WWNY-TV 7 News logo.svg
Wnyf ca 2008.png
Carthage/Watertown, New York
United States
CityCarthage, New York
ChannelsDigital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 7
  • .1: WWNY-TV 7
  • 7 News (newscasts)
  • .2: Fox 28
Affiliations7.1: CBS
7.2: Fox
OwnerGray Television
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
First air date
October 22, 1954 (66 years ago) (1954-10-22)
Former call signs
WCNY-TV (1954–1965)
Former channel number(s)
7 (VHF, 1954–2009)
35 (UHF, 2003–2009)
7 (VHF, 2009–2020)
  • Secondary:
  • DuMont (1954–1955)
  • ABC (1954–1988)
  • NBC (1954–1995)
  • NTA (1956–1961)
  • NET/PBS (1958–1971)
  • Fox (1987–1998)
Call sign meaning
We're Watertown,
New York
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID68851
ERP42 kW
HAAT219 m (719 ft)
Transmitter coordinates43°57′15″N 75°43′45″W / 43.95417°N 75.72917°W / 43.95417; -75.72917
Translator(s)WWNY-CD 28.2 (18.2 UHF) Massena
Public license information
Translator of WWNY-TV
Massena, New York
United States
ChannelsDigital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 28
Brandingsee WWNY-TV infobox
Affiliations28.1: CBS
28.2: Fox
OwnerGray Television
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
see WWNY-TV infobox
First air date
2001 (as separate station)
Former call signs
W28BC (1994–2002)
WNYF-LP (2002–2010)
WNYF-LD (2010–2013)
WNYF-CD (2013–2014)
Former channel number(s)
28 (UHF, 1994–2010)
ABC (as WWTI repeater)
UPN (secondary; 2001–2006)
Call sign meaning
see WWNY-TV infobox
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID16744
HAAT241 m (791 ft)
Transmitter coordinates44°29′29″N 74°51′27″W / 44.49139°N 74.85750°W / 44.49139; -74.85750 (WWNY-CD)
Public license information

WWNY-TV, virtual channel 7 (VHF digital channel 8), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Carthage, New York, United States, serving Watertown and upstate New York's North Country. Owned by Gray Television, it is a sister station to Watertown-licensed low-powered, Class A Fox affiliate WNYF-CD (channel 28). Both stations share studios on Arcade Street in downtown Watertown, while WWNY-TV's transmitter is located along NY 126/State Street on Champion Hill.

WWNY-CD, virtual channel 28 (UHF digital channel 18), is a Class A station licensed to Massena, New York, which operates as a translator of WWNY-TV. This station's transmitter is located southeast of South Colton along NY 56.


WCNY-TV was granted a special temporary authority (STA) to begin broadcasting on October 14, 1954.[1] It was locally owned by the Watertown Daily Times, which also owned WWNY radio (AM 790, now WTNY) in Watertown.[2] The station carried programming from two networks at the time (CBS, ABC[3] then added NBC by the program)[4] but has always been a primary CBS affiliate. During the late-1950s, WCNY was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[5] By the mid-1960s, the station benefited from the ratings-dominant CBS programming lineup and established a large viewership base, including much of eastern Ontario, Canada. After the FCC allowed television and radio stations to share the same base call sign even when they were licensed to different cities, channel 7 changed call letters to WWNY-TV to match its radio sisters in 1965. The WCNY-TV calls now reside on a PBS member station in nearby Syracuse.

The station was a major beneficiary of a quirk in the FCC's plan for allocating stations. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available and 69 UHF channels (later reduced to 55 in 1983). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried longer distances. Since there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced.

After the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze and opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas would be designated as "UHF islands" since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" represented non-commercial educational stations, and "1/2" became ABC (which was the weakest network usually winding up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available).

However, Watertown was sandwiched between Syracuse (channels 3, 8, later 5, and 9) to the south, Rochester (channels 6, later 8, 10, and 13) to the west, Utica (channel 13, later 2) and Albany (channel 4, later 6, later joined by 10 and 13) to the southeast, Burlington/Plattsburgh (channels 3 and 5) to the east, Kingston (channel 11) to the northwest, Ottawa (channels 4 and 9, later joined by 13) to the north, and Montreal (channels 2, 6, 10, and 12) to the northeast. This created a large "doughnut" in Watertown where there could only be one VHF license. WWNY was fortunate to gain that license, and as a result was the only television station that was based in Watertown until the early 1970s.

From 1958 until 1971, WCNY/WWNY also aired educational programming through National Educational Television (NET, becoming PBS in 1970) provided by the St. Lawrence Valley Educational Television Council. When the council established its own PBS member station, WNPE-TV (now WPBS-TV) in 1971, WWNY donated its original studios to the new station as it had moved to its current location near the Watertown Daily Times offices on Arcade Street in Downtown Watertown in mid-February 1970. The Johnson family sold WWNY to United Communications Corporation in 1981 for $8.2 million after an unsuccessful struggle against the FCC and its directive for newspapers to divest themselves of television stations held within the same market.

Until WFYF (now WWTI) signed-on in 1988 replacing a small WUTR repeater on analog UHF channel 50 and taking the ABC affiliation, WWNY was Watertown's only commercial station. As a primary CBS affiliate, WWNY carried the network's full prime time schedule and news programs while cherry-picking the most popular ABC and NBC shows aired at other hours. The station also aired some Fox programming starting in 1987 while Sunday Fox Sports National Football League games aired on WWTI. When cable arrived in the region in the 1970s, viewers could watch the full network schedules via NBC affiliate WSTM-TV and ABC affiliate WIXT (now WSYR-TV) in Syracuse or NBC affiliate WPTZ in Plattsburgh.

Channel 7 gradually phased out non-CBS programming in the 1980s. ABC completely disappeared from the schedule when WFYF signed-on. NBC programs (including Today and The Tonight Show) remained on WWNY into the 1980s with some prime time programming (which aired delayed) lasting until 1995. After that, viewers received NBC programming from either WSTM or WPTZ, depending on location, until December 1, 2016 when WVNC-LD signed on as Watertown's first full-time NBC affiliate.[6] Fox programs largely disappeared in the early-1990s with the exception of Major League Baseball games from Fox Sports which lasted until 1998.

On February 8, 2019, Gray Television announced it was purchasing the United stations, including WWNY-TV, WNYF-CD and WWNY-CD. In advance of the purchase, Gray will assume control of the stations via a local marketing agreement (LMA) on March 1.[7] WWNY-TV, WNYF-CD and WWNY-CD would be Gray's first stations in New York State; the acquisition would make them sister stations to fellow CBS affiliate WCAX-TV in adjacent Burlington, Vermont, another station owned by a small independent operator (in WCAX's case, the Hasbrook-Martin family) before Gray bought the station in 2017.[8] The sale was completed on May 1.[9]

Translator history[]

WWNY-CD was originally a repeater for ABC affiliate WWTI (channel 50) with the call sign W28BC.[10] During that time, WWTI and WWNY had secondary affiliations with Fox. WWNY's secondary affiliation was for NFL games during the years CBS did not have broadcasting rights of the league. When that network acquired the rights to the AFC, WWTI then aired NFC games from Fox, in addition to ABC's Monday Night Football (now on fellow Disney network ESPN).

In 2001, United Communications and WWNY entered into an agreement with Smith Broadcasting to make W28BC and sister station W25AB full-time Fox affiliates; Smith formerly owned WWTI, but did not include the translators in that station's sale to Ackerley Group in 2000. W25AB then changed its call letters to WNYF-LP and eventually moved from channel 25 to channel 28; after the Watertown station upgraded to Class A status in October 2002 (becoming WNYF-CA, later WNYF-CD),[11] W28BC inherited the WNYF-LP call sign.[10] WNYF-LP's low-powered analog signal on UHF channel 28 aired from a transmitter on NY 420 in Massena.

On June 30, 2009, United Communications applied to the FCC for a digital version of WNYF-LP on UHF channel 18. This allocation was formerly used for WNPI-DT's analog signal. It was approved for construction on June 8, 2010.[12] Taking on the WNYF-LD call sign,[10] it is officially licensed as a translator of WWNY-TV. This helps St. Lawrence County viewers who had experienced difficulty receiving WWNY's digital signal after that station transitioned to digital-only broadcasts.

On May 15, 2013, WNYF-CD and WNYF-LD swapped call signs,[10][13] as the Massena station is licensed as a class A facility while the Watertown digital station, at that time, was not. On February 6, 2014, WNYF-CD changed its call letters to WWNY-CD;[10] on March 13, 2014, the class A status for the Watertown station was transferred from the analog channel 28 license to the digital channel 35 license, retaking the WNYF-CD call sign.[13][14]

Digital television[]

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:


Channel Video Aspect WWNY PSIP
short name
short name
Programming [15]
7.1 28.2 1080i 16:9 WWNY-HD Main WWNY-TV programming / CBS
7.2 28.1 480i WNYF-SD SD Simulcast of WNYF-CD / Fox

Analog-to-digital transition[]

In May 2003, WWNY started broadcasting its digital signal on UHF channel 35 and began offering CBS programming in high definition. It then created a new second digital subchannel to offer a digital signal of WNYF as that station did not operate one of its own due to analog-only Class A and low-powered signals.[citation needed]

WWNY has been digital-only since February 17, 2009.[16][17][18] Both broadcasts of WWNY and WWTI were set to become digital-only starting on February 17. However, the latter's plans were delayed to June 12 by the FCC.[19][20][21][22] WWNY-DT's previous digital facilities on channel 35 were eventually re-employed by sister station WNYF to offer Fox in high definition for the first time.

News operation[]

On the same night it began airing in 1954, WWNY produced a five-minute local update at 11:15. For its entire existence, the station has held the number one spot in area Nielsen ratings by a wide margin. WWNY has traditionally been the dominant outlet in the North Country because it had the market to itself until WWTI signed-on in 1987. That station's two attempts at local newscasts—from 1987 to 1991 and from 1995 to 2004—never made any headway in the ratings, and WWNY remained the most-watched and highest-rated station. Since 2004, it has been the only station in the market with a functioning news department.

In 1981, this station's weekday morning show only consisted of two five-minute cut-ins. As late as 1998, it was broadcasting for thirty minutes. In 2004, the station began producing ninety minutes of news on weekday mornings.

On April 11, 2001, WWNY began airing a 35-minute weeknight prime time broadcast at 10 on WNYF called 7 News Tonight on Fox. However, it was only seen by a handful of viewers able to receive that station's two low-powered over-the-air signals because WNYF was not yet being offered on cable. An agreement with Time Warner Cable in Fall 2001 placed the station on the system and the prime time news debuted for the rest of the area on October 4.

WNYF currently simulcasts the 6 o'clock hour of WWNY's weekday morning news. It then offers a second hour at 7 seen exclusively on the Fox affiliate while this station airs CBS This Morning. The simulcast and separate show is known on WNYF as 7 News This Morning on Fox. There is no weekday morning or noon meteorologist; news anchor Beth Hall presents a forecast from Accuweather during these segments. During the nightly evening weather forecasts, the station features a live National Weather Service weather radar based in Montague's Parkers section.


  1. ^ "Broadcasting/Telecasting Magazine" (PDF). Broadcasting Publications. 25 October 1954. p. 126 – via americanradiohistory.com. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  2. ^ "The Home That Radio Build" (PDF). Broadcasting/Telecasting Magazine. September 3, 1956. p. 68. Retrieved September 28, 2018 – via americanradiohistory.com.
  3. ^ "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting/Telecasting Magazine. October 11, 1954. p. 134. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "Telestatus" (PDF). Broadcasting/Telecasting Magazine. September 3, 1956. p. 85. Retrieved September 28, 2018 – via americanradiohistory.com.
  5. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956
  6. ^ NBC to launch affiliate in Watertown Watertown Daily Times, November 3, 2016
  7. ^ "WWNY/WNYF Sold To Gray Television". WWNY-TV. February 8, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  8. ^ "Gray Enters New York State and Minnesota with Purchase of United's Strong Television Stations" (PDF). Gray Television. February 8, 2019. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  9. ^ "Consummation Notice", CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Call Sign History (WWNY-CD)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  11. ^ "Call Sign History (WNYF-LP)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  12. ^ http://www.wwnytv.com/about/96043719.html Archived June 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b "Call Sign History (WNYF-CD)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Digital Class A Broadcast Station License" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 13, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  15. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=WWNY#station
  16. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPUE0ksC87Q&t=6s
  17. ^ WWNY Going Digital February 17, WWNY-TV, February 10, 2009
  18. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.wwnytv.net/index.php/2009/02/12/wwnys-digital-switch-might-not-happen-next-week/
  20. ^ http://www.newswatch50.com/news/local/story/WWTI-to-continue-analog-broadcast-until-June-12/Ykp0viKHPk6dTz-HHYJBwA.cspx
  21. ^ "FCC delays stations' switch to digital, WWNY TO APPEAL: Local affiliates told to keep analog signal on", Nancy Madsen, Watertown (New York) Daily Times, February 14, 2009
  22. ^ It's Definite…WWNY Will Transition to All DTV Broadcasts 2/17/09, WWNY-TV 7News, February 16, 2009

External links[]