WJBK, virtual channel 2 (VHF digital channel 7), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Detroit, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by the Gannett Company. WJBK's studios and transmitter are located on West 9 Mile Road in the Detroit suburb of Southfield.
WJBK's over-the-air signal covers all of Metro Detroit, along with southwestern Ontario, Canada, surrounding the city of Windsor. On cable, the station is available on channel 12 on Comcast Xfinity's Detroit city and South Oakland County systems, channel 2 in other suburbs and outlying areas and on AT&T U-verse, and channel 7 on Cogeco's Windsor system. The station is also carried on most cable systems in southeast Michigan, southwestern Ontario and northwest Ohio.
WJBK formerly served as Detroit's Fox O&O station until June 1, 2019, when it was sold to Gannett. On August 3, 2019, it officially became a CBS affiliate. This is channel 2's second stint with CBS; it carried a primary affiliation with that network from its 1948 sign-on to December 1994.
As a CBS affiliateEdit
WJBK-TV first signed on the air on October 24, 1948. It was the third television station to sign-on in Detroit after WWJ-TV (channel 4, now WDIV-TV) and WXYZ-TV (channel 7) - all of which have signed on in a 14-month timeframe. Despite Detroit being a major television market, it only accommodated three VHF allocations due to being shortspaced between Flint (channel 12) and Saginaw (channel 5) to the north, Lansing (channels 6 and 10) to the west, Toledo (channels 11 and 13) to the south, and Cleveland (channels 3, 5 and 8), Windsor, Ontario (channel 9), and London, Ontario (channel 10) to the east. For this reason, WJBK was assigned the final VHF channel in Detroit.
At sign on, the first program broadcast by WJBK was a presentation of Lucky Pup at 6:15 p.m. that evening. The station was originally an affiliate of both CBS and the DuMont Television Network. It was originally owned by Fort Industry Broadcasting, owned by George B. Storer and then based in nearby Toledo, Ohio. Fort Industry, which would later be renamed Storer Broadcasting, also owned WJBK radio (1500 AM, now WLQV, and 93.1 FM, now WDRQ). The station originally operated from Detroit's Masonic Temple until 1956, when its operations were moved to a purpose-built studio facility on Second Avenue in Detroit's New Center section. WJBK-TV would eventually become an exclusive CBS affiliate by 1955, when Windsor, Ontario-based CKLW-TV (channel 9, now CBET-DT) became a DuMont affiliate. WJBK first broadcast in color around 1956. In 1970, the station moved to its current broadcast facilities on West Nine Mile Road in Southfield. Like most studio facilities built by Storer during that time, it resembles a Southern antebellum mansion.
The station went through a number of ownership and management changes with its parent companies in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1985, the equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) acquired Storer Communications, Incorporated in a leveraged buyout. KKR then sold all of the Storer broadcast assets, including WJBK, to Gillett Communications in 1987, after an attempt to sell the stations to Lorimar-Telepictures in 1986 failed. When Gillett went bankrupt in 1992, it reorganized the ownership of its television stations into SCI Television. The following year, in 1993, a few other station owners—Scripps-Howard, owner of cross-town ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV; Federal Broadcasting, owners of WWJ (AM)/FM; Group W; and CBS—showed interest in the station. Scripps considered trading WXYZ back to ABC in order to bid for the Gillett stations as a group. However, this would have put Scripps above the FCC's ownership limit of the time even if Scripps sold off its smaller-market stations, so this was abandoned. So in 1993, SCI was acquired by the film and television production company New World Communications.
As a Fox stationEdit
In May 1994, News Corporation, then-parent of the Fox network, purchased a 20% ownership stake (amounting to a $500 million investment) in WJBK's owner New World Communications. Fox made the investment to comply with their winning bid for the broadcast rights to the NFL's National Football Conference. Fox outbid CBS for the NFL broadcast rights on the condition that it would improve the network's affiliate coverage in the larger television markets. As a result of Fox's investment, New World agreed to switch the network affiliations of most of the company's stations, including WJBK, to Fox.
WJBK became Detroit's new Fox affiliate on December 11, 1994, after the station's first affiliation contract with CBS ended, ending its 45-year affiliation with that network (though an affiliation swap that occured 25 years later in 2019 returned CBS to channel 2). Despite a three-month interruption in coverage due to CBS losing the NFC rights (the games instead aired on WKBD-TV, channel 50, for the first three months of Fox's NFC telecasts), with the switch, the Detroit Lions' regular season games would continue to air on WJBK.
CBS found it difficult to find a new home in Detroit. WXYZ and Cleveland sister station WEWS-TV were both heavily wooed to become CBS affiliates, but the E. W. Scripps Company signed an affiliation deal with ABC in June 1994 that renewed the network's affiliations with both stations and resulted in three other stations switching to that network. WDIV was later eliminated due to that station's long-term affiliation contract with NBC. As a result, CBS was forced to deal with the market's lower-rated UHF outlets, neither of which had nearly the signal penetration that WJBK had. As a contingency plan, CBS signed a long-term affiliation deal with WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio; which provides city-grade coverage to most of Detroit's southern suburbs and grade B coverage of Detroit itself. It also persuaded Mid-Michigan's longtime NBC affiliate, WNEM-TV, to switch to CBS; WNEM provided stronger coverage of Detroit's outer northern suburbs than did the market's longtime CBS affiliate, WEYI-TV. It also convinced WLNS-TV in Lansing to build a translator in Ann Arbor. The main WLNS signal provided at least grade B coverage to many of Detroit's western suburbs.
With just days to go before WJBK was due to switch to Fox, CBS faced the prospect of having to import WTOL, WNEM, and WLNS on area cable providers until it could find a replacement affiliate. CBS would end up purchasing low-rated UHF independent station WGPR-TV (channel 62, now WWJ-TV) in September 1994. Former Fox affiliate WKBD briefly became an independent station before becoming a charter affiliate of UPN in January 1995.
Until channel 62 built a new transmitter in 1999, WTOL served as the default CBS affiliate for most of the southern portion of the market, while WNEM served the northern portion and WLNS served the western portion.
As a result of the network switch, WJBK changed its branding from "TV 2" to "Fox 2" by the fall of 1995 (becoming one of the few New World stations that switched to the network to adhere to the network's branding conventions before Fox's buyout of New World). Fox Television Stations bought New World's ten Fox-affiliated stations, including WJBK, in July 1996; the purchase was finalized on January 22, 1997, with channel 2 becoming a Fox owned-and-operated station as a result.
Sale to Gannett; return to CBSEdit
On February 12, 2019, Fox sold WJBK to the Gannett Company, as part of its refusal to renew its affiliations Tribune-owned stations in order to launch new, low-power affiliates in select markets; the sale was completed on June 1, 2019. Subsequently, Gannett signed an affiliation contract with CBS (which the station had previously been affiliated with), which would result in that network's existing Detroit O&O WWJ losing its CBS affiliation to become independent.
MasterChef was one of the final Fox programs to air on WJBK; the last night of Fox programming was followed up by local newscasts, and at the end of the final newscast as "Fox 2" was an overview of how the station's switch to CBS would also affect its subchannels. At 1:35 AM Eastern time the following day, WJBK signed-off for the last time as a Fox affiliate.
With WJBK's return to CBS on August 3, 2019, channel 2 reorganized its subchannel offerings; channel 2.2 became Nickelodeon, channel 2.3 became Nick Jr., channel 2.4 became Nicktoons, and channel 2.5 became TeenNick. Meanwhile, 2.6 became Movies!, 2.7 became Buzzr, 2.8 became Heroes & Icons, and 2.9 became Decades.
- 1995-2019 - Fox 2 Detroit
- 2019-present - WJBK 2 (primary channel)
- 2019-present - Nick 2.2 (DT2 subchannel)