WXMI, virtual channel 17 (UHF digital channel 19), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States and serving the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek television market. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company subsidiary of the Scripps Media Company. WXMI's studios are located on Plaza Drive (near M-37) on the northern side of Grand Rapids, and its transmitter is located southwest of Middleville.
The station signed on the air on March 18, 1982 as an independent station under the call sign WWMA. The call letters are said to have stood for "We're West Michigan Alternative". The station was originally owned by Heritage Broadcasting Company. Approximately a year after signing on, additional shareholders bought control of the station and changed the callsign to the current WXMI on August 15, 1983. The "XMI" at the time were said to stand for "EXtreme Michigan". In 1987, WXMI signed an affiliation deal to become the market's Fox affiliate; it joined the network on April 9, 1987 when Fox expanded its programming offerings to include primetime programming. In 1989, the station's stock was purchased by a New York-based company headed by Robert Dudley called Odyssey Television Partners.
Nine years later, WXMI was purchased by Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, which traded the station with sister KTZZ in Seattle, Washington to Tribune Broadcasting in 1998 in exchange for FM station WQCD in New York City. In 2008, cartoons were dropped from WXMI's schedule with the discontinuance of 4KidsTV following a dispute between Fox and the block's lessee 4Kids Entertainment; the Saturday morning time period is currently split between the weekend edition of WXMI's morning newscast, and children's programming (either syndicated or from Fox's Xploration Station block) fulfilling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s E/I guidelines.
Aborted acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group and resale to Standard Media Group
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group – which has owned primary CBS/subchannel-only CW affiliate WWMT (channel 3) since 2012 – entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Sinclair was precluded from acquiring WXMI directly, as WXMI and WWMT rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market in total day viewership (had this not have been the scenario and Kalamazoo-based ABC affiliate WOTV [channel 41]'s total day viewership resulted in one of the stations ranking fifth at the time of the decision, Sinclair could have legally acquired both stations). On April 24, 2018, in an amendment to the Tribune acquisition through which it proposed the sale of certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies to curry the DOJ's approval, Sinclair announced that it would sell KDSM and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines, WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WXLV-TV in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, and Tribune-owned and WXMI in Grand Rapids – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million.
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. As the Standard Media purchase was predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger, the termination of the Sinclair sale agreement likely will also cause the sale of WXMI and the six other Tribune- and Sinclair-operated stations to Standard not being completed, with WXMI and WPMT remaining under Tribune ownership.
Pending sale to Scripps
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned Grand Rapids-based NBC affiliate WOOD-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WXSP-CD and Battle Creek-based ABC affiliate WOTV (channel 41) since January 2017—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WXMI directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. As such, Nexstar was required to sell either WXMI, WOOD and/or WOTV to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. WXSP-CD could either be retained by Nexstar or sold to the new buyer if WOOD/WOTV is sold, as WXSP does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market and does not comply with FCC duopoly rules as it is licensed as a Class A low-power station.
On March 20, 2019, the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company announced it would purchase WXMI from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, marking Scripps' entry into Virginia, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Scripps and Tegna Inc. in separate deals worth $1.32 billion. This would give WXMI sister stations in two other Michigan markets, fellow Fox affiliate WSYM-TV in Lansing and the Detroit duopoly of ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYD, in addition to three Wisconsin stations across Lake Michigan, Milwaukee's WTMJ-TV, an NBC affiliate, and the Green Bay duopoly of NBC affiliate WGBA-TV/MyNetworkTV affiliate WACY-TV.
|Fox affiliates licensed to and serving the state of Michigan|
|TV stations in West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek|
|WWMT 3 (CBS) |
WOOD 8 (NBC)
WZZM 13 (ABC)
WXSP-CD 15 (MNTV)
WXMI 17 (Fox)
WUHQ-LD 29 (Daystar)
WGVU 35 (PBS)
WMKG-CD 38 (TFC)
WOTV 41 (ABC)
WZPX 43 (Ion)
W48CL 48 (3ABN)
WTLJ 54 (TCT)
WLLA 64 (Rel)