Just under a year after becoming owner of the Meridian NBC affiliate WGBC-TV, former Texas TV head Mike Reed has secured the local FOX affiliation as well as renewed its NBC affiliation for another term.
Beginning Jan. 5, 2009, FOX moves to WGBC-TV from WTOK. Described by Reed as "a major game changer” for the Meridian television market, the move brings to WGBC-TV both FOX and NBC programming.
"This means that the programming management team for WGBC-TV and WMDN-TV now offers advertisers and viewers choices that include CBS, NBC, FOX, RTN and CBS 24 Local Weather," he said.
This is not Reed's first association with FOX. He has operated affiliates in Augusta, Ga., and Lafayette, La.
"The Augusta station was the No. 1 FOX affiliate in the country. And when I moved to Lafayette, the FOX affiliate was rated 99 in the country; we improved it to a seventh-rank FOX affiliate in less than a year," he said.
"FOX knows that I'm very aggressive with marketing, and that I could probably help and improve their position here in the market. So they wanted to give us a try."
With the addition of FOX, WGBC-TV and WMDN-TV together will now carry almost every major sporting event. Included the Olympics, NFL, MLB, PGA and NASCAR.
“We now offer our viewers and our advertisers the best of prime time television and virtually all the major sports events," Reed said.
"We offer the AFC and the NFC playoffs along with the Super Bowl every year, SEC Football and Basketball, NCAA Football, the BCS Bowl Championship and most of the other Bowl games, Major League Baseball, the playoffs and the World Series, the NCAA Basketball regular season, March Madness and the Final Four, the Daytona 500 and all major NASCAR races, the Masters, the PGA, the US Open, the Ryder Cup, and the list goes on.”
WGBC-TV operates under a Program Services Agreement with WMDN-TV, a CBS network affiliate that includes the new CBS 24 Local Accuweather Channel, that provides local weather information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The addition of FOX to WGBC will also add programming from the Retro Television Network (RTN) in the non-FOX time periods. RTN will air such classic programs as "Leave it to Beaver," "Magnum P.I.," "McHale’s Navy," "Marcus Welby, MD," "The Rockford Files," "The Incredible Hulk," "The A-Team," "Dragnet," "Wagon Train," "The Virginian," "Laredo" and "Alfred Hitchcock Hour." Other local events, sports and programs will be inserted into the FOX programming line-up to ensure the station is heavily involved in the local community, Reed said.
This is now possible through the digital carriage of channels. NBC, FOX and CBS will all be broadcast in High Definition (HD) format. NBC, FOX and RTN will be broadcast on the Channel 30 digital band, while CBS and CBS 24 Local Accuweather will be on the Channel 24 digital band.
"All channels are carried on Cable and Dish Network, but the quality of the signal is purest and best received directly over the air," Reed said.
WTOK-TV General Manager Tim Walker said the station will be unaffected by the affiliate change.
"It (FOX) was a secondary affiliate for us; it's a primary affiliate for them," Walker said. "Our main operation is WTOK, which for 65 years has been a full-time news, weather and community source."
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