In an odd turn of events, CBS and NBC have swapped, more or less, affiliates in Raleigh, NC, with CBS leaving its longtime home, WRAL, and moving to WNCN, and NBC dropping the latter in favor of a roost with the former.
WNCN is owned by Media General Inc., while WRAL is owned by the independent Capitol Broadcasting. The switch will take effect February 29.
One of the factors spurring the switch was a disputes between CBS and WRAL over how much money, typically known as reverse compensation, the station should pay the network, according to a person familiar with the situation. The issue has played a part in other CBS dealings with affiliates. In 2014, CBS switched from LIN Media’s WISH in Indianapolis to Tribune’s WTTV over similar reasons.
NBC feels it’s getting beachfront property in a top market, said Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting, in an interview Friday evening. WRAL, he said, delivers top ratings in one if the nation’s 25 largest markets, and has helped “CBS This Morning” defeat NBC’s “Today” in the ratings in the area.
“It is without doubt one of the most powerful and highly rated affiliates in the nation,” said Harbert. The executive said NBC had no dealings with WRAL until after the station’s talks with CBS had come to a close.
“If they come to you,” he said, “you take that meeting.”
The move – which is not a transaction between CBS and NBC – illustrates the continued importance of TV stations in the modern media-industry landscape. The stations are thought to have strong ties to local markets and able to enjoy revenues from distribution via cable and broadband.
The trend is playing out elsewhere in the country. NBC said last week it would launch its own station in the Boston area at the start of 2017, and terminate its longstanding relationship with independent WHDH TV, controlled by Sunbeam Television.