WICS Springfield/Decatur, Illinois Branding ABC 20 (general)
ABC NewsChannel 20
Slogan More Local Coverage Channels Digital: 42 (UHF)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
Subchannels 20.1 ABC Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WICS Licensee, LLC)
First air date September 17, 1953 Call letters' meaning We're Illinois' Capitol, Springfield Sister station(s) WICD, WYZZ-TV Former channel number(s) 20 (UHF analog, 1953–2009) Former affiliations NBC (1953-2005)
DuMont (secondary, 1953-1955)
CBS (secondary, 1953-1958)
ABC (secondary, 1953-1958)
Transmitter power 950 kW Height 402.2 m Facility ID 25686 Transmitter coordinates Website wics.com
WICS is the ABC-affiliated television station for Springfield and Decatur, Illinois. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 42 from a transmitter south of Dawson and I-72/US 36. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 2 (with HD on digital channel 908) and Suddenlink channel 10. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WICS has studios on East Cook Street in Springfield. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, and Live with Regis and Kelly.
WICD in Champaign operates as a semi-satellite. That station simulcasts WICS' network and syndicated programming but airs separate commercials, identifications, and weekday local newscasts. Although WICD maintains its own studios on South Country Fair Drive in Downtown Champaign, master control and some internal operations are based at WICS' facilities. Outside weekday newscasts, commercials on WICD are controlled at the Springfield studios. WICS serves the western portion of the market (Springfield and Decatur) while WICD serves the eastern portion (Champaign/Urbana/Danville). The latter also serves as the default ABC affiliate for the Illinois portion of the Terre Haute, Indiana DMA since that area does not have an affiliate of its own.
WICS began operations on September 17, 1953 and was owned by Plains Television Partners of Springfield. It carried programming from all four networks of the era (NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont).  However, it was a primary NBC affiliate. Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had collapsed most of East Central Illinois into one giant television market, WICS took on a secondary CBS affiliation because its primary affiliate, WCIA in Champaign, only provided a marginal signal to Springfield. It also aired whatever ABC programs WTVP in Decatur (now WAND) had to turn down in order to air CBS shows not cleared by WCIA.
By 1958, WICS was an exclusive NBC affiliate. The station originally had facilities at the Leland Hotel on Capitol Street in Downtown Springfield. In 1964, it moved to its current studios on East Cook Street in East Springfield. The FCC considered making East Central Illinois an all-UHF market but dropped these plans under heavy lobbying from WCIA. However, WICS' signal was not nearly strong enough to reach the eastern portion of the area. At the time, UHF signals were not strong enough to cover large amounts of territory. Accordingly in 1959, Plains Television signed-on WCHU in Champaign as a low-powered satellite of WICS. In 1960, it bought WDAN-TV (another low-powered station in Danville) and changed the calls to WICD. At the same time, WCHU began breaking off from the WICS signal to air some local programming for the eastern side of the market, which was simulcasted on WICD. In 1967, Plains Television merged WCHU and WICD into a new full-power station on UHF channel 15 under the WICD calls, but operating under the WCHU license.
Plains Television sold WICS to Guy Gannett Communications (no relation to the larger Gannett company) in 1986 but held onto WICD until 1994. The two stations operated as a regional network sharing most network and syndicated programming. This arrangement nearly brought down WICD, and for a time, it appeared the station would revert back to a full-time satellite of WICS. Guy Gannett finally bought WICD in 1994. Sinclair purchased most of Guy Gannett's stations, including WICS and WICD, in 1999.
The company almost immediately turned around and announced it was selling the two (which count as one for regulatory purposes) plus KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Sunrise Television. However, the FCC did not allow Sunrise to buy WICS/WICD due to Sunrise's ownership structure. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (HMTF), an investment firm controlled by then-Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, owned a large block of Sunrise stock. HMTF is majority stockholder of the LIN TV Corporation, then-owner of WAND. The FCC ruled HMTF held enough stock in Sunrise making an acquisition of WICS/WICD a duopoly between two of the four highest-rated stations in the market which is forbidden by FCC rules. As a result, Sinclair remains the owner of WICS/WICD and KGAN.
In 2005, the two stations swapped affiliations with WAND and became ABC affiliates as part of a larger national deal. On November 17, 2010, WICS became available to Dish Network customers in Terre Haute as the ABC affiliate since the market lacks an affiliate of its own. WICD's transmitter is near the border between Illinois and Indiana and WICD is carried on most cable systems on the Illinois side of the Terre Haute market. However, WICS is the only station up-linked by satellite providers due to contractual obligations. WICS will likely disappear from the Terre Haute local feed in the fall of 2011 when that city's Fox affiliate, WAWV-TV, rejoins ABC.
Even though WICS and WICD operate separate news departments, there is a considerable sharing of resources between the two such as video footage and personnel. This can be the case particularly when covering Decatur which is located between each of the station's facilities. Since WICD focuses more the eastern side of the market, that station is more likely to provide coverage from the Illinois portion of the Terre Haute DMA. Likewise, WICS provides that station with coverage from the Illinois State Capitol.
WICS has a slightly larger news department that WICD because it has more personalities. Several on-air personnel at the latter perform "one-man-band" journalism duties such as shooting, editing, and producing. On Saturday nights at 10:35, the two stations co-produce and simulcast a lifestyle/entertainment show called Illinois Central. Airing in a magazine-type format, the thirty minute program features more in depth feature stories from the entire area.
Lately, WICS/WICD have been very competitive in the local news race after years of being a distant second behind longtime dominant WCIA. Beginning with the November/December 2006 Nielsen ratings, the two actually briefly led with viewership in East Central Illinois. This is because the station's ratings are combined by Nielsen Media Research and considers WICS and WICD to be a single station for counting purposes. The latter is identified as "WICS+" in ratings books and has continued battling WCIA for the top spot splitting the position over various time slots. Basically, WICD's existence benefits WICS even though the former is technically combined with the latter.
The stations did not participate in the wider implementation of Sinclair's now-defunct, controversial News Central format for their newscasts but did air "The Point" (a one-minute conservative political commentary) that was also controversial and a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts until the series was discontinued in December 2006. The segment's host, Mark Hyman, can now be seen in another on-air commentary.
On September 11, 2006, a news share agreement was established with the area's Fox affiliates, WRSP-TV/WCCU (locally-owned by GOCOM Media of Illinois, LLC). As a result, a nightly prime time newscast began airing on those stations co-produced by WICS/WICD. Known as NewsChannel at 9 on Fox Illinois, it airs for a half-hour from WICS's Springfield studios but provides market-wide coverage. There is a separate weather forecast featuring both station's meteorologists. From the start, NewsChannel at 9 competed with a newscast seen on then-UPN affiliate WCFN produced by WCIA. Unlike the WRSP/WCCU show, WCFN's broadcast originated from Champaign and was targeted specifically at a Springfield audience. On September 28, 2009, WCIA cancelled the show and launched an hour-long weeknight newscast at 7 on WCFN. On June 26, 2010, rival WAND became the first station in East Central Illinois to upgrade local newscasts to high definition level. Broadcasts on WICS/WICD and WRSP-TV/WCCU remain in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition and it is unknown if and/or when there will be an upgrade to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen or full high definition.
WICS' meteorologists provide CW affiliate WBUI (sister station of WRSP-TV/WCCU) with on-air and online weather forecasts. The segments are appropriately titled "C-More Weather". In has been announced WICD will drop its weekend newscasts and simulcast those seen on WICS starting March 26, 2011. However, Champaign-based reporters will still provide coverage. This arrangement will also affect the WRSP/WCCU weekend show because a single weather segment will be offered instead of two. The change represents the second attempt at a joint market-wide product by WICS/WICD. At one point in time, there had been a simulcasted newscast weeknights at 5 originating from Springfield. 
- Standard Oil News (1960s)
- WICS 20 News (1979–1991)
- 20 News (1991–1994)
- WICS NewsChannel 20 (1994–2005)
- ABC NewsChannel 20 (2005–present)
- "WICS and You" (1979–1987)
- "Turn to 20" (1994–1997, used with Frank Gari's "Turn to News")
- "Coverage You Can Count On" (1997–2002)
- "Your Hometown News Source" (2002–2004)
- "Central Illinois' #1 News Source" (2004–2007)
- "More Local Coverage" (2007-present)
+ denotes WICD personnel ++ denotes Sinclair personnel
- Trey Paul - weekdays mornings and reporter (also reporter)
- Jessica McGee - weekday mornings and 11 a.m.
- Jerry Lambert - weeknights at 5, 6, and 10 (also reporter)
- Marianne Manko - weeknights at 9 and 10 (also reporter)
- Liz Foster - weeknights and reporter
- Kevilee Douglas - Illinois Central host
Storm Team 20
- Gus Gordon (NWA and AMS Seals of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights
- Joe Crain - weekday mornings and 11 a.m.
- Kelly Curran - fill-in and news reporter
- + Katy Kramer - Weekends
Sports (both seen on Hangtime and The Blitz)
- Krista Lander - Sports Director seen weeknights at 6, and 10
- Jeremy Rauch - weekend sports anchor and sports reporter
- + Steve Breitwieser
- Mike Brooks - Agriculture
- Andrew Hansen - capitol bureau chief and fill-in anchor
- Katie Heinz - Springfield
- Heather Hubbs - Education
- Andrea Marvin - General assignment
- Shantel Middleton - General Assignment
- + A.J. Bayatpour - Vermilion County Bureau Chief
- + James Fillmore
- + Liz Lohuis
- + Kate Springer
- ++ Mark Hyman - "Behind the Headlines" segment producer(Via owner Sinclair Boradcast Group)
- ++ Armstrong Williams - political commentator(Via owner Sinclair Broadcast Group)
Notable former personnel
- WICS "ABC 20"
- WICD "ABC 15"
- WRSP-TV/WCCU "Fox 55/27 Illinois"
- WBUI "Central Illinois' CW"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WICS
Broadcast television in South Central Illinois (including Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and Decatur)
WCIA (3.1 CBS, 3.2 MNTV) • WILL (12.1 PBS, 12.2 PBS World, 12.3 Create) • WSEC 14 (14.1 PBS, 14.2 PBS World, 14.3 Create) •
WUSI (16.1 PBS, 16.2 SD, 16.3 Create) • WAND (17.1 NBC, 17.2 local weather) • WICS 20.1 / WICD 15.1 (ABC) • WBUI (23.1 The CW, 23.2 This TV) • W29BG 29 / W34DL 34 (silent) • WLCF-LD 45 (CTN / FN) • WBXC-CA 46 (A1) • WCIX (49.1 MNTV, 49.2 CBS) • WEIU (51.1 PBS, 51.2 MHz WorldView) • WRSP 55.1 / WCCU 27.1 (Fox)
See also: Peoria-Bloomington, Chicago, Quincy, St. Louis, Quad Cities, Evansville, Terre Haute, Lafayette, and Paducah TV
ABC Network Affiliates in the state of IllinoisSee also: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, ION, MyNetworkTV, NBC, PBS and Other stations in Illinois Sinclair Broadcast Group ABC Network Affiliates Azteca América Network AffiliatesWWHB6 CBS Network Affiliates The CW Network Affiliates Fox Network Affiliates LATV Affiliate MyNetworkTV Affiliates NBC Network Affiliate Telemundo Affiliate This TV Network Affiliates Other Assets
1Owned by Tennessee Broadcasting. Sinclair (SBGI) is seeking an FCC "failing station" waiver to purchase this station.7SBGI's purchase of Freedom Communications's entire television group is awaiting FCC approval.
2Nominally owned by Cunningham Broadcasting and operated by SBGI under an LMA. However, trusts belonging to members of SBGI's founding Smith family control almost all of Cunningham's stock.
3Operated by Nexstar under an LMA.
4Owned by Second Generation Ltd. and managed by SBGI. SBGI is seeking an FCC "failing station" waiver to purchase the station's license.
5Owned by Bay Television and managed by Sinclair.
6Sinclair operates these stations owned by Four Points Media Group under an LMA; sale of the Four Points stations to Sinclair is awaiting FCC approval.
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