|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)|
|Branding||CW 23 (general)|
NewsChannel 20 Sunrise (morning newscasts)
Fox Champaign News (9 p.m. newscasts)
|Affiliations||23.1: The CW|
|Owner||GOCOM Media, LLC |
(GOCOM Media of Illinois, LLC)
|Operator||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|broadcast: WRSP-TV/WCCU, WICS/WICD|
cable: Bally Sports Midwest, Marquee Sports Network
|Founded||December 28, 1983|
First air date
|May 14, 1984|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
23 (UHF, 1984–2009)
Religious Independent (1984–1998)
The WB (1999–2006)
This TV (20??–2019)
Call sign meaning
|The WB (former affiliation) and University of Illinois (allusion of service to Champaign/Urbana)|
|HAAT||401 m (1,316 ft)|
Public license information
WBUI, virtual channel 23 (UHF digital channel 22), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Decatur, Illinois, United States and serving the Central Illinois region. The station is owned by GOCOM Media, LLC, as part of a duopoly with Springfield-licensed Fox affiliate WRSP-TV, channel 55 (and its semi-satellite, Urbana-licensed WCCU, channel 27). Both outlets are operated through joint sales and shared services agreements (JSA/SSA) by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, making them sister stations to Springfield-licensed ABC affiliate WICS, channel 20 (and its semi-satellite, Champaign-licensed WICD, channel 15). WBUI, WRSP and WICS share studios on East Cook Street in Springfield's Eastside; WBUI maintains an advertising sales office on South Main Street/US 51 in downtown Decatur and transmitter facilities in Whitmore Township (between Oreana and I-72).
The station signed on May 14, 1984 as WFHL and was owned by the local Foursquare Church. One half of the station's programming was Christian programming with shows such as The 700 Club and local religious programs. The station's original studios were located on North Parkway Court in Decatur. The other half of the schedule consisted of recent barter cartoons, some older cartoons, family-oriented off-network drama shows, classic sitcoms, westerns, and old movies.
In 1998, the station was sold to Paxson Communications who renamed the station WPXU. The station replaced most hours of programming with infomercials until it joined the company's Pax network at its launch on August 31, 1998. At that point, the syndicated shows aired by previous ownership were dropped entirely. On October 5, WPXU added a secondary affiliation with UPN as did several other Paxson-owned stations.
ACME Communications acquired the station from Paxson on June 2, 1999 and changed it to WB affiliate WBUI. (Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, promptly moved the WPXU-TV call letters to its station in Jacksonville, North Carolina). At this point, some of the syndicated shows previously airing on the station returned along with mix of classic sitcoms and cartoons. Even after the sale, the station retained its secondary UPN affiliation with ACME expanding the arrangement to KPLR-TV in St. Louis and WBXX-TV in Knoxville by 2000.
When WCFN (now WCIX) joined UPN in 2002, WBUI became a sole WB affiliate. Gradually from about 2000 until 2005, the station phased out most cartoons and classic sitcoms for more recent sitcoms, talk shows, and court shows. In September 2006 with the merge between UPN and The WB, WBUI (owned by a former WB network executive) took The CW affiliation by default while WCFN joined the other new broadcast television network, MyNetworkTV. On June 20, 2007, GOCOM Media announced its intent to purchase this station from ACME Communications. The sale was approved on September 14 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which waived its duopoly rules for the sale.
The Central Illinois market did not have enough station owners at the time to legally permit another duopoly under normal conditions (there was already an existing duopoly in the market, Nexstar Broadcasting's WCIA and WCFN) but ACME claimed it was losing money on WBUI and could not find a buyer that did not require a duopoly waiver. The sale to GOCOM Media officially closed on October 25, 2007. At that point, the station consolidated its operations from its original studios at North Parkway Court in Decatur into WRSP's facilities in Springfield.
On December 31, 2012, the Sinclair Broadcast Group closed on the purchase of the non-license assets of GOCOM's three television stations (WRSP/WCCU and sister station WBUI) for approximately $25.6 million. Sinclair provides sales and other non-programming services to the stations pursuant to shared services and joint sales agreements. Both WBUI and WRSP were initially operated from separate facilities from WICS/WICD. However, WCCU quickly moved its advertising sales operation from its location on South Neil Street/US 45 in Champaign into WICD's studios. Eventually, WRSP and WBUI also moved from their offices on Old Rochester Road in Springfield and were consolidated into WICS' facility.
Through a previous arrangement with WICS, the ABC outlet's weekday morning meteorologist provided WBUI with weather forecasts seen on-air (during its airing of The Daily Buzz) and through its website that were taped in advance. The segments were appropriately titled C-More Weather (owing to its CW affiliation). WBUI no longer offers The Daily Buzz as part of its schedule.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|23.1||1080i||16:9||WBUI HD||Main WBUI programming / The CW|
WBUI shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23, on February 17, 2009, the original target 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 22. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.
- Miller, Mark K. (August 23, 2019). "Sinclair Closes $10.6B Disney RSN Purchase". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
- The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says May 14, while the Television and Cable Factbook says May 13.
- Burke, David (September 18, 1998). "`Air exchange' puts UPN on WPXU". Herald & Review. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- Schneider, Michael (February 22, 2000). "Sharing the wealth". Variety. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WBUI
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WBUI's tower is actually taller than the WAND tower at right, but is farther away from the point of observation. "Listing 1215843". Antenna Structure Registration database. U.S. Federal Communications Commission..
- Press Release on WBUI's sale to GOCOM Media
- Broadcasting & Cable article on the FCC's approval of the WBUI sale