|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
|Branding||CBS 46 (general)
CBS 46 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Working for a Better Atlanta|
|Channels||Digital: 19 (UHF)
Virtual: 46 (PSIP)
|First air date||June 6, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||Georgia's CLear News
|Former callsigns||WHAE-TV (1971–1977)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
46 (UHF, 1971–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1971–1994)|
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WGCL-TV, virtual channel 46 (UHF digital channel 19), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The station is owned by the Meredith Corporation; Meredith also operates independent station WPCH-TV (channel 17) under a local marketing agreement with owner and Time Warner subsidiary Turner Broadcasting System. The studio facilities that house both stations are located in the city's Home Park neighborhood; WGCL-TV's transmitter is located near North Druid Hills.
Channel 46 first went on the air on June 6, 1971 as WHAE-TV (standing for "Heaven And Earth"), originally owned by the Continental Broadcasting Network arm of evangelist Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. The station originally broadcast for six hours each day, and offered a low-budget lineup consisting of one to two hours of general entertainment programs, mixed with religious programming (the latter of which also comprised the entire Sunday schedule). In 1972, the station expanded to an eight-hour-a-day schedule, with an additional two hours of entertainment shows daily, mainly programs that higher-rated stations and Ted Turner's WTCG passed on.
By 1976, the station had expanded to a 20-hour daily schedule, airing secular syndicated shows and religious programming (including twice daily airings of The 700 Club). In the fall of 1977, the station changed its call letters to WANX-TV (standing for "Atlanta IN Christ (X)"). While it began offering more secular programming around this time, its programming policies were considerably more conservative than its two main rivals at the time: WTCG/WTBS (now WPCH-TV) and WATL (channel 36), as WANX did not air any programming that would offend the sensibilities of its mostly fundamentalist and Pentecostal audience due to owner Robertson's beliefs. This policy would also guide programming choices for CBN during the 1980s and 1990s.
Tribune ownership and CBS affiliation
Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting acquired Channel 46 in late 1983, after which its call letters were changed once again on March 15, 1984, this time to WGNX; the new callsign reflected a connection with Tribune's Chicago flagship station, WGN-TV (whose own callsign refers to the slogan of the Chicago Tribune, "World's Greatest Newspaper"). Airings of The 700 Club on the station were reduced to once per day, before the show was dropped altogether – until channel 46 acquired the local rights to the program again in 2007. Under Tribune ownership, the new WGNX significantly upgraded its programming, picking up more racier programs than those allowed to air on the station under CBN ownership. The station formed a news department by the end of the decade, airing a 10 p.m. newscast on weeknights, alongside the Tribune-distributed syndicated newscast Independent Network News.
On November 2, 1993, Time Warner's Warner Bros. Television division and the Tribune Company announced the formation of The WB Television Network. As a result of Tribune holding a minority ownership stake in the network, the company decided to turn its then-seven independent stations into The WB's charter affiliates. WGNX was slated to become the new network's Atlanta outlet upon The WB's launch on January 11, 1995. However, those plans were suddenly altered on May 22, 1994, when New World Communications signed an affiliation agreement with the Fox Broadcasting Company, months after Fox won the NFL broadcast contract to run football games from the league's National Football Conference. Most of the New World stations became Fox affiliates as a result, including Atlanta's longtime CBS affiliate, WAGA-TV (channel 5). CBS needed to find a new affiliate in what had become the nation's ninth largest media market, and approached all of Atlanta's major stations, including WGNX. However, none of them were interested at first.
By October 1994 – only a month before WAGA-TV was slated to join Fox – CBS faced the prospect of having to pipe in out-of-market affiliates from Columbus and Macon, Georgia, Spartanburg, South Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee to area cable providers until it found a new Atlanta-area affiliate. Almost out of desperation, CBS made a deal to buy WVEU, a low-rated station on channel 69 with the weakest signal of Atlanta's full-power stations. Around the same time that The WB launched, the United Paramount Network (originally owned by Chris-Craft Industries, before becoming a joint venture with Paramount Pictures/Viacom in 1996) was set to launch as a competitor to The WB, with WATL as the most likely choice to be that network's Atlanta affiliate. However, CBS still wanted to affiliate with a station that people were more familiar with (and that had a functioning news department). It continued to negotiate with Tribune, who eventually relented in November and allowed WGNX to become a CBS affiliate.
The affiliation switch became official on December 11, 1994. It was originally slated to occur on November 27, but Fox, New World and CBS were still ironing out the final details. Upon becoming a CBS affiliate, the station began airing more syndicated talk and reality shows; it also began branding itself as "CBS46" (these references were mostly verbal as on-air graphics continued to refer to the station as "channel 46"). The move to CBS left WGNX with a large number of syndicated cartoons and sitcoms it no longer had time to air. It sold most of its syndicated programs to WVEU, which became the market's UPN affiliate (while WATL joined The WB), and was later sold to Viacom, who changed that station's callsign to WUPA.
With the switch from WAGA to WGNX, CBS lost significant viewership in the northern portion of the Atlanta market. Despite its five million-watt analog signal, WGNX did not penetrate nearly as far into this area as WAGA did due to the relatively mountainous terrain that is found in that part of northern Georgia. Much of this region was among the few areas in the United States where cable television was still not readily available. CBS did not return over-the-air to this area until Toccoa's WNEG-TV (channel 32, now WUGA-TV) joined CBS the following August. Although it was located in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, WNEG served as the de facto CBS affiliate for the far northern portion of the Atlanta market until that station's sale to the University of Georgia in 2008. By this time, increased cable and satellite availability in this area increased channel 46's footprint in the area. Tribune began to manage the station in tandem with WATL in 1996 under a local marketing agreement.
Meredith Corporation ownership
In 1998, Tribune Broadcasting traded WGNX to the Meredith Corporation in a three-way deal that saw Tribune acquire Tacoma, Washington's KCPQ from Kelly Broadcasting; that deal allowed Tribune to buy WATL outright the next year. Around the same time, WGNX changed its branding to "CBS Atlanta". The station changed its callsign to WGCL-TV on July 4, 2000 to reflect its new slogan, "We're Georgia's CLear TV", along with a soft news concept called Clear News. After two years, WGCL rebranded as "CBS Atlanta" again, before re-adopting the "CBS 46" moniker only several months later.
On June 20, 2007, WGCL's website underwent a redesign due to a partnership between Meredith and Internet Broadcasting, following the successful testing of the websites of five of its sister stations, which had joined the Internet Broadcasting platform the year before. WGCL's website was the sixth Meredith station website to switch from being run by WorldNow to Internet Broadcasting. Meredith's contract with IB expired in June 2011, with the Meredith station sites becoming operated by WorldNow again. WGCL and Fox-affiliated sister station WHNS in Greenville, South Carolina, were the first Meredith-owned stations to relaunch with the new WorldNow-operated sites on June 6, 2011.
In March 2009, Meredith announced that WGCL would begin handling the master control operations of both WHNS and Nashville's WSMV-TV. The new master control hub began operations in the fall of 2009. Three other Meredith-owned stations, in Kansas City, Hartford-New Haven and Bay City, Michigan, were later added to the WGCL hub in 2010. Meredith operates a similar hub at KPHO-TV in Phoenix to handle its Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington stations. On March 12, 2011, WGCL-TV, as well as WSB-TV, became the first stations in the Atlanta area to begin offering Mobile DTV broadcasts.
On January 18, 2011, Meredith Corporation entered into a local marketing agreement with the Turner Broadcasting System (owner of WPCH-TV) that would result in WPCH vacating its studios on Techwood Drive and merging its operations with WGCL at its studios in the city's Home Park neighborhood. Production of the station's 45 Atlanta Braves broadcasts was also transferred from Turner Sports to Fox Sports South as a result. The LMA with Meredith ended Turner Broadcasting's yearly sponsorship of Piedmont Park's "Screen on the Green" in 2011. Ironically, while WPCH is the junior partner in the arrangement, the station (formerly known as WTCG until 1980 and WTBS from 1980 to 2004) was the stronger of the two stations until the late 1980s.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|46.1||1080i||16:9||WGCL-TV||Main WGCL-TV programming / CBS|
WGCL-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 46, 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 19, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 46. Although the DTV Delay Act extended the mandatory shutdown of analog television until June 12, WGCL-TV applied to the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to shut down the analog signal on the original deadline of February 17. However, the station did not appear on the FCC list of such stations, which was released on February 11 (WATC (digital channel 57) and WGTV (digital channel 8) were the other local stations on this list). The station applied to be an "analog nightlight" station, ending its regular programming on June 12 as required by law, but continuing to broadcast information regarding the digital transition for an additional two weeks until June 26.
After this, WYGA-CA may be allowed to increase its analog low-power signal on adjacent channel 45, as it was forced from channel 55 by MediaFLO, and has been operating on special temporary authority at very low power to protect adjacent-channel WGCL from signal interference. WSB-TV 39 (2.x) may be also allowed to begin transmitting a co-channel digital fill-in translator from south of Gainesville. Both are pending FCC approval of their applications, and WSB also filed for an STA to begin as soon as possible after WGCL ended analog transmissions.
WGCL-TV has multiplexed additional digital subchannels on its over-the-air transmitter during the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship period during select days and time periods in March. This is done in order to broadcast several basketball games in progress simultaneously carried by CBS Sports. The subchannels, which can number as many as three, have a typical video resolution of 480i at 4:3 aspect ratio. In March 2009, only one subchannel (46.2, labeled WGCLDT2) was used. Since then, no subchannels have been needed because the additional games in progress are now broadcast on TBS and TNT due to a deal between CBS, the NCAA and Turner Broadcasting.
Although WGCL operates WPCH-TV under a local marketing agreement, effectively making them sister stations, WGCL may air CBS network programs whenever it is unable to air them in the event of extended breaking news or severe weather coverage, or locally scheduled special event programming on CW owned-and-operated station WUPA instead as time permits (one such example being during WGCL's August 24, 2013 broadcast of an NFL preseason game between the Denver Broncos and the St. Louis Rams).
WGCL presently broadcasts 34½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays); the station also produces a half-hour sports discussion program CBS 46 Sportsline, which airs Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and a sports-themed interview program One on One (hosted by sports director Larry Smith), which airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m.
As an independent station, Tribune Broadcasting started a news department for the station. On January 16, 1989, WGNX began producing a nightly primetime newscast at 10 p.m. Debuting as the Channel 46 News at Ten, it was the only primetime newscast in the Atlanta market at the time. When the station became a network affiliate after joining CBS on December 11, 1994, the station began airing more newscasts; it added newscasts weekdays at noon and weeknights at 6 and 7:30 p.m. (the latter of which was later cancelled), the 10 p.m. newscast was also moved one hour later to 11 p.m. In later years, the station would also debut a weekday morning newscast, a late afternoon newscast at 4 p.m. and a short-lived 5 p.m. newscast.
As a CBS affiliate, WGCL has struggled against other Atlanta area television stations in the ratings, usually ranking fourth behind WSB-TV (channel 2), WAGA-TV and WXIA-TV (channel 11); as such, WGCL has been one of CBS' weaker affiliates throughout its affiliation with the network, despite the station's status as CBS' largest affiliate (in contrast, WAGA was one of CBS' strongest affiliates, prior to joining Fox in 1994). However since 2011, the station has traded third and fourth place in the ratings with WXIA-TV. In addition, the station has not maintained a consistent identity for its news programming (branding and format-wise) since joining the network; upon joining CBS, it branded as WGNX News; outside of using the Clear News brand for two years starting in 2000, since 1999, WGCL has switched back and forth between using CBS Atlanta News and CBS 46 News as its news brand.
On January 11, 2009, WGCL became the third station (behind WXIA-TV and WSB-TV) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. With the switch to HD, WGCL has rebranded back to "CBS Atlanta", which it used previously from 1999 to 2000 and 2002 to 2003. In October 2009, WGCL decided to shut down its sports department in a cost-cutting decision, resulting in the layoffs of sports anchors Gil Tyree and Mark Harmon. The station then entered into an agreement with sports talk radio station WQXI (790 AM) to provide sports coverage. On August 30, 2010, WGCL debuted an hour-long weeknight newscast at 5 p.m., effectively creating a 2½ hour local news block from 4 to 6:30 p.m. newscast. That fall, WGCL discontinued its noon newscast and added an additional weekday morning newscast from 9 to 10 a.m. On September 29, 2012, WGCL debuted its first weekend morning newscasts as an hour-long program on Saturdays and a half-hour program on Sunday mornings. The station expanded the weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours (now starting at 4:30 a.m.) on August 12, 2013, while dropping Better Mornings Atlanta title for the 4:30-7:00 a.m. block of the program in favor of CBS Atlanta News at 4:30/5:00/6:00 a.m.
On June 18, 2013, WGCL announced the termination of the sports coverage agreement with WQXI in the wake of that station's morning show team (who also hosted a Saturday evening sports program for WGCL) being terminated for a comedy sketch mocking the condition of former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who has ALS. The station had already made plans beforehand to hire a sports director and relaunch that department.
On February 25, 2014, beginning with the 4 p.m. newscast, WGCL unveiled a new set for its newscasts, which were rebranded as CBS 46 News (a brand previously used from 2003 to 2009). The new logo for the set was inadvertently unveiled on February 14 in the middle of a weather segment during the 4 p.m. newscast. WGCL-TV also adopted the new slogan, "Working for a Better Atlanta".
In September 2014, WGCL had some more change ups in terms of it's line up. WGCL dropped the hour long 9AM newscast called "Better Mornings Atlanta" and added a midday newscast, plus a lifestyle show called "Plugged In".
Notable former on-air staff
- John Doyle - weathercaster (1997–2005, retired from broadcasting; currently doing voice-overs, working part-time as bailiff at the Gwinnett County Courthouse)
- Tony Harris - weeknight anchor (2003–2004, now on-air at Al Jazeera)
- Dagmar Midcap - evening weather anchor/reporter (2007–2010, now at KNSD-TV/San Diego)
- Toni Neal - traffic reporter (2004)
- Chau Nguyen - general assignment reporter (2000–2003)
- Jane Robelot - weeknight anchor (1999–2003, now reporter/substitute anchor at WYFF-TV/Greenville, South Carolina)
- Brandon Rudat - morning anchor (2010-2013, now evening anchor at KTVK/Phoenix, Arizona)
- "For the record." Broadcasting, September 26, 1977, pg. 59
- "Changing hands." Broadcasting, December 19, 1983, pg. 81
- "For the record." Broadcasting, February 27, 1984, pg. 72
- Warner Bros., Tribune Broadcasting & Jamie Kellner to Launch WB Network in 1994, TheFreeLibrary.com. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
- Tribune Broadcasting Joins with Warner Bros. to Launch Fifth Television Network, TheFreeLibrary.com. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
- "CBS buys UHFs in Atlanta, Detroit." Broadcasting & Cable, September 26, 1994, pg. 7. 
- McClellan, Steve. "CBS signs WGNX Atlanta." Broadcasting & Cable, November 21, 1994, pg. 8. 
- Haddad, Charles. "Mulitmedia Firm Meredith Buys Atlanta Television Station"., Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. August 24, 1998. HighBeam Research. (February 17, 2011).
- "Meredith Sets Up Atlanta Hub." Broadcasting & Cable, March 4, 2009. 
- Swartz, Kristi E. (January 18, 2011). "Parent of CBS Atlanta to take over operations of Peachtree TV". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WGCL
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- FCC applications BDTUCT-20090202AAZ and BLSTA-20090130ANM
- 790/The Zone takes over sports for WGCL-TV, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 11-23-2010.
- CBS Atlanta adds ‘'Better Mornings” on weekends with Paul Ossmann, Jocelyn Connell
- Ho, Rodney (June 18, 2013). "CBS Atlanta cuts ties with 790/The Zone". AccessAtlanta/Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- WCGL to become CBS46 for the second time
- Tuesday is the day for CBS46!
- "Vietnamese-American reporters shine in the US". July 9, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- CBS46.com - WGCL-TV official website
- PeachtreeTV.com - WPCH-TV official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WGCL
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WGCL-TV