A Brief History of WLBT
WLBT-Channel 3's first broadcast was December 19, 1953. WLBT was the third TV station in Mississippi. WTOK-Channel 11 in Meridian was second in September 1953, and WJTV-Channel 25 in Jackson was first on January 20, 1953.
WLBT (LBT stands for Lamar Broadcasting Television) was originally known as WJBT and was changed to WLBT because WJBT and WJTV sounded too similar. Lamar operated WLBT until June 1971, when the Federal Communications Commission ordered that the license be vacated. The FCC turned the license over to a non-profit, bi-racial group known as Communications Improvement Inc. Lamar lost the license after allegations were made by African Americans and the United Church of Christ that the station did not fairly serve its large black audience. The FCC finally granted a permanent license to operate to TV-3 Inc. in 1980.
TV-3 was a group formed by five competing companies who were seeking the right to operate the station. WLBT is one of only two TV stations in the country to lose its broadcast license for violating the FCC's broadcast fairness license, a fact found in most broadcast textbooks.
Tall Tower Television
WLBT-Channel 3's transmission tower is made up of over 600 tons of steel in 30-foot sections stacked to a tower height of 1889 feet, ten inches. Then there is a 67-foot transmitting antenna on top. The tower is 550 feet taller than the Empire State Building in New York and more than 450 feet taller than the Sears tower in Chicago. It has 600 tons of steel in it and more than seven miles of cable used as guy wires to hold it up. It replaced a 1,999-foot tower that collapsed when workers for a Canadian company made a mistake doing maintenance. Three of them were killed on October 23, 1997, when the old tower fell.
Construction on the current tower was started in January 1999, and more than 30 people from several different contracting companies have built the new structure, which is 2,012 feet to the tip of the lightning rod from the ground.
WLBT began digital broadcasting in January 2006 on Channel 9. In 2009, the old analog Channel 3 was switched off, and the digital signal moved to Channel 7. In early 2010, a new transmitter was fitted to the top of the tower to enable WLBT to switch to a UHF digital channel, 30, which has greater range and prepares the station for broadcasting to mobile devices.
Story idea or news tip? Email us at News@WLBT.COM or call 601-960-4426.
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, MS 39201