|City of license||Madison|
|Branding||Channel 3 (general)
News 3 (newscasts)
|Slogan||Family Owned. Wisconsin's Own.
Informed, Involved, and In Touch (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 50 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
|Owner||Morgan Murphy Media
(Television Wisconsin, Inc.)
|First air date||June 24, 1956|
|Call letters' meaning||WISConsin|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
3 (VHF, 1956-2009)
|Former affiliations||UPN (secondary on WISC 1995-1999; cable/digital only, 2002-2006)
The WB (cable/digital only, 2000-2002)
|Transmitter power||603 kW (digital)|
|Height||466 m (digital)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WISC-TV (digital channel 50 or PSIP virtual channel 3) is the CBS affiliate television station for Madison, Wisconsin. The station is the flagship of Madison-based Morgan Murphy Media, and has been affiliated with CBS since its launch on June 24, 1956. The station airs regular local and CBS programming on digital channel 3.1 and also operates TVW, a MyNetworkTV affiliate, on digital channel 3.2 (which is also carried on local cable TV and DIRECTV in the Madison market).
WISC-TV first took to the airwaves on June 24, 1956, taking over Madison's CBS affiliation from WKOW-TV (which retained ABC affiliation). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Despite being the state's second largest market, Madison was a "doughnut" where there could only be one VHF license due to being sandwiched between Milwaukee to the east, Wausau and Green Bay to the north, Chicago and Rockford to the south, and La Crosse/Eau Claire to the west. Having the market's only VHF signal gave channel 3 a distinct advantage over its UHF competitors, WKOW and WMTV. Until cable arrived in Madison in the 1980s, WISC was the only local station that provided a clear signal to most of the market. Not surprisingly, it has been the market leader for most of its history. There is also a low power VHF signal in the market occupying analog channel 8 W08CK.
From its early days in broadcasting through the 1970s, the station ID'd as "WISC-TV, Channel 3—Madison. Wisconsin's Leadership Station." Jerry Deane was a very popular news presenter. William "Bill" Dyke was an on-air talent in the early 1960s before he eventually became mayor of Madison.
From 1995 to 1999, WISC-TV carried select UPN programming during overnight hours, before the launch of a separate UPN station in the market, WHPN. UPN returned in 2002 on WISC's cable/digital subchannel, "UPN 14"; that channel now carries MyNetworkTV.
WISC-TV commemorated its 50th anniversary in June 2006, which merited a congratulatory mention by David Letterman on his Late Show broadcast of June 22, 2006 (its first program, he quipped, was "Good Morning, Cheddar").
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WISC-DT||Main WISC-TV programming / CBS|
|3.2||480i||4:3||WISC-D2||TVW (WISC-TV) My Network TV|
WISC-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, at 12:30 p.m. on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 50. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3. The analog channel 3 continued to serve as a "nightlight," broadcasting a loop of digital transition information and instructions in addition to any local news programming and emergency information, until signing off for good the final week of March 2009.
WISC-TV airs a mix of local programming, newscasts, and syndicated shows (among them Dr Phil, Katie, and Entertainment Tonight). WISC usually airs the full CBS program schedule, though pre-emptions to overnight hours may occur due to local news or sports commitments, including occasional broadcasts of Wisconsin Badgers hockey broadcasts. (WISC was home to ESPN Plus broadcasts of Badger sports before the syndicator's relationship with the Big Ten Conference ended in 2007).
WISC-TV's digital subchannel, 3.2, is known as "tvw," and carries the MyNetworkTV schedule, syndicated programs and off-network reruns, as well as replays of some WISC programming, including replays of WISC's morning newscast from 7–9 a.m. TVW also serves as a backup channel for programming that is pre-empted on WISC. The channel is carried on Charter Communications cable channel 14, where it originally launched in 1998 as a WB affiliate, then a UPN affiliate in 2002.
In addition to its normal morning, midday, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, WISC airs "News 3 Live at Five," which is largely devoted to non-headline news and features that focus on the community and the people of Madison, Dane County, and southern Wisconsin. In April 2011, WISC began offering free on demand segments of their newscasts on the Roku digital video player. WISC-TV also produces a 9 p.m. newscast for Fox affiliate WMSN-TV, under a news share arrangement that began on January 1, 2012 (before then, WMSN had aired a newscast from WKOW since 1999, while WISC had produced a 9 p.m. newscast for TVW since 2004).
On October 26, 2008, WISC-TV began producing all its newscasts in total high-definition video, becoming the first commercial TV station in Wisconsin to do so. The station had produced occasional news features in HD since the beginning of 2008.
- News 3 (1982-present)
Former on-air staff
- Martin Kilcoyne (Sports); now with KTVI-TV in St. Louis, MO
- Gary Bender; Later with ABC Sports and CBS Sports
- Roger Grimsby; Later long time anchor on WABC-TV Eyewitness News in New York
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956[dead link]
- RabbitEars TV Query for WISC
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WISC Debuts Local News Channel on Roku Digital Video Player Retrieved April 15, 2011
- Newman, Judy (January 5, 2012). "WISC-TV now providing news services for Fox 47". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- "WISC-TV To Air Newscasts In HD", October 20, 2008 announcement from the WISC-TV website
- Channel3000.com - Official Website
- Direct link to WISC-TV's 50th anniversary webpage
- June 2006 feature from Madison Magazine on WISC-TV's 50th anniversary (large PDF file)
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WISC-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WISC-TV