WNNE, branded on air as The Valley CW, is a CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Montpelier, Vermont, United States, serving Northern Vermont's Champlain Valley (including Burlington) and Upstate New York's North Country (including Plattsburgh). It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 14 (or virtual channel 31 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, it is part of a duopoly with Plattsburgh-licensed NBC affiliate WPTZ (channel 5) and the two stations share studios on Television Drive in the town of Plattsburgh.

History[edit | edit source]

The analog channel 31 allocation in the Upper Valley was first occupied by WRLH, which signed-on July 26, 1966. It was a low-powered black-and-white NBC affiliate operating out of studios in, and licensed to, Lebanon, New Hampshire. WRLH brought NBC programming to much of the region for the first time. Although this area is part of the Burlington–Plattsburgh market, WPTZ was the only station in the region that did not operate any translators.

Despite providing the best access to NBC, WRLH failed to make any decent headway in the ratings in part because it could not air programming in color, which NBC was instrumental in making the norm for broadcasting. It finally succumbed to low viewership, went dark from August 23, 1968 to August 3, 1971, and finally went dark permanently in 1976. (The WRLH call letters are currently used by a Fox affiliate in Richmond, Virginia owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.)

The Taft Broadcasting Corporation, the same company who founded KGUL-TV in Galveston, Texas (now KHOU in Houston) but unrelated to the larger Taft Broadcasting Company of Cincinnati, obtained a permit for a new channel 31 that was by then reallocated to Hartford in 1977. Initially, this new television station was assigned the call letters WMVW but went on-the-air September 25, 1978 as WNNE-TV from its current facility in White River Junction. The station was granted a waiver by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to identify as "Hartford/Hanover" in 1980 and the -TV suffix was subsequently dropped at a later time.

For its first twelve years, WNNE was a full-fledged station running its own syndicated lineup as well as network programming from NBC. On December 17, 1990, Heritage Media (then-owner of WPTZ) bought WNNE and turned it into a semi-satellite of WPTZ. For a time, most programming still originated out of WNNE, but certain shows were relayed from Plattsburgh through a new microwave relay system. In 2000, WPTZ moved WNNE's master control to its studios in Plattsburgh. This move would be followed by WNNE's website being integrated into a separate section of WPTZ's website in July 2001. On some cable systems in Central Vermont (such as Charter Communications systems serving Barre, St. Johnsbury and Chelsea; and Comcast in Rutland), both WPTZ and WNNE were carried even though the two station's schedules were identical.

On July 20, 2005, WNNE began broadcasting a standard definition digital signal on UHF channel 25 from a transmitter on WVTA's nearby tower on Mount Ascutney. WNNE did not carry any of the additional digital subchannels that have been carried by WPTZ, including NBC Weather Plus (despite this, weather graphics seen on the stations' newscasts carried the "NewsChannel 5 & 31 Weather Plus" branding), This TV, MeTV, or The CW, though Comcast does carry WPTZ's subchannels in the Upper Valley.

During the analog era and some of the digital-only broadcasting period, WNNE operated a repeater, W65AM, on channel 65 in Lebanon. W65AM had a transmitter west of Lebanon on Crafts Hill. W65AM had its license cancelled by the FCC on March 19, 2010. This translator was within reach of a former analog repeater operated by Portland, Maine sister station WMTW, W27CP (channel 27) in White River Junction, which was established in 2005 after WMTW moved its main transmitter from Mount Washington closer to the Greater Portland area in Maine. That signal had a transmitter located in Hanover's Mascoma section. FCC regulations do not allow two or more stations from two or more different markets have coverage in the same location (in this case, White River Junction); this rule does not apply to repeaters, so WMTW's translator was allowed to operate. Hearst sold W27CP to New Hampshire Public Television in 2009 after taking it silent following the loss of its lease of the transmitter site.

On August 2, 2016, WNNE dropped its "Channel 31" branding and logo; the station then used WPTZ's "NBC 5" branding and logo with no separate branding, and was only mentioned during WPTZ's legal IDs.

In the FCC's incentive auction, WNNE sold its spectrum for $50,464,592 and indicated that it would enter into a post-auction channel sharing agreement. WNNE now channel-shares with WPTZ; as the WPTZ signal does not sufficiently reach Hartford, WNNE changed its city of license to Montpelier. WNNE shut down operations on its pre-auction channel and commenced channel-sharing operations, effective July 22, 2018; on July 20, Hearst Television announced that WNNE would become the market's CW affiliate following the move. This was done by re-numbering that station's former WPTZ subchannel on 5.2 to WNNE's 31.1 virtual channel via PSIP. This resolves the concerns raised years before regarding a lack of access to the WPTZ sub-channels for WNNE viewers, yet it also limits viewers in the Upper Valley to cable and satellite viewing options for NBC programming.

TV stations in New England
WCCT, Waterbury

WPXT, Portland; WABI-DT2, Bangor; WAGM-DT3, Presque Isle
WLVI, Boston; WWLP-DT2/WFXQ-CD2, Springfield
WNAC-DT2, Providence
WNNE, Montpelier

TV stations in Northern and Central Vermont, Northeastern New York and Northwestern New Hampshire including Burlington and Plattsburgh
WNNE 31 (CW)
WFFF 44 (Fox)
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