FROM THE VAULT: Color comes to WLBT

Color camera, color news film brought new dimension to news coverage in 1967
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 10:08 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For its first 13 years on the air, all local programs on WLBT were in black and white. But in February of 1967, the station got something new: one color studio camera from RCA.

The only other station in town at the time also had color cameras, but it was waiting to complete training before putting them on the air. WLBT decided to scoop the competition and had announcer Alon Bee introduce a Sunday-evening movie in front of the new camera. He told viewers it was the first color broadcast to emanate from Mississippi soil.

After that, just about everything on WLBT aired in color for those lucky enough to afford a color TV. You could buy one in 1967 for about $500, the equivalent of roughly $4,000 today.

The WLBT news department set out to shoot new color news film all over town. It was developed at the station as well, using a new color film processor. That film still exists in special storage at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History.

It would be another 14 years before videotape replaced the film. In 2010, the color got a lot sharper when WLBT began airing its newscasts in high definition. It was another step forward that would have been hard to imagine 70 years ago.

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