WGBC is the Fox-affiliated television station for Meridian, Mississippi. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 31 (or virtual channel 30.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter at its studios on Crestview Drive, in unincorporated Lauderdale County, south of Meridian. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 10 and in high definition on digital channel 434. Owned by Waypoint Media, the station is sister to CBS affiliate WMDN and the two share studios. Syndicated programming on WGBC includes Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Steve Harvey Show, Anger Management (TV series), Celebrity Name Game, and The People's Court among others.

History

The station first began broadcasting as WCOC-TV in 1953. It was owned by the Crystal Oil Company along with WCOC radio (910 AM now WALT). The station had hoped to pick up the CBS affiliation for the area due to its radio sister's long affiliation with CBS Radio. However, the network ended up affiliating with WTOK-TV on the more powerful VHF channel 11. This resulted in WCOC going dark after only a few months on-the-air. The analog channel 30 allotment remained dark until WLBT in Jackson bought the dormant license. It returned the station to the air on June 2, 1982 as WLBM-TV, a low-powered semi-satellite.

Previously, NBC programming had been available to Eastern Mississippi viewers on WTOK part-time from 1953 until 1972 or on WHTV (now WMDN) from 1972 to 1980. WLBM's studios caught fire in 1990 knocking the station off-the-air and leaving much of Eastern Mississippi without an over-the-air NBC affiliate. Comcast provided network programming from Hattiesburg's WDAM for subscribers. NBC returned to the market when Global Communications brought the station back on-the-air as WGBC in September 1991. Thus, Meridian became one of the last markets in the nation with a local full-time NBC affiliate. It entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with CBS affiliate WMDN. In January 2008, local businessman Michael Reed bought WGBC and entered into an LMA agreement with Meridian Media, owner of WMDN, creating the markets duopoly.

In January 2009, WGBC picked up the Fox affiliation for Meridian on its first digital sub-channel and paired the programming with the Retro Television Network (RTV) airing during the non network time periods. This change resulted in NBC moving to a new second digital sub channel in HD. Fox had previously aired on WTOK-DT2 while RTV was new to the market. The move allowed Fox programming to be offered in HD for the first time in the market.

This creative arrangement resulted in NBC HD being moved to a new second digital subchannel. It is a similar case to CBS affiliate WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, Maine which also moved its original affiliation to a new second digital subchannel so that its main signal could join Fox. In fall 2010 WGBC's main signal had acquired enough current-day syndicated programming that Retro TV was dropped from the station, and took on a full-time branding of "Fox 30".

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
30.1720p16:9FOX HDFox Broadcasting Company / WGBC-DT1 / Fox
30.21080iWGBC HDMain WGBC programming / WGBC-DT2 / NBC

Analog-to-digital conversion

WGBC shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 30, 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 remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31.[3] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 30.

News operation

From 1991 until 1994, WGBC aired local newscasts during the week that were known as WGBC News 30. This was the first attempt in the market to provide an alternative news source to WTOK. The broadcasts ended, though, after local businessman Alex Shields bought majority control of WGBC.

With WMDN's third launch in 1994, local newscasts weeknights at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. were included on the station's schedule. It also aired an hour-long weekday morning show at 6:00 a.m. for a short period of time. Since the LMA existed between WMDN and WGBC at this point, the former began simulcasting newscasts on this station. As a result, the shows were branded as 24/30 News. The title changed to WMDN News when the broadcasts were subsequently dropped from WGBC's lineup. As was the case with WGBC's earlier attempt at operating a news department, WMDN was forced to shut down its own newscast production efforts in 2005, being unable to compete with WTOK and maintain consistent viewership.

A few years later, WGBC and WMDN began airing five-minute local weather cut-ins during the, respectively, NBC and CBS national morning shows on weekdays. Although this would be discontinued, the two outlets continue to air a cut-in branded as "The Morning Report" with Angie Denney featuring a listing of community events. There is also a cooking segment seen during the update on Mondays known as "Local Flavor".

On September 20, 2015, Waypoint Media announced that WGBC would expand its news programming with the addition of a half-hour prime time newscast at 9:00 p.m. – the first such program in the Meridian market – to premiere on October 5. Despite maintaining an LMA with WMDN, the WGBC newscast will be the only full-scale newscasts seen on the two stations, with WMDN continuing to only air news and weather cut-ins.[4]