WCHS-TV, virtual channel 8 (UHF digital channel 29), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Charleston, West Virginia, United States and serving the Charleston–Huntington television market. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Fox affiliate WVAH-TV (channel 11, also licensed to Charleston) under a local marketing agreement (LMA) with owner Cunningham Broadcasting. However, Sinclair effectively owns WVAH as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share studios on Piedmont Road in Charleston and transmitter facilities atop Coal Mountain, south of Scott Depot, West Virginia.
Along with sister station WSYX in Columbus, Ohio, WCHS-TV also doubles as a default ABC affiliate for the Parkersburg–Marietta market since that area doesn't have an ABC station of its own. WCHS-TV serves the West Virginia side of the market.
WCHS-TV signed-on August 15, 1954 and was originally owned by the Tierney Company, alongside WCHS radio (580 AM). WCHS-TV was the second station in Charleston after WKNA-TV, which launched on UHF channel 49 as an ABC affiliate in 1953 but went dark in 1955 due to lack of viewership. Originally a CBS station sharing ABC with WSAZ-TV (channel 3), channel 8 became a full CBS affiliate when WHTN-TV in Huntington signed-on in 1955. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
In 1958, WCHS swapped affiliations with WHTN and became an ABC affiliate. The WCHS stations were sold to Rollins Telecasting in 1960. The station reversed the swap and went back to CBS in 1962. For reasons that remain unknown, WCHS did not carry the CBS Evening News for several years after returning to CBS. On June 1, 1986, the station swapped affiliations once again with channel 13, now known as WOWK-TV.
In 1987, Rollins Telecasting merged with Heritage Broadcasting to form Heritage Media. In December 1987, the station relocated from its longtime studios on Virginia Street East to their current location on Piedmont Road in Charleston. The company sold off WCHS-AM in 1991. Heritage sold all of its remaining broadcasting properties (four television stations, LMAs for two other television stations, and 24 radio stations) to Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 just as Heritage itself was being swallowed up by News Corporation. As such, the former Heritage stations retained the current network affiliations instead of becoming Fox owned-and-operated stations.
The Sinclair purchase of WCHS forced the company to sell WVAH, which it had acquired three years before when it merged with Abry Communications to Glencairn as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not permit duopolies at the time. However, Glencairn's stock was almost entirely controlled by the Smith family, owners and founders of Sinclair. In effect, Sinclair now owned both stations. The company further circumvented the rules by entering into a local marketing agreement with WVAH, with WCHS as senior partner. The other station retained its own studios on Mount Vernon Road in Hurricane along I-64 even although most of its operations were merged with WCHS. Eventually, WVAH's separate facilities were put up for sale.
Sinclair tried to merge with Glencairn in 2001 after the FCC decided to allow duopolies but could not repurchase WVAH because the FCC does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. Glencairn changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting and the local media agreement with WCHS continues to this day. There is overwhelming evidence that Glencairn/Cunningham is merely a shell corporation used by Sinclair to circumvent FCC ownership rules. One of the first televised presidential debates featuring John F. Kennedy took place at WCHS' studios. The nationally syndicated Produce Corner segments were taped at the studios as well.
|TV stations in West Virginia|
|TV stations in Southeast Ohio, Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, including Huntington and Charleston|
|WSAZ 3 (NBC) |
WCHS 8 (ABC)
WVAH 11 (Decades)
WOWK 13 (CBS)
WKPI 22 (PBS)
WKAS 25 (PBS)
WHJC-LP 27 (RTV)
WLPX 29 (Ion)
W30DG-D 30 (HSN)
WQCW 30 (CW)
WVPB 33 (PBS)
WTSF 44 (Daystar)
WJOS-LD 45 (Walk)
WTZP-LP 50 (Cozi)