee system.
On January 19, 2012, Nexstar named Robert G. Bee as Vice President and General Manager of WBRE, with management responsibilities for WYOU. The station went full HD including news and production on April 2, 2012.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has operated WNEP-TV through a shared services agreement with Dreamcatcher Broadcasting since December 2014—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WNEP directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WNEP or both WBRE and WYOU (separately as it would break the grandfathered LMA) to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. On January 31, 2019, Nexstar announced that it would retain the WBRE/WYOU duopoly and sell WNEP to another buyer. Since Nexstar will keep the WBRE/WYOU virtual duopoly, the transaction will make them sister stations to MyNetworkTV affiliate WPHL-TV in Philadelphia and CW affiliate WPIX in New York City.
|TV stations in Pennsylvania|
|TV stations in Northeastern Pennsylvania including Scranton, Wilkes Barre, and Hazelton|
|WNEP 16 (ABC)|