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newscasts: Fox 47 News
|Channels||Digital: 49 (UHF)
Virtual: 47 (PSIP)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WMSN Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||June 8, 1986|
|Call letters' meaning||MadiSoN|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
47 (UHF, 1986–2009)
Digital: 11 (VHF)
Independent (June–October 1986)
ZUUS Country (2010–2014)
|Transmitter power||310 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WMSN-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Madison, Wisconsin and serving Madison and Southern Wisconsin's Eastern Ridges and Lowlands. The station broadcasts a high definition signal on UHF channel 49 (or virtual channel 47.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Madison's Middleton Junction section. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WMSN's main studios are located on Big Sky Drive on Madison's west side.
WMSN-TV commenced broadcasting on June 8, 1986, airing on analog UHF channel 47. It was the first new commercial station to launch in the Madison market since WISC-TV signed on thirty years earlier. One of WMSN's earlier programs was Big Sky Theater, a Saturday night presentation of classic movies (mostly westerns) from the drive-in era. (The program's name was an acknowledgement to the Big Sky Drive-In Theater, which was located near the present day WMSN studios.)
After a few months as an Independent, the station joined Fox as a charter affiliate on October 9, 1986. Since 1994, as a result of the Fox network's NFC football package, WMSN has been Madison's primary home for the Green Bay Packers; these broadcasts are routinely the highest-rated programs in the market during football season.
WMSN-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 47, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 11. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 47.
After completing its November 2010 switch in physical digital channels (see below), WMSN added The Country Network (later known as ZUUS Country) on its third digital subchannel (47.3), joining TheCoolTV, which was added to subchannel 47.2 in September 2010. WMSN and other Sinclair stations dropped TheCoolTV in August 2012 at the expiration of their carriage agreement; it resulted in subchannel 47.2 remaining silent until July 2014, when the classic movie network GetTV was added, a part of the network's channel lease agreement with Sinclair; Sinclair-owned sci-fi network Comet replaced GetTV on October 31, 2015.
WMSN has been a Fox affiliate since the network's 1986 launch; the station's relationship with Fox will continue through at least 2017, the result of Fox's affiliation agreement with WMSN and Sinclair's 18 other Fox stations, a deal reached on May 15, 2012.
In 1999, ABC affiliate WKOW (then owned by the Shockley Communications Corporation) entered into a news share agreement with WMSN, which resulted in Madsion's first nightly prime time newscast, known as Fox 47 News at 9. The 35-minute weeknight broadcast (30 minutes on weekends) was originally produced from a secondary set at WKOW's studios on Tokay Boulevard in Madison. The newscasts employed no WKOW on-air branding, instead using Sinclair's standard music-and-graphics packages. Although the newscasts featured appearances from additional WKOW personnel, WMSN maintained separate weeknight anchors that normally did not appear on WKOW except to fill-in when needed.
On January 1, 2012, WMSN's news share agreement with WKOW expired after nearly 13 years (WMSN General Manager Kerry Johnson termed the split as a "business decision"). On that same date, WMSN began a new news outsourcing agreement with WISC-TV, the Morgan Murphy Media-owned CBS affiliate in Madison; as a result, WISC cancelled its own 9PM weeknight newscast it had produced for its subchannel TVW, making Fox 47 News at 9 the lone remaining prime time newscast in the Madison market. (In addition to TVW's newscast, WBUW also aired a 9PM weeknight newscast from 2003 to 2005). Fox 47 News at 9 originates from WISC's Raymond Road studios, using WISC's own news set and personnel (except the main news anchor) but, just as with WKOW, employing Sinclair's standard news graphics and music packages, as well as use of behind-the-desk duratrans to help differentiate the newscast from those of WISC.
- "Digital TV Market Listing for WMSN". Rabbit Ears. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Sinclair Reups With Fox, Gets WUTB Option, TVNewsCheck, May 15, 2012.
- "WISC-TV now providing news services for Fox 47," from Wisconsin State Journal, 1/5/2012