WCCO-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 32), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station, licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and serving the Twin Cities television market. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. WCCO-TV's studios are located on South 11th Street along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and its transmitter is located at the Telefarm complex in Shoreview, Minnesota.
WCCO-TV's programming is also seen on full-power satellite station KCCW-TV (virtual and VHF digital channel 12) in Walker (with transmitter near Hackensack). Nielsen Media Research treats WCCO-TV and KCCW-TV as one station in local ratings books, using the identifier name WCCO+. From 1987 until 2017, WCCO-TV operated a second satellite, KCCO-TV (virtual and VHF digital channel 7) in Alexandria (with transmitter near Westport).
WCCO is one of three owned-and-operated network affiliates in the Twin Cities market, the others being Fox O&O KMSP-TV (channel 9) and MyNetworkTV O&O WFTC (channel 9.2).
WCCO-TV's roots originate with a radio station, but not the one with which it is affiliated today. Radio station WRHM, which signed on the air in 1925, is the station to which WCCO-TV traces its lineage. In 1934, two newspapers—the Minneapolis Tribune and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch—formed a joint venture named "Twin Cities Newspapers", which purchased the radio station and changed its call letters to WTCN. Twin Cities Newspapers later expanded into the fledgling FM band with WTCN-FM, and shortly thereafter to the then-new medium of television with the launch of WTCN-TV on July 1, 1949, becoming Minnesota's second television station, broadcasting from the Radio City Theater at 50 South 9th Street in downtown Minneapolis. Robert Ridder became president of WCCO-TV in 1949. Channel 4 has been a primary CBS affiliate since its sign on. However, it had a secondary affiliation with ABC during its early years, from 1949 to 1953, until a new station using the WTCN-TV calls (now known as KARE-TV) picked up the ABC affiliation, retaining it from its 1953 sign on until 1961 when it became an independent station; it has been affiliated with NBC since 1979.
Twin Cities Newspapers sold off its broadcast holdings in 1952, with channel 4 going to the Murphy and McNally families, who had recently bought the Twin Cities' dominant radio station, WCCO (830 AM), from CBS. The stations merged under a new company, Midwest Radio and Television, with CBS as a minority partner. The call letters of channel 4 were changed to WCCO-TV to match its new radio sister on August 17 (the WTCN-TV call sign appeared again in the market the following year on the new channel 11). CBS was forced to sell its minority ownership stake in the WCCO stations in 1954 to comply with Federal Communications Commission ownership limits of the time.
In 1959, WCCO became the first station in the midwest to have a videotape machine; it came at a cost of $50,000 and one part-time employee was hired to operate the machine. In 1961, with the establishment of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, the station, via CBS, which held the rights to broadcast NFL games, became the 'unofficial' home station of the team. This partnership continued through the 1993 season, at which time most games were moved to WFTC. Today, most Vikings games are on KMSP-TV; since 1998, WCCO airs Vikings games (at least two each season) when the Vikings play host to an AFC team at the Metrodome/U.S. Bank Stadium, or, since 2014, with the institution of the new 'cross-flex' rules, any games that are moved from KMSP-TV.
On July 23, 1962, WCCO-TV was involved in the world's first live international broadcast via the Telstar satellite; the station's mobile units provided the feed for all three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC for a program originating from the Black Hills showing Mount Rushmore to the world.
The station began telecasting color programs in 1966. In September 1983, WCCO relocated its operations from its longtime studios on South 9th Street to the present location at South 11th Street & Nicollet Mall. The network gained full ownership of WCCO-TV in 1992, when it acquired what was by then known as Midwest Communications.
During the 1980s, a cable-exclusive sister station was created to supplement WCCO, with its own slate of local and national entertainment programming. This was known as WCCO II, but by 1989, it had evolved into the Midwest Sports Channel, focusing on regional sporting events. It continued under CBS ownership until 2000, when it was announced that MSC and sister RSN Home Team Sports were to be sold—HTS went to Comcast, while MSC was sold to Fox Entertainment Group and became part of Fox Sports Net, becoming Fox Sports North (it had been an FSN affiliate since 1997).
On February 2, 2017, CBS agreed to sell CBS Radio to Entercom, currently the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the United States. The sale was completed on November 17, 2017, and was conducted using a Reverse Morris Trust so that it was tax-free. While CBS shareholders retain a 72% ownership stake in the combined company, Entercom is the surviving entity, with WCCO radio and its sister stations now separated from WCCO-TV.
|TV stations in Minnesota|
| WCCO, Minneapolis|
|TV stations in Central Minnesota including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Brainierd|
| KTCA 2 (PBS)|
WCCO 4 (CBS)
|TV stations in Rural Minnesota|
| KAWE 9 (PBS)|