WCAU, virtual channel 10 (UHF digital channel 34), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal, as part of a duopoly with Mount Laurel, New Jersey-licensed Telemundo owned-and-operated station WWSI (channel 62); NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of locally based media firm Comcast, owns both networks, along with regional sports network NBC Sports Philadelphia. WCAU and WWSI share studios within the Comcast Technology Center on Arch Street in Center City, with some operations remaining at their former main studio at the corner of City Avenue and Monument Road in Bala Cynwyd, along the Philadelphia–Montgomery county line. The two stations also share transmitter facilities in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
As a CBS station (1946–1995)
In 1946, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin secured a construction permit for channel 10, naming its proposed station WPEN-TV after the newspaper's WPEN radio stations (950 AM, now WKDN, and 98.1 FM, later WCAU-FM and now WOGL). The picture changed dramatically in 1947, when The Philadelphia Record folded. The Bulletin inherited the Record's "goodwill", along with the rights to buy the radio station WCAU (1210 AM, now WPHT) and the original WCAU-FM (102.9 FM) from their longtime owners, brothers Isaac and Leon Levy. The Bulletin sold the less-powerful WPEN and WCAU-FM, with the latter being renamed WPEN-FM (it is now WMGK). The Bulletin kept its FM station, renaming it WCAU-FM to match its new AM sister. The newspaper also kept its construction permit for channel 10, renaming it WCAU-TV.
WCAU-TV went on the air on May 23, 1948 as Philadelphia's third television station. It secured an affiliation with CBS through the influence of the Levy brothers, who continued to work for the newspaper as consultants. WCAU radio had been one of CBS's original 16 affiliates when the network premiered in 1927. A year later, the Levy brothers persuaded their brother-in-law, William S. Paley, to buy the struggling network. The Levy brothers were shareholders and directors at CBS for many years. Due to this long relationship, channel 10 signed on as CBS's third television affiliate.
In the late 1950s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collapsed northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley into the Philadelphia market. The Bulletin realized that channel 10's original tower, atop the PSFS Building in Center City, was not nearly strong enough to serve this larger viewing area. In 1957, WCAU-TV moved to a new 1,200-foot (366 m) tower in Roxborough, which added most of Delaware, the Jersey Shore and the Lehigh Valley to its city-grade coverage.
Also in 1957, the Bulletin formed a limited partnership with the Megargee family, owner of CBS affiliate WGBI-TV (channel 22) in Scranton. As part of the deal, channel 22's call letters were changed to WDAU-TV (WDAU's call letters were changed again to WYOU in 1986). Soon afterward, the FCC ruled that the Bulletin could not keep both stations due to a large signal overlap in the Lehigh Valley. Although the Bulletin had only bought a minority stake in channel 22, the FCC ruled that this stake was so large that the two stations were effectively a duopoly. The Bulletin could not afford to get a waiver to keep both stations, so it opted to keep its stake in WDAU-TV and sell the WCAU stations to CBS. CBS had to seek a waiver to buy the WCAU stations, as the signals of WCAU's AM and television stations overlapped with those of WCBS radio and WCBS-TV in New York City (in the case of the AM outlets, both were clear-channel stations; the FCC at the time usually did not allow common ownership of clear-channel stations with overlapping nighttime coverage areas). However, in its application for a waiver, CBS cited NBC's then-ownership of WRCV-TV in Philadelphia (channel 3, now KYW-TV) and WRCA-TV in New York City (now WNBC). The FCC readily granted the waiver, and CBS took control in 1958.
From 1965 to 1986, WCAU-TV was the only network-owned station in Philadelphia. As such, it was the only station in the city that did not heavily or moderately preempt network programming. Channel 10 did, however, run an hour of Saturday morning cartoons during the 7 a.m. hour on a one-week delay in order to run the hour-long locally produced children's program, The Gene London Show, which ended in 1977. Beginning in 1978, WCAU-TV began preempting an hour of Sunday morning cartoon reruns and in the beginning of 1979 the station preempted an hour of the Saturday morning cartoons. By 1980, the station was running the entire Saturday morning cartoon lineup again and by early in 1981, the Sunday morning hour of children's programs was brought back.
Switch from CBS to NBC (1994–1995)
In 1994, CBS entered into a long-term affiliation agreement with Westinghouse (Group W) Broadcasting, owners of Philadelphia's longtime NBC affiliate, KYW-TV (channel 3). Westinghouse converted three of its stations, KYW-TV among them, into CBS affiliates. CBS was reluctant to include KYW-TV in the deal since it had been a very distant third in the Philadelphia ratings for more than a decade. In contrast, WCAU was a solid runner-up to ABC-owned station WPVI-TV (channel 6). Ultimately, CBS decided to affiliate with channel 3 and sell channel 10, ending a 47-year relationship (including 37 years of ownership) with the station.
NBC and New World Communications then emerged as the leading bidders for WCAU. NBC had wanted to own a station in Philadelphia for many years; for most of the broadcasting era, Philadelphia was the largest market where NBC didn't own a station. It briefly succeeded in 1956, when it extorted Westinghouse into exchanging channel 3 (then called WPTZ-TV) and KYW radio for NBC's Cleveland stations, WTAM-AM-FM and WNBK television. However, after Westinghouse complained, the FCC and the U.S. Justice Department nullified the swap in June 1965. New World got into the bidding because it had just signed a multi-year affiliation deal with Fox, and intended to make WCAU a Fox station had it emerged victoriously. Fox's affiliate in Philadelphia, WTXF-TV, was about to become an affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN), which was to be programmed mostly by WTXF's owner, Paramount Pictures. New World found the chance to give Fox a VHF station in the nation's fourth-largest market too much to resist. Fox jumped into the bidding as well in case New World's bid fell through.
However, Viacom, which bought Paramount in mid-1994, opted instead to sell WTXF-TV to Fox, making WTXF-TV a Fox O&O. New World pulled out of the bidding war for WCAU as well, effectively handing channel 10 to NBC. Had WCAU become a Fox station, it would have retained its status as the "home" station of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. The station had carried Eagles games since 1950, and had carried the majority of Eagles games since CBS won the rights to NFL games in 1956. Indeed, Fox had cut its affiliation deal with New World because it had recently won the rights to the National Football Conference, where the Eagles play, and most games were thus moved to WTXF; New World owned a large number of CBS affiliates.
As an NBC-owned station (1995–present)
While KYW-TV's sister stations, WBZ-TV in Boston and WJZ-TV in Baltimore, switched to CBS in January 1995, the swap was delayed in Philadelphia when CBS discovered that an outright sale of channel 10 would have forced it to pay massive[clarification needed] taxes on the proceeds from the deal. To solve this problem, CBS, NBC and Group W entered into a complex ownership and affiliation deal in late 1994. To make the deal for WCAU an even trade, NBC transferred KCNC-TV in Denver and KUTV in Salt Lake City (a station that NBC had only acquired earlier that year) to CBS in exchange; additionally, the NBC and CBS stations in Miami traded broadcasting facilities, with CBS moving to the stronger of the two signals. CBS then traded controlling interest in KCNC and KUTV to Group W in return for a minority stake in KYW-TV. The deal officially took effect on September 10, 1995. Group W's parent, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, purchased CBS two months later, making CBS's Philadelphia radio stations sisters to WCAU-AM/WPHT's longtime rival, KYW radio.
Although the radio stations had dropped the WCAU calls some years before, NBC dropped the -TV suffix from channel 10's callsign soon after it assumed control.
In January 2011, the Philadelphia-based cable and media company Comcast acquired a 51% majority stake in WCAU's parent company, by then known as NBC Universal, which effectively makes the station locally owned. Comcast bought the other 49% in early 2013.
In March 2013, NBCUniversal announced that it would buy Telemundo affiliate WWSI from ZGS Communications for $20 million, giving WCAU a duopoly partner, as with several other NBC O&Os. The sale was completed on June 2 of that year.
On February 14, 2014, WCAU along with nearby NBC affiliate WBAL-TV in Baltimore began to be shown on Comcast Cable systems in the Susquehanna Valley after WGAL, the NBC affiliate in that market, was knocked off the air after a portion of the roof at the station's Columbia Avenue studio facility collapsed due to heavy accumulations of snow and ice caused by a winter storm that moved through the Eastern United States earlier that week.
On April 16, 2014, WMGM-TV (channel 40), the NBC affiliate in nearby Atlantic City, announced that the station would drop its NBC affiliation and shut down its news operation on January 1, 2015, presumably due to WCAU claiming market exclusivity (Atlantic City is part of the Philadelphia market). Following an hour-long documentary focusing on the station's history and staff entitled NewsCenter 40: The Stories Behind the Station, WMGM-TV then began carrying programs from the Soul of the South network, while WCAU became the sole NBC affiliate in the market. WMGM-TV was sold to Univision Communications in 2017 and is now a Justice Network affiliate; it also relays sister station and Univision network O&O WUVP-DT (channel 65) on its third digital subchannel.
|TV stations in Pennsylvania|
|TV stations in Philadelphia, including the Lehigh Valley and Tri State Area|
|WDPN 2 (MeTV)|
KYW 3 (CBS)