WRC-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 48), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to the American capital city of Washington, District of Columbia. Owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal (itself a subsidiary of Comcast), it is sister to Class A Telemundo owned-and-operated station WZDC-CD (channel 44) and regional sports network NBC Sports Washington. WRC-TV and WZDC-CD share studios and transmitter facilities on Nebraska Avenue in the Tenleytown neighborhood of northwest Washington.
WRC-TV houses and originates NBC News' Washington bureau, out of which the network's (and television's) long-running political events program, Meet the Press, is based.
On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 24 in Washington, D.C. (C-SPAN is carried on cable channel 4) and channel 4 in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and on Cox Communications, RCN and Verizon FiOS channel 4.
The station traces its roots to experimental television station W3XNB, which was put on the air by the Radio Corporation of America, the then-parent company of NBC, in 1939. A construction permit with the commercial callsign WNBW (standing for "NBC Washington") was first issued on channel 3 (60–66 MHz, numbered channel 2 prior to 1946) on December 23, 1941. NBC requested this permit to be cancelled on June 29, 1942; channel 3 was reallocated to Harrisonburg, Virginia.
On June 27, 1947, WNBW was re-licensed on channel 4 and signed on the air. Channel 4 is the second-oldest commercially licensed television station in Washington, after WTTG (channel 5), which signed on six months earlier in January 1947. WNBW was also the second of the five original NBC-owned television stations to sign-on, behind New York City and ahead of Chicago, Cleveland and Los Angeles. The station was operated alongside WRC radio (980 AM, frequency now occupied by WTEM; and 93.9 FM, now WKYS).
On October 18, 1954, the television station's callsign changed to the present WRC-TV to match its radio sisters. The new calls reflected NBC's ownership at the time by RCA. It has retained its "-TV" suffix to this day, more than two decades after the radio stations were sold off and changed call letters (the WNBW callsign is now used by the NBC affiliate in Gainesville, Florida).
In 1955, while in college and serving as a puppeteer on a WRC-TV program, Jim Henson was asked to create a puppet show for the station. The series he created, Sam and Friends, was the first series to feature the Muppets, and launched the Jim Henson Company.
The second presidential debate between candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was broadcast from the station's studios on October 7, 1960. David Brinkley's Washington segment of the Huntley-Brinkley Report originated at WRC-TV between 1956 and 1970, as did Washington reports or commentaries by Brinkley or John Chancellor on NBC Nightly News in the 1970s.
The earliest color videotape in existence is a recording of the dedication of NBC/WRC's Washington studios on May 22, 1958. As Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke at the event, introduced by NBC President Robert W. Sarnoff, it was also the first time a president had been videotaped in color.
At the time of its sign-on, channel 4 was one of two wholly network-owned stations in Washington, the other being DuMont's WTTG. DuMont was shut down in 1956, and for the next 30 years WRC-TV was Washington's only network owned-and-operated station. That distinction ended when WTTG was sold to the News Corporation and became a charter station for the Fox network in 1986; it has since been accompanied by WDCA (channel 20) as UPN was owned by the station's owner Viacom until 2001 when Viacom traded the station to Fox (it is currently affiliated with the MyNetworkTV programming service). Today, WRC is one of three network-owned stations in the nation's capital, alongside the Fox Television Stations-owned duopoly of WTTG and WDCA.
In September 2017, NBC announced they were to launch a new Telemundo owned-and-operated station based out of WRC-TV. ZGS Communications, owner of Washington's existing Telemundo affiliate WZDC-CD (channel 25), sold the station's channel allocation in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s 2017–18 incentive auction, accepting a $66 million payout to turn off its signal and continue operations by sharing the channel of another station. A Telemundo spokesperson stated that the sale of WZDC's spectrum "gave us the ability to take back the Telemundo affiliation for this market," without elaborating what that meant. NBC later purchased WZDC-CD with the intention of moving its over-the-air signal to that of WRC-TV through a channel-sharing agreement.
NBC took control of WZDC-CD on January 1, 2018, and added a temporary relay to WRC-TV's digital subchannel 4.3. The channel-sharing agreement took effect on March 7, 2018. Under the agreement, WZDC shares WRC-TV's physical signal as a subchannel would, but exercises control over its part of the signal and retains its own virtual channel number and license. WZDC's virtual channel changed from 25.1 to 44.1 to avoid a conflict with WDVM-TV, which also occupies virtual channel 25.1.
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
| WAVY, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.|
| WRC 4 (NBC) |
WTTG 5 (Fox)
WJLA 7 (ABC)
WUSA 9 (CBS)
WDCO-CD 10 (JTV)
WFDC 14 (UNI)
WDCA 20 (MNTV)
WMPT 22 (PBS)
WDDN-LD 23 (Daystar)
WDVM 25 (Ind)
WETA 26 (PBS)
WRZB-LD 31 (Escape)
WWPB 31 (PBS)
WHUT 32 (PBS)
WZDC-CD 44 (TLM)
WMDO-CD 47 (UMas)
WWTD-LD 49 (MBCA)
WDCW 50 (CW)
WWPX 60 (Ion)
WFPT 62 (PBS)
WPXW 66 (Ion)
WJAL 68 (SBN)