WEYI-TV, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 18), branded on-air as NBC 25, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Saginaw, Michigan, United States and serving the Flint/Tri-Cities television market. Owned by Howard Stirk Holdings, it is operated under a shared services agreement (SSA) by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, making it a sister station to Flint-licensed Fox affiliate WSMH (channel 66, owned by Sinclair outright) and Bay City-licensed CW affiliate WBSF (channel 46, owned by Cunningham Broadcasting and operated by Sinclair under a separate SSA). However, Sinclair effectively owns WBSF as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. WEYI and WBSF share studios and transmitter facilities on West Willard Road in Vienna Township along the Genesee–Saginaw county line (with a Clio mailing address). Master control and some internal operations are based at WSMH's studios on West Pierson Road in Mount Morris Township (with a Flint mailing address).
WEYI can also be seen in high definition on WBSF's second digital subchannel (virtual and UHF digital channel 46.2). On cable, WEYI is carried on Comcast Xfinity channel 6, and on Charter Spectrum channel 4.
Channel 25 is one of the nation's oldest UHF stations. It debuted on April 5, 1953 as WKNX-TV on channel 57. It was owned by Lake Huron Broadcasting along with WKNX radio (AM 1210, now WJMK at AM 1250), and was a CBS affiliate. It also shared ABC with DuMont affiliate WTAC-TV and then-NBC affiliate WNEM-TV (which later became sister to the former WKNX radio). The station first operated from studios located on South Washington Avenue in Downtown Saginaw. When WTAC-TV shut down in 1954, WKNX-TV and WNEM-TV shared ABC until WJRT-TV signed on in 1958. It moved to the stronger channel 25 on September 14, 1965. The station later relocated its studios to a new facility located on State Street in Saginaw.
On March 23, 1972, Lake Huron Broadcasting sold the station to Rust Craft Broadcasting, who changed the call letters to the current WEYI-TV. Soon afterward, the station moved to its current tower and studios on West Willard Road in Vienna Township. The new tower significantly improved channel 25's coverage in Flint while still being within 15 miles (24 km) of Saginaw as required by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Prior to 1972, the southern side of the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City market, including Flint itself, got a better signal from Lansing's WJIM-TV (now WLNS-TV). Rust Craft merged with magazine publisher Ziff-Davis in 1979. The WKNX callsign is currently being used by an independent station in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Ziff-Davis sold WEYI along with sister stations WRDW-TV in Augusta, Georgia, WROC-TV in Rochester, New York and WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio to Television Station Partners in 1983. As a CBS affiliate, WEYI dropped the CBS soap Guiding Light in the early 1980s, instead showing cartoons during the 3–4 p.m. hour.
On January 16, 1995, WEYI and WNEM-TV traded network affiliations, resulting in WEYI becoming an NBC station. This came as part of the larger U.S. television network affiliate switches of 1994 that saw CBS' longtime affiliate in adjacent Detroit, WJBK, switch to Fox. CBS was having trouble getting a replacement affiliate in Detroit after it failed to affiliate with WXYZ-TV (which renewed its affiliation with ABC), WXON-TV, and WDIV; it ultimately landed on WGPR-TV (channel 62, now WWJ-TV), which at the time broadcast at very low power and was practically unviewable outside Detroit's inner ring. Since WNEM's VHF signal penetrated further into Detroit's outer suburbs than WEYI's UHF signal, CBS persuaded WNEM's owner, Meredith Corporation, to switch to CBS. It is one of the few known instances during this period where CBS moved its affiliation from a UHF station to a VHF station.
Television Station Partners sold WEYI along with WROC and WTOV to Smith Broadcasting in 1996. On January 16, 1997, the WEYI license was transferred to Smith Broadcasting subsidiary Sunrise Television. From October 4, 1999 to September 2001, the station added The WB as a secondary affiliation, airing its programming overnight.
In January 2002, Sunrise and LIN TV agreed that LIN would take over the station under a Local Marketing Agreement. By March, Sunrise sold the station to LIN with FCC approval granted in April 2002. LIN agreed to sell WEYI to Barrington Broadcasting in January 2004; the sale was approved by the FCC in March 2004.
In 2004, Barrington Broadcasting launched WB affiliate WBSF in the same market which was offered over-the-air on WEYI-DT2 and cable. The deal was made primarily because WKBD declined to carry Detroit Pistons basketball after the games switched to WMYD which is not available on most Mid-Michigan cable systems.
WEYI was blamed for forcing competing NBC affiliate WDIV from Detroit off of Comcast's Flint system, as well as starting the syndication exclusivity controversy on Comcast Flint. For several years, WDIV was available on Comcast's Flint system. However, in 2004, WEYI filed a complaint with the FCC claiming it was losing NBC viewers to WDIV, most likely due to that station's new digital, all-high definition picture. According to WEYI's website, the station used Betacam equipment (an analog videotape technology introduced in 1982) and none of its local or syndicated programming was broadcast in HD until 2014. This is because WEYI lacked an HD-capable master control to receive such programming in even 16:9 standard definition widescreen, let alone HD. The FCC ruled in favor of WEYI and for a brief period, NBC programs on WDIV were blacked out on Comcast Flint. Eventually in August 2006, Comcast Flint removed WDIV from the system completely, replacing it with the new local MyNetworkTV affiliate via WNEM-TV's second digital subchannel.
WEYI-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 25, 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 UHF channel 30, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 25. Also, WBSF became available on a separate digital signal on channel 46. However, it is still available on WEYI's digital subchannel 25.2.
On February 28, 2013, Barrington announced that it would sell its entire group, including WEYI and WBSF, to Sinclair Broadcast Group. However, due to FCC duopoly regulations, since Sinclair already owns Fox affiliate WSMH, Sinclair transferred the license assets of WEYI to Howard Stirk Holdings (owned by founder and CEO of communications firm The Graham Williams Group, political commentator Armstrong Williams, whose Sunday morning talk show The Right Side is carried by WEYI) and of WBSF to Cunningham Broadcasting (WSMH took over the operations of both WEYI and WBSF through local marketing agreements when the deal was completed). The sale was completed on November 25.
|TV stations in Michigan|
|TV stations in the Mid Michigan region, including Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland|
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