WCAX-TV is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Burlington, Vermont, United States, serving Northern Vermont's Champlain Valley and Upstate New York's North Country, including Plattsburgh. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 (or virtual channel 3 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Owned by Gray Television, the station has studios on Joy Drive in South Burlington.
Like other network stations serving Burlington and Plattsburgh, WCAX-TV has a large audience in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, a city 10 times more populous than the station's entire U.S. viewing area. Most Vidéotron systems in Southern Quebec carry WCAX-TV as their CBS affiliate. The station is also available on every cable system in Vermont, and statewide on DirecTV and Dish Network.
WCAX was the call sign of a station, run by students, that made the first radio broadcast from the University of Vermont campus, October 10, 1924.
Vermont's first television station, channel 3 first signed on the air on September 26, 1954 as WMVT, originally licensed to the capital city of Montpelier and originally owned by the WCAX Broadcasting Corporation. The parent company was led by Charles P. Hasbrook, former publisher of the now-defunct Burlington Daily News and owner of WCAX radio (620 AM, now WVMT), which he purchased in 1939 and sold in 1963. In December 1954 the WCAX Broadcasting Corporation was renamed Mount Mansfield Television, after the location of channel 3's transmitter and tower.
In May 1955 WMVT's community of license was moved from Montpelier to Burlington, the state's largest city, and one month later the station's call letters were changed to WCAX-TV to match its radio sister station. In 1958, Hasbrook turned over the station's ownership to his stepson, Dr. Stuart T. "Red" Martin Jr., an engineer by trade who assisted his stepfather in building the station from the ground-up. Red Martin had already been serving as general manager since the station signed on. Red Martin continued to own the station until his death in 2005, and was succeeded by his oldest son, Peter R. Martin.
Through WCAX radio's affiliation with the CBS Radio Network, channel 3 became a CBS television affiliate and has been with the network ever since. As such, until being purchased by Gray Television in 2017, WCAX-TV was one of the few stations in the United States (not counting network owned-and-operated stations) that has had the same owner, channel number, and primary network affiliation throughout its history. The station did hold a secondary Fox affiliation from 1994 through 1997, carrying that network's sports and children's programming; through this arrangement, WCAX-TV was able to carry Fox's NFL coverage, which consisted of the rights to NFC games that had been held by CBS (and thus aired on WCAX-TV) until 1994. The secondary Fox affiliation ended when WFFF-TV (channel 44) signed on in 1997. On October 25, 2006, WCAX-TV upgraded its digital signal to broadcast CBS programming in high definition.
On May 4, 2017, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced its intent to acquire WCAX-TV for $29 million. Gray assumed operational control of the station on June 1, 2017 under a local marketing agreement. The sale was completed on August 1, ending the Hasbrook/Martin family's 62–year–long stewardship of the station.
Viewership in Canada
The station has long had significant viewership in Montreal, which is more than ten times as large as its American coverage area. In the past, it has identified itself as serving "Burlington/Plattsburgh/Montreal" to acknowledge its Canadian viewership, though this practice largely ended in the 1990s.
Like other Champlain Valley stations, WCAX-TV once made a significant portion of its advertising sales across the border. However, Canadian advertising business has nearly dried up mostly due to the arrival of English-language station CKMI-DT-1, coupled with the Canadian simultaneous substitution regulations and the carriage of network affiliates from other United States markets (such as Boston and Detroit) on Canadian satellite and cable systems. Canada also discourages Canadian-based businesses from advertising on U.S.-based stations by not allowing tax deductions for commercials placed on stations outside of Canada.
WCAX's longest-running local programs (both dating to the founding of the station) are a daily twenty-minute agricultural information program entitled Across the Fence, produced in association with the University of Vermont Extension Service, and a thirty-minute weekly public affairs show called You Can Quote Me. In September 2006, WCAX-TV introduced its third local program called Late Night Saturday. It was produced in conjunction with Champlain College for its Media Arts Department. The program was hosted by Tim Kavanagh and aired weekly on Saturday nights. It offered local musicians and artists a chance to perform in front of a live studio audience and showcase their work. It also featured local celebrities such as Rusty DeWees and national celebrities such as Luis Guzman. It ended after three seasons.
|TV stations in New England|
|WFSB, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV stations in New England|
|WHPX, New London/Hartford/New Haven|
|TV stations in Northern and Central Vermont, Northeastern New York and Northwestern New Hampshire including Burlington and Plattsburgh|
|WCAX 3 (CBS) |
WPTZ 5 (NBC)
WVTB 20 (PBS)
WVNY 22 (ABC)
WNNE 31 (CW)
WETK 33 (PBS)
WYCI 40 (H&I/MNTV)
WVTA 41 (PBS)
WFFF 44 (Fox)
WLED 49 (PBS)
WCFE 57 (PBS)