Chronology data should be put on the appropriate chronology page ("Chronology of call letters WBRC") .
Other material must be reorganized into appropriate categories of articles.
WBRC is a more news-intensive Fox station with 45 hours a week of locally-produced newscasts, as well as first-run prime time, sports and Saturday late night programming from Fox. WBRC also runs off-network syndicated sitcoms, talk shows, reality shows and court shows.
WBRC-TV began operation on July 1, 1949, on channel 4. It was a primary NBC affiliate, and also carried secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont. It was Alabama's second television station, signing on a few months after WAFM-TV (channel 13, now WVTM-TV). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
At its outset, WBRC-TV was owned by Eloise D. Hanna and her Birmingham Broadcasting Company along with WBRC radio (960 AM). The station's call letters stand for Bell Radio Company, after J.C. Bell, the founder of WBRC radio. In 1953, WBRC-TV was moved to channel 6 as part of an FCC-ordered frequency realignment. This move was made in order for WBRC-TV to avoid interference with WSM-TV (now WSMV) in Nashville, which also operated on channel 4; the two stations' respective signals suffered from interference problems in northern Alabama.
Later on in 1953, Eloise Hanna also sold the WBRC stations to Storer Broadcasting. George B. Storer, the company's founder and chairman, was a member of the CBS board of directors, and most of his stations operated as CBS affiliates. Storer may have used his leverage to secure a primary CBS affiliation for WBRC-TV in 1954. The NBC affiliation moved to channel 13, then known as WABT, and both stations retained a secondary affiliation with ABC. Also in 1954, the WBRC stations moved to a new studio built by Storer, where channel 6 remains today. The studio, like many of those built by Storer, resembled an antebellum mansion. Unusually for commercial broadcasters, Storer supported educational television, and the company gave two transmitters and frequencies in the general Birmingham area (channels 7 and 10) to Alabama Educational Television.
In 1957, Storer sold the WBRC stations to Taft Broadcasting. Storer had to sell its Birmingham cluster after it purchased WIBG in Philadelphia and WPFH in Wilmington, Delaware in order to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's ownership limits in effect at the time.
In 1961, WBRC took the ABC affiliation full-time, leaving channel 13 (by then known as WAPI-TV) to share CBS and NBC. This was very unusual for a market with only two commercial stations. Usually, one or both stations carried ABC as a secondary affiliation, since ABC would not be on anything resembling an equal footing with CBS and NBC until the 1970s. However, Taft had very good relations with ABC. Most of Taft's TV stations were ABC affiliates, including its flagship station, WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, which was one of ABC's strongest affiliates. Also, Taft's chairman was a personal friend of the ABC president Leonard Goldenson.
Another factor, though supposedly not as important as the Taft-Goldenson relationship, was CBS News' apparent strong support of the Civil Rights Movement, which did not sit well with a large segment of WBRC's audience. ABC had very few full-time affiliates south of Washington, D.C. at the time, but now it had the full benefit of one of the South's strongest signals, best antenna locations, and largest coverage areas.
In 1972, Taft sold WBRC-AM-FM. That AM radio station is now WERC while the FM station is now WBPT. WBRC was one of ABC's strongest affiliates for years. For a time, it lodged the ABC dot logo inside its own "6" logo (just as it had done with the CBS eye in the 1950s).
In late 1987, Taft was restructured into Great American Broadcasting after a hostile takeover. In December 1993, Great American Broadcasting was restructured again after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and became known as Citicasters. Citicasters then decided to put most of its television stations up for sale.
As a Fox station
In early 1994, Citicasters agreed to sell two of its stations to New World Communications -- WDAF-TV (channel 4) in Kansas City and KSAZ-TV (channel 10) in Phoenix, Arizona. WBRC and WGHP (channel 8) in High Point, North Carolina were originally slated to be included in the deal as well. However, a month before, New World agreed to buy four stations owned by Argyle Communications, including Birmingham's WVTM. FCC rules at the time dictated that one company could not own two stations in the same market. In addition, the acquisitions put New World two television stations over the FCC-mandated 12-station limit in effect at the time.
In May 1994, New World agreed to affiliate all of its stations with Fox except for WVTM and KNSD (channel 39) in San Diego which remained affiliated with NBC; these were subsequently purchased by that network. At that same time, Citicasters sold WBRC and WGHP to Fox, but put the two stations in a trust until Fox could close on them. Fox assumed control of WBRC and WGHP in September 1995 through local marketing agreements, and closed on the purchase on January 17, 1996. Since WBRC's affiliation agreement with ABC did not expire until September 1996, Fox had to run WBRC as an ABC affiliate for over a year. This also gave ABC time to find another affiliate to serve central Alabama.
WBRC was originally going to run Fox Kids in the 1 to 4 p.m. slot, but once it was determined that soon to be former Fox affiliate WTTO would be left an independent, it opted to let WTTO keep the Fox Kids programming. As a Fox affiliate, WBRC has aired only the prime-time and weekend sports programming of the Fox network. Even in 2000 when WTTO dropped Fox Kids, WBRC still did not pick it up. Fox offered a Saturday Morning kids lineup programmed by 4Kids Entertainment until the programming block (4Kids TV) went off the air on December 27, 2008; WBRC never picked it up. 4Kids TV has since been succeeded by the new Weekend Marketplace infomercial block, but WBRC still declined to pick it up (it currently airs on MyNetworkTV affiliate WABM). Since the affiliation switch, the station has been known as "FOX6". After formally joining Fox, the station added an hour-long 9PM newscast, in addition to its half-hour 10PM newscast.
WBRC is one of only a few stations in the country to have had primary affiliations with all of the Big Three networks, and the only one in the country to have had primary affiliations with all four current major networks. The station was also one of the first Fox O&O's to launch a website with the MyFox interface, which features video, more detailed news, and a consistent interface that was featured on virtually all Fox O&O station websites until late January and early February 2009 when the Fox O&O station websites (still using their existing MyFox addresses and branding) were redesigned to use a less-flashy design very similar to those of the websites of television stations owned by the LIN TV Corporation (which are also operated by Fox Interactive Media).
When Media General completed its acquisition of WVTM from NBC on June 26, 2006, WBRC became the only network O&O in the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston market. However, on December 22, 2007, Fox announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell WBRC and seven other Fox O&O stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners' Local TV, which was built around the former television division of The New York Times Company. The sale of the station to Local TV became official on Monday, July 14, 2008.
On January 6, 2009, Local TV announced that it would be swapping WBRC to Raycom Media in exchange for that company's WTVR-TV in Richmond, Virginia.  Raycom is headquartered in Montgomery, the market just to the south of Birmingham, and also owns that market's NBC affiliate WSFA as well as WAFF, the NBC affiliate in Huntsville, the market just to the north of Birmingham. The transfer closed on March 31, 2009 .
In late January 2009, most of the former Fox O&Os now owned by Local TV migrated their websites to the Tribune Interactive platform. This was a result of the broadcast management agreement between Local TV and Tribune Broadcasting which was announced in late 2007 and officially launched in mid-2008. However, WBRC's website remained in the MyFox format with a design nearly identical to the recently redesigned websites of Fox O&Os until late June 2009 when the site (still using its MyFox address) was relaunched through Raycom's interactive partner WorldNow.
Like many network affiliates, WBRC-TV would pre-empt ABC programming occasionally or regularly, in some cases. For example, the station initially turned down the sitcom Bewitched, not because it concerned witchcraft, but because it concerned a mixed marriage (between a witch and a mortal); there were fears that Bewitched would encourage what some segregationists referred to as "cross-breeding". WBRC only started to clear Bewitched in 1967.
Soon after WBRC switched to Fox, it ceased production and broadcasting of local segments of the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon; WBRC was the first station to broadcast the telethon starting back in the 1940s. National celebrities would fly in to appear on this telethon and it was from WBRC that it moved to national prominence. Even in its waning moments at WBRC, the UCP Telethon would air locally produced mini-documentaries from WBRC (produced by Randy Mize and Tom Stovall).
WBRC produces a weekly Law advice program, "FOX6 WBRC Law Call". The program is a call in format, in which viewers phone in and ask legal advice from a legal panel (usually personal injury attorneys). It is hosted by former WBRC reporter Tiffany Bittner. It airs live on Sunday nights after the station's 10 o'clock newscast.
WBRC broadcasts a total of 45½ hours of local news a week (7½ hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays), more than any other television station in the state of Alabama.
After WBRC became a Fox affiliate in 1996, the station has placed more emphasis on its newscasts, maintaining a newscast schedule very similar to a ABC, CBS or NBC affiliate, along with additional 7-9 a.m. and 5:30-6 p.m. newscasts, and what was at first a 30-minute primetime 9:00 p.m. newscast. The 9:00 PM newscast was expanded to a full hour by 1999. The station is one of a steadily growing number of Fox stations with a newscast in the traditional late news timeslot (at 10 p.m. Central time, in WBRC's case; and one of the few Fox stations running a 10 p.m. (or 11 p.m.) newscast seven nights a week), in addition to the primetime (9 p.m.) newscast, along with one of the few to continue their Big Three-era 10 p.m. newscast after the affiliation switch.
On October 26, 2009 WBRC began broadcasting its local newscasts in High Definition, making WBRC the third television station in the entire state of Alabama—and the second station in the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston market after WVTM-TV—to do so. The news set and the graphics were also redesigned in the transition to HD.
For most of the last decade, FOX6 News at 9:00 has been one of the highest-rated primetime newscasts in the country. It also airs 43 hours of locally produced news programming per week, the most in the market. It has been the ratings leader in the market for most of the last quarter-century, dating to its time with ABC.
News Music Packages
Notable on-air Staff
Current on-air staff
FOX6 StormWarn Weather Team
Former on-air staff
David Neal lawsuit
In May 2008, former chief meteorologist and Gadsden native David Neal filed a breach-of-contract and fraud lawsuit against the station and members of the management team. According to lawsuit filings, Neal was fired in March. The station had taken him off the air without explanation the previous month. The station denied wrongdoing, and began defending the lawsuit. In July 2008, the station announced that Neal's permanent replacement would be James-Paul Dice, formerly of WHNT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama. On July 29, 2008, the parties to the lawsuit filed a stipulation of dismissal, stating that the dispute had been resolved in mediation. Terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed.
Previous owners of Channel 6
- ^ "WBRC-TV To Debut July 1, First in Ala.". Billboard: 13. 1949-06-11.
- ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films" ([dead link]). Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956. http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_111056-1.
- ^ Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. http://nelson.oldradio.com/origins.call-list.html. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- ^ News Corporation
- ^ Raycom, Local TV to Swap Stations - 1/6/2009 6:28:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable
- ^ Local TV Closes on WTVR
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zstVnuzD3N0
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo5E4S7SfbU
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gsCW-CqcPY
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1klTBH_JR8
- ^ http://www.myfoxal.com/Global/category.asp?C=169485
- ^ "Still No Sign of David Neal on Fox 6," The Birmingham News, March 26, 2008, p. 3C
- ^ "Meteorologist Sues Fox 6 Over Firing," The Birmingham News, May 13, 2008, p. 1B
- ^ "Fox 6 Hires Dice as Chief Meterologist," The Birmingham News, July 19, 2008, p. 2C
- ^ Fox 6, David Neal Settle Lawsuit, The Birmingham News, July 30, 2008