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WPRI/WNAC-TV Historical Profile
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WPRI/WNAC-TV Historical Profile

WPRI-TV started as a CBS affiliate on March 27th, 1955 as WPRO-TV. It was first owned and operated by retailer Cherry & Webb, who also owned WPRO-AM/FM radio. WPRI was later sold to Capital Cities (CBS) in 1959, then resold to Poole Broadcasting on June16th, 1967. Poole retained ownership until 1977 when it was sold to Knight-Ridder Broadcasting, a division of Knight-Ridder Newspapers of Miami, Florida. WPRI changed affiliations from CBS to ABC after this sale. Knight-Ridder Newspapers owned eight stations across the country and later sold all eight stations between 1987-1989. Narragansett Television L.P. bought WPRI in Providence, RI and WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia from Knight-Ridder in 1989.

Narragansett Television L.P. owned and operated WPRI from 1989 through 1995.

WPRI was then sold again as an owned and operated affiliate of the CBS network in 1995. The network �switch� from ABC to CBS occurred at midnight on Sunday, September 10th, 1995. WPRI aired vigorous promotion called �Survive the Switch�, so our viewers would be prepared for this changeover. WLNE-TV 6 was the local CBS station, which was about to take over the ABC affiliation. WJAR-TV 10 remained the NBC affiliate through the changeover.

In 1995, manufacturing and broadcast giant Westinghouse bought the CBS network outright for approximately $6 billion dollars. Westinghouse Corporation owns other broadcast interests around the country, including WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Boston, Massachusetts. Due to FCC regulations at the time, Westinghouse was prohibited by federal law to own and operate two class �A� signal television stations in the same market. This was the case with WBZ in Boston and the recent acquisition of WPRI by CBS. The result was the sale of WPRI by CBS just 9 months after its purchase, as Westinghouse opted to keep its flagship O&O affiliate, WBZ.

Clear Channel Television in San Antonio, Texas purchased WPRI and local radio stations B101 and WRX in June-July of 1996. Prior to this sale, negotiations were underway between Clear Channel Television and Argyle Television, also located in San Antonio and owner of WNAC-TV FOX 64 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The agreement would provide WNAC-TV with a local 10:00PM newscast Sunday through Saturday, on-air promotion and the consolidation of broadcast equipment, facilities and personnel of WNAC-TV into the main building of WPRI-TV, located at 25 Catamore Boulevard in East Providence, Rhode Island. Since September 28th 1997, WNAC-TV has been operating in the same building as WPRI-TV, with the complete transition taking about 14 months.

The license from Argyle was sold to Sunrise Television. Sunrise entered into a similar LMA with Clear Channel Television. In 1999 negotiations were underway for Sunrise to purchase WPRI-TV from Clear Channel for $50 million dollars. After the purchase, Sunrise announced plans to sell WNAC-TV�s license to Providence-based LIN Television for $2.5 million.

On January 7th, 2002, LIN Television Corporation and STC Broadcasting announced entering into a three-year management services agreement under which LIN will provide all oversight and reporting functions for Sunrise stations in Abilene and San Angelo, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Flint, Michigan; Providence, Rhode Island; and Toledo, Ohio.

In May 2002, the merger between LIN and Sunrise Television was completed, a new company formed called TVL Broadcasting, owned by LIN Television.    At this time LIN Television also became publically held, trading on the NYSE as TVL Broadcasting.   LIN Television is locally owned right here in Rhode Island and believes in providing the best in local news and community service.  

WPRI/WNAC-TV employs over 120 people. Employees in technical operations, and news share job functions with both stations. The unique triangle shaped building in East Providence was constructed in 1973. The original building was at 24 Mason Street in Providence, now the site of the Providence Civic Center. The service provided to the Providence-New Bedford community by WPRI/WNAC-TV is 24-hour news, information and entertainment on CBS 12 and 24 hours of programming daily on FOX 64. In voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other agencies, WPRI/WNAC-TV provides news and information to the community during emergencies. Revenue is generated by the sale of commercial time during local news, local and network programming, and video production services.

Providence-New Bedford is currently the 48th largest market in the United States.



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