WILM-LD is a low-powered Independent television station for the Cape Fear region of North Carolina in the United States that is licensed to Wilmington. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 40 (or virtual channel 10 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Delco. Owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Company, WILM has studios on Wrightsville Avenue (US 76) in Wilmington. However, some internal operations are based at the facilities of sister station, NBC affiliate and company flagship WRAL-TV in Raleigh. On cable, the station is carried on Charter Spectrum channel 12.

On December 31, 2016, WILM lost its CBS affiliation to a WWAY subchannel and became an independent station.

History

The current station is actually the second TV outlet to have the WILM calls. WILM-TV (proposed for Wilmington, Delaware) was granted a construction permit in 1953, but never made it to the air, surrendering its license in 1955. WILM would have broadcast on Channel 83, the only U.S. TV station in history to be allocated the very top of the UHF spectrum.[10]

The station began on April 3, 1989 as independent outlet W10BZ. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 10 from a transmitter near the studios. W10BZ changed its call sign to WSSN-LP in 1995 when it joined the United Paramount Network (UPN). In 1999, Capitol Broadcasting acquired the station.

On March 23, 2000, it became a CBS affiliate, filling a void created when previous CBS affiliate WJKA changed its calls to WSFX-TV and dropped the network to join Fox. WSSN changed its call sign to WILM-LP on that date as well. Before WILM gained the CBS affiliation, programming from that network was seen in Wilmington on cable from WNCT-TV in Greenville, WBTW in Florence, South Carolina, or WRAL.

WILM retained its UPN affiliation on a secondary basis until the network shut down and merged with The WB. After UPN and The WB merged to form The CW on September 18, 2006, cable-only WB 100+ affiliate "WBW" joined the new network through The CW Plus cable group. Fox's sister network MyNetworkTV was formed around the same time and aligned with new sign-on W47CK, leaving WILM as a full-time CBS station.

The station's low-powered digital signal began broadcasting on UHF channel 40 in August 2008. This increased the station's effective radiated power from its former 75 W (analog VHF) to 15 kW (digital UHF) which is the highest power available for U.S. low-power digital television. WILM's new transmitter was no longer centrally located in Wilmington itself but located alongside other local broadcast sites in Delco. [3]

WILM is one of five Wilmington commercial television stations that agreed to end analog transmissions early and became digital-only on September 8, 2008. This move was intended to make the area the first all-digital market in the United States. [4] On that date, WILM shut down its analog signal along with four other Wilmington television stations as part of the voluntary early digital transition. If this agreement had not happened, the decision to shut off analog transmission at any time would have been voluntary for WILM because Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations exempted low-power television stations from the 2009 analog shutdown. Its analog channel 10 identification is still used as its virtual channel using PSIP.

In 2015, WILM signed on a translator on channel 24, WILT-LD, to better serve areas such as Monkey Junction, Carolina Beach, and Wrightsville Beach south to Southport and Oak Island.[5]

In January 2016, it was announced that WRAL would switch to NBC on February 29, 2016.[6] On March 30, 2016, it was announced that CBS would pull its affiliation from WILM and move to the second sub-channel of WWAY on January 1, 2017. WILM subsequently became an independent station, adding additional syndicated programming, and promising increased coverage of local college sports.[11]

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP short nameProgramming [12]
10.11080i16:9WILM-HDMain WILM-LD programming
10.2480i4:3WILM-MeTVMeTV
10.316:9Stadium

On December 1, 2013, WILM launched MeTV on 10.2.

Programming

Syndicated programming on WILM-LD includes Dr. Phil, The Doctors, Rachael Ray and The Big Bang Theory (which used to air its first-run episodes on WILM-LD through CBS from 2007 to 2016).

Newscasts

WILM-LD simulcasts WRAL's newscasts (with the exception of WRAL's newscasts weeknights from 4:30–5:00 a.m., and weekday afternoons from 4–6 p.m.), with local weather inserts for the Wilmington area. This practice dates to its tenure with CBS; its studios were not large enough for a full-fledged news department.

From March 10, 2008 until February 27, 2009 through a news share agreement, WWAY produced a prime time newscast weeknights at 7 on WILM that offered local coverage.

As an independent station, WILM-LD will add the two-hour extension of WRAL's weekday morning show that airs on sister station and Raleigh's Fox affiliate WRAZ, the second half-hour of WRAL's midday newscast, and the other hour of WRAL's weekend morning newscasts to its simulcast schedule.