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WXII-TV, virtual channel 12 (UHF digital channel 31), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States and serving the Piedmont Triad region (Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point). The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, as part of a duopoly with Lexington-licensed CW affiliate WCWG (channel 20). The two stations share studios on Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem and transmitting facilities on Sauratown Mountain in Stokes County. WXII-TV is carried on cable channel 11 in most parts of the market.

History[]

The station first signed on the air on September 30, 1953 as WSJS-TV. It is the third-oldest surviving television station in North Carolina, behind Charlotte's WBTV and channel 12's rival in the Greensboro market, WFMY-TV. The station at first was owned by a partnership of Piedmont Publishing, publishers of the Winston-Salem Journal and Twin City Sentinel, and Hollywood star Mary Pickford and her husband Charles "Buddy" Rogers. It took its calls from Piedmont Publishing's WSJS radio (600 AM and 104.1 FM, now WTQR). The original call letters stood for Winston-Salem Journal Sentinel.

Johnny Beckman, an early employee, recalled working at WSJS-TV in those early years:

There were three of us, and we all did multiple jobs—the weather, commercials, a teenage dance party. We were all scrambling around trying to make a living. Broadcasting was not high-paying then. The pay has certainly improved, but it was a more enjoyable career than it has become now.

The station has always been affiliated with NBC. ABC programming was shared (through a secondary affiliation) with WFMY until WGHP (channel 8) signed on in October 1963. The station's operations were originally housed from the basement of the WSJS studios on Spruce Street in Winston-Salem. The first broadcast was of the first game of the 1953 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Channel 12 originally broadcast its signal from an antenna near Kernersville. WSJS-TV opened its new transmitter site atop Sauratown Mountain in 1955. In 1959, Piedmont exercised an option agreement to buy out Pickford and Rogers, and gained complete control of the station. The matter ended up in court when Pickford and Rogers felt that Piedmont had undervalued the amount of their shares, but was eventually resolved in Piedmont's favor.

Piedmont Publishing was sold to Media General in 1968. By this time, the Federal Communications Commission was giving serious thought to barring common ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets. Gordon Gray, the longtime publisher of both papers, thus formed Triangle Broadcasting to hold onto WSJS-AM-FM-TV. Gray also received the franchise for the city's cable system, Summit Cable. However, soon afterward, the FCC ruled that media companies could not own both a television station and a cable system in the same market. Gray was thus forced to sell WSJS-TV in 1972 to Multimedia, Inc., earning a handsome return on his purchase of the Journal and Sentinel in 1937. The new owners changed the station's call letters to WXII-TV on October 2 (the letters "XII" from "WXII" are the Roman numerals for the station's channel number, "12"). At the time of the call letter change, the station ran a promotional ad parodying the death of Julius Caesar to amplify the Roman numeral theme. Two other stations in the market later switched to Roman numeral call letters (WXLV-TV, channel 45 and WLXI-TV, channel 61; WGSR-LD's previous incarnation also used Roman numerals as WXIV).

Multimedia swapped WXII and WFBC-TV (now WYFF) in Greenville, South Carolina to Pulitzer in 1983 in exchange for KSDK in St. Louis. Pulitzer sold its entire broadcasting division, including WXII, to Hearst-Argyle Television, now Hearst Television, in 1998.

That same year, Hearst bought WETR (830 AM) and changed its callsign to WXII, and switched it to a news radio format that included audio from some WXII newscasts.

On July 9, 2012, Hearst Television became involved in a carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable, resulting in WXII being pulled from the provider's Piedmont Triad systems and being temporarily replaced with Nexstar Broadcasting Group-owned WBRE-TV from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Time Warner opted for such a distant signal like WBRE, as it did not have the rights to carry any NBC affiliate closer in proximity. The substitution of WBRE in place of WXII lasted until July 19, 2012, when Hearst and Time Warner reached a new carriage agreement.


TV stations in North Carolina
WRAL, Raleigh

WCNC, Charlotte
WXII, Winston-Salem
WECT, Wilmington
WITN, Washington

TV stations in the Piedmont Triad, including Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina
WFMY 2 (CBS)
WGHP 8 (Fox)
WXII 12 (NBC)
WGPX 16 (Ion)
WGSR-LD 19 (Ind.)
WCWG 20 (CW)
WUNL 26 (PBS)
WLXI 43 (TCT)
WXLV 45 (ABC)
WMYV 48 (MNTV)
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