KBMT is the ABC-affiliated television station for the Golden Triangle area of southeast Texas, licensed to Beaumont. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 12 from a transmitter in Mauriceville. The station can also be seen on Time Warner channel 5 and in high definition on digital channel 875. Owned by Tegna, Inc., KBMT has studios along I-10/U.S. 69/U.S. 96/U.S. 287 in Beaumont. Syndicated programming on this station includes Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Judge Judy, and Dr. Oz.
The callsign KBMT originally transmitted on UHF channel 31, beginning on May 9, 1954, as the first television station to broadcast in the Golden Triangle. It carried ABC, CBS and NBC, but lost CBS when KFDM-TV went on the air in 1955. Since the FCC did not mandate television sets to have UHF included until 1964, KBMT 31 went off the air on August 1, 1956. Its original tower still stands (though only 250 feet instead of 500 feet tall) west of Vidor south of U.S. Route 90.
KBMT's owners subsequently applied for the later allocation on channel 12 and, after winning the allocation from the FCC, began broadcasting on its new assigned channel using the KBMT callsign on June 18, 1961 as an ABC affiliate. Before 1961, ABC had been relegated to limited clearances on KPAC-TV (now KBTV-TV) and KFDM-TV. The original owners were N.D. "Doug" Williams and Randolph Reed. The original tower site for the transmitter and antenna was Sabine Pass, south of Port Arthur (this due to KSLA in Shreveport). The transmitter and antenna were later moved to its current site near Mauriceville in the early 1960s with the antenna modified for a "directional" signal to prevent interference to KSLA's coverage area. The station was later sold to Cowles Broadcasting in 1965, H&C Communications in 1980, McKinnon Broadcasting in 1991, and London Broadcasting in 2009. On January 1, 2009, KBMT added NBC programming on digital subchannel 12.2. This came after KBTV, which previously held the affiliation, switched to Fox. This in turn caused former FOX affiliate KUIL-LP (now KUIL-LD) to go independent. In a ten-year deal with London Broadcasting, KBMT began to manage the programming of that station. On July 6, 2010, the station launched Azteca América on a new 4th digital subchannel, becoming the first Spanish-language television station offered in the Golden Triangle. That channel was dropped in early 2013 in favor of MundoFOX (now MundoMax). Due to a realignment, four digital channels are carried on the main 12 signal while the other two (12.5 MyTX and 12.6 MundoFOX) are carried via the lowpower stations, KUIL-LD on 43 SW of Beaumont and K36ID-LD on 36 in Orange. In Jasper, KVHP-LD on 44 and in Warren, K27JJ-LD on 27 carry the main RF12 signal with ABC, NBC, COZI and MeTV.
On May 14, 2014, Gannett announced its intent to purchase KBMT and five other stations from London Broadcasting. The sale was completed on July 8. By the middle of September 2014, Gannett had also purchased the four low-power digital signals mentioned above. On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. KBMT and the low-power digital signals were retained by the latter company, named TEGNA.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||720p||16:9||KBMT-A||Main KBMT programming / ABC|
|12.2||K-JAC||KBMT-DT2 / NBC|
|12.5||MYTX||KUIL-LD / MyNetworkTV|
KBMT shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 50 to VHF channel 12 for post-transition operations.
Note: KUIL-LD's subchannels map to 12.5 and 12.6.
KBMT launched its news operation in 1962. On September 16, 2009, several changes occurred in the newscast lineup. The weekday morning show, Good Morning Southeast Texas, began simulcasting on both the ABC and NBC channels while becoming a full two-hour broadcast. There began to be a half-hour newscast weekday mornings at 11:30 on KBMT-DT2. The NBC channel also launched a weeknight show at 6:30 and begin to simulcast the main channel's weeknight 10 o'clock news. Originally, there was only a separate short news and weather update at that time. KBMT-DT2 does not offer local newscasts on weekends unlike the main channel. On April 28, 2010, KBMT became the first in the market to air local news in high definition.
Notable former staff
- John Hambrick
- Bill Macatee (now CBS sportscaster for tennis and golf)
- Ben McCain (now an actor/producer and reporter for Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles)
- Van Earl Wright - weekend sports anchor
- John Ireland (now co-host of "Mason and Ireland" on KSPN Los Angeles)
- Tom Terry (now Chief Meteorologist at WFTV/WRDQ, Orlando, FL)