NBC 30 (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)
Virtual: 30 (PSIP)
|First air date||1953
June 2, 1982
|Call letters' meaning||GloBal Communications (former owner)|
|Sister station(s)||WMDN, WHPM-LD|
|Former callsigns||WCOC-TV (1953)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
30 (UHF, 1953 & 1982-2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1953)
RTV (secondary, 2009-2010)
|Transmitter power||828 kW|
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, America's Funniest Home Videos, Swift Justice with Jackie Glass, and The People's Court among others.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|30.1||720p||16:9||FOX HD||Main WGBC programming / Fox|
|30.2||1080i||WGBC HD||WGBC-DT2 / NBC|
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 both WGBC and WMDN, making them full sisters.
Reed had to obtain a "failed station" waiver to buy WGBC because the Meridian market has only four full-power stations not enough to legally permit a duopoly under normal circumstances. In late-2008, WGBC picked up the Fox affiliation for Meridian on its first digital subcarrier with the Retro Television Network (RTV) airing during the day. This change resulted in NBC moving to a new second digital subchannel but remained on the analog signal. Fox had previously aired on WTOK-DT2 while RTV was new to the market.
On January 5, 2009, "Fox Meridian" premiered on WGBC-DT1. This unusual 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. WGBC shut down analog transmissions on June 12, 2009. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display its virtual channel as 30. At some point during the fall 2010 television season, WGBC-DT1 dropped RTV in favor of syndicated programming that other Fox affiliates have. It also became known on-air as "Fox 30" named after the former NBC branding.
WTOK has traditionally been the dominant station in the market because it was the first television outlet to sign-on. For a time in the early-1990s, it was even the only over-the-air commercial station in town by default after both of its rivals went off-the-air. Right from the beginning, that station developed a strong presence in Meridian with high viewership and ratings. From 1991 until 1994, WGBC aired local newscasts during the week that were known as WGBC News 30. This was the first attempt to take on WTOK in the ratings and offer an alternative source for news. The broadcasts ended after local businessman, Alex Shields, bought majority control of WGBC.
With WMDN's third launch in 1994, local newscasts weeknights at 6 and 10 were included in the station's schedule. It also aired an hour-long weekday morning show at 6 for a short period of time. This was the second attempt to take on longtime dominant WTOK. Since the LMA existed between WMDN and WGBC existed 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 local weather cut-ins during the 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". WTOK is currently the only television station to offer full newscasts with the outlet retaining its dominance and stronghold in the ratings.