University of North Carolina Television, branded on-air as UNC-TV, is a public television network serving the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is operated by the University of North Carolina system, which holds the licenses for all but one of the thirteen PBS member television stations licensed in the state--WTVI (channel 42) in Charlotte is owned by Central Piedmont Community College. The broadcast signals of the twelve television stations cover almost all of the state, as well as parts of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The network's operations are located at the UNC Center for Public Television at Research Triangle Park between Raleigh and Durham.

History

WUNC-TV in Chapel Hill, the state network's flagship station, first signed on the air on January 8, 1955 as the second non-commercial educational television station located south of Washington, D.C.--one day after Cheaha, Alabama-licensed WCIQ-TV. Over the next twelve years, four more satellite stations signed on. WUND-TV in Edenton was the first of these satellites to debut in September 1965, followed by the launches of WUNE-TV in Linville in September 1967, WUNF-TV in Asheville in September 11, 1967, WUNG-TV in Concord in September 11, 1967 and WUNJ-TV in Wilmington in June 4, 1971. This was supplemented with a network of translator stations in the Appalachian Mountains that also allowed the network's programming to reach across the entire state.

Five additional satellites debuted afterward: WUNK-TV in Greenville in May 1972, WUNL-TV in Winston-Salem in February 1973, WUNM-TV in Jacksonville in November 1982, WUNP-TV in Roanoke Rapids in 1986, and WUNU-TV in Lumberton in September 1996. The state network's youngest station, WUNW in Canton, signed on in July 2010 to replace a translator that had served the area since the 1980s. The state network was branded on-air as "North Carolina Public Television" (identified in North Carolina editions of TV Guide as "CPT", an abbreviated form of "University of North Carolina Center for Public Television") from 1979 to the mid-1990s, when it rebranded itself as "University of North Carolina Television". It simplified the brand name to "UNC-TV" later in the 1990s; it had previously used that brand for most of the 1970s.

Programming

The state network produces many programs of local interest, including the weeknightly public affairs program North Carolina Now, Our State, Carolina Outdoor Journal, Exploring North Carolina, North Carolina Bookwatch with D.G. Martin, and special programs about the state's history and culture. It also produces The Woodwright's Shop for national distribution. In addition to PBS and American Public Television programs and local productions, the station also runs British comedies on Saturday evenings and the BBC soap opera EastEnders on Sunday evenings.

Stations

UNC-TV operates twelve stations that relay its programming across the entire state as well as into portions of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Each station's callsign consists of "UN" for University of North Carolina, followed by a letter assigned sequentially in the order in which it was activated, except for the first station.

StationCity of license/
(other cities served)
Channels
(TV / RF)
First air dateERP
HAAT
Transmitter coordinatesFacility IDPublic license
information
WUNC-TVChapel Hill
(Raleigh/Durham)
4 (PSIP)
25 (UHF)
January 8, 19551000 kW464 m69080
WUND-TV1Edenton2
(Elizabeth City)
2 (PSIP)
20 (UHF)
September 10, 1965543 kW489 m69292
WUNE-TVLinville
(Boone/Hickory)
17 (PSIP)
17 (UHF)
September 11, 1967137.8 kW531 m69114
WUNF-TVAsheville33 (PSIP)
25 (UHF)
September 11, 1967185 kW797 m69300
WUNG-TVConcord
(Charlotte)
58 (PSIP)
44 (UHF)
September 11, 1967150 kW404 m69124
WUNJ-TV3Wilmington39 (PSIP)
29 (UHF)
June 4, 1971700 kW297 m69332
WUNK-TVGreenville25 (PSIP)
23 (UHF)
May 7, 19721000 kW351 m69149
WUNL-TVWinston-Salem
(Greensboro/High Point)
26 (PSIP)
32 (UHF)
February 22, 1973197.5 kW479 m69360
WUNM-TVJacksonville
(New Bern)
19 (PSIP)
19 (UHF)
November 16, 198265 kW561 m69444
WUNP-TVRoanoke Rapids36 (PSIP)
36 (UHF)
October 16, 1986125 kW368 m69397
WUNULumberton
(Fayetteville)
31 (PSIP)
31 (UHF)
September 23, 1996113 kW294 m69416
WUNWCanton
(Waynesville)
27 (PSIP)
27 (UHF)
July 21, 20107 kW474 m83822

Notes:

  • 1. WUND-TV formerly used the callsign WUNB-TV from its 1965 sign-on to 1967.
  • 2. WUND-TV was originally licensed to Columbia; the license was moved to Edenton in 2005, effectively gaining must-carry cable carriage in the Norfolk-Newport News-Portsmouth Television Market, which includes several northeastern North Carolina counties. ()
  • 3. Five stations in the Wilmington media market began transmitting solely in digital on September 8, 2008. WUNJ-TV opted to continue analog broadcasts until the national digital television transition on June 12, 2009.

Digital television

Digital channels

UNC-TV's current over-the-air digital configuration, which is multiplexed among three subchannels, was introduced on September 25, 2008. On that date, UNC-TV revised its subchannel lineup on its stations, reducing the number of channels to three: UNC-TV (the main channel of each station, which now carries high definition programming), and the standard definition-only services UNC-KD and UNC-EX ("The Explorer Channel"). UNC-TV HD and UNC-EX are also available to DirecTV customers with MPEG4-compatible receivers. Proir to February 1, 2016, Time Warner Cable customers also received UNC-MX (described as "an eclectic mix of programming for adults") in standard definition; the North Carolina Channel has since replaced UNC-MX on Time Warner Cable systems.[2] Prior to November 1, 2009, the third subchannel was named UNC-NC.[3]

This configuration is used for WUNC, WUND, WUNF, WUNG, WUNJ, WUNK, WUNL, and WUNU:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][2]
xx.11080i16:9UNC-TVMain UNC-TV programming / PBS
xx.2480iROOTLEPBS Kids
xx.3UNC-EXThe Explorer Channel[2]
xx.4NCCHLThe North Carolina Channel

An alternate configuration is used for WUNE, WUNM, WUNP, and WUNW. The original purpose for this was to obtain must-carry status for UNC-KD since those are secondary stations in their respective markets.[2] On June 15, 2010, UNC-KD switched subchannels with UNC-EX on the four stations previously mentioned, which transferred UNC-KD's must-carry status to UNC-EX.[2]

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
xx.1480i16:9UNC-EXThe Explorer Channel
xx.21080iUNC-TVMain UNC-TV programming / PBS
xx.3480iROOTLEPBS Kids
xx.4NCCHLThe North Carolina Channel

Subscribers of Time Warner Cable, the major cable provider in the state, can receive each of the UNC-TV digital subchannels; Time Warner Cable maintains a direct-fiber optic connection to UNC-TV's studios in Raleigh. Cable providers with a direct fiber optic link to UNC-TV (including Time Warner Cable) also carry UNC-MX (formerly UNC-ED) on their digital tiers. UNC-MX features a mix of how-to and public affairs programs, along with encore presentations of programs originally broadcast on the primary UNC-TV channel. Cable providers which rely on off-air reception for broadcast stations are limited to the three-channel lineup. On February 1, 2016, UNC-MX was renamed UNC-NC "The North Carolina Channel" and was added over-the-air on subchannel 4 on both channel configurations.[2] On July 2, 2016, UNC-KD was renamed ROOTLE, offering 24-hour programming for children ages 3-8.[2]

Prior to September 25, 2008, UNC-TV formerly operated four digital channels: in addition to the main signal on the primary channel, the second digital subchannel of each station carried UNC-HD (which carried PBS and regional programming in high-definition), the third subchannel carried UNC-KD (which carried children's programs), the fourth subchannel carried UNC-ED (an educational television service) and the fifth subchannel carried UNC-NC (centering on North Carolina public affairs and original local productions). Due to bandwidth limitations at the time, the over-the-air feed of UNC-HD was only available between 8-11 p.m., during which UNC-ED and UNC-NC ceased transmission in the interim. Cable systems with a direct digital link to UNC-TV facilities broadcast all five channels on a 24-hour schedule.

Analog-to-digital conversion

After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion on June 12, 2009:[18]

  • WUNC-TV relocated its digital signal from UHF channel 59 to channel 25;[19]
  • WUNE-TV, WUNM-TV, WUNP-TV and WUNU-TV relocated their digital signals to their respective analog-era channel numbers (on UHF channels 17, 19, 36 and 31, respectively);[20][21][22][23]
  • WUND-TV, WUNF-TV, WUNG-TV, WUNJ-TV, WUNK-TV and WUNL-TV remained on their respective pre-transition digital channel allocations (UHF channels 20, 25, 44, 29, 23 and 32).[24][25][26][27][28][29]

UNC-TV opted not to join other broadcasters in the Wilmington market in an early switch to digital-only broadcasts on September 8, 2008, nine months ahead of the national transition deadline.[30] Following that date, WUNJ-TV became only full-power station in Wilmington that continued to broadcast an analog signal until the national digital transition on June 12, 2009.

Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display virtual channels for each UNC-TV station corresponding to their previous analog channel numbers.

Translators

UNC-TV operates 22 translators across the mountains of western North Carolina. These translators serve as low-power, limited-area repeaters that bring the network's signal to towns in deep mountain valleys where the parent signal is blocked by the surrounding terrain. Five of the translators are repeaters of WUNE, 11 repeaters of WUNF, three repeaters of WUNG and three repeaters of WUNL; though all of UNC-TV's full-power stations are straight simulcasts of the network signal.

Directly repeating WUNE:

Directly repeating WUNF:

Directly repeating WUNG:

Directly repeating WUNL:

WUNC-TV also maintains digital fill-in translators, which broadcast on UHF channel 30 in Raleigh[4] and UHF channel 46 in Oxford.[4]

Cable and satellite carriage

UNC-TV is carried on all cable television providers in North Carolina. Additionally, WUND in Edenton is carried by Cox Communications' systems in the southern portion of the Hampton Roads market in Virginia, a market of which Edenton is located within. It has also been carried on some cable systems in the Roanoke market in Virginia and the Tri-Cities market in Tennessee.

On DirecTV and Dish Network, WUNC-TV, WUNG, WUNL, WUND, WUNF, WUNJ and WUNU are carried on the respective local feeds for the Research Triangle, Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville, Hampton Roads, Wilmington and Florence/Myrtle Beach. In previous years, WUNL has also been carried on the Roanoke DirecTV feed;[4] the Piedmont Triad market includes portions of western Virginia.