NewsNet is an American news-oriented free-to-air television network and newscast production company owned by NewsNet LLC, a division of Freelancer Television Broadcasting, Inc. The network is structured to broadcast a tightly-formatted 30-minute newswheel 24 hours a day (with a 90-minute break on weekend late mornings), incorporating freshly-updated information that covers various areas of interest (such as national news, sports, entertainment, weather and business). Breaking news stories are updated constantly as they develop and new information becomes available.
In addition to being carried on digital subchannels of affiliated television stations, NewsNet also distributes its programming through a livestream that is available on its website (yournewsnet.com), as well as mobile apps in areas where it does not have a terrestrial TV affiliate. NewsNet also provides an optional turnkey local news production service for stations that do not maintain their own local news departments to produce local news capsule segments or full-length newscasts. NewsNet's primary studio facilities, which also houses master control operations of the network's O&O station WMNN-LD (channel 26) and MyNetworkTV affiliate WXII-LP (channel 12), are located on West 13th Street and 3rd Avenue in Cadillac, Michigan.
On September 28, 2017, Eric Wotila – who founded low-powered all-news station WMNN-LD in Cadillac, Michigan, and oversaw the studio design and construction for News Channel Nebraska, a Norfolk, Nebraska-based quasi-state network of five low-powered stations that also maintained an all-news programming format – started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to fund the launch of a 24-hour national news channel – under the working title, the Local News Network (LNN) – intended for broadcast, online and mobile distribution. Citing favorable opinions from viewers about the "straight-to-the-facts, no-nonsense and commentary-free" coverage provided by WMNN-LD, the Local News Network proposed to offer a news wheel format (similar in structure to the 1982–2005 format of HLN, and the formats of defunct all-news networks such as All News Channel and Satellite News Channel) that would eschew the often-politically focused panel discussion programs that have populated the afternoon, nighttime and weekend schedules of cable news channels (particularly CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel) since the early 2000s. The project called for LNN to be based out of WMNN's Cadillac studio facility, with the hope of eventually opening bureaus elsewhere around the United States. The project failed to reach its funding goal of $100,000 needed to develop LNN – which would have been used to pay for equipment and staffing necessary to handle the national broadcasts – by the closure of the 50-day campaign on November 17, 2017, raising only $8,012 from 78 public backers. Wotila subsequently sought to obtain backing from investors to fund the venture. On March 15, 2018, Wotila and other partners involved in the Local News Network project announced the launch of NewsNet, which would maintain the concept originally developed prior to the commencement of the Kickstarter campaign. NewsNet was officially launched on January 1, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, with the Evening Edition serving as the network's inaugural program. On May 8, 2019, ground was broken on new studios. The facility will consist of three studios, each with their own control rooms and a new, state-of-the-art master control room overseeing the operations of NewsNet, WMNN-LD and WXII-LP, the new studio went into effect at 4 a.m. on December 9.
The channel's programming is structured around a rolling news wheel format, providing up-to-date information on the top national and international stories in just 30 minutes. Each half-hour of the wheel format begins with the "A" block, consisting of a short teaser of what's coming up in the first ten minutes, followed by a nearly two-minute-long look at the top story of the hour (with updated details provided when breaking news develops) and an eight-minute roundup of the latest news stories at 02 and 32 minutes past the hour. The remainder of each half-hour features a national weather forecast summary (at 12 and 42 minutes past the hour) and the latest sports news, highlights and scores (at 17 and 47 minutes past the hour; branded as SportsDesk). Feature segments regularly aired at 24 and 54 minutes past the hour may include "Health News" (latest health updates and information), "Living Well" (news and topics about everyday lifestyle and general well-being) or "Business Brief" (latest business news headlines and in-depth conversations with major players in the business sector). To comply with programming guidelines imposed by the Children's Television Act, NewsNet also carries a 90-minute block of educational children's programming on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. ET.
On January 2, 2019, one day after the station launched, TV news industry blog FTVLive.com published a photo of NewsNet primary anchor Remington Hernandez wearing a Make America Great Again hat that Hernandez had published to his private Facebook profile, casting doubt on the station's claim of being politically unbiased. In October 2019, a user of the TV News industry forum TVNewsTalk.net posted a photo taken off Hernandez's public Instagram page that featured a smiling Hernandez next to conservative political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos.
As of February 2021, NewsNet has current and pending affiliation agreements with 59 television stations in 50+ television markets encompassing 26 states, covering more than 20% of the United States. The majority of NewsNet affiliates are low-power stations that are within the geographic boundaries of a particular TV market, but do not cover the entirety of the market. In addition to allowing affiliates to sell local advertising (offering four minutes of local commercial time per hour to prospective stations), NewsNet provides the option for its broadcast affiliates to pre-empt the "Health News", "Living Well" and "Business Brief" segments at the end of each half hour to allow to carry a five-minute-long local headline "capsule", providing news and weather information focusing on the local viewing area.