|Columbus, Georgia-Phenix City-Auburn-Opelika, Alabama
|Branding||WRBL News 3|
|Slogan||On Your Side|
|Channels||Digital: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
3.3 Ion Television
|Owner||Nexstar Media Group
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
|First air date||November 15, 1953|
|Former callsigns||With The ReBeLlion of Georgia-Bama.|
|Former channel number(s)||4 (VHF analog, 1953–1960)
3 (VHF analog, 1960–2009)
|Former affiliations||ABC (1953–1960)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WRBL "NEWS 3" virtual channel 3 (digital channel 15), is the CBS-affiliated television station in Columbus, Georgia, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group, with studios located on 13th Avenue in Columbus. Its transmitting antenna, located in Cusseta, Georgia, once held the record as the tallest man-made structure on Earth.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WRBL-DT||Main WRBL programming / CBS|
WRBL first went on the air on November 15, 1953—just over a month after NBC affiliate WDAK-TV (channel 28, now WTVM on channel 9). It is Georgia's third-oldest station outside of Atlanta (after Macon's WMAZ-TV) as well as the second-oldest in Columbus. It was owned by Jim Woodruff along with WRBL radio (AM 1420, now WRCG, and FM 102.9, now WVRK). Originally on channel 4, it moved to channel 3 in 1960 as part of a three-city swap which saw WTVM move to channel 9 and WTVY in Dothan, Alabama move to channel 4.
The station has always been a CBS affiliate owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with CBS Radio, but shared ABC with WTVM until the channel switch of 1960, when WTVM switched to ABC to get in line with then co-owned WTVC, also on channel 9. At that time, WRBL began sharing NBC with WTVM. WRBL is the only major station in Columbus that has never changed its original affiliation. Columbus was one of the very few two-station markets in the 1960s without its own primary NBC affiliate, although NBC affiliates in Albany, Atlanta and Montgomery could be picked up with relative ease. WYEA (now WLTZ) took over the NBC affiliation when it opened in October 1970.
Woodruff owned the station until his death in a car crash in 1978. After his death, banks controlled the station until it was bought by Malcolm Glazier's Avant Corporation of Rochester, New York. He sold it to TCS Television Partners, who, in turn, sold it to Spartan Communications in 1995. Spartan later merged it's company with Media General in 2000.
Half of the station's viewing area is in the Central Time Zone (though much of it unofficially observes Eastern Time in Georgia USA). This does not pose an issue as stations in the Eastern and Central time zones both air the eastern time zone network feeds. (A similar station on the Central/Mountain time zone border would cause the Mountain time side of the market to air an hour later than other stations in the Mountain time zone as they are tape delayed 1 hour.)
WRBL replaced RTV with MeTV on digital subchannel 3.2 on September 26, 2011, as part of a groupwide affiliation agreement with Media General; the channel replaced RTV on some Media General-owned stations in other markets.
In early 2016, WRBL relaunched 3.3 as the Ion affiliate for the Chattahoochee Valley. 3.3 had been dark since the station closed the First Alert 24/7 Weather channel.
WRBL presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (4 hours on weekdays, 1 hour on weekends).
Due to economic conditions from 2008 through 2009, WRBL's owner Media General enacted a series of staff reductions that noticeably affected the amount of news that WRBL offered. First, 6:00 p.m. weekend newscasts were eliminated in Fall 2008, and the remaining weekend newscasts were eliminated in early 2009. Soon after, the 5:00 p.m. and noon newscasts were dropped. However, as of August 2010, the noon newscast has been added back to the WRBL lineup. On October 17, 2010, WRBL revived the Sunday night edition of News 3 Nightwatch. Unlike the previous newscasts that were cancelled, the duties of these newscasts are spread throughout remaining staff members, including the anchor team. On September 12, 2011, the station revived News 3 First Edition weekdays at 5:00 p.m. On September 14, 2013, WRBL revived the Saturday edition of News 3 Nightwatch at 11:00 and on September 29, 2013, WRBL added a Sunday edition of News 3 Evening Edition at 6:30 p.m. WRBL launched High Definition newscasts on March 21, 2014 with News 3 Nightwatch at 12:30 am (ran late after NCAA March Madness coverage).
Notable former on-air staff
- Rece Davis – sports director; now at ESPN
- Janice Huff – meteorologist/science reporter; now chief meteorologist at WNBC & Weekend Today (1996–2012)
- Anne Montgomery – sports reporter (early-mid-1980s); later at ESPN and now became a teacher at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona
- Blaine Stewart – anchor/reporter (2001–06); now morning anchor at WTKR-TV