WCBI-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for Northern Mississippi and Northwestern Alabama licensed to Columbus. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 35 from a transmitter in Northwestern Clay County. Owned by Morris Multimedia, WCBI has studios on 5th Street South in Downtown Columbus.


When WCBI signed on-the-air July 13, 1956, it was the first television station in North Mississippi. The station was owned by Birney Imes, Jr. a Columbus businessman and publisher of the Commercial Dispatch newspaper. It has studios at a cement block building surrounded by and a group of mobile homes in a pasture off MS 12 just east of Columbus. WCBI was originally affiliated with ABC, NBC, and CBS but has always been a primary CBS station except during the 1977-1978 season when it was a primary ABC affiliate. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. [3]

NBC disappeared from the schedule in 1979 after WTVA in Tupelo expanded its city-grade signal to include Columbus. WCBI continued to carry some ABC programs until 1983 when WVSB (now Fox affiliate WLOV-TV) signed-on. The station remained in its rural location for more than thirty years. In the early-1990s, Frank Imes (Birney's son) supervised the renovation of the former Egger's Department Store in Downtown Columbus. Live broadcasting began at the new facility on October 25, 1993 with News 4 at 6.

WCBI began broadcasting a full power digital signal in August 2002 on UHF channel 35. By early September, it was broadcasting three digital signals including CBS in high definition on DT1. On DT2 was a standard definition UPN channel known on-air "UPN Mississippi" that was the first digital affiliate of the network in the country. A 24-hour local weather station was located on DT3 known on-air as "WCBI WeatherCheck" and provided as part of The Local AccuWeather Channel.

In November 2003, Imes Communications sold WCBI to current owner Morris Multimedia with the sale closing on January 14 of the next year. It was the last remaining station of Imes' once-sizable smaller-market broadcasting group. The Commercial Dispatch newspaper remains under Imes family ownership to this day.

On September 5, 2006, the UPN Mississippi subchannel was relaunched as "My Mississippi", affiliating with MyNetworkTV as part of the merger of UPN and The WB. Thirteen days later on September 18, the weather subchannel on DT3 was converted to a CW affiliate as "North Mississippi CW".

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[4]
4.11080i16:9WCBI HDMain WCBI-TV programming / CBS
4.2480i4:3My MSWCBI-DT2 / MyNetworkTV
4.3720p16:9WCBI CWNorth Mississippi CW

Analog-to-digital conversion

WCBI-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on January 24, 2009, due to a transmitter problem. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 35.[5] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.

News operation

On September 8, 2008, WCBI began producing the area's second prime time newscast on this station called WCBI News at 9 on My MS. It only airs on weeknights for thirty minutes and competes with another prime time show seen for a half-hour on Fox affiliate WLOV-TV (produced Sunday through Friday nights by NBC affiliate WTVA). At some point in time, WCBI added an hour-long extension of its weekday morning show to WCBI-DT2 titled WCBI News Sunrise on My MS, which airs from 7 until 8 and offers a local alternative to the national network morning shows. In addition to its main studios, the station operates a Tupelo Bureau on Main Street/U.S. 278/MS 6/MS 178. On September 16, 2013, both newscasts airing on WCBI-DT2 moved to CW affiliate WCBI-DT3.