Happiness is a Warm TV

WRAL to become NBC affiliate, WNCN will now be CBS

Meteorologist Greg Fishel, 58, prepares for a promo, shot before he goes on-air, at the WRAL studio in Raleigh on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.
Meteorologist Greg Fishel, 58, prepares for a promo, shot before he goes on-air, at the WRAL studio in Raleigh on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Get ready for channel confusion to set in with Triangle TV viewers.

It was announced Friday afternoon that WRAL, the area’s longtime CBS affiliate, will soon become the NBC affiliate. WNCN, the NBC affiliate, will become CBS.

The change will take place Feb. 29.

Gerald Owens made the announcement at the start of WRAL’s 5:30 p.m. newscast, saying WRAL welcomes programming such as the “Today” show, “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and this summer’s Olympic games.

In morning news, “Today” will be a stronger partner for WRAL than “CBS This Morning” – though the CBS morning news show, which has a stronger emphasis on news over entertainment and is anchored by North Carolina native Charlie Rose, has been making steady gains. ABC’s “Good Morning America” is the top morning news show, nationally.

The evening news situation is similar. NBC and ABC are neck-and-neck in the ratings race – with ABC’s David Muir recently pulling ahead of NBC’s Lester Holt – while CBS lags in third place, with a newscast anchored by Scott Pelley.

In prime-time programming, NBC has made a big comeback in recent years, climbing from the cellar in Nielsen ratings to hold the top spot for the past two years. CBS and ABC tie for second place, just ahead of Fox.

According to a news release from Capitol Broadcasting, WRAL started out as an NBC affiliate in 1956 and switched to ABC in 1962. It became the local CBS affiliate in 1985. The station’s owner, Capitol Broadcasting, also owns the local Fox affiliate, WRAZ.

When reached Friday night, Kristen Byrum, director of marketing at WNCN, said the station is excited about the change.

“This is a great thing for WNCN,” she said. “CBS has great programming and there are a lot of opportunities to have a fresh start.”

WNCN is owned by Media General. In that company’s news release, president and CEO Vincent L. Sadusky said it looks forward to having the CBS affiliate in Raleigh. “We are particularly excited about the opportunities this brings to our station and the high-quality network programming that complements our strong local news and unique local content,” he said.

WRAL’s general manager, Steven D. Hammel, said in the Capitol Broadcasting release: “We’ve enjoyed a strong relationship with CBS News over the years. Change brings opportunity. I have great confidence in our team to establish WRAL-TV as a dominant NBC affiliate.”

Brooke Cain: 919-829-4579, @brookecain

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