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Title: Wisc-tv  
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Subject: Manfred Roeder (judge), Jeffrey Vinokur, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, KPDX, NTA Film Network
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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
City of license Madison
Branding Channel 3 (general)
News 3 (newscasts)
Slogan Family Owned. Wisconsin's Own.
Informed, Involved, and In Touch (newscasts)
Channels Digital: 50 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
Subchannels 3.1 CBS
3.2 TVW
Affiliations CBS
MyNetworkTV (DT2)
Owner Morgan Murphy Media
(Television Wisconsin, Inc.)
First air date June 24, 1956 (1956-06-24)
Call letters' meaning WISConsin
Sister station(s) La Crosse: WKBT-DT
Former channel number(s) Analog:
3 (VHF, 1956-2009)
Former affiliations Secondary:
UPN (1995-1999)
The WB (2000-2002)
UPN (2002-2006)
Transmitter power 603 kW (digital)
Height 466 m (digital)
Facility ID 65143
Transmitter coordinates
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website .com.channel3000www

WISC-TV (digital channel 50 or TVW, a MyNetworkTV affiliate, on digital channel 3.2 (which is also carried on local cable TV and DIRECTV in the Madison market).


WISC-TV first took to the airwaves on June 24, 1956, taking over Madison's CBS affiliation from WKOW-TV (which retained ABC affiliation). Despite being the state's second largest market, Madison was a "doughnut" market as it was sandwiched between other markets where primary VHF signals were already assigned (Milwaukee to the east, Wausau and Green Bay to the north, Chicago and Rockford to the south, and La Crosse/Eau Claire to the west). Having the market's only VHF signal gave channel 3 a distinct advantage—and market leadership—over UHF competitors WKOW and WMTV, a position that the station has enjoyed for much of its history, even after the advent of cable television put the competitors on equal footing (WISC's former slogan, "Wisconsin's Leadership Station," played upon that advantage). Popular personalities during the station's history have included news presenter Jerry Deane and commentator (and later Madison mayor) William "Bill" Dyke.

WISC-TV has been affiliated with CBS since its launch, though it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network during the late 1950s.[1] From 1995 to 1999, WISC-TV carried select UPN programming during overnight hours, before the launch of a full-time UPN affiliate in the market, WHPN. UPN returned in 2002 on WISC's cable/digital subchannel, TVW, which had been affiliated with The WB since 1998; TVW has been with MyNetworkTV since 2006.

WISC-TV commemorated its 50th anniversary in June 2006, which merited a congratulatory mention by David Letterman on his Late Show broadcast of June 22, 2006 (its first program, he quipped, was "Good Morning, Cheddar").

Digital television

Digital channels

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
3.1 1080i 16:9 WISC-DT Main WISC-TV programming / CBS
3.2 480i 4:3 TVW TVW (WISC-TV) MyNetworkTV

In 2000, WISC-TV launched subchannel 3.2 carrying TVW, which before then was a cable-only station.

Analog-to-digital conversion

WISC-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, at 12:30 p.m. on February 17, 2009, the original 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 50.[3] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3. The analog channel 3 continued to serve as a "nightlight," broadcasting a loop of digital transition information and instructions in addition to any local news programming and emergency information, until signing off for good the final week of March 2009.


WISC-TV airs a mix of local programming, newscasts, and syndicated shows (including The Wendy Williams Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and Entertainment Tonight). WISC usually airs the full CBS program schedule, though pre-emptions to overnight hours may occur due to local news or sports commitments, including occasional broadcasts of Wisconsin Badgers hockey broadcasts. (WISC was home to ESPN Plus broadcasts of Badger sports before the syndicator's relationship with the Big Ten Conference ended in 2007.)


TVW, found on WISC-TV's secondary digital subchannel (3.2), carries the MyNetworkTV schedule as well as replays of some WISC programming, including replays of "News 3's" morning newscast from 7 to 9 a.m. TVW does air its own content, including first-run syndicated shows such as Divorce Court and Access Hollywood, off-network reruns including The Middle and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and sports programming from the ACC Network as well as WISC-produced high-school events under the "PrepMania" banner.


Upcoming Retro television network that will play classic television shows.


In addition to its normal morning, midday, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, WISC airs "News 3 Live at Five," which is largely devoted to non-headline news and features that focus on the community and the people of Madison, Dane County, and southern Wisconsin. In April 2011, WISC began offering free on demand segments of their newscasts on the Roku digital video player.[4] WISC-TV also produces a 9 p.m. newscast for Fox affiliate WMSN-TV, under a news share arrangement that began on January 1, 2012 (before then, WMSN had aired a newscast from WKOW since 1999, while WISC had produced a 9 p.m. newscast for TVW since 2004).[5]

On October 26, 2008, WISC-TV began producing all its newscasts in total high-definition video, becoming the first commercial TV station in Wisconsin to do so.[6] The station had produced occasional news features in HD since the beginning of 2008.

Former on-air staff


  1. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956 
  2. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WISC
  3. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  4. ^ WISC Debuts Local News Channel on Roku Digital Video Player Retrieved April 15, 2011
  5. ^ Newman, Judy (January 5, 2012). "WISC-TV now providing news services for Fox 47".  
  6. ^ "WISC-TV To Air Newscasts In HD", October 20, 2008 announcement from the WISC-TV website

External links

  • Official website
  • Direct link to WISC-TV's 50th anniversary webpage
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WISC-TV
  • BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WISC-TV
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