WYZZ News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 43 (PSIP)
(Peoria (WYZZ-TV) Licensee, Inc.)
|Operator||Nexstar Media Group|
|First air date||October 18, 1982|
|Sister station(s)||WMBD-TV, WHOI|
|Former callsigns||WBLN (1982–1985)|
|Former channel number(s)||43 (UHF analog, 1982–2009)|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1982–1986)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Height||293 m (961 feet)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WYZZ-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for North-Central Illinois that is licensed to Bloomington. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 28 (or virtual channel 43.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter near Congerville, a village of Montgomery Township, Illinois. Owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, WYZZ is operated through a local marketing agreement (LMA) by the Nexstar Media Group (owner of CBS affiliate WMBD-TV). The two outlets share studios together on North University Street in Peoria. Although it is sister to Comet affiliate WHOI (owned by Cunningham's partner company, the Sinclair Broadcast Group), that outlet is operated outright by Sinclair.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|43.1||720p||16:9||WYZZ-DT||Main WYZZ-TV programming / Fox|
The station signed on the air on October 18, 1982 as WBLN (standing for what We BeLieve iN) and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 43. It was founded by members of Peoria's Grace Presbyterian Church. Except for the call sign, it was unrelated to the old WBLN that broadcast on UHF channel 15 in the 1950s. The station first broadcast from studios located on East Empire Street/Illinois Route 9 in Bloomington. The station was a religious and general entertainment Independent and first new outlet to sign-on since future sister WMBD hit the airwaves 24 years earlier. Grace Communications sold the station to Midwest Television Associates in 1983. It initially signed on at 9 a.m. running religious shows until noon and low budget and barter shows from noon to midnight. This would be a mix of cartoons, public domain movies, some drama shows, westerns, news from CNN, and exercise shows.
In 1984, the station began signing on at 7 a.m. and began running a block of cartoons from 7 to 9 weekday mornings. Midwest then sold WBLN to local businessman G.J. Robinson in 1985 which changed its call letters to the current WYZZ-TV. The station slightly cut back the religious shows but also began running stronger programming such as more of-network sitcoms, both older and recent. On October 6, 1986, the station joined Fox as a charter affiliate. WYZZ later relocated its operations to a new facility located on East Lincoln Street in Bloomington. The station would eventually be sold to Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996.
In 2002, Sinclair and the Nexstar Broadcasting Group (owner of WMBD) entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) in which WMBD would take over WYZZ's operations. As part of the deal, WYZZ moved from its longtime studios on East Lincoln Street in Bloomington into WMBD's facility in Peoria. In August 2005, a similar agreement would be established between Sinclair's WUHF and Nexstar's WROC-TV in Rochester, New York.
WYZZ broadcasts digitally on UHF channel 28 and (like most Sinclair-owned stations) has been digital-only since February 17, 2009. According to a post on The Peoria Chronicle website, WYZZ and WMBD were planning on terminating the LMA between the two effective April 1, 2010. This move was ultimately not followed through with. On May 15, 2012, Sinclair and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's nineteen Fox stations, including WYZZ, allowing them to continue carrying the network's programming until 2017.
Sinclair announced the acquisition of Barrington Broadcasting's stations, including WHOI, on February 28, 2013. On that date, Sinclair made public that it would transfer the WYZZ license (along with that of then-sister station WSYT in Syracuse, New York; it would later be dropped from the plan and sold separately) to its sidecar operation Cunningham Broadcasting because the WHOI purchase would violate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on duopoly ownership. However, nearly all of Cunningham Broadcasting's stock is controlled by trusts in the names of the principal owners of Sinclair so, in effect, Sinclair will continue to own WYZZ.
Even with the ownership change (the transaction was finalized on November 22), WMBD will continue to operate WYZZ for the time being. WEEK-TV's joint sales and shared services agreements with WHOI were originally set to expire in March 2017. However, Sinclair announced that it would terminate the JSA/SSA with WEEK-TV within nine months after the consummation of its sale from Granite Broadcasting to Quincy Newspapers.
In April 2002, a news share agreement was established with WMBD which resulted in that station launching a prime time newscast on WYZZ. Known as Fox 43 News at 9, the thirty-minute broadcast was originally seen every night before being dropped from weekends at some point in time. The show did not have any competition in the time slot until June 5, 2006 when WEEK-TV added its own half-hour newscast at 9 on MyNetworkTV affiliate WAOE (that was also seen solely on weeknights until the end of 2014). On May 7, 2015, WMBD became the first outlet in the market to produce local news in full high definition. On the same date, WYZZ's weeknight 9 o'clock show was included in the change and became known as WYZZ News at 9. In addition to its primary studios, it operates a Twin Cities Bureau on East Lincoln Street in Bloomington (in the same building as WYZZ's original, separate studios).