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WESH, virtual channel 2 (VHF digital channel 11), is an NBC-affiliated television station serving Orlando, Florida, United States that is licensed to Daytona Beach. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, as part of a duopoly with Clermont-licensed CW affiliate WKCF (channel 18). The two stations share studios on North Wymore Road (near I-4) in Eatonville (using a Winter Park address); WESH's transmitter is located in eastern Orange County near Christmas.

The station's signal is relayed through two UHF digital translators, broadcasting on channel 18 in Orange City (transmitting from WESH's former analog tower), and channel 24 in Ocala. On cable, the station is available in standard definition on channel 4 on Charter Spectrum, channel 3 on Comcast Xfinity, and channel 2 on CenturyLink Prism and in outlying areas, and in high definition on Spectrum channel 1020, Xfinity channel 432, and Prism channel 1002.

WESH formerly served as a default NBC affiliate for the Gainesville market as the station's analog transmitter provided a city-grade off-air signal in Gainesville proper (and also provided Grade B signal coverage in the fringes of the Tampa Bay and Jacksonville markets). However, since January 1, 2009, Gainesville has been served by an in-market affiliate, WNBW (channel 9); although Cox Communications continues to carry WESH on its Gainesville area system.

HistoryEdit

WESH-TV first signed on the air on June 11, 1956. At first, it ran as an independent, but on October 27, 1957, it became an NBC affiliate, and has been with NBC ever since. Businessman W. Wright Esch (for whom the station is named) won the license, but sold it to Perry Publications of Palm Beach just before the station made its debut. The station's original studios were located on Corporation Street in Holly Hill, near Daytona Beach.

The station's original transmitter tower was only 300 feet (91 m) high, which was tiny even by 1950s' standards, and limited channel 2's signal coverage to Volusia County. As such, it shared the NBC affiliation in Central Florida with primary CBS affiliate WDBO-TV (channel 6, now WKMG-TV). It finally became the market's exclusive NBC affiliate on November 5, 1957, when WDBO-TV relinquished its secondary affiliation with the network. On that day, the station activated a new 1,000-foot (305 m) transmitter tower in Orange City. The tower was located farther north than the other major Orlando stations' transmitters because of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules at the time that required a station's transmitter to be located within 15 miles (24 km) of its city of license. The station's signal was short-spaced to prevent interference with non-commercial educational station WTHS-TV (channel 2, now PBS member station WPBT) in Miami.

Perry sold WESH-TV to Cowles Communications of Des Moines, Iowa in 1965. Cowles later moved its headquarters to Daytona Beach, and built a satellite studio on Minnesota Avenue in Winter Park. WESH was one of two NBC affiliates that were owned by Cowles Communications; during various points in the company's history, Cowles also owned at least three CBS-affiliated stations and two ABC affiliates (one of the two ABC affiliates, WHTN-TV (now WOWK-TV) in Huntington, West Virginia, was affiliated with CBS and ABC on separate occasions during Cowles ownership; that station has since switched back to CBS). In 1980, the station built a new transmitter facility, measuring at 1,740 feet (530 m), located on the same site as the 1,000-foot (305 m) tower; at the time that tower was built, it was the tallest man-made structure in Florida. The new tower allowed for WESH to expand its signal coverage into areas such as Lakeland, Gainesville and St. Augustine; the channel 2 signal traveled a very long distance under normal conditions. The 1,000-foot (305 m) tower was dismantled in the late 1980s.

Cowles exited broadcasting in 1984 and sold two of its stations, WESH and Des Moines' KCCI, to Houston-based H&C Communications. Under H&C ownership, WESH closed its original Holly Hill studio in 1989, and relocated its operations to a temporary studio facility on Ridgewood Avenue (U.S. 1), near International Speedway Boulevard (U.S. 92) in Daytona Beach, which was eventually sold later but maintains their Volusia County bureau and a microwave tower at that facility. The station's primary operations then moved to a brand new studio in Winter Park in 1991, located on Wymore Road, alongside Interstate 4, equipped with "Super Doppler 2" atop the STL tower and a helipad. (The studios also currently serve as the graphics hub for all Hearst-owned TV stations; the Fox and Scripps-owned stations in Tampa Bay, WTVT and WFTS also serve the same role for their respective station groups.) H&C's owners, the Hobby family decided to exit broadcasting in 1995; the company's stations were sold off to different owners, with WESH and KCCI being sold to Pulitzer in 1993. Pulitzer sold its entire broadcasting division, including WESH and KCCI, to Hearst-Argyle Television in 1998.

On May 8, 2006, Hearst-Argyle announced its purchase of then-WB affiliate WKCF (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) from Emmis Communications, as part of Emmis' sale of its television station assets to concentrate on its radio properties. This acquisition was completed on August 31, 2006; resulting in Orlando's third commercial television station duopoly (alongside Cox-owned WFTV and WRDQ, and Fox-owned WOFL and WRBW).

Time Warner Cable-Hearst Television disputeEdit

On July 9, 2012, Hearst Television entered into a dispute with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, resulting in WESH's removal from Bright House's Central Florida systems; the station was temporarily replaced with Nexstar Broadcasting Group-owned Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania NBC affiliate WBRE-TV (TWC/Bright House opted to replace the Hearst stations with out-of-market signals such as WBRE, as the companies do not have the rights to carry any nearby affiliates of networks whose Hearst-owned affiliates were pulled due to the dispute. The substitution of WBRE in place of WESH lasted until July 19, 2012, when a new carriage deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.


TV stations in Florida
WTVJ, Miami

WFLA, Tampa
WNBW, Gainesville
WTLV, Jacksonville
WTWC, Tallahassee
WJHG, Panama City
WESH, Orlando
WBBH, Fort Myers
WPTV, West Palm Beach

TV stations in East Central Florida and the Space Coast, including Orlando, Daytona Beach and Melbourne
WESH 2 (NBC)
WKMG 6 (CBS)
WFTV 9 (ABC)
WDSC 15 (ETV)
WKCF 18 (CW)
W21AU-D 21 (ATeVe)
WUCF 24 (PBS)
WOTF 26 (UMas)
WRDQ 27 (Ind)
WFEF-LD 28 (Comet)
WRCF-CD 29 (Escape)
WTMO-CD 31 (TLM)
W32DJ-D 32 (3ABN)
WOFL 35 (Fox)
WZXZ-CD 36 (SSN)
WHDO-CD 38 (Biz)
WVEN 43 (UNI)
WTGL 45 (Rel)
WATV-LD 47 (AZA)
WDTO-LD 50 (Daystar)
WHLV 52 (TBN)
WACX 55 (Rel)
WOPX 56 (Ion)
WRBW 65 (MNTV)
WEFS 68 (ETV)
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