|Battle Creek/Grand Rapids/
|Channels||Digital: 44 (UHF)
Virtual: 43 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||43.1 Ion Television
43.3 Ion Life
43.4 Ion Shop
|Affiliations||Ion Television (O&O; 1998–present)|
|Owner||Ion Media Networks
(Ion Media Battle Creek License, Inc.)
|First air date||October 11, 1996|
|Call letters' meaning||PaX|
|Former callsigns||WJUE (1996–1997)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
43 (UHF, 1996–2009)
The WB (1999–2006)
|Transmitter power||212 kW|
WZPX-TV, virtual channel 43 (UHF digital channel 44), is an Ion Television owned-and-operated television station serving Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan, United States that is licensed to Battle Creek. The station is owned by Ion Media Networks. WZPX maintains offices on Horizon Drive on the southeastern side of Grand Rapids, and its transmitter is located in Vermontville Township in western Eaton County. The station is available on Comcast channel 6 in the immediate Lansing area (CBS affiliate WLNS-TV, which operates over-the-air on virtual channel 6, is carried on channel 9), and channel 11 on most other systems in the market.
WZPX first signed on the air on October 11, 1996 as WJUE, carrying infomercials for most of the day as part of Paxson Communications's inTV service (the forerunner of the current Ion Media Networks), along with programming from United Paramount Network (UPN) as a secondary affiliation. The station's original licensee was Horizon Broadcasting Corporation, which Paxson Communications acquired before the station's sign-on. When Paxson bought WBSX-TV in Ann Arbor (now WPXD-TV), WJUE was spun off to DP Media, a sister company because of Federal Communications Commission ownership rules in effect at the time. WBSX' transmitter was located near Chelsea in northwestern Washtenaw County, which was close enough to the Ingham County line to give WBSX city-grade coverage of Lansing. Jackson, the second-largest city in the Lansing market, also got a fairly strong signal from WBSX. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of stations with overlapping signals, and would not even consider granting a waiver for a city-grade overlap. Even though the two stations were in different markets, the FCC ruled that WJUE and WBSX were effectively a duopoly, forcing WJUE's sale. However, Paxson continued to operate the station under a local marketing agreement. Within a year, the station changed its call letters to WILV.
On August 31, 1998, the station became a charter owned-and-operated station of Pax TV, and changed its call letters to the current WZPX-TV. One year later on August 31, 1999, UPN programming moved to Grand Rapids-based WXSP-CA (channel 15). On October 6 of that year, WZPX became a secondary affiliate of The WB. UPN would later find an affiliate in Lansing on WHTV (channel 18) on October 16, 2000. During this time, the network's Detroit owned-and-operated station WKBD-TV was carried as an out-of-market signal on local cable providers. In 2000, when the FCC relaxed its ownership rules to allow ownership of stations with overlapping coverage, Paxson repurchased the station outright.
As UPN, WB and Pax TV all offered prime time programming on weekdays, WZPX had scheduling conflicts during its affiliations with the former two networks. It carried the Pax programs on the same days and times as other stations, programs from UPN delayed to 11pm and midnight, respectively, and programs from The WB on a one-day delay, two hours before prime time. For example, WB primetime programs that aired on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in other markets aired on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. on WZPX; promotional spots for these programs announced their local time slots. The station carried a brief announcement when switching between programs from the differing networks. The Disney's One Too/UPN Kids blocks ran on weekday mornings, while Kids' WB ran on weekday afternoons; the Kids' WB Saturday block still aired on Saturday mornings. The Pax programming bumped from the afternoon slot simply moved earlier in the day in place of infomercials that would normally air in that slot at the time. In part, because the station had the added draw of UPN and later WB programming, WZPX was at one point one of Pax TV's highest-rated affiliates.
Despite the large signal overlap between WZPX and WPXD, local cable providers opted to carry WZPX as the Ion Television station since its signal is transmitted closer from Vermontville Township, within the Lansing television market. WPXD has since moved its transmitter to a tower in Southfield; as a result, its signal no longer covers Lansing or Jackson.
Due to the closure of The WB on September 17, 2006 and the station's failure to acquire either The CW or MyNetworkTV, WZPX is now solely an Ion owned-and-operated station. Those two networks each opted for other affiliates when they began broadcasting in September 2006; on April 4, 2006, CBS affiliate WWMT (channel 3) announced that it would carry The CW on digital subchannel 3.2; WXSP-CD affiliated with MyNetworkTV.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Network|
WZPX-TV's digital signal on UHF channel 44 signed on November 1, 2008 (The Worship Network was removed from all Ion-owned stations, including WZPX, on February 1, 2010). The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 43, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 44, using PSIP to display WZPX-TV's virtual channel as 43 on digital television receivers.