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WIFR Logo.png
Rockford, Illinois
United States
Branding23 WIFR (general)
23 News (newscasts)
SloganWorking for You
ChannelsDigital: 41 (UHF)
(to move to 28 (UHF))
Virtual: 23 (PSIP)
Affiliations23.1: CBS
23.2: Antenna TV
23.3: Cozi TV
23.4: Ion Television
OwnerGray Television
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
First air dateSeptember 12, 1965 (54 years ago) (1965-09-12)
(former license)
May 31, 2017 (2 years ago) (2017-05-31)
(current license)
Last air dateMay 31, 2017 (2017-05-31)
(former license)
Call letters' meaningWisconsin/Illinois
Sister station(s)KCRG-TV, KWQC-TV, WMTV, WNDU-TV, WEAU
Former callsignsFormer license:
WCEE-TV (1965–1977)
WIFR-TV (1977–1991)
WIFR (1991–2017)
Current license:
W22EE-D (2011–2017)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
23 (UHF, 1965–2009)
Transmitter power15 kW
Height219.8 m (721 ft) (STA)
204.9 m (672 ft) (CP)
Facility IDCurrent license: 183744
Former license: 4689
Transmitter coordinates42°17′48″N 89°10′15″W / 42.29667°N 89.17083°W / 42.29667; -89.17083
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile

WIFR-LD, virtual channel 23 (UHF digital channel 41), is a low-powered CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Rockford, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by Gray Television. WIFR-LD's studios and transmitter are located on North Meridian Road in Rockford.

Until 2017, WIFR operated as a full-power television station licensed to nearby Freeport; until 2009, it broadcast an analog signal on channel 23, which WIFR-LD continues to use as its virtual digital channel via PSIP. WIFR is the only television station in the Rockford market to retain the same network affiliation since it first signed on.


The station went on the air as WCEE-TV on September 12, 1965. It was originally owned by Rock River Television Corporation. The area's previous CBS affiliate, WREX-TV, switched to ABC full-time, sending CBS to WCEE. It has been with CBS ever since, and is the only station in the market to have never switched affiliations. The call letters were changed to the present WIFR on June 1, 1977 and stand for "Wisconsin-Illinois-Freeport-Rockford." General Media sold the station to Worrell Newspapers of Charlottesville, Virginia in September of that year. Worrell sold all three stations WIFR, WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia and now-defunct WBNB-TV in Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands to Benedek Broadcasting in 1986. When Benedek went bankrupt in 2002, WIFR and WHSV were acquired by current owner Gray Television.

On the morning of July 5, 2003, a severe wind storm swept through Rockford. WIFR's transmitter tower, located behind the studio and office building at 2523 North Meridian Road in Rockford, collapsed. Pieces of the tower fell onto a field behind the station's headquarters. No one was injured or killed. Nearly four months later, a new tower was erected and WIFR's signal was back to full power once again.

Spectrum reallocation[edit]

Gray Television sold WIFR's spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s incentive auction for $50,060,965; at the time, the station indicated that it planned to enter into a post-auction channel sharing agreement.[1] On April 21, 2017, Gray requested special temporary authority to move the license of W22EE-D (channel 22), a low-power station it owns in Rockford, to channel 41 with the intent of using it to maintain CBS service in the market; in its request, Gray disclosed that the full-power WIFR license would be surrendered on May 31, 2017, though WIFR's existing transmitter would be still be used, but with its power restricted to meet the transmitting requirements for W22EE-D.[2][3] The full-power license was cancelled on that date.[4] Gray had acquired W22EE-D from DTV America in an eight-station deal in 2016; it had never commenced any previous on-air operations since the call letters were issued on May 17, 2011.[5] WIFR-LD will eventually physically transmit from channel 28 once the intended spectrum is cleared, though it will remain on virtual channel 23.

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[6]
23.1 1080i 16:9 WIFR-LD Main WIFR programming / CBS
23.2 720p Ant TV Antenna TV
23.3 480i COZI TV Cozi TV
23.4 ION TV Ion Television

WIFR added Tribune Broadcasting's Antenna TV as their second subchannel on December 17, 2012, replacing Local AccuWeather (known on-air as "23 WeatherNow"). The subchannel carries live local and regional sports, including Rockford IceHogs hockey, along with regional telecasts from WGN Sports of selected Chicago Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox games. On May 28, 2015, its third subchannel launched, taking an affiliation with the Justice Network on July 27; in the interim it carried that year's Rockford Public School District 205 graduation and overflow games unable to be aired on 23.2. 23.3 currently carries White Sox WGN games, with 23.2 carrying all Cubs games. During September 2017, WIFR announced via commercials running on the main signal that the subchannel would change affiliation to Cozi TV that month. The White Sox games are expected to stay with the new affiliation.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WIFR shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23, at noon 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 41.[7][8] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.


  1. ^ "FCC Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction Auction 1001 Winning Bids" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. April 4, 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "LPTV Engineering STA Application". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. April 21, 2017. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "Request for Special Temporary Authority" (PDF). Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. April 21, 2017. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  4. ^ "Station Search Details - Federal Communications Commission". Archived from the original on 2017-10-20. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  5. ^ "Station Trading Roundup: 1 Deal, $720,000". TVNewsCheck. August 2, 2016. Archived from the original on February 20, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  6. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WIFR-LD
  7. ^ DTV Switch in Rockford Still on for February 17th Archived 2009-02-08 at Archive.today, WIFR, Feb 5, 2009]
  8. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.

External links[edit]