WLUK-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 11, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Suring-licensed CW affiliate WCWF (channel 14). The two stations share studios on Lombardi Avenue (US 41) on the line between Green Bay and Ashwaubenon, next to the Resch Center; WLUK's transmitter is located on Scray's Hill in Ledgeview. On cable, WLUK is available on Charter Spectrum channel 12.
|Green Bay/Fox Cities, Wisconsin|
|City||Green Bay, Wisconsin|
|Branding||Fox 11 (general)|
Fox 11 News (newscasts)
TV 11.2 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Your Station for Balanced News and Severe Weather Coverage|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)|
(to move to 12 (VHF))
Virtual: 11 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||11.1: Fox (1995–present)|
11.2: Antenna TV
11.3: TBD (O&O)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
(WLUK Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||September 11, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||LUcKy Eleven|
(original on-air slogan)
Milwaukee: WVTV & WVTV-DT2
|Former callsigns||WMBV-TV (1954–1959)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
11 (VHF, 1954–2009)
51 (UHF, until 2009)
W40AN-D 40 Escanaba, MI (until 2018)
NBC (1954–1959, 1983–1995)
|Transmitter power||40 kW|
|Height||384 m (1,260 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 Out-of-market carriage
- 6 Retransmission controversies
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early years with NBC and ABCEdit
WLUK signed on the air on September 11, 1954 as WMBV-TV; it was originally licensed to Marinette, Wisconsin (the callsign stood for "Marinette/Bay/Valley"). The station was owned by William Walker and was largely constructed from the assets of a failed ABC affiliate in Oshkosh, WOSH-TV on channel 48. Walker sold the station to Morgan Murphy Stations in 1958. By 1959, the station changed its city of license to Green Bay and on August 22 changed its call sign to the current WLUK-TV (in reference to its then on-air slogan "Lucky 11") when it began broadcasting at full power from a new tower near Green Bay. Just before the changeover, the station also switched affiliations with WFRV-TV (channel 5), becoming an ABC affiliate. WLUK first broadcast network programs in color in 1959 and local programs began to be broadcast in color starting in 1965. Morgan Murphy then sold WLUK to Post Corporation (a small media chain not affiliated with The Washington Post Company or its Post-Newsweek Stations division), whose properties included the Post-Crescent newspaper in nearby Appleton and a sister station in Marquette, Michigan, WLUC-TV. in 1965. In 1966, WLUK built a new studio and office building on Highland Avenue, which would eventually become Lombardi Avenue in 1968 after Vince Lombardi resigned his head coaching duties with the Green Bay Packers. It aired some local entertainment programs, including a Saturday night polka show and a daily children's cartoon show using the franchised Bozo the Clown character.
In 1983, WLUK reclaimed the market's NBC affiliation, when WFRV switched to ABC. In 1984, Racine native George N. Gillett's Gillett Broadcasting purchased Post Corporation. Gillett in turn sold the station to Burnham Broadcasting later that year, in order to purchase the KKR stations (which included future fellow Fox station WITI in Milwaukee; WLUK was indeed sold due to adjacent market ownership regulations at the time by the FCC). For most of its second stint with NBC, WLUK largely downplayed its affiliation, even during the network's powerhouse days of the 1980s; it used the NBC Peacock only sparingly in the station's advertisements.
As a Fox affiliateEdit
On July 29, 1994, Burnham Broadcasting sold WLUK-TV to SF Broadcasting – a joint venture of Savoy Communications and the Fox Broadcasting Company, then a division of News Corporation – for $38 million; the company later sold three of its other four stations (KHON-TV in Honolulu, WVUE in New Orleans and WALA-TV in Mobile) for $229 million on August 25 (a fifth Burnham station, KBAK-TV in Bakersfield, California, was excluded from the deal and was instead spun off to Westwind Communications, a new company that was formed by several former Burnham executives). As a result of the deal, SF Broadcasting announced that the four stations would become Fox affiliates; both Savoy and Fox shared ownership with Fox originally choosing to hold voting stock, ultimately opting not to retain it prior to the closure of the sale of the stations. The purchase was challenged by NBC, which filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 23, 1994, alleging that News Corporation had improperly set up a shell corporation to circumvent FCC limits on the amount of monetary capital that a foreign company is allowed to invest in an American television station in order to gain control of WLUK. NBC later withdrew its petition against the acquisition on February 17, 1995. The FCC approved the WLUK purchase on April 27, 1995.
WLUK became a Fox affiliate on August 28, 1995, swapping affiliations with WGBA-TV (channel 26), which had acquired the Fox affiliation three years earlier after WXGZ-TV (channel 32, now WACY-TV) shut down due to financial issues. Like most former "Big Three" network affiliates that switched to Fox during that time, WLUK picked up almost no syndicated programming from WGBA, though it was unnecessary because of WGBA's local marketing agreement with WACY-TV (channel 32); WGBA's programming largely moved to that station instead.
Because of Fox's 1994 acquisition of television rights to the NFL's National Football Conference, the switch made WLUK the unofficial "home" station of the Green Bay Packers after years on WBAY (and two years on WFRV), which became a major ratings draw (during the 1994 season, WGBA was the station of record for the Packers). Unlike the New World Communications stations that converted to Fox affiliates, WLUK carried Fox Kids programming, running it one hour earlier on weekday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The station ran Fox Kids until the weekday block ended in December 2001 (when it had been pushed back to as early as 10:00 a.m.), and its successor Saturday morning children's blocks known as Fox Box and later 4KidsTV until the latter block ended nationally in December 2008, when 4Kids Entertainment and Fox parted ways due to a contract dispute. By the time 4Kids TV ended its run, Fox permanently discontinued providing network-supplied children's programming, replacing it with the infomercial block Weekend Marketplace.
Since channel 11 joined Fox, Packer football games have routinely drawn an 80% share of the viewing audience – far and away the highest-rated programs in the market, and through Fox's NFL rights deal, the station has broadcast two of the three Super Bowl games the Packers have appeared in, both victories, since 1994; Super Bowls XXXI and XLV, both by far the highest-rated programs in the Green Bay market's history.
On November 28, 1995, Silver King Communications (operated by former Fox executive Barry Diller) announced that it would acquire Savoy Pictures; at the time of the purchase, Silver King's existing stations had mainly been affiliates of the Home Shopping Network (both Silver King and HSN were later acquired by USA Networks). The sale of WVUE and the other SF stations was approved and finalized in March 1996, with its other assets being merged into the company that November. On April 1, 1997, Silver King subsequently sold the station, along with sisters WVUE, KHON and WALA to Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications for $307 million in cash and stock, as part of a sale of Silver King/USA's major network affiliates in order to concentrate on its formerly HSN-affiliated independent stations.
LIN Media ownershipEdit
On May 15, 2005, Emmis Communications announced that it would sell its 16 television stations, including WLUK-TV, in order to concentrate on its radio station properties. On August 22, LIN TV Corporation purchased WLUK in a $260 million deal that included WALA-TV and sister station WBPG in Mobile; WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana and KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the sale closed on December 1, 2005.
On June 4, 2010, LIN TV entered into shared services and local sales agreements to operate CW affiliate WIWB (channel 14, now WCWF) as part of a deal involving LIN and ACME Communications-owned stations in markets where both companies owned stations. WLUK began to provide technical, engineering, promotional, administrative and other operational support services for WIWB, with advertising sales services under a related but separate joint sales agreement. That station moved its operations into WLUK's studios that August. LIN would purchase WCWF outright in April 2011, under a failing station waiver (an indication that the station was in an economically non-viable position, which permitted a duopoly even though Green Bay has only seven full-power stations, one fewer than that required by FCC rules to legally permit a duopoly between WLUK and WCWF if both were economically viable), creating the Green Bay market's first legal television station duopoly.
Sinclair Broadcast Group ownershipEdit
On March 21, 2014, LIN Media entered into an agreement to merge with Media General in a $1.6 billion deal. Because, at the time, Media General owned ABC affiliate WBAY-TV (which Media General acquired in 2013 as part of its merger with Young Broadcasting), and since WBAY and WLUK rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Green Bay market in total day viewership, the companies were required to sell either WBAY or the WLUK/WCWF duopoly to another station owner in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit sharing agreements. To settle the situation, Media General announced on August 20, 2014 that it would keep WBAY, choosing to sell WLUK and WCWF to the Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a multi-market deal (Sinclair would also acquire WJAR in Providence and WTGS in Savannah, while Media General would acquire Sinclair's WTTA in Tampa and KXRM-TV/KXTU-LD in Colorado Springs).
Sinclair's acquisitions of WLUK and WCWF were completed on December 19, 2014, and expanded the company's presence in Wisconsin, as it already owned Fox affiliate WMSN-TV in Madison and the Milwaukee duopoly of CW affiliate WVTV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WVTV-DT2 (formerly WCGV-TV). The deal also placed WLUK back under common ownership with Marquette NBC affiliate WLUC-TV, which Sinclair acquired in 2013 (both WLUK and WLUC shared common ownership from 1963 to 1987 under Post and Gillett), though this reunion was a brief one, as on October 1, 2015, Sinclair struck a deal to sell WLUC to Gray Television in exchange for CBS affiliate WSBT in South Bend, Indiana as part of station divestitures that Gray instituted in order to receive regulatory approval of its acquisition of the television stations operated by the latter station's longtime owner, Schurz Communications. That deal closed on February 16, 2016, separating the two stations once again. WLUC then became a sister station to another Green Bay station, WBAY-TV in January 2017 as the result of another divestiture required by the FCC in the Nexstar/Media General merger which required the selling of WBAY-TV to Gray.
On July 6, 2016, Sinclair and WLUK announced they had placed the winning bid with ESPN for the local syndication of that cable network's Monday Night Football games with the Packers for multiple years; the agreement would have also included the 2016 pre-season Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 7, a day after Brett Favre's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (this was due to regular rights carrier NBC passing the game to ESPN due to the 2016 Summer Olympics; the game was cancelled an hour before kickoff due to poor field conditions). With Fox's acquisition of Thursday Night Football rights through the 2022 season, this assures that WLUK will carry a minimum of ten Packers games per season, barring any NBC or CBS cross-flexing.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|11.1||720p||16:9||WLUK-HD||Main WLUK-TV programming / Fox|
As part of a group affiliation deal between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, WLUK launched Antenna TV, a digital subchannel on virtual channel 11.2, on January 1, 2016 as an affiliate with the Tribune-owned classic television network. On February 13, 2017, WLUK-TV added TBD-TV, a new channel mainly featuring web videos targeting millennials to 11.3. WLUK's news and local content (outside sportscasts) is also available through Stirr, Sinclair's over-the-top streaming service.
WLUK-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 51 to VHF channel 11. On August 17, 2011, the station increased its transmitter power from 17.19 kW to 40 kW. Prior to this, Madison Fox affiliate WMSN-TV (a fellow Sinclair station pre-dating their ownership of WLUK) had broadcast its digital signal on channel 11, WLUK had to decrease its transmitter power to prevent interference with that station; when WMSN moved their digital channel to the UHF band to address reception issues in the Madison area, WLUK applied to the FCC to increase power once again.
In addition to the Fox network schedule, syndicated programs featured on WLUK include Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Judge Judy, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. WLUK is one of eight Fox affiliates to air Jeopardy! and Wheel; the others being located in Baltimore; Syracuse, New York; New Orleans; Cincinnati; Denver; Lake Charles, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama.
A longtime staple on WLUK's daily schedule was reruns of the NBC drama Little House on the Prairie; the station was one of the few in the nation to count Little House towards its fulfillment of educational and informational content obligations for young audiences, citing in part the series' inspiration from the Little House children's book series authored by state native Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House was dropped from WLUK's daily schedule in September 2013, in part to make room for new acquisition Live!. For that year, it purchased syndicated E/I programming on a barter basis for weekend airings to fulfill E/I requirements, which was reduced to an hour in mid-September 2014 as WLUK took the Fox-offered E/I block Xploration Station, which features two hours of compliant programming (as such, it is the only Fox affiliate owned-and/or-operated by Sinclair that carries the block, as the group's other Fox stations otherwise carry E/I programs through existing contracts with syndicators of educational program content instead; the remainder of Sinclair's Fox-affiliated stations will begin carrying the Xploration Station block in September 2016).
Since becoming a Fox affiliate in 1995, WLUK has featured an extensive amount of local news coverage (see below). Local non-news programming includes Living with Amy, which debuted in September 2008 and currently airs in the 10:00 a.m. weekday time slot; hosted by former Good Day Wisconsin anchor Amy Hanten, Living features lifestyle, cooking, and paid business spotlight segments, with the cooking segments mainly sponsored by Kroger's Pick 'n Save and Copps stores (previously sponsored by Festival Foods), which has made a recipe compilation book featuring previous Living with Amy recipes available in-store.
During the Green Bay Packers season, WLUK airs an assortment of Packers-related programming, including Inside the Huddle, which offers previews, reviews, and analysis of Packer games on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings, as well as extended newscasts with training camp coverage. Also airing during the Packers season is The Better Half; hosted by Rachel Manek and airing Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m., the show features interviews, discussions, and advice from wives and girlfriends of Packers players and coaches. Wheel of Fortune is moved back an hour on nights when WLUK carries Thursday Night Football from Fox or a Monday Night Football game to lower schedule disruption.
WLUK-TV presently broadcasts 43 hours of local newscasts each week (with seven hours each weekday and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among the Green Bay market's broadcast television stations and the second-highest among Wisconsin's television stations (behind fellow Fox affiliate WITI in Milwaukee, which carries 56 hours each week).
In addition to its main facilities, the station operates a Valley Newsroom on West College Avenue in Appleton along US 41. The station has its own weather radar, known as "Fox 11 StormTrackerX", at its main studios on Lombardi Avenue. The station also maintains a tower camera on its Doppler tower known as the "Lambeau Cam" which is mainly pointed in the direction of Lambeau Field.
The station dropped its nightly newscast in 1967 and did not resume regular local news broadcasts until 1971. However, WLUK did occasionally run documentaries and sports programs to fulfill FCC public service regulations as well as a weekly commentary by Appleton Post-Crescent editor John Torinus. After gaining the Fox affiliation in August 1995, this station expanded its local news offerings: in its first year with the network, local news ran on weekdays from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. (the morning newscast being extended by one hour and syndicated programming filling the 8:00 a.m. hour to fill timeslots vacated by the departure of Today), 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. (with a half-hour added at 5:30 p.m. to fill the timeslot vacated by the departure of NBC Nightly News), and 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. The 10:00 p.m. newscast was eventually dropped by the early 2000s and replaced with syndicated programming, with the 6 p.m. show ended in 2005 when the station acquired the Sony game show rights, while the morning newscast expanded over time to four hours; additional morning newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays were added later in the 2000s. WLUK returned to airing a 10 p.m. newscast on September 21, 2015.
In 2007 (during Fox's coverage of the Major League Baseball League Championship Series), WLUK's 9:00 p.m. newscast began to air over a leased access channel on Time Warner Cable on nights in which Fox broadcasts sports programming or movies during the primetime hours that run into the 9:00 p.m. timeslot on channel 11; WCWF took over carriage of the preempted/delayed 9 p.m. newscasts in October 2010, as a result of the SSA between WCWF and WLUK. On June 5, 2007, WLUK replaced WGBA-TV as the provider of weather updates for the 11-station Midwest Communications radio cluster in Green Bay/Fox Cities and Sheboygan. In 2009, a new addition to the Lombardi Avenue studios was completed to expand the station's newsroom space, and is known as the "Fox 11 Digital Content Center".
Channel 11 was also the first local television station in the market to have full featured iOS and Android Market applications (for mobile phones and tablets). In March 2012, the station's newscasts were moved into the Content Center as the station prepared its studio and facilities for high definition broadcasting, and began construction of an HD-optimized news set. Beginning with the 5:00 p.m. newscast on April 23, 2012, WLUK became the third station in the Green Bay-Appleton market to begin broadcasting its local news programming in high definition. The station uses the AFD #10 flag to present its newscasts in letterboxed widescreen for viewers watching on cable television through traditional 4:3 sets.
Notable former on-air staffEdit
- Ross Becker-Buchberger - reporter (1974–1975) went on to report and anchor in Indianapolis, Los Angeles and for MSNBC
- Sean Cronin - meteorologist (1984–1986); was a candidate for the U.S. House from Wisconsin's 7th congressional district in 2000
- Jay Johnson - anchor (1982–1987); previously at WFRV-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin; elected to represent the 8th District in the U.S. House from 1997–1999 and was U.S. Mint Director from 2000–2001; died October 17, 2009
- Kyra Phillips - now co-host of CNN's afternoon edition of CNN Newsroom
- Bill Weir - now with CNN; former co-anchor of ABC's GMA Weekend and Nightline and sports anchor of WGN Morning News
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, WLUK is only available over-the-air in Menominee County. A low powered digital translator in Escanaba operated until July 11, 2018. Despite this, WLUK was formerly carried by Charter Communications in the West and Central Upper Peninsula, along with WLUC-DT2 except in Gogebic County which is covered by the signal of Duluth, Minnesota's Fox affiliate KQDS-TV and the Eastern Upper Peninsula which is covered by WWUP-DT 10.2 (a high definition digital simulcast of Cadillac, Michigan's WFQX-TV). WLUK can also be seen on Charter in Ludington, Michigan, across Lake Michigan from the Green Bay area.
Until April 2008, WLUK's high definition signal was only available over-the-air as the station had maintained edicts going back to its ownership under Emmis not to allow local cable or satellite providers to broadcast its digital signal without paid retransmission consent. LIN TV continued to apply this policy after its purchase of the Emmis stations and eventually extended it further to the remainder of its existing stations. Station officials kept their stance against local pay television providers defending the station's stance on WLUK's website and in on-air promotions. The first provider to carry WLUK-DT was Dish Network as part of a March 13, 2008 carriage agreement with LIN TV. Originally, the signal was to be added in May 2008, but Dish began offering HD feeds of the Green Bay stations early on April 16, surprised viewers with WLUK carried on channel 5163. DirecTV followed on June 8.
With retransmission agreements firmed up with the satellite providers, LIN TV began to pursue the market's major cable providers for new deals. Charter was the first to be affected with its carriage agreement with WLUK expiring on July 1. By June 11, Charter and LIN reached a new agreement under undisclosed terms and WLUK-DT began to be carried on digital channel 611 shortly thereafter; AT&T U-verse struck an agreement to carry the digital signal on June 30, 2008, while Comcast's Manitowoc system offered compensation to carry WLUK-DT on June 12 on digital channel 234. This left Time Warner Cable as the lone holdout in the area to carry the HD feed as the provider and LIN TV had not come to an agreement nationally.
With no success from either viewer pressure or contentious negotiations, the system was forced to pull WLUK from its systems on October 3, 2008. Time Warner quickly offered free antennas for customers to receive the station. WLUK encouraged viewers to switch to Dish Network and U-verse in order to continue to watch the station in some form. In the month that followed, the ratings of LIN TV stations affected by the Time Warner dispute plunged, while viewers complained about the loss of Green Bay Packers and MLB Playoff games on WLUK.
By the time of the 2008 World Series, Time Warner Cable made an odd but creative move to allow its viewers to watch the games by offering Fox Sports en Espanol on basic cable, which carried the Series in Spanish while encouraging viewers to turn down the Spanish play-by-play audio and listen to the game in English on ESPN Radio affiliate WDUZ. Eventually the two companies came to a new carriage agreement on October 29, and WLUK's analog signal was restored on the same day with WLUK-DT being added on digital channel 712 (currently 1012) shortly thereafter, giving the station's digital signal full cable and satellite carriage on par with the other "Big Three" network affiliates.
On March 5, 2011, WLUK was removed from Dish Network as LIN and Dish could not come to terms on a new carriage agreement, and was restored when a new agreement was reached on March 12. WCWF remained unaffected as LIN's purchase of that station had not yet been finalized and was under the terms of their pre-WLUK SSA carriage agreement negotiated with ACME Communications.
Removal from out-of-market cable providersEdit
On September 4, 2012, WLUK's signal was removed by Charter Communications systems in the Upper Peninsula and Marquette, and from systems in Sheboygan County, Lomira (both with WITI in-market) and Montello (part of the Madison market served by WMSN-TV) on September 27, 2012. This was due not to either the station or LIN removing access to the station, but contractual agreements by the Fox network itself which disallow signal duplication of network programming by an out-of-market signal despite the station's longtime service to each area, a source of controversy already in other duplicative market areas in the past. WITI added the WLUK-produced The Better Half to their Friday afternoon schedule for the Milwaukee market that year, which has since moved to WTMJ. WLUK continues to present the forecasts on Midwest Communications' Sheboygan radio stations despite the loss of coverage on that city's cable provider. Despite the loss of cable carriage in the Upper Peninsula, it is still available to antenna viewers in Escanaba via W40AN-D.
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|url=(help) TBD, a network targeting millennials, launches Feb. 13, 2017.
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- LIN TV, WLUK sign retransmission pact with DirecTV
- Breaking: Charter, LIN TV reach tentative deal to continue carriage of WLUK, add HD
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- AT&T to launch U-Verse June 30th
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