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Charlotte a big player in sports media

Charlotte is the media capital of the Carolinas, particularly in sports.

Fox-owned Speed channel, which carried motorsports from NASCAR to Formula One, morphed this summer into Fox Sports 1. Its modern production facility in University City off I-85 is now a hub for the pan-sports channel, though it still serves as a base for the network’s NASCAR coverage. Fox Sports 1 reaches nearly 90 million households by satellite and cable, putting it in the big leagues of specialty channels.

ESPNU, covering collegiate sports, is based in Ballantyne. It will also be the home for ESPN’s partnership with the SEC Network, which will launch in August 2014. In a deal that will run through 2034 – likely the longest-term broadcast contract in all U.S. sports – the network will carry 1,000 live events annually on TV or digitally, including 45 conference football games.

NASCAR.com relocated to Charlotte this year from Atlanta. Based on the eighth floor of the NASCAR Plaza office building at South Caldwell and East Stonewall streets, the hub operates the motorsport group’s Web operations and other digital products, including mobile apps.

Charlotte’s base in sports broadcasting was set by Raycom Sports, in Charlotte since its founding in 1979. Raycom Sports, on Morehead Street, manages digital assets, mobile platforms and TheACC.com for the Atlantic Coast Conference, holding broadcast rights for the conference through the 2026-27 season.

Also based here are the SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily, The Sporting News and NASCAR Productions.

Charlotte is home to the network-owned-and-operated station WJZY (Channel 46), which calls itself Fox 46 Carolinas. It was acquired this year by News Corp.’s Fox Television Stations subsidiary from Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting. Its sister station, WMYT (Channel 55), carries MyTV programming.

Charlotte’s oldest TV station is WBTV (Channel 3), a CBS affiliate that began service in 1949.

No. 1 in local ratings is WSOC (Channel 9), the ABC affiliate that also operates independent station WAXN (Channel 64).

WCNC (Channel 36) is the city’s NBC affiliate. It sits on Billy Graham Parkway next to NBC NewsChannel, which is the network’s hub for news production provided to NBC’s affiliates nationally.

WCCB (Channel 18) is owned by Charlotte-based Bahakel Communications and is the city’s CW network affiliate.

WTVI (Channel 42) is the only independent PBS affiliate in the Carolinas. It is operated by Central Piedmont Community College.

In commercial radio, Charlotte is served by stations owned by CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Radio One and Greater Media.

Mark writes about TV and radio for the Observer.
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