WROC-TV, virtual channel 8, is a CBS-affiliated television station based in Rochester, New York, USA, owned and operated by Nexstar Broadcasting Group. WROC-TV is the flagship of the company's Upstate New York stations and it has studios on Humboldt Street in Rochester. WROC-TV's transmitter is located on Pinnacle Hill in Brighton, New York.
WROC-TV is Rochester's oldest television station, signing on June 11, 1949, as WHAM-TV, an NBC affiliate on channel 6. It was owned originally by Stromberg-Carlson, a telephone equipment manufacturer, along with WHAM radio. The station was also affiliated with the now defunct DuMont Television Network. ()
WHAM-TV moved to channel 5 on July 24, 1954, as part of a revision of upstate New York's VHF allotments resulting from the Federal Communications Commission's Sixth Report and Order of 1952. However, WHAM-TV on channel 5 dealt with interference issues from CBLT, a CBC Television station from Toronto, after that station moved from its original channel 9 allocation to channel 6 in 1956. CBLT was replaced on channel 9 by CFTO-TV in 1960, and that channel relocation would later play an indirect role in the station's second frequency shift, eight years later.
Stromberg-Carlson merged with General Dynamics in 1955. General Dynamics was not interested in owning broadcast outlets, and put the WHAM-TV outlets on the market. In 1956, WHAM-TV was sold to Transcontinent Broadcasting, which owned WGR radio and WGR-TV in Buffalo. The new owners changed the call letters to the current WROC-TV. In 1961, Transcontinent sold the station to Veterans Broadcasting Company, which subsequently sold its half of what is today WHEC-TV (channel 10) to the Gannett Company, then based in Rochester. (The WHAM-TV callsign is now used on Rochester's ABC affiliate, channel 13, previously known as WOKR. Other than the shared callsign, that station is unrelated to the earlier WHAM-TV.)
Under Veterans' ownership, WROC-TV moved to channel 8 on September 8, 1962, as part of another channel allocation change, this one being a switch involving Rochester and Syracuse. The FCC moved WROC-TV's former channel 5 east to Syracuse, and it was taken by Meredith Corporation-owned WHEN-TV (now WTVH), which was previously on channel 8. The move also allowed a new station on channel 9 to enter the Syracuse market; it signed-on as WNYS-TV (later WIXT-TV and now WSYR-TV) the following day.
Veterans Broadcasting merged with Rust Craft Broadcasting in 1964. Rust Craft became a subsidiary of Ziff Davis in 1979. Rust Craft then sold WROC-TV and sister stations in WEYI-TV in Saginaw, Michigan, WRDW-TV in Augusta, Georgia and WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio to Television Station Partners LP in 1983. Television Station Partners sold WROC-TV, along with the WEYI-TV and WTOV-TV, to Smith Broadcasting in 1996. Nexstar purchased WROC-TV in 1999.
Under the stewardship of Television Station Partners, WROC-TV made another switch: On July 1, 1989, after 40 years with NBC, channel 8 swapped network affiliations with WHEC-TV and became a CBS station.
Since the 1970s, WROC-TV's newscasts have struggled in the Nielsen ratings, usually placing a distant third behind WOKR/WHAM-TV and WHEC-TV. Even with the strong NBC prime-time line-up in the mid-to-late 1980s (the last few years of WROC-TV's affiliation contract with NBC) and the strong CBS line-up during the 2000s (decade), WROC-TV's newscasts remained in third place for the most part, although it slowly grew in market share over the course of the decade. In the November 2008 ratings period, however, WROC-TV's 11 pm newscast finished ahead of the slumping WHEC-TV for the first time in many years.
For many years, WROC-TV was one of three Rochester area stations offered on cable in the Ottawa/Gatineau and Eastern Ontario regions. The Rochester area stations were replaced with Detroit stations when the microwave relay system that provided these signals was discontinued. Until January 2009, WROC-TV was also available in many Central Ontario communities such as Belleville, Cobourg, and Lindsay.
On July 9, 2012, WROC-TV replaced WLKY Louisville on Time Warner Cable systems in that station's region, when WLKY's owners, Hearst Television, pulled its stations off Time Warner Cable's systems in a retransmission dispute. However, Nexstar complained that Time Warner Cable has used their signals outside their markets without permission, while Time Warner Cable was within its rights to use their signals as replacements until a deal with Hearst is reached. WROC-TV, for its part, made the best of its predicament, naming the administrator of a Facebook group of tongue-in-cheek Louisvillean WROC-TV fans its fan of the week and making a handful of other shout-outs to its emerging Louisville fanbase. The substitution of WROC-TV in place of WLKY lasted until July 19, 2012, when a deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||WROC-HD||Main WROC-TV programming / CBS|
|8.3||Escape||Escape (Launch date TBD)|
|8.4||Laff||Laff (Launch date TBD)|
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks, bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WROC-TV. As a result, WROC-TV will shortly add two additional subchannels carrying Escape and Laff (Grit is already available in Rochester on WHAM-DT3).
WROC-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, at 11:35 p.m. on June 12, 2009 (following the late newscast), the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 45. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 8.
In August 1957, WROC-TV began airing the area's first 11 o'clock broadcast called Eleventh Hour News. Regular sports segments were added to the show on April 7, 1958. WROC-TV enjoyed ratings dominance with popular anchorman Tom Decker and weatherman Bob Mills. Anne Keefe, another well-known talent who split time between WROC-TV radio and TV, contributed to the station's success in the 1960s and 1970s. However by the mid-1970s, Decker, Mills and Keefe left. The loss of these popular veteran broadcasters and the station's failure to keep up with changing technology lead to a ratings slump that lasted decades.
Since the mid-1970s through the early 2000s, WROC-TV's newscasts struggled in the Nielsen ratings usually placing a distant third behind WHAM-TV and WHEC-TV. Even with the strong NBC prime-time line-up in the mid-to-late 1980s (the last few years of WROC-TV's affiliation contract with NBC) and the CBS line-up during the early 2000s, its newscasts remained in third place. However, after finally establishing some stability with its anchor team, market share has been growing over the course of the past decade. In the November 2008 ratings period, WROC-TV's 11 p.m. newscast finished ahead of slumping WHEC-TV for the first time in many years.
After becoming operated by Nexstar, WUHF's separate news department was shut down. Two anchors, a producer, and a photographer were added to WROC-TV's news staff. The remainder of its personnel was laid-off in this move. On September 1, 2005, a nightly half-hour prime time broadcast (produced by WROC-TV) called Fox First at 10 began airing on WUHF. Originating from a secondary set at this station's facilities, the show eventually expanded to 45 minutes followed by a fifteen-minute sports highlight program known as Sports Extra. On September 13, 2010, this station began airing a weeknight 4 p.m. newscast for a half-hour (an area first). As of 2011, WROC-TV's newscasts remain in third place overall. On September 4, 2012, WROC-TV became the second Rochester area TV station to have upgraded its local newscasts to high definition. The 10 p.m. newscast on WUHF was included in the upgrade. WROC's relationship with WUHF ended in December 2013 due to Sinclair's purchase of the assets of ABC affiliate WHAM-TV (along with the sale of its license to an affiliated company), and the re-location of WUHF to its facilities. WUHF's 10 p.m. newscast was replaced by a WHAM-produced version on January 1, 2014.