KDBC-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 18), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in El Paso, Texas, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Fox affiliate KFOX-TV (channel 14). KDBC maintains studio facilities located on South Alto Mesa Drive in northwest El Paso, and its transmitter is located atop the Franklin Mountains on the El Paso city limits.
The station first signed on the air on December 14, 1952 as KROD-TV; it was the first television station to sign on in the El Paso market. The station was founded by Dorrance Roderick, owner of KROD radio (600 AM) and the El Paso Times. The station's original studio facilities were located on Wyoming Avenue (I-10) in El Paso. Early programs on the station included the children's shows Red Brown and Anna Lee and Bozo's Big Top, and wrestling program Mitchell's Mat Time. The station has been a CBS affiliate since its sign-on, however it maintained secondary affiliations with ABC and the DuMont Television Network until 1956 (it lost the ABC affiliation to KILT (channel 7, now KVIA-TV) and lost DuMont as a result of the network's decision to cease operations). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Roderick sold the station to Trigg-Vaughn of Dallas, Texas in 1959.
The station was sold to the Doubleday Broadcasting Company in 1967. On May 29, 1973, it changed its call letters to KDBC-TV, to reflect the change in the station's ownership. Doubleday Broadcasting sold the station to Portal Communications, a subsidiary of the Evening Post Publishing Company in 1974. Its original transmitter site was located south of Comanche Peak in El Paso. A road was built to the site, and a 288-foot (88 m) tower was constructed. A building was assembled from native rock chipped from the site. The station went on with a temporary transmitter (small RCA) and eventually added a 10 kW RCA TT-10AL transmitter and broadcast at an effective radiated power of 61 kilowatts at 1,150 feet (350 m). The site is now used as a backup facility for channel 4, and many local FM radio stations transmit from this building.
In 1984, the station moved farther up the hill to Comanche Peak. A 440-foot (130 m) tower was built and a new transmitter was installed (one of the last of the RCA TT-25GLs to become operable). The station increased its effective radiated power to 100 kW and increased the height of its transmitter to 1,540 feet (470 m). BTSC stereo also commenced with the move to the new site.
In 1986, the station was acquired by United Broadcasting, then-owners of KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas and WTOK-TV in Meridian, Mississippi. Columbus, Mississippi-based Imes Broadcasting bought KDBC in 1988 after United Broadcasting was taken over by investment firm Merrill Lynch. Imes exited the television business in the late 1990s, and sold KDBC to Pappas Telecasting in 1999, with the intent to convert the station into a charter affiliate of Azteca América, a fledgling Spanish-language network that was co-owned at the time by Mexican network TV Azteca and Pappas. Plans for the affiliation were canceled following outcry from viewers and station employees (especially over the fact that no other station in El Paso was interested in joining CBS); as a result, the station renewed its affiliation contract with CBS (Azteca América and Pappas ended their affiliation relationship in mid-2007; Azteca América has been carried on the fourth digital subchannel of KVIA-TV since early December 2010).
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against another upstart network that would launch at the same time that September, The CW (an amalgamated network that originally consisted primarily of UPN and The WB's higher-rated programs) as well as to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations. On April 18, Pappas Telecasting signed an affiliation agreement with MyNetworkTV for KDBC to serve as the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate. KDBC began carrying MyNetworkTV programming on a newly launched second digital subchannel that debuted on September 5, 2006.
On January 16, 2009, Pappas announced that it would sell several of its television stations, including KDBC, to New World TV Group (later renamed Titan TV Broadcast Group), after the sale received United States bankruptcy court approval.
On October 19, 2009, Communications Corporation of America, owner of NBC affiliate KTSM-TV (channel 9), entered into a shared services agreement with Titan TV for KTSM to provide advertising sales and administrative services as well as some news resources for KDBC-TV; Titan retained KDBC's license and both stations nominally retained separate news departments. However, KTSM was heavily criticized for reducing KDBC's newscasts to near-rebroadcasts with heavy story sharing of their own newscasts which made both news departments indistinguishable from one another on-air.
On April 23, 2013, Titan TV Broadcast Group filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to sell KDBC and its low-power repeaters to Cunningham Broadcasting. Nearly all of Cunningham Broadcasting's stock is controlled by trusts held in the names of the children of Sinclair Broadcast Group founder Julian Sinclair Smith. Earlier, Sinclair had finalized its purchase of Fox affiliate KFOX-TV (channel 14) from the Cox Media Group by this time. For all intents and purposes, this would have created a duopoly in the El Paso market that circumvented FCC ownership rules. The following day, it was announced that the Communications Corporation of America stations, including KTSM-TV, would be sold to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The sale of KDBC was consummated on July 31. One week later, Sinclair exercised its option to purchase KDBC outright from Cunningham Broadcasting. FCC duopoly regulations normally disallow two of the four highest-rated stations (which usually constitute stations affiliated with the "Big Four" networks) from being directly owned by a single entity. However, in this case, Sinclair cited that KDBC is ranked fourth overall in the El Paso market while KFOX placed sixth in total-day viewership. In addition, FCC regulations require a market to be left with eight unique owners after a duopoly is formed, and Sinclair noted in its application that the El Paso/Las Cruces market would still have eight unique owners (not counting Mexican stations that also serve the market) after Sinclair completed its acquisition of KDBC. The FCC approved the sale on September 23, and the transaction was formally completed on October 1, creating a duopoly with KFOX-TV. Sinclair later announced plans to purchase a new studio facility using an existing building to house the two stations on South Alto Mesa Drive on the city's west side. The new facility opened at the end of September 2014. Sinclair also announced its intention to invest heavily in KDBC to make it a factor in the market for the first time in several years.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|4.1||1080i||16:9||KDBC-DT||Main KDBC-TV programming / CBS|
|4.2||480i||MyNet||MyNetworkTV / This TV / American Sports Network ("My 4.2")|
|4.3||4:3||MeTV||MeTV (Coming Soon)|
KDBC-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 2, 2009 (ten days before most full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate on June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 18. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.
KDBC-TV clears most of the CBS network schedule; however, the station airs the CBS Evening News a half-hour earlier than the majority of the network's stations at 5:00 p.m. (this is the reverse order of the traditional late afternoon scheduling of major network affiliates in the Central and Mountain Time Zones, in which the network newscast airs after a local newscast) and airs the network's Sunday morning news programs CBS News Sunday Morning and Face the Nation one hour earlier than most CBS stations (CBS normally feeds the programs starting at 8:00 a.m. in each time zone; KDBC instead transmits both programs live via the network's Eastern Time Zone feed). Current Syndicated programs broadcast on KDBC include: Celebrity Name Game, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Inside Edition, and Judge Judy.
KDBC-TV presently broadcasts 12 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 2 hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); unlike most CBS affiliates, the station does not produce morning or midday newscasts on weekdays, and its early evening newscast airs nightly at 5:30 p.m. instead of as two half-hour broadcasts at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.
Among the station's most famous personalities was weather forecaster Howell Eurich, who also worked as El Paso's version of Bozo the Clown from 1968 to 1972. Eurich and fellow KDBC weather anchor Gail Gordon introduced "Puffy the Weather Dog," who became a feature of the station's weather forecasts. Eurich was also known for his jokes about the small size of the Winkler County town of Wink, which were later compiled for a book that was sold locally. Eurich committed suicide in 1982 following his divorce from Gordon. His son, Robin Eurich, would play Rusty the Handyman on The Bozo Super Sunday Show on WGN-TV in Chicago during its entire run from 1994 to 2001.
On December 7, 2005, then-anchor Nichole Ayoub was proposed to (accepting the marriage proposal) live during that night's 6:00 p.m. newscast by her boyfriend of several years, Travis Hughes. The event was reported in feature stores seen on ABC's Good Morning America, Inside Edition and by various local television stations around the United States. On December 15, 2009, KDBC became the third television station in the El Paso market to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition.
In January 2010, Communications Corporation of America announced that it would shut down the news department of its sister station, KVEO-TV in Brownsville, Texas, other than maintining a few locally based reporters for stories in the Brownsville area. The locally produced newscast on that station would originate from KDBC, using its staff with reports filed by Brownsville-based reporters. The new newscast, which debuted on KVEO on January 18, 2010, was able to be broadcast live in Brownsville without interfering with the production of KDBC's newscasts due to the one-hour time difference between El Paso (in the Mountain Time Zone) and Brownsville (in the Central Time Zone).
On August 17, 2015, KDBC debuted a two-hour weekday morning newscast called CBS 4 News Daybreak from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., along with the return of the station's newscast at noon.
For many years, KDBC has operated low-power translator stations in Alamogordo and Las Cruces. The Alamogordo translator, KKNJ-LP, originally broadcast on channel 71, before relocating to UHF channel 36 in 1989 after the FCC removed high-band UHF channels 70 to 83 from broadcasting use. It changed call letters five times in 2006 to facilitate the warehousing of CW-specific call letters on sister Pappas stations in the Des Moines, Iowa market before the network's September 2006 launch; the station was assigned KCWI-LP for two separate periods, KDMI-LP and then KPWB-LP. The Las Cruces relay, KCWF-CA, originated on either UHF channel 61 or 68 in 1997 and moved to channel 20 in 2000.