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WNCN, virtual and UHF digital channel 17, branded as CBS 17, is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Goldsboro, North Carolina, United States and serving the Triangle region (Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill–Fayetteville). The station is owned by the Nexstar Media Group. WNCN's studios are located on Front Street in North Raleigh, and its transmitter is located in Auburn, North Carolina.

On cable, the station is carried on Charter Spectrum channel 6 in Raleigh; channel 2 in Durham and Chapel Hill; channel 10 in Wilson, Fayetteville and Southern Pines; channel 13 in Goldsboro; channel 9 in Carrboro; and channel 7 in most other places, including Cary. A high definition feed is available on Spectrum digital channel 1203. In recent years, WNCN has been carried on cable in multiple areas within the Greensboro–High Point–Winston-Salem and Greenville–New Bern–Washington markets.

On January 15, 2016, CBS and WNCN announced that WNCN would become the new CBS affiliate for the Triangle market, effective February 29, 2016, ending a 20-year affiliation with NBC, after longtime CBS affiliate WRAL-TV announced it would become the new NBC affiliate for the region.


Early history[]

The station first signed on the air on April 11, 1988 as WYED-TV, a small station that primarily carried programming from the Home Shopping Network, along with some ministry and sportsman shows that aired on weekends. WYED was the first (and only) television station owned by the Beasley Broadcasting Group, run by George Beasley, who got his start in 1961 by signing on radio station WPYB (1130 AM) in nearby Benson. Channel 17's original studios were located at 622 South Barbour Street in Clayton, with a 1,550-foot (470 m) transmitter tower located nearby, broadcasting with 2.6 million watts of power. The station had limited cable carriage, mainly on smaller providers outside the core counties in the metropolitan area. In 1992, Cablevision (whose Triangle area system is now operated by Charter Communications) added WYED to its Durham and Raleigh lineups; the station gradually shifted towards a more general entertainment independent format and added children's programming (such as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!) and syndicated talk shows. While the station could be seen clearly in Raleigh and Durham, its signal could not be seen as clearly in the far western and northern reaches of the Triangle.

On August 10, 1994, the station was bought by The Outlet Company, and on January 1, 1995, its call letters were changed to the current WNCN (standing for "North Carolina's News"). The station's transmitter power was increased to five million watts, giving it a signal comparable to the other major Triangle stations. The station also added more sitcoms and first-run syndicated shows. When The WB Television Network debuted on January 11, 1995, WNCN nominally became the Triangle outlet for the new network. However, since the network initially had only one night of programming each week (on Wednesdays) for its first eight months, WNCN was essentially still programmed as an independent station.


One month later, NBC signed a long-term affiliation deal with The Outlet Company. Outlet had very good relations with NBC and owned two of the network's strongest affiliates, WJAR-TV in the company's home city of Providence, Rhode Island and WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio. The deal called for WNCN to take the Triangle's NBC affiliation when the network's contract with incumbent affiliate WRDC-TV (channel 28) ran out in the fall. As part of the deal, channel 17 immediately began to run NBC programs that were preempted by WRDC.

NBC had been looking for a way to get on another station in the Triangle for some time, particularly amid the Triangle's explosive growth in the 1980s. WRDC had been one of NBC's lowest-rated affiliates for years, and frequently preempted NBC programming. WNCN completely replaced WRDC as the Triangle's NBC affiliate on September 3, 1995 after WRDC's affiliation contract ran out (with WRDC subsequently joining UPN), sending the WB affiliation to upstart WRAZ (channel 50), which debuted four days later. The station also moved its operations into a studio facility in North Raleigh that was formerly occupied by then-Fox affiliate WLFL (channel 22, now a CW affiliate).

WNCN was the fourth station in the Triangle to have a primary affiliation with NBC. The network had first been affiliated with WTVD (channel 11) from 1954 to 1956, then moved to WRAL-TV (channel 5) from 1956 to 1962. After WRAL became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1962, WTVD shoehorned CBS and NBC programs onto its schedule until 1968, when WRDC-TV signed on that year as WRDU-TV (channel 28 later used the WPTF-TV callsign from 1978 to 1991). When WNCN became a NBC affiliate, it marked the first time that network's complete schedule had aired in the Triangle since WRAL added ABC part-time in 1959.

As an NBC O&O[]

Outlet sold its broadcasting holdings to NBC in 1996. This resulted in WNCN becoming NBC's first owned-and-operated station on the UHF band since the 1950s. During that decade the network briefly owned WBUF-TV (later to become PBS station WNED-TV) in Buffalo, New York and the then-WNBC-TV in New Britain, Connecticut, the latter of which NBC reacquired as WVIT in 1997. When WNCN was owned by NBC, it was one of three network-owned stations on the UHF dial (alongside KNSD in San Diego and WVIT in Hartford) and was also one of two network-owned stations in the Raleigh-Durham market (alongside ABC-owned WTVD, which continues to be owned by that network's corporate parent The Walt Disney Company). After WNCN became an NBC-owned station, it began branding itself as "NBC 17."

In 2000, WNCN relocated its transmitter facilities from the Clayton tower to a nearly 2,000-foot (610 m) perch on an arm of Capitol Broadcasting Company's new digital candelabra tower 8 miles (13 km) closer to Raleigh, near Auburn. WNCN signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 55 at the same time. The station had to get a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move to the Auburn tower, as FCC rules require a station's transmitter to be no further than 15 miles (24 km) from its city of license.

Sale to Media General[]

On January 9, 2006, NBC Universal announced it was putting WNCN up for sale, along with WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama and the other two former Outlet stations, WJAR and WCMH. On April 6, 2006, Media General announced that it would acquire the four stations. This made WNCN a sister station to WNCT-TV in Greenville. The sale was finalized on June 26, 2006. In April 2013, as part of a new branding campaign, the station switched its branding from "NBC 17" to just WNCN. The new brand is intended to emphasize the station's "strong desire to more aggressively serve its local communities". For the past 17 years, the station had almost never used its call letters on-air, except during legal IDs.

On October 1, 2013, WNCN and other Media General stations were dropped from Dish Network when its retransmission contract expired. Coverage has since been restored following a retransmission agreement brokered by the two parties on November 16.

Switch to CBS, sale to Nexstar[]

On January 15, 2016, it was announced that WNCN would switch to CBS on February 29, 2016, after existing affiliate WRAL-TV decided not to renew its affiliation. Media General CEO Vincent Sandusky stated that, as its 23rd station affiliated with the network, that "CBS has been a longstanding and valued partner for many years, and we are pleased to build upon our relationship with a new affiliation in Raleigh." NBC, in turn, returned to WRAL-TV, which, as mentioned above, had been the Triangle's NBC affiliate from 1956 to 1962.[10] WNCN became the fourth station in the Triangle to affiliate with CBS. The network had originally aligned with WNAO-TV (channel 28, frequency now occupied by WRDC) in 1954 and moved to WTVD in 1957 before aligning with WRAL-TV in 1985.

Soon thereafter, on January 27, 2016, it was announced that the Nexstar Broadcasting Group would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WNCN became part of the Nexstar Media Group upon the sale's consummation on January 17, 2017.

Upon the switch to CBS, the station changed its on-air branding to CBS North Carolina, largely relegating mentions of its call letters to legal IDs It also re-branded its newscasts as North Carolina News (a backronym of its call letters). It plans to put greater emphasis on news from around the state. WNCN also emphasized that CBS programming has long been a strong ratings performer in the Triangle, and CBS prime-time content is highly watched in the region. The move will also make WNCN the Triangle's home for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The Triangle has long been a hotbed for college basketball, and WNCN stressed that the NCAA Tournament rights are one of many reasons that CBS was "a perfect fit for what viewers here (in the Triangle) want." However, Raycom Sports coverage of Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season basketball and football will remain on WRAL, as it is a syndicated service, that contract is separate from the broadcast network contract.

CBS' ratings in the Triangle initially dropped significantly with the switch to WNCN. Notably, on the day of the switch, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert all lost more than half their audience share. All three fell from first place in the Triangle ratings during their time periods to third place in one stroke.

On March 15, 2018, WNCN rebranded as CBS 17.

TV stations in North Carolina
WNCN, Goldsboro

WBTV, Charlotte
WFMY, Greensboro
WWAY-DT2, Wilmington
WNCT, Greenville

TV stations in North Carolina's Research Triangle region, including Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville
WUBX-CD 13 (Ind)
WLFL 22 (CW)
W24CP-D 24 (3ABN)
WHIG-CD 31 (Ind)
WNCR-LD 41 (Youtoo)
WHFL-CD 43 (Rel)
WYBE-CD 44 (Ind)
W46EU-D 46 (HSN2)
WRPX 47 (Ion)
WRAZ 50 (Fox)
WFPX 62 (Court TV)
WWIW-LD 66 (Daystar)