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Which digital TV channels are available locally over the air?

David Morrison

Which channels you can see depends on your TV, your antenna and your location.

When Wilmington became the first U.S. city to switch to all-digital over-the-air television on Sept. 8, 2008, some viewers discovered a world of digital channels previously only available to cable or satellite subscribers.

Those with analog TVs were required to get new sets or invest in a DTV converter box to see those channels. The federal government at first issued coupons to help customers buy the $40 converters, but the coupon program has since ended. Converters are still available in stores (including Walmart and Sears) that sell electronic equipment or online.

Viewers with digital televisions only had to add DTV antennas, if needed, to see the digital channels.

According to the America Online (AOL) TV Guide as of 2013, starting at the bottom of the dial, the DTV channels readily available over the air in the Wilmington area include:

  • WWAY (ABC) 3.1
  • WECT (NBC) 6.1
  • WECT Plus 6.2
  • WILM (CBS) 10.1
  • WSFX (Fox) 26.1
  • WUNJ (UNC-TV, PBS) 39.1
  • WUNJ2 (UNC-TV, PBS2) 39.2
  • WUNJ3 (UNC-TV, PBS3) 39.3

Some people in Wilmington also can receive Jacksonville’s WPXU (Ion Television) at 35.1, Qubo (children’s programming) at 35.2 and Ion Life at 35.3, though Ion’s website says those channels are not available over the air in this market.

The website AntennaWeb.org can help over-the-air viewers determine the types of antennas they might need to receive DTV channels in a specific location.

NOTE: This is an updated version of a question originally answered in 2010.

Related link:

The StarNewsOnline.com digital television page

What channels are Time Warner Cable making digital only and why?

How would a tropical storm or hurricane affect DTV reception without cable or satellite TV?

User-contributed question by:
Brian Keever

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13 Responses to “ Which digital TV channels are available locally over the air?”

  1. On December 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm HD wrote:

    The TBN low power channel 51 had the plug pulled by TBN over a year ago because of the economy and no longer broadcasts. The license is available for a broadcaster looking to start up a station in this market according to the FCC database. The MyNetwork channel is not licensed here and I think it is not available over the air, at least I have never heard of the channel being broadcast in this market. It would be great if someone would broadcast the CW and MyNetwork channels over the air for free here. The closest ones are in Greenville NC, Washington NC, Florence SC and Myrtle Beach SC, all out of range in New Hanover County but available in parts of Brunswick and Pender counties. Western Pender can receive the Raleigh channels over the air as well. Looks like WECT would want to broadcast the CW instead of weather all the time and WILM would start up a second digital channel with MyNetwork. The ION network channel 35 is licensed to Jacksonville NC with a tower near Surf City and provides an excellent signal here. They broadcast ION, Qubo, and Ion life. The worst reception comes from low power WILM (CBS). They are plagued by the weather ,are on a smaller tower at Delco, and have a weak signal. They require a good ouside antenna for a viewable signal in many locations around the county. WECT, WWAY, and WSFX are on the big tower at Winnabow and come in well with an indoor antenna. WUNJ (PBS) is also located at Delco but is a full power station so their signal is fine indoors as well.

  2. On December 21, 2010 at 10:52 am Jim Ware wrote:

    Thanks for the information updates, HD.

  3. On December 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm MB wrote:

    Channel 47 in Shalotte which was WMYW (W47CK) a low power station affiliated with MyNetwork TV also no longer broadcasts in the area. It was licensed to a company in Greeneville, SC and it’s license is available for a broadcaster who would want to put it on the air. It is a shame that both the CW and MyNetwork channels are not available over the air for free in a city the size of Wilmington. Channel 51 which was TBN in Wilmington also went off the air and their license is up for grabs too.

  4. On January 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm kenny wrote:

    I may be mistaken, but I think that Time Warner has an exclusive agreement to broadcast the CW here in Wilmington.

  5. On March 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm Scott wrote:

    I just bought an indoor antenna and have gotten all the available channels except CBS. I live in northern NHC. Is the only way to get CBS is with an outside antenna?

    Thanks for all info posted so far.

  6. On March 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm HD wrote:

    In response to your question Scott, WILM TV which is the CBS affiliate is not a full power station. Their signal is less than half of WECT, WWAY, WSFX and WUNJ. They are also on a smaller tower at Delco. I live in northern NHC as well and was having difficulty until I put up an outside antenna and depending on the weather (strong wind, heavy rain or fog) you may still have some reception issues occasionally. Radio Shack sells an onmi-directional antenna (round) which works well in the attic, but a small UHF bow tie or Yagi type rod antenna (like the old days) mounted outside and aimed toward Delco will get you the best CBS reception from WILM. You do not have to buy an antenna marked for HD, that is just a sales gimmic. Inside antennas will not pull in WILM clearly unless you are downtown or in Brunswick county.
    An outside antenna will also pull in New Bern’s Channel 12 (ABC), Channel 14 (FOX) and Jacksonville’s Channel 35 (ION) in northern New Hanover County. You may also get Greenville’s Channel 9 (CBS) and Washington”s Channel 7 (NBC) if you are past Odgen. Their signals cut off around Scott’s Hill and Hampstead. WILM is years away from getting a high power license, so you will need to have an outside antenna to get them now.

  7. On March 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm Jim Ware wrote:

    I bought an amplified indoor DTV antenna at Walmart and can pull in WILM in all but very windy or rainy weather. I live near King’s Grant in northern New Hanover County.
    Thanks for the info on antennas, HD.

  8. On March 27, 2014 at 9:59 am Henry wrote:

    Since this question was originally answered in 2010, there have been some changes and new stations have come on the air. Here is the current lineup of channels available free over the air . An outdoor antenna is recommended for the best reception.
    WWAY 3.1 ABC
    WWAY 3.2 The CW
    WWAY 3.3 RetroTV (50’s 60’s old shows)
    WECT 6.1 NBC
    WECT 6.2 Bounce (Black Entertainment)
    WILM 10.1 CBS
    WILM 10.2 MeTV (70’s 80’s old shows)
    WSFX 26.1 FOX
    WSFX 26.2 ThisTV (Movies)
    WTMV 29.1 Heartland (Country Music Themed Shows from the Nashville Network)
    WTMV 29.2 TUFF TV (Reality/Sports)
    WTMV 29.3 FAM (Family television)
    (WTMV is a new channel in ODGEN)
    WPXU 35.1 ION
    WPXU 35.2 Qubo (childrens)
    WPXU 35.3 ION LIfe
    WPXU 35.4 Shop (shopping)
    WPXU 35.5 QVC (shopping)
    WPXU 35.6 HSN (shopping)
    WPXU is a Jacksonville channel that covers Wilmington)
    WUNJ 39.1 PBS
    WUNJ 39.2 PBS kids
    WUNJ 39.3 UNC TV explorer (travel)
    AT one time TBN (religious) broadcasted on Channel 51 in Wilmington and WMYW (MyTV) on channel 47 in Shallotte. Both these channels went dark during the downturn in the economy and licenses are for sale. According to the FCC website there are a few more low power channel applications pending for Wilmington but startup costs are high and these channels may never get on the air. Currently 21 over the air channels are viewable in Wilmington. Residents in Brunswick and Pender may get more since Myrtle Beach stations can be received in parts of Brunswick and the Greenville-Washington-New Bern stations in parts of Pender. Hope this updated info helps.

  9. On March 27, 2014 at 4:39 pm Darrell Jackson wrote:

    You need to correct the following channnels to what you can receive on “Digital TV” in the Wilmington Area, they are…

    3.1 WWAY (ABC)
    3.2 Cape Fear CW (CW)
    3.3. Retro TV
    6.1 WECT (NBC)
    6.2 Bounce TV
    10.1 WILM (CBS)
    10.2 ME-TV
    29.1 WTMV
    35.1 WPXU (ion)
    35.2 Qubo
    35.3 ION Life
    39.1 WUNJ (PBS)
    39.2 UNC-KD
    39.3 UNC-EX

  10. On March 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thank you.

  11. On March 31, 2014 at 5:55 pm Dawn wrote:

    There are many other channels available using an HD antenna in Wilmington.
    3.2 The CW
    3.3 RETRO TV
    10.2 WILM ME TV
    26.2 THIS TV
    29.1 WTMV
    29.2 TUFF TV
    29.3 fam
    35.3 IONLife
    35.4 SHOP
    35.4 QVC
    35.5 HSN
    (WECT PLUS 6.2 is called Bounce TV)

    I do get all three ION Television channels.

    Once you set up your antenna, make sure that you allow your TV to auto check for channels at least 5 times over several days. Weather will be a factor, and the placement of the antenna in the house is as well. It doesn’t have to be a really expensive antenna, (I paid $25) but it needs to be an HD one.

  12. On April 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thanks for the info!

  13. On April 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm Dawn wrote:

    I’m not sure what kind of indoor antenna you have tried, but I have tried a “non-HD” and it was terrible. The indoor multi-directional one I have now (The Leaf) can get CBS, and I ‘m out by the college. I’ll admit it took me a little while to figure out where to put the antenna, but once I had it positioned, it stayed in (barring bad weather).
    ION, and the CW are broadcast in HD, and I get an HD quality picture.
    It also depends on which type of indoor antenna you get. The one I have comes in 30, and 50 mile range, plus there are other models that are even stronger. I have the 30.
    I hope this info helps those who don’t want to have to deal with an outdoor antenna.

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