WBRC Fox6 News is a Fox affiliate that serves Birmingham and is owned by Gray Television. The Transmitter and studio facilities of the station are maintained on Red Mountain in southeastern Birmingham. The transmitter tower is shared with local NOAA Weather Radio: KIH54. WBRC can be have on cable through Charter Spectrum: Ch 7 subscription and also via AT&T U-verse and Comcast Xfinity’ Ch 6.
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Slogan: On Your Side
WBRC launched on July 1, 1949 as WBRC-TV after getting the maiden licensing from FCC for Birmingham. The channel is the second oldest broadcaster in Alabama as it signed just one month later than WAFM (now WVTM and broadcasts on Channel 13). WBRC was originally owned by Birmingham Broadcasting Company.
At the beginning, it produced programming for 3 hours as a primary NBC affiliate however, the station also had secondary affiliations with DuMont Television Network and ABC. It also had a brief affiliation stint with NTA Film Network. The original studio facilities of the station were located on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue near downtown Birmingham. The original transmitter site was shared with WBRC-FM which singed on air in 1947 with highest transmitter power in the world with 500,000 watts of ERP. However, the radio went down in June 1948 due to consistent financial losses. The channel on Sep 17, 1954 moved to the present day studio facility maintained atop Red Mountain. By Oct 1965, Birmingham had a total of three commercial stations namely WABT, WBRC and WBMG which later changed its calls to WIAT.
Radio Cincinnati in 1957 became the owner of WBRC stations after paying Storer USD 2.3m for acquisition of its assets. Storer who had purchase the news assets in Philadelphia and Delaware had to release Birmingham holdings in compliance with Federal Communications Commission rules on ownership limits.
Exclusive Affiliation with ABC
WBRC became an exclusive ABC affiliate on March 1, 1961; the fulltime affiliation with the network was deemed as unusual where ABC below par with CBS and NBC until 70’s and only opted as a secondary affiliate got a primary affiliate in a market that hosted only two commercial stations. This was mainly due to the Chairman’s Taft good relations with the network President Leonard Goldenson.
Great American Communications which was later going to be renamed Citicasters following its restructuring as they in Dec 1993 had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy decided to put the station and its other siblings KSAZ, WGHP and WDAF on sale to New World Communications for USD 350m in cash and another 10m in share warrants. However following the consummation of the deal New World Communications decided to purchase acquire four more holdings of Argyle Television Holdings; the deal was worth USD 717m. But the company couldn’t do so as it would then breach the maximum ownership of 12 stations in US by three stations, so it directly objected patterns enforced by FCC.
News World on May 23, 1994 entered an agreement with Fox by which it would switch 12 TV channels – 6 already owned by the company and eight that would be piped from Citicasters and Argyle deals – to the network. Fox parent News Corporation in exchange would acquire a 20% stake in the New World and the New World Stations would also become Fox affiliations once their affiliation with existing networks expired. WBRC turned into a Fox O&O station on Sep 1, 1996 and pared ways from ABC after 47 years of association with the latter. Fox on July 14, 2008 sold WBRC to Local TV, the latter would then trade the station to Raycom Media on Jan 6, 2009 in exchange of Richmond-based WTVR.
Acquisition by Gray Television
Raycom Media and Gray Television on June 25, 2018 agreed for a merger of the two broadcasting companies; Atlanta-based Gray contributed entered the unification with 93 channels while Ray held 63 including WBRC. All the assets would then come under the label and operations led by Gray Television. The cash-and-stock transaction worth USD 3.6 billion and the deal concluded on Jan 2, 2019 following the FCC approval on Dec 20, 2018.
WBRC hosts 57 hours of locally produced newscast per week which consist of 10 hours of weekdays and 3.5 hours each on weekends. It is the highest number of hours dedicated to newscast in Alabama. Fox 6 Sideline is a notable program that premiered in Sep 1989 on ABC; the program airs on Friday nights. The syndicated content on the channel includes Judge Judy, Live with Kelly and Ryan, Access Hollywood, Me Time with Frangela, Inside Edition and Crime Watch Daily. In Depth with Graham Bensinger is also a notable syndicated sports program.