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The story of FOX 47 News
WSYM signed on for the first time on December 1, 1982, as WFSL-TV. It was owned by Lansing businessman Joel Ferguson and his company, F&S Development Company, and aired an analog signal on channel 47. WFSL was the first new commercial station in the area since WILX-TV signed-on 23 years earlier.
Conventional wisdom suggested it should have debuted as an ABC affiliate. Lansing was one of the largest markets in the nation that still didn't have full service from all three major networks. Indeed, Lansing had been large enough to support three full network affiliates since the 1960s. However, after all attempts to land an ABC affiliation failed, it signed on as an independent. Flint's WJRT-TV (channel 12) had long been the default ABC affiliate in Lansing, since it covered the immediate area with an adequate signal.
During its pre-sign-on test pattern, an on-screen crawl thanked numerous people and companies for their help including "All the people who said 'No way will that station get on-the-air by December 1st.'" WFSL was a typical UHF independent airing syndicated cartoons, game shows, movies, and off-network sitcoms. For a time, the station also simulcasted the ABC game show Family Feud and soap opera The Edge of Night from eventual sister station WXYZ-TV in Detroit in hopes of eventually landing a full-time ABC affiliation.
Ferguson sold the station to the Journal Company, then the broadcast arm of the Milwaukee Journal, in 1985, as the second broadcast asset for that company outside of Milwaukee. The new owners changed the call sign to WSYM-TV—an acronym meaning We Say Yes to Michigan, in reference to the "Yes Michigan!" tourism campaign of the 1980s from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (the station still uses that phrase as part of its on-air imaging today). The call letters once belonged to a ship but that registration was cancelled by the United States Coast Guard to allow channel 47 to use them. Five years later, Ferguson used the proceeds from the sale of this station to start Lansing's first ABC affiliate, WLAJ.
WSYM affiliated with Fox in 1990. Previously, Detroit's WKBD served as the "fourth" network's default affiliate in Lansing; it had been available on cable in Lansing for decades. Some parts of the market could also receive Fox from WXMI in Grand Rapids and WSMH in Flint. WSYM is also part of the Detroit Lions Television Network which airs Detroit Lions pre-season games and the syndicated Ford Lions Report during the regular season. It airs Lions games during the regular season as part of the NFL on Fox contract. Since portions of the Lansing area are within 75 miles (121 km) of Ford Field (home of the Lions).
WSYM-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 47, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 38, using PSIP to display WSYM-TV's virtual channel as 47 on digital television receivers.
Originally, WSYM-DT2 featured the TheCoolTV. MeTV was added on October 1, 2011 on 47.2 and is available on Comcast digital channel 296.
On July 30, 2014, it was announced that the E. W. Scripps Company would acquire Journal Communications in an all-stock transaction. The combined firm will retain their broadcast properties, including WSYM, and spin off their print assets as Journal Media Group. The deal would make WSYM a sister station to WXYZ and WMYD in Detroit. Also in July 2014, WSYM began operating MyNetworkTV outlet WHTV through a local marketing agreement. That station was previously operated by Media General (owner of CBS affiliate WLNS-TV) and was based out of that station's facility. Through the new arrangement with WSYM, WHTV would offer additional local programming. The FCC approved the deal on December 12, 2014. It was approved by shareholders on March 11, 2015. It closed on April 1.
On September 24, 2014, it was announced that the African-American digital network Bounce TV would be added to their digital subchannel lineup in the near future. On October 6, 2014, it was added to 47.3.
WHTV gave up its MyNetworkTV affiliation on April 30, 2017.
Because of WHTV's termination, WSYM added MyNetworkTV programming to its fourth subchannel (along with much of WHTV's former schedule) on October 9, 2017 with the general manager dubbing the programming as "courts, crime and comedy".
The E.W. Scripps Company serves audiences and businesses through a growing portfolio of television, radio and digital media brands. Scripps is one of the nation’s largest independent TV station owners, with 33 television stations in 24 markets and a reach of nearly one in five U.S. households. It also owns 34 radio stations in eight markets. When Scripps and the former Journal Communications merged their broadcast assets in early 2015, they also spun off their respective newspapers, creating a new public company, Journal Media Group. Scripps also runs an expanding collection of local and national digital journalism and information businesses, including mobile video news service Newsy and weather app developer WeatherSphere. Scripps also produces television shows including The List and The Now, runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and serves as the long-time steward of the nation’s largest, most successful and longest-running educational program, the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”