WBGJ-TV, virtual channel 38 (UHF digital channel 26) is an independent television licensed to Warner Robins, Georgiaand serves the Macon, GA market. Owned by CPN Holdings, it is operated under joint sales and shared services agreements (JSA/SSA) by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, making it a sister station to Fox/ABC affiliate WGXA (channel 24) and fellow indepdent station, WFXM-TV (channel 33). WBGJ-TV's studios are located on Gray Highway on the northeast side of Macon, and its transmitter is located on GA 87/US 23/129 ALT (Golden Isles Highway) along the Twiggs–Bibb county line (both being shared by former sister station WMAZ-TV).
As a simulcast of WMAZ-TV
In 1980, Multimedia announced to launch a satellite feed of WMAZ-TV broadcasting for the Warner Robins micropolitan market. The FCC won't allowed the new satellite station to broadcast until a year in 1981 when the station was officially granted and launched. WMCZ-TV was heavily promoted to be a commercial-free alternative to WMAZ-TV, broadcasting uninterrupted versions of WMAZ newscasts. The station became the first station to sign on in the Macon market since NBC affiliate WMGT-TV signed on in 1968.
On January 1st, 1986 (New Year's Day), Multimedia sold off WMCZ-TV to the locally based Central Georgia Entertainment Co (a subsidiary of Sarkes Tarzian, Inc.) which also owned full-service/adult standards (now sports talk) station WBGJ-AM, and top 40 station WBGJ-FM. The company then repurposed the station to become an CBS/TBN hybrid station, changing it's call-letters to WBGJ-TV on March 6th, 1986, though ads stated the station was independent. Due to it's de-facto independent nature, the station was technically the second independent station in Central Georgia, behind WFXM-TV. The station's schedule was weird for it's time, airing CBS programming on prime-time, TBN programming in the morning, and syndicated programming in the noon, afternoon, and early-night hours with WMAZ-TV providing as the LMA partner. On February 1st, 1991, WBGJ-TV started to phase out CBS programs, and became a full-on TBN affiliate. That same year, Multimedia pulled out from the LMA deal. The station became the only christian-oriented station in the market, previously WMCC-TV had a Christian format from 1985 to 1986 before becoming a Fox affiliate and changing it's name to WFXM-TV. On October 5th, 1992, KIVO Holdings acquired WBGJ-TV, but kept the TBN affiliation.
In late 1993, Paramount Communications and Chris-Craft announced the launch of the United Paramount Network as a way to combat against the popularity of the Fox network. Initially, Paramount and Chris-Craft entered in a deal with KIVO Holdings to make WBGJ-TV as the charter affiliate of UPN in the Macon market. However, WFXM-TV would pick up UPN after WPGA-TV became the new Fox affiliate. In 1996, KIVO sold WBGJ-AM-FM to Chancellor Media, as part of the company's exit from radio broadcasting.
Modern Classics, Preschoolers, and Families
On April 12th, 1998 (Easter Sunday), WBGJ-TV disaffiliated the Trinity Broadcasting Network in favor of becoming an independent station. WBGJ-TV's new format was named "Modern Classics", which was a term used back then to refer to stations airing old shows and new shows, WBGJ-TV was the kick-starter of the new format. The format expanded further in early 2000s, when KIVO signed a deal with Classic Media to broadcast the company's library on Saturday mornings. In 2003, KIVO Holdings made a deal with GOCOM, to control WBGJ-TV via an LMA. This deal effectively made WBGJ-TV a sister station to WGXA and WFXM-TV. On September 18th, 2006, sister station WFXM-TV disaffiliated UPN, and launched the "Big 33" format which had similar angle to WBGJ's Modern Classics format but instead of targeting the audiences that grow up with these shows, Big 33 aims at the 18 to 24 demographic.
On March 25th, 2014, the station reformatted again to be a preschool oriented station, The station's new branding was "Big 33 Jr." serving as an add-on to WFXM-TV airing reruns of Disney Junior and Nick Jr. shows. The day before, Frontier Radio Management announced to sell WGXA and WFXM-TV to the Sinclair Broadcasting Group for $33 million, the sale was completed on September 3, 2014. In 2016, KIVO Holdings was disbanded and it's assets including WBGJ-TV became part of Lava Lamp Entertainment.
On October 16th, 2018, WBGJ-TV would change its format once again becoming a family-friendly station, with the branding and format parked from sister station WFXM-TV, despite similarities with that station's format and branding, it doesn't broadcast Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney Channel shows. Instead, the station airs sitcoms, game shows, and other TV shows mostly aiming towards a family audience. That same year, Lava Lamp Entertainment had its own bankruptcy, merging with Qualis in 2019, which became CPN Holdings in 2020. Despite FCC guidelines stating that foreign companies can't own a TV station, WBGJ-TV is one of the rare cases where the FCC allows a station to be controlled by a foreign country. In this case, an American company with main headquarters in Dubai.