WLAX is the Fox-affiliated television station for Western Wisconsin that is licensed to La Crosse. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 17 (or virtual channel 25.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in La Crescent, Minnesota near the studios of ABC affiliate WXOW. Owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, the station has studios at Interchange Place in La Crosse at the intersection of I-90/US 53/WIS 35 and Rose Street (hence the postal address name). Syndicated programming on WLAX includes The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Modern Family, and Judge Judy among others.

WEUX in Chippewa Falls operates as a full-time satellite for the Chippewa Valley. This outlet broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 49 (or virtual channel 48.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter, southeast of Colfax, along the Dunn and Chippewa County line. It maintains an advertising sales office on WIS 93 in Eau Claire along the U.S. 53 and Business U.S. 53/Hastings Way interchange.

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP short nameProgramming[2][3]
25.1
48.1
720p16:9WLAX-HD
WEUX-HD
Main WLAX/WEUX programming / Fox
25.2
48.2
480i4:3WLAX-Me
WEUX-Me
MeTV

History

WLAX signed on the air on September 28, 1986 with an analog signal on UHF channel 25. It started as an Independent station but joined Fox soon afterward. The station was originally owned by Family Group Broadcasting. However, since the outlet's transmitter was located in Minnesota, it provided an inadequate over-the-air signal to the northern part of the market (the same problem that long plagued ABC affiliate WXOW). As a result, viewers in Eau Claire could only watch the station on cable television. Family Group sold both WLAX and WGBA-TV in Green Bay to Aries Telecommunications in 1991.

In order to close this coverage gap, full-time satellite WEUX was launched on February 8, 1993 with an analog signal on UHF channel 48. The two stations then adopted the "Fox 25/48" branding. Grant Broadcasting acquired WLAX/WEUX from Aries in 1996.[4] On April 29, 2004, WLAX became available on DISH Network's locals-Into-Locals package. DirecTV would follow suit and do the same on May 24, 2005.[5]

On December 9, 2004, WLAX-DT signed-on with a standard definition digital signal on UHF channel 17.[6] WEUX-DT followed on February 1, 2006 with a digital signal on UHF channel 49 also in standard definition.[7] WLAX-DT added high definition capabilities on January 28, 2008 while also launching a new second digital subchannel to offer the same programming in standard definition.[8] As part of the DTV transition on February 17, 2009, both outlets signed-off their analog signals. WEUX would not upgrade its digital signal to high definition until September 10, 2009, and just as WLAX did, added a second subchannel to allow continued standard definition service reception.[9]

On March 25, 2011, WLAX-DT2 started a standard definition simulcast of NBC affiliate WEAU. The big three outlet was added to WLAX's second digital subchannel after WEAU's broadcast tower in Fairchild collapsed during a winter storm on March 22, 2011.[10] Although WEAU was able to resume its own over-the-air transmissions on July 22, 2011, the simulcasting on WLAX-DT2 and WQOW-DT3 would continue until the NBC station finished building a new tower and signed-on its new UHF transmitter which occurred on January 5, 2012. On January 12 at approximately 1:30, WEAU pulled its programming from WQOW-DT 18.3 and WLAX-DT 25.2. At that time, WLAX and WEUX launched MeTV on both of their second digital subchannels.[2] On November 6, 2013, the Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would purchase the Grant stations, including WLAX/WEUX, for $87.5 million.[12] The deal will make WLAX and WEUX sister stations with Green Bay's CBS affiliate, WFRV-TV. The sale was completed on December 1, 2014.[2][2]

Newscasts

On August 28, 2006, WLAX/WEUX entered into a news share agreement with WEAU (owned by Gray Television). This arrangement resulted in a weeknight prime time newscast, produced by the big three outlet, to debut on this station. Known as Fox 25/48 News at 9, the thirty-minute broadcast would eventually expand to weekends starting January 20, 2007.

This station uses a majority of WEAU's on-air team except for maintaining a separate weeknight meteorologist and weekend news anchor (although they can fill-in on the NBC outlet when needed). Fox 25/48 News at 9 originates from a secondary set at WEAU's facility on South Hastings Way/US 53 Business in Altoona (with an Eau Claire postal address) and is fed to the WLAX/WEUX studios through a fiber-optic link.

During weather forecast segments, WLAX/WEUX features WEAU's Doppler weather radar that is based at the big three affiliate's studio. On August 5, 2011, WEAU upgraded its newscasts to high definition level. However, Fox 25/48 News at 9 was not included in the change because the show is produced from a secondary set that at the time lacked HD cameras. As of fall 2015, Fox 25/48 News is broadcast in HD.