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Wmsn 2009.png
Madison, Wisconsin
United States
ChannelsDigital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 47
BrandingFox 47
Fox 47 News at 9 (newscast)
OwnerSinclair Broadcast Group
(WMSN Licensee, LLC)
Milwaukee: WVTV, WVTV-DT2
Green Bay: WLUK-TV, WCWF
Cedar Rapids, IA: KGAN, KFXA
Cable: Bally Sports Wisconsin
FoundedDecember 8, 1983
First air date
June 8, 1986 (35 years ago) (1986-06-08)
Former channel number(s)
47 (UHF, 1986–2009)
11 (VHF, until 2010)
49 (UHF, 2010–2019)
Independent (June–October 1986)
TheCoolTV (2010–2012)
GetTV (2014–2015)
Country Network/ZUUS Country (2010–2014)
Grit (2014–2017)
Call sign meaning
(MSN is also the IATA code for Dane County Regional Airport)
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID10221
ERP40.94 kW (STA)
440 kW (CP)
HAAT336.8 m (1,105 ft) (STA)
450 m (1,476 ft) (CP)
Transmitter coordinates43°3′21″N 89°32′6″W / 43.05583°N 89.53500°W / 43.05583; -89.53500
Public license information
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

WMSN-TV, virtual channel 47 (UHF digital channel 18), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Madison, Wisconsin, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WMSN-TV's studios are located on Big Sky Drive on the west side of Madison, and its transmitter is located in the Middleton Junction section of the town of Middleton.


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 Fox'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.

In 2012, Sinclair reached an affiliation deal with Fox that kept the network on WMSN and Sinclair's 18 other Fox stations through 2017.[2]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[3]
47.1 720p 16:9 WMSNFOX Main WMSN-TV programming / Fox
47.2 480i Comet Comet TV
47.3 Charge! Charge!
47.4 TBD TBD

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

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.[4] Since then, WMSN would relocate twice, to channel 49 in November 2010 and to channel 18 in October 2019.[5] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 47.

In September 2010, WMSN-TV established its first digital subchannel, adding TheCoolTV music video network to subchannel 47.2. The subchannel would go dark in September 2012 at the expiration of Sinclair's carriage agreement with TheCoolTV. In July 2014, the channel was reactivated as an affiliate of GetTV, which would be replaced on October 31, 2015 by Sinclair-owned sci-fi network Comet.

When it relocated to physical channel 11 in 2010, WMSN would add a third subchannel, 47.3, with content from The Country Network, later known as ZUUS Country. That network would be replaced in 2014 by the action-oriented Grit network. Grit would be replaced on June 1, 2017 by another action network, Sinclair-owned Charge!. On that same date, a fourth subchannel, 47.4, was activated and affiliated with TBD.


In 1999, ABC affiliate WKOW (then owned by the Shockley Communications Corporation) entered into a news share agreement with WMSN, which resulted in Madison's first nightly prime time newscast, known as Fox 47 News at 9. The newscast, initially 35 minutes in length on weeknights and 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 9 p.m. weeknight newscast it had produced for its subchannel TVW,[6] making Fox 47 News at 9 the only remaining prime time newscast in the Madison market until WMTV established its own 9 p.m. newscast on its CW-affiliated subchannel in November 2016. Mirroring its agreement with WKOW, Fox 47 News at 9 originates not from WMSN's studios but from WISC's Raymond Road studios, utilizes WISC's news staff (except the main news anchors), and employs studio backdrops and Sinclair's standard news graphics that help differentiate the newscasts from those on WISC. It was also during this period with WISC (in February 2016) that Fox 47 News at 9 would move to a full-hour time period each night.[7]

In 2018, Sinclair required all of its television stations to air a message that called out "biased and fake news" and says "national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first." However, because WMSN's newscast is produced by WISC-TV pursuant to the above mentioned news-share agreement, no such segment was produced for WMSN, and was disclaimed as such on WMSN's social media channels.[8]


  1. ^ "Digital TV Market Listing for WMSN". Rabbit Ears. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  2. ^ Sinclair Reups With Fox, Gets WUTB Option, TVNewsCheck, May 15, 2012.
  3. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WMSN
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ Source: WMSN FOX 47 News on Facebook, posted 10/16/2019
  6. ^ "WISC-TV now providing news services for Fox 47," from Wisconsin State Journal, 1/5/2012
  7. ^ Source: ChangingNewscasts.Wordpress.com, posted 2/5/2016
  8. ^ Anapol, Avery (April 2, 2018). "Sinclair-owned TV station chooses not to air media bias promo". The Hill.

External links[edit]