About Us

Mission Statement:

UNC-TV has a written strategic plan that is a public document, which includes this mission statement: Television has the power to change lives. Public television has the responsibility to change lives for the better: a child far from urban resources is inspired to become a scientist, a high school dropout earns a GED, a homebound senior remains connected to the world of arts and culture, the family of an Alzheimer’s patient finds strength and support. UNC-TV’s unique programs and public media services provide people of all ages with enriching, life-changing television.


Fulfilling The Mission

UNC-TV receives feedback from viewers every day letting us know how much they appreciate our programs and services. UNC-TV enjoys the support of the largest nonprofit member base in North Carolina, with more than 81,000 households. During 2013-2014, UNC-TV and its partners produced 329.5 hours of original local programming, making it a leader in the public television industry in that respect. UNC-TV has received numerous regional Emmy Awards and many other honors for its programming and services over the years, including the 2010 Spectrum of Democracy Award from the North Carolina Center for Voter Education.


UNC-TV's Governance Structure

UNC-TV has a well-defined governance system that assures ample oversight that is both transparent and representative of the diverse views and interests of North Carolinians. As part of the University of North Carolina system, UNC-TV is ultimately responsible to the University’s Board of Governors, which owns UNC-TV's licenses to broadcast granted by the Federal Communications Commission. The Board of Governors is primarily appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly. In addition, UNC-TV’s Board of Trustees serves in a direct advisory capacity, assuring that public involvement and perspectives will have further influence on UNC-TV operations. The Board of Governors appoints 11 Board of Trustees members, the governor appoints four, and the president pro tempore of the senate and speaker of the house each appoint one. Five serve ex officio: the president of the University of North Carolina, the president of community colleges, the superintendent of public instruction, the secretary of health and human services, and the secretary of cultural resources.


Public Broadcasting Funding

In the United States, public broadcasting is funded by a unique combination of public and private support, and that includes UNC-TV. Some have questioned this model and asked if there are better alternatives. In other countries that have some form of public television — the BBC in Great Britain and the CBC in Canada are probably the most familiar examples — public television and radio broadcasters are fully funded by the national government, removing the need for any form of fundraising, underwriting from private sources, or funding from local governments. Most countries in the world have adopted this model for funding public broadcasting.


Fast Facts About UNC-TV …

  • UNC-TV went on the air January 8, 1955, broadcasting as educational television station WUNC-TV in Chapel Hill.

  • Today, UNC-TV is a 12-station network licensed to the University of North Carolina that provides statewide public television service. Funding for UNC-TV’s conversion to digital broadcasting technology, as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, resulted from voter passage of the Higher Education Improvement Bond referendum passed by North Carolina voters in November 2000.

  • UNC-TV currently provides all 100 counties of North Carolina with four full-time broadcast digital program channels:
    • UNC-TV – our flagship channel in high definition
    • ROOTLE – UNC-TV's Kids Channel
    • UNC-EX – the Explorer Channel
    • NC Channel – stories with a local accent 

  • UNC-TV, ROOTLE and UNC-EX can all be received over-the-air with the proper equipment. In addition, UNC-TV is available through all cable television providers in the state and from direct broadcast satellite providers. ROOTLE and UNC-EX are available on all cable and some satellite providers. Please check with your television service provider for details on what they offer.

  • UNC-TV was one of the first public television providers of online streaming content, with a multitude of original series and programs available at video.unctv.org, as well as through the iTunes store. UNC-TV content is also available on YouTube, and there are UNC-TV pages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. UNC-TV online video players offer a growing variety of both PBS and UNC-TV original productions. To find out more, please visit our video portal.

  • North Carolina People with William Friday was UNC-TV’s longest-running program. It went on the air in 1971 and ended in 2012.

  • Some 40% of UNC-TV’s program schedule features commercial-free and educational programming for children. Parents know that UNC-TV provides a safe haven for children.

  • The focus on the need for local control of communications media is alive on UNC-TV. During 2013-2014, UNC-TV and its partners produced 329.5 hours of original local programming, making it a leader in the public television industry.

  • On February 1, 2014, Tom Howe retired after 21 years as UNC-TV's Director and General Manager. Associate General Manager Gail Zimmermann was then appointed as interim director and general manager. After over two years of service as general manager, Gail Zimmermann retired July 1, 2016. Succeeding Zimmermann is Brian Sickora, former president and chief executive officer of WSKG Public Media in Binghamton, NY.  


Click Here to download the 2016 Local Content & Services Report 

Click Here
to download a copy of UNC-TV's 2015 Annual Report.