WDBD is the Fox-affiliated television station for Jackson, Mississippi. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 40 from a transmitter on Thigpen Road in Raymond. Owned by American Spirit Media, it is operated by Raycom Media through a shared services agreement (SSA) in a cluster including NBC affiliate WLBT, and MyNetworkTV outlet WLOO.
Although technically owned by Tougaloo College, WLOO is actually controlled by American Spirit and in turn Raycom Media through a separate joint sales agreement (JSA). All three television outlets share studios on South Jefferson Street in Downtown Jackson. Syndicated programming on WDBD includes Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Judge Mathis among others.
The station began broadcasting on November 30, 1984 as the market's first Independent outlet. It was also the first television station in Mississippi to not be affiliated with a network. In February 1988, WDBD became the area's first Fox affiliate although the fourth broadcast network had launched back in October 1986. The station switched to The WB in October 2001 leaving Jackson without an over-the-air Fox affiliate for the next two years. It would not be until September 2003 when WUFX (now WLOO) signed-on in nearby Vicksburg and became the area's second Fox affiliate. In the interim, programming from the network was provided exclusively on WNTZ-TV.
In January and February 2006, respectively, it was announced that the UPN and WB networks would merge and form The CW while News Corporation (owner of Fox) made public another new programming service called MyNetworkTV would start up as well. UPN affiliate WRBJ was announced as Jackson's CW affiliate while WUFX eventually joined MyNetworkTV. In advance of switching to the latter network, WUFX and WDBD swapped affiliations. On July 3, 2006, the former picked up The WB but began identifying itself on-air as "My 35" in anticipation of joining the new service. Meanwhile, WDBD rejoined Fox for a second time and became known as "Fox 40".
WDBD and WUFX were sold by previous owner Jackson Television to Roundtable Broadcasting in early-2010. However, its licensee listing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) still says Jackson Television. Marc Jaromin is the station's current President/General Manager. Fellow Fox affiliate WNTZ-TV in nearby Natchez technically serves the Alexandria, Louisiana market (through a low-powered repeater) but shares some of its coverage territory with WDBD. WNTZ also maintains a secondary MyNetworkTV affiliation and therefore encroaches on WUFX's home territory as well.
Roundtable Broadcasting filed to sell WDBD and WXMS-LP to American Spirit Media in July 2012. As part of the deal, the station's operations were taken over by Raycom Media, owner of WLBT, under a shared services agreement; American Spirit also acquired WUFX and WBMS-CA from Vicksburg Broadcasting, but spun off the WUFX license to Tougaloo College (though it operates that station under a joint sales agreement). The transaction was consummated on November 13.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|40.1||720p||16:9||WDBD-DT||Main WDBD programming / Fox|
WDBD increased the new digital signal's power to full-powered as opposed to the special temporary authority operation before the switchover. That change was needed because its previous VHF digital signal had a tough time reaching the outer suburbs of Jackson. The current UHF signal pushes well into the Monroe, Louisiana market to the west and the Greenwood/Greenville/Cleveland DMA to the north.
In the early-1990s, WDBD aired a local newscast called Mississippi News Tonight which was simulcasted on WXXV-TV in Gulfport. Likewise, it featured regionalized news and weather coverage despite being produced at this station's facility in Jackson. Due to low ratings and inconsistent viewership, the program was dropped from both outlets after only a year on-the-air.
In August 2008, WDBD established a second news department and began airing a thirty-minute prime time show. Known as Fox 40 News at 9, this was originally seen every night. After a short period of time, however, weekend broadcasts were dropped due to inadequate resources. On January 24, 2009, the weeknight newscast began airing in high definition resulting in this outlet becoming Jackson's first television station to make the upgrade. With the change came a new logo and an updated graphics package based on the standardized theme seen on Fox owned-and-operated stations.
In April 2010, WDBD added two weeknight newscasts, both half-hour in length. The early evening show, known as Fox 40 News at 6, directly competed with news programs seen on the area's big three stations. This would subsequently be dropped for a 5:30 p.m. broadcast, which currently airs against the national evening network newscasts. The late night program, called Fox 40 News at 10 on My 35, aired on WUFX and also competed with the area's big three outlets.
A further expansion occurred on January 17, 2011 after WDBD launched a weekday morning show called Fox 40 & Friends (name adapted from Fox & Friends which can be seen at the same time on Fox News Channel). The program, eventually renamed Fox 40 A.M., aired for two hours from 7 until 9 providing a local alternative to the national morning shows seen on the market's big three stations. To correspond with that addition, the weeknight prime time show at 9 was reformatted. It now included a fast-paced segment featuring the top stories of the day and a complete weather forecast in the first nine minutes before a commercial break.
After American Spirit Media completed its acquisition of WDBD and entered into the shared services agreement with WLBT, the station's news department was shut down resulting in several members of the WDBD staff being laid-off. Production of the station's newscasts was assumed by WLBT on November 12, 2012 with all of the news programming retained (except for the 10 p.m. show on WUFX since it would compete with WLBT). Its weekday morning show was renamed a third time to Fox 40 Morning News at this point.
All newscasts on this station currently originate from WLBT's primary set at its South Jefferson Street studios except with separate on-air duratrans and graphics indicating the Fox-branded newscasts. Although it shares a majority of on-air personnel with WLBT, WDBD maintains a separate additional news anchor for the weekday morning and weeknight shows. WLBT and WDBD operate a combined news department under the "Mississippi News Now" branding very similar to Raycom partnerships in Tucson, Arizona (with Belo) and Toledo, Ohio (with American Spirit Media).