WRIC-TV, virtual channel 8 (UHF digital channel 22), is an ABC/Ion Television-affiliated television station serving Richmond, Virginia, United States that is licensed to nearby Petersburg. Owned by Nexstar Media Group, WRIC-TV maintains studios in Chesterfield County, overlooking Powhite Parkway just south of the Midlothian Turnpike interchange. Its transmitter is located in Bon Air, on an antenna installation shared with local PBS member stations WCVE (channel 23) and WCVW (channel 57).
The station began operation in 1955 as WXEX-TV, an NBC affiliate. It was owned by Thomas Tinsley, along with WLEE radio, via the Petersburg Television Corporation. Channel 8's transmitter was located in the Bermuda Hundred area of eastern Chesterfield County, while the main studios were in Petersburg. Originally, it didn't cover Richmond nearly as well as did WTVR-TV (channel 6) and WRVA-TV (channel 12, now WWBT). At first, a Richmond sales office was located at WLEE's studios on West Broad Street in Richmond; later, satellite studios were established just off Midlothian Turnpike in Bon Air, a suburb of Richmond.
The station swapped affiliations with channel 12 in 1965 and became an ABC affiliate. It has been with that network ever since. In 1968, Tinsley sold WXEX-TV and WLEE to Nationwide Communications. In 1969, a fire destroyed its original Petersburg studios. For a few weeks, the station had to broadcast from its transmitter, then set up temporary offices and studios in a vacated store in Petersburg. The station later moved to a brand new facility on Crater Road that it named Blandford Manor. In 1981, Nationwide sold off sister station WLEE.
On April 23, 1990, the station moved its studios to the current location on Arboretum Place in Chesterfield County. With the new studios came new call letters, WRIC-TV. However, it is still licensed to Petersburg; unlike the other stations in the market, it identifies as "Petersburg/Richmond." Nationwide would sell all three of its ABC-affiliated television stations, including WRIC, to Young Broadcasting in 1993.
The station's owner, Young Broadcasting, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. The station was part of a bankruptcy auction scheduled for July 14, 2009 but cancelled at the last minute. On July 22, a bankruptcy judge approved a plan in which Young's secured lenders would take over the company.
On June 6, 2013, Young Broadcasting announced that it would merge with Richmond-based Media General. Upon consummation, the merger made WRIC-TV one of two flagships of Media General (WFLA-TV in Tampa serves as the home base of Media General's broadcast division). It was the first legal opportunity for Media General in years to own a station in its hometown. Its predecessor, Richmond Newspapers, lost out in the bidding for WWBT's forerunner, WRVA-TV, in 1956 due to the FCC's preference for a non-newspaper owner. Media General merged with WTVR's then-parent company, Park Communications, but had to immediately put WTVR on the market due to cross-ownership restrictions involving the flagship Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was sold with Media General's newspaper business in 2012 to BH Media. The merger would also make WRIC a sister station to Roanoke's NBC affiliate, WSLS-TV. The merger was approved by the FCC on November 8, after Media General shareholders approved the merger a day earlier; it was completed on November 12.
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire the Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion with the intention to name the combined group Meredith Media General if the sale were finalized. However, on September 28, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group made an unsolicited cash-and-stock merger offer for Media General, originally valued at $14.50 per share. On November 16, following opposition to the merger with Meredith by minority shareholders Oppenheimer Holdings and Starboard Capital (primarily because Meredith's magazine properties were included in the deal, which would have re-entered Media General into publishing after it sold its newspapers to BH Media in 2012 to reduce debt) and the rejection of Nexstar's initial offer by company management, Media General agreed to enter into negotiations with Nexstar on a suitable counter deal, while the Meredith merger proposal remained active; the two eventually concluded negotiations on January 6, 2016, reaching a merger agreement for valued at $17.14 per share (an evaluation of $4.6 billion, plus the assumption of $2.3 billion debt).
On January 27, Meredith formally broke off the proposed merger with Media General and accepted the termination fee of $60 million previously negotiated under the original merger proposal; Media General subsequently signed an agreement to be acquired by Nexstar, in exchange for giving Meredith right of first refusal to acquire any broadcast or digital properties that may be divested (a clause that Meredith did not exercise). The transaction was approved by the FCC on January 11, 2017; the sale was completed on January 17, at which point the existing Nexstar stations and the former Media General outlets that neither group had to sell in order to rectify ownership conflicts in certain markets became part of the renamed Nexstar Media Group; this brought WRIC as well as NBC affiliate WAVY-TV and Fox affiliate WVBT in Norfolk (which became sister properties to WRIC through Media General's 2015 acquisition of LIN Media) under common ownership with the Roanoke duopoly of Fox affiliate WFXR and CW affiliate WWCW (which necessitated Media General to sell WSLS-TV to Graham Media Group in order to alleviate said ownership conflict with the two existing Nexstar-owned stations). On September 20, 2017, the station dropped its longtime brand of WRIC-TV 8 and is now branded on-air as "ABC 8".
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned CBS affiliate WTVR since 2009—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WTVR directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the same media market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WTVR through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WTVR or WRIC to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||720p||16:9||WRIC TV||Main WRIC-TV programming / ABC|
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
|WVEC, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in Central Virginia, including Richmond and Petersburg|
|WTVR 6 (CBS) |
WRIC 8 (ABC)
WWBT 12 (NBC)
WXOB-LP 17 (Ind)
WCVE 23 (PBS)
WRLH 35 (Fox)
WZTD-LD 45 (TLM)
WRID-LD 48 (Daystar)
WCVW 57 (PBS)
WUPV 65 (CW)