Fox affiliate switches of 1994


Fox affiliate switches of 1994

The Fox affiliate switches of 1994 was a series of events resulting from a multi-million dollar deal between Fox Broadcasting Company, known commonly as Fox, and New World Communications, an owner of several VHF television stations affiliated with major networks, primarily CBS.

The major impetus for the changes was to improve local coverage of the fledgling network's new National Football League packages. As a result of various other deals that followed as a result of the affiliation switches, most notably the buyout of CBS by Westinghouse, the switches constituted some of the most sweeping changes in American television history.

"NFL on FOX"

For some time, Rupert Murdoch, chief executive officer of News Corporation, the parent company of the Fox network, lusted after a major-league sports presence for his network. He thought that landing a live sports broadcasting package would elevate Fox to the level of ABC, CBS and NBC, the other nationwide broadcast networks in the United States at the time.

In 1987, the network bid for "Monday Night Football", then the NFL's crown-jewel program, but the offer was rejected. Six years later, Fox stunned the sports and TV worlds by acquiring partial rights to the NFL. The package – covering four seasons of games involving teams in the National Football Conference, as well as several Super Bowls, a package previously owned by CBS – cost Fox $1.58 billion. CBS, then run by the cost-cutting Laurence Tisch, had reportedly bid only $290 million and was unwilling to even approach the Fox offer.

At the time of Fox's bid, most of its affiliates were lower-powered UHF stations. As Fox put together its new sports division to cover the NFL, it wanted to affiliate with VHF stations that had lower channel numbers (channels 2 to 13), more established histories, and carried more value with advertisers.

New World Deal

In the spring of 1994, months after completing the NFL contract, Fox agreed to purchase a 20 percent stake in New World Communications in a multi-million-dollar deal. The following stations were part of the deal:

Existing New World stations

*KNSD, San Diego, affiliated with NBC
*WAGA, Atlanta, affiliated with CBS
*WJBK, Detroit, affiliated with CBS
*WITI, Milwaukee, affiliated with CBS
*WJW, Cleveland, affiliated with CBS
*WTVT, Tampa/St. Petersburg, affiliated with CBS
*WSBK, Boston, independent station

tations that were acquired from Argyle Television

*KDFW, Dallas/Fort Worth, affiliated with CBS
*KTBC, Austin, affiliated with CBS
*KTVI, St. Louis, affiliated with ABC
*WVTM, Birmingham, affiliated with NBC

tations that were acquired from Citicasters

*KSAZ, Phoenix, affiliated with CBS
*WBRC, Birmingham, affiliated with ABC
*WDAF, Kansas City, affiliated with NBC
*WGHP, Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, affiliated with ABC

In addition, two Citicasters stations, WKRC (Cincinnati) and WTSP (Tampa/St. Petersburg) were left out of the New World deal. Both would later be sold to Jacor; today, WKRC is owned by Newport Television, which on March 14, 2008 bought the television division of Clear Channel Communications (which had purchased Jacor back in 1999). WTSP is owned by Gannett. Neither station would have been of any benefit to Fox. In WKRC's case, the Cincinnati Bengals aired on NBC and WLWT at the time. Ironically, the Bengals' games now air on WKRC. And in WTSP's case, New World already owned WTVT, which was the higher-rated of the two stations at the time.

Not all the stations involved would switch to Fox:
*Because of Federal Communications Commission rules of the time, New World could not keep WBRC and WVTM; WBRC was placed in a blind trust and would later be sold to Fox directly, as would WGHP. New World kept WVTM and it remained as an NBC affiliate, and in fact was once owned by the network itself. (It has since been sold to Media General.)
*KNSD (channel 39) also stayed with NBC because Fox already had an affiliate on the VHF band, XETV (channel 6). Today, NBC Universal owns 76 percent of KNSD, and LIN TV 24 percent.
*WSBK did not join Fox because the network would reacquire its existing affiliate, WFXT. WSBK would later be sold to Viacom and became a charter member of UPN, which launched on January 15, 1995.

NFL connection to deal

The key to the deal was that Fox upgraded its affiliate stations in several markets. Before the deal, of the 14 NFC teams at the time, only four had VHF Fox affiliates, the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins. All were Fox owned-and-operated stations (O&O) with the exception of the San Francisco affiliate, KTVU, which remains the largest Fox affiliate not owned by the network to this day.

Most of the stations involved in the New World deal were located in markets with teams from the NFC, which was at the time considered the more prestigious of the two NFL conferences for a variety of reasons. In particular, NFC teams were located in nine of the ten largest television markets at the time with the lone exception being Boston, whose only NFL team, the New England Patriots, played in the AFC. Also, most of the NFC teams existed before the formation of the old AFL and therefore contain longer histories, rivalries and traditions. During this time, the NFC was also in the midst of a 13-game winning streak against the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Many of the stations slated that switched to Fox were CBS affiliates in markets where NFC teams were located, thus fans would continue to see at least their team's road games on local VHF stations.

NFC teams in markets related to deal:
* Arizona Cardinals (KSAZ)
* Atlanta Falcons (WAGA)
* Dallas Cowboys (KDFW and KTBC)
* Detroit Lions (WJBK)
* Green Bay Packers (WITI)
* Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WTVT)

KTBC and WITI served markets containing significant fan bases for nearby NFC teams. KTBC served the Austin area and had aired Cowboys games for years (including during preseason), while WITI had broadcast Packers games to its Milwaukee audience since becoming a CBS affiliate in 1977.

In 1995, a year after the Fox switches, St. Louis received an NFC team when the Rams relocated from Los Angeles following the 1994 season, making KTVI the eighth station (and sixth in an NFC market) among the stations involved in the switchover and bringing the total number of NFC teams with VHF Fox affiliates to nine. That same year, the Carolina Panthers joined the NFL as an expansion team, which made WGHP another satellite "home" station for an NFL team as the Panthers are based in Charlotte, which is directly south of the Piedmont Triad region where WGHP is situated.

Burnham Broadcasting

Just weeks after completing the New World deal, Fox announced another purchase, this one of Burnham Broadcasting. The stations involved were:
*WVUE, New Orleans, affiliated with ABC
*WLUK, Green Bay, affiliated with NBC
*WALA, Mobile, affiliated with NBC
*KHON, Honolulu, affiliated with NBC

Fox would own the stations in conjunction with Savoy Broadcasting, a minority-owned communications firm. The deal gave Fox upgrades for the home markets of two more teams: the Packers and the New Orleans Saints, giving Fox VHF affiliates in eleven of the fifteen NFC markets.

Repercussions

Overnight, the landscape of local television in many areas changed as viewers got used to new affiliations.

The transition was straightforward in some cases, as Kansas City, St. Louis, Austin, Cleveland and the Piedmont Triad saw the old Fox affiliates simply swap with the new ones. KSHB replaced WDAF as Kansas City's NBC affiliate, while KDNL and WXLV affiliated with ABC in St. Louis and the Piedmont Triad, respectively. KEYE in Austin and WOIO in Cleveland affiliated with CBS. All five were UHF stations.

The largest affiliation swap occurred in Central Alabama, including the Birmingham area, where six different stations changed affiliations due to WBRC moving from ABC to Fox. WCFT and WJSU, the CBS affiliates for Tuscaloosa and Anniston, merged and became the combined ABC affiliate for Birmingham and Central Alabama. WNAL, the former Fox affiliate for Gadsden, became the CBS affiliate for northeast Alabama before eventually becoming the Pax network affiliate for Birmingham. WTTO and WDBB, the Fox affiliates for Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, became independent stations before eventually affiliating with the WB Network.

As expected, CBS bore the worst brunt of the changes. The network had already developed a stodgy image under its CEO, Laurence Tisch and when it lost the NFL to Fox, the problems accelerated as CBS struggled to compete with NBC and ABC in the ratings, even though the network still finished ahead of Fox. Tisch eventually sold the network in 1995. CBS eventually recovered and by 1999, was the most-watched network until it was surpassed by ABC in 2000 and NBC in 2001 before retaking the lead again in 2002.

CBS' problems were especially evident in the recruiting of new affiliates. Only six new CBS affiliates were VHF stations:
* In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, KTVT (Channel 11), became the new CBS affiliate after KDFW switched to Fox. The former Fox O&O in the Metroplex, KDAF (Channel 33), became a WB affiliate, and is now affiliated with The CW. As a by-product of the KTVT deal, another new VHF CBS affiliate at the time was then sister station KSTW in Seattle, which replaced KIRO-TV in that area. This affiliation only lasted two years though, as KIRO-TV returned to CBS in 1997 following a sale of the station to Cox Enterprises. (Ironically, both KTVT and KSTW are now both owned by CBS.)
* In Phoenix, after CBS moved to former independent station KPHO (which ironically was CBS's original Phoenix affiliation), owned by the Meredith Corporation. As part of the KPHO deal, CBS wanted co-owned WNEM-TV (channel 5), an NBC affiliate, to be a CBS affiliate instead of WEYI-TV (channel 25) in the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City Michigan market. WEYI-TV became an NBC affiliate as a result.
* CBS reached new affiliation deals with two displaced VHF ABC affiliates: WKRC in Cincinnati and WTSP in Tampa (see below).

The affiliate switches also led to another deal involving The E.W. Scripps Company, the parent company of KSHB. Scripps' two highest-profile stations, WEWS in Cleveland and WXYZ in Detroit (the latter of which had been owned-and-operated by the network until the Capital Cities buyout of ABC in 1986), were being courted by CBS to replace WJW and WJBK, respectively. In order to keep ABC on WEWS and WXYZ, Scripps required ABC to switch its affiliations to four of the company's non-ABC affiliates:
* WMAR in Baltimore, replacing WJZ-TV which had been the longest-tenured ABC affiliate in the nation at the time.
* WCPO in Cincinnati, replacing WKRC.
* KNXV in Phoenix, slated to lose Fox due to the New World deal, replacing then-market leader KTVK; and
* WFTS in Tampa, who was also slated to lose Fox due to the New World deal.

The switchovers angered WJZ-TV's parent company, Group W, who eventually sought an affiliation deal of its own, and in 1994, the company agreed to affiliate three of its five stations with CBS, (The other two stations, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX in San Francisco were already CBS affiliates). In September 1994, KPIX and KDKA-TV, both of whom along the rest of the Westinghouse stations were known for pre-empting some network programs, began carrying the entire CBS schedule as a condition of the deal. This was followed by WJZ-TV and Boston NBC affiliate WBZ-TV switching to CBS at the end of 1994, and then the switchover before the beginning of the 1995-1996 television season of KYW-TV in Philadelphia from NBC to CBS, whom Westinghouse also sold a minority share of KYW-TV to.

Because of the New World deal, eventual deals involving Scripps and Group W's stations, and the unwillingness of rival stations in affected markets to switch network affiliations, CBS was left with lesser-known affiliates in Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee, where the new affiliates were all low-profile UHF stations with far less transmitting power than their previous affiliates:
* In Atlanta, CBS almost purchased WVEU, which aired on channel 69, the highest available channel for TV broadcasts in the U.S. Eventually, they reached a deal with the owners of WGNX, now WGCL (Channel 46), which was slated to become the market's WB O&O (by way of its owners at the time, Tribune Broadcasting). Ironically, CBS now owns channel 69, WUPA, as a CW affiliate; it was with UPN until September 2006. The market's former Fox O&O, WATL (Channel 36) became an affiliate of The WB, and in 2006 moved over to another new network, MyNetworkTV.
* Milwaukee's new CBS station, WDJT (Channel 58), had a general syndicated schedule, with some ethnic and time-brokered religious programming mixed in, along with very low cable carriage in the market. The station's owners, Weigel Broadcasting, had its roots in running Chicago independent station WCIU, and at the time never had any station of theirs affiliated with a major network. WDJT joined the network just one week before the switch, after an attempt by CBS to buy religious station WVCY (Channel 30) fell through. The station then built a new transmitter in 1999 which has transmitting power equal with the market's other five commercial stations. Part of the switches resulted in several of CBS' remaining sports properties, most notably the Daytona 500, not being carried in some parts of Milwaukee in 1995. Former Fox affiliate WCGV (Channel 24) joined the then-upstart UPN network, and is now affiliated with MyNetworkTV after UPN folded.
*In Detroit, CBS bought WGPR (Channel 62) from an African-American religious broadcaster and changed its name to WWJ-TV after plans to purchase another station, WADL-TV (Channel 38) fell through when WADL's owner made unreasonable demands. The former Fox affiliate, WKBD (Channel 50), also joined UPN, and is now a CW affiliate co-owned with WWJ, which is strangely the lesser partner in the duopoly; the other CBS duopolies have the CBS affiliate as the senior partner.

Other repercussions

* As a result of the affiliation switches, NBC became the most-watched network in the United States, as it not only experienced the least effects of the switchover, but also benefited from a strong slate of programming at the time (including "Friends", "Frasier", "Seinfeld", "ER" and the "Dateline NBC" franchise). They would remain in first until 1999, when CBS overtook NBC at number one. This was also following the first year since NBC lost rights to AFC games in the NFL to CBS. The NFL would eventually return to NBC in 2006 with the league's Sunday night package after ESPN (who previously held the latter package) took over Monday Night Football from sister network ABC.

* Because of the Westinghouse deal involving WBZ-TV, CBS had to sell its owned-and-operated station in Providence, Rhode Island, WPRI-TV, which it had just acquired months before. WPRI's signal carried from Rhode Island over into most of the Boston area whereas WBZ-TV's Boston signal traveled all the way into almost all of the state of Rhode Island. FCC regulations at the time prevented common ownership of stations whose signals overlapped and would not even consider a waiver for stations with overlapping city-grade coverage.

* When KYW-TV switched to CBS from NBC, CBS traded its Philadelphia O&O WCAU-TV, to NBC in exchange for two of its O&Os, KCNC-TV in Denver and KUTV in Salt Lake City. As compensation for these station trades, CBS-owned WCIX in Miami swapped facilities with NBC-owned WTVJ. Westinghouse and CBS then formed a joint venture involving its new properties and WCIX, which became WFOR-TV, with Westinghouse as the majority owner.

* At one point, New World considered buying WCAU, which would have turned that station into a Fox affiliate (and thus also continue broadcasting Philadelphia Eagles games, which it had done since 1950). Additionally, Fox had bought WGBS-TV (channel 57) as a result of rumors that Paramount's WTXF (the market's Fox affiliate) was switching to UPN, but later canceled those plans and made a bid to buy the station if New World passed up the opportunity. WTXF was eventually sold to Fox with Paramount buying WGBS-TV (and renaming it WPSG) and NBC winding up with WCAU.

* McGraw-Hill also had arranged a new affiliation deal, in which all four of its stations would affiliate with ABC. The company's two ABC affiliates, WRTV in Indianapolis and KGTV in San Diego, would be joined by CBS affiliates KERO-TV in Bakersfield and KMGH-TV in Denver, the former of which had to wait for its affiliation deal with CBS to expire before switching to ABC.

* In another affiliation deal, Allbritton Communications Company, the parent company of several ABC affiliates, including WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and the new combined ABC cluster in the Birmingham, Alabama area that replaced WBRC, also switched all of its stations to ABC, including NBC affiliate WCIV in Charleston, South Carolina and upstart independent WJXX in Jacksonville, as well as WB affiliate WBSG-TV in Brunswick, Georgia (located in the northern fringes of the Jacksonville viewing area).

* In San Diego, UPN affiliate KUSI-TV (now an independent station) tried unsuccessfully to take the Fox affiliation away from XETV, which was based in Tijuana, Mexico, citing FCC regulations preventing Mexican-licensed stations (or any foreign station outside of the United States) from airing live American sporting events without an FCC-approved license, but Fox was eventually granted the permit. XETV switched to the CW in August 2008 after losing its Fox affiliation to KSWB-TV.

* Because of the deals involving KCNC and KMGH, Gannett arranged another affiliation deal with NBC to affiliate with the Denver area's displaced ABC affiliate, KUSA-TV. A similar situation happened to Hearst Broadcasting in which its Baltimore CBS affiliate, WBAL-TV, returned to NBC (it had been affiliated with that network until 1981 when it affiliated with CBS, who was dissatisfied with its then-Baltimore affiliate WMAR-TV frequently preempting CBS programming). Additionally, two former CBS affiliates displaced by the Westinghouse/CBS deal (KSL-TV in Salt Lake City and WHDH-TV in Boston) affiliated with NBC.

* In Phoenix, KTVK turned down CBS' offer to affiliate with the then-ABC affiliate in anticipation of ABC renewing its affiliation agreement with the station. However, after the Scripps deal went through resulting in ABC's move to KNXV, KTVK was disappointed and eventually began to gradually phase out its ABC offerings. On its final day as an ABC affiliate, KTVK only had ABC's primetime lineup, major soaps, and sports programs remaining.

* Since WBRC's affiliation agreement with ABC did not expire until the end of the 1995-1996 television season, Fox had to run WBRC as an ABC affiliate for over one and a half years. The only other recent instance in which a major network has had to run a rival network's affiliate was in 1988, when NBC was forced to run WTVJ in Miami as a CBS affiliate for one year after Ed Ansin, the owner of that market's NBC affiliate, WSVN (which is now that market's Fox affiliate), refused to end his station's contract with NBC until it expired at the end of the year.

* Before the Scripps deal, ABC purchased its affiliate WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan and NBC affiliate WTVG in Toledo, Ohio as a contingency plan in the event that its Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV flipped to CBS. While WXYZ eventually remained with ABC, the deal eventually went through. However, for two months, ABC had to run WTVG as an NBC affiliate while the latter network searched for a new affiliate (which turned out to be Toledo's former ABC affiliate, WNWO-TV). ABC's purchase of WJRT-TV was a factor in dislocated NBC affiliating with former CBS affiliate WEYI-TV.

* Several first-run syndicated programs, such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show", "Wheel of Fortune", "Jeopardy!" and "Entertainment Tonight" were dropped by some of the New World stations, who had aired them in favor of lower-budget syndicated programs or newer shows such as "Access Hollywood" and "Judge Judy". In several of the markets affected, at least one of these shows now airs on their former network's new affiliate. For example, two Fox affiliates involved in the Burnham/Savoy deal, WVUE in New Orleans and Green Bay's WLUK, now air both "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!"

* Before the New World deal was announced, WATL was in the planning stages of launching a news department and had even hired a news director. After the New World deal was announced, WATL shelved these plans. The station would not air news until 2006, when Gannett purchased WATL and launched a 10 p.m. newscast produced by sister station WXIA-TV.

* Some areas with a strong NFL team fanbase outside of the core markets were unprepared for the switch, and did not have a Fox affiliate at all, putting the network in the awkward position of airing NFL games on the affiliate station of another network which had no interest in airing Fox's general schedule until a Fox station could be launched or courted. This occurred in Wausau, Wisconsin, where ABC affiliate WAOW-TV aired the NFL on Fox package for five years to assuage the Packer-dominated market, until Wittenberg-licensed WFXS launched to allow the network an affiliate in the area.

* Following CBS' decision in Detroit to purchase WWJ-TV, its previous owners sued to gain control of the station. However, these owners could not stop CBS from moving its affiliation over to WWJ-TV. A court later ruled the following year in CBS' favor.

* In Milwaukee, CBS was threatening to have to import cable signals of CBS, supposedly from its owned-and-operated stations WBBM-TV Chicago, WFRV-TV Green Bay, affiliate station WISC-TV Madison, or possibly even another CBS O&O, WCCO-TV Minneapolis, as a result of its difficulty finding a new affiliate to replace WITI. As WDJT's unexpected switchover to CBS came only days after it was announced as the market's new affiliate, a primitive logo featuring the CBS eye to the left of its "58" logo (scripted in italic Times New Roman) served as the station's logo for several months. Generic CBS promos were also used at this time while WDJT looked to start a news department and find larger studio facilities.

* As with WDJT, Weigel also found itself with another network switch in the South Bend, Indiana market in 1995, when full-power ABC affiliate WSJV, owned by Quincy Newspapers, switched to Fox. Weigel's W58BT, a low-power translator station of Chicago's WCIU which also carried Fox programming, ended up becoming an ABC affiliate almost by default due to the lack of another full-power station allocation in the market, causing the same cable entanglements and reception problems as had happened in Milwaukee, though the market had fringe access to several other ABC stations, including Chicago's WLS-TV and Battle Creek's WOTV. W58BT eventually became a licensed low-power operation with the calls WBND-LP, but did not start a limited news operation until 2008. Because of the weakness of the station in the market, WBND, along with their sister MyNetworkTV and CW low power stations, are in the process of being sold to Schurz Communications, the founding owners of CBS affiliate WSBT-TV in late 2008; it is likely that the news operation will be discontinued or merged into that of WSBT's.

Newscast repercussions

The primary plus for the new Fox stations collectively was an increase in the amount of news covered on these stations, which Fox had high interest in doing as the network had (and still to this day has) no national newscasts. Over time, the former Big Three stations which had aired newscasts for years expanded them along with many original Fox stations. Morning newscasts on Fox stations gradually expanded to compete with the national morning shows aired by the Big Three.

However, New World's Fox affiliates saw mixed results with their newscasts:
* After switching to Fox, WTVT in Tampa lost its number one position in the market to NBC affiliate WFLA, which was the only major-network station in Tampa not affected by the switch.
* In Cleveland, WJW-TV fell from first place in its market. The problems were especially evident following the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995, as Fox had no news division; Fox News Channel did not exist at this time until the following year. WEWS (which shunned CBS via the Scripps deal) would overtake the station as the market leader. WJW has since regained the ratings lead for most of its' newscasts.
* In Austin, KTBC, long the market's dominant news station, fell to the bottom of the ratings behind NBC affiliate KXAN and ABC affiliate KVUE.
* Phoenix's NBC affiliate, KPNX-TV, which was the only station unaffected by the affiliation switches in the Phoenix area, went from being the market's third-place station to its top-rated one.
* Some New World stations, however, have maintained their ratings dominance. In Birmingham, WBRC's primetime newscast is considered one of the nation's highest-rated newscasts. Additionally, WDAF in Kansas City has finished #1 in several time slots, including at 9:00 pm.
* Another key positive was also in regards to the morning news shows on the new Fox affiliates, most of which perform competitively and even place first in the ratings.

Additionally, some of the new Fox affiliates, perhaps in appealing to Fox's younger-skewing audiences, moved many older news personalities to daytime broadcasts or released them entirely from their news teams. Some of these personalities eventually wound up on other stations, such as the new Big Three affiliates.

Unfortunately, many of the new Big Three affiliates were not as lucky. As these were former Fox affiliates (or independents) that did not have newscasts at the time, almost all of them had to give in to launching them to back up the nationally-aired newscasts provided by the networks. Generally, the stations that continue to air newscasts to this day have finished in fourth place behind their VHF competitors. However, many of these stations, such as Scripps' KNXV, WFTS and KSHB have seen gradual growth in their ratings.

Still, other new affiliates that launched newscasts experienced no permanent success. In Detroit, WWJ-TV premiered a newscast in fall 2001 produced by sister station WKBD. Both the WKBD and WWJ newscasts were cancelled in late 2002 under an agreement made by WXYZ to produce WKBD's news. WWJ is now the largest-market major-network affiliate, and the only O&O of any major network, to have no newscasts. From 2006 to 2008, WWJ-TV made light of this fact by using a slogan, "Where No News is Good News", for promoting programming during periods where there would usually be newscasts.

Two ABC affiliates, KDNL in St. Louis and WXLV-TV in the Piedmont Triad region, also experienced difficulty. KDNL's news department lasted for six years until its cancellation, which was widely blamed on a transmitter problem, and is now the fifth-rated station in the St. Louis market, behind CW affiliate KPLR-TV. KDNL's current position as one of ABC's weakest affiliates, perhaps the weakest among Top 50 markets stands in sharp contrast to KTVI, which was one of ABC's strongest stations. WXLV's newscast was cancelled under orders of its owner Sinclair (through its controversial News Central division) due to poor ratings. WXLV also had run newscasts since becoming an ABC affiliate until January 2002.

Pittsburgh, which was one of the few major markets not to see an affiliation switch (and besides KDKA-TV airing the full slate of CBS programming due to the Westinghouse/CBS deal, was not affected by the switch at all), saw Fox affiliate WPGH-TV start a 10 PM newscast in 1996, likely in response to markets that were affected now having newscasts from all four networks. While ratings were strong initially and only competed against the cable-only PCNC (owned by Cox Enterprises, which also owns NBC affiliate WPXI-TV), they declined sharply after KDKA launched a 10 PM newscast on sister station WNPA-TV in 2001. Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns WPGH and sister station WPMY-TV, entered into a news share agreement with WPXI in 2006 and shut down WPGH's news division, with PCNC now airing a 7PM newscast so that it wouldn't compete with the WPXI-produced newscast on WPGH. Ratings have since been more competitive in the 10 PM slot.

Fox Kids repercussions

When Fox made the affiliation agreement with New World, all 12 stations that switched to Fox chose not to carry Fox's Monday-Saturday Fox Kids children's programming due to interest in airing more local news, which is uncharacteristic of a broadcast network affiliate. Big Three affiliates are required to air their network's children's program block (although the Big Three only aired their shows on Saturdays compared to Fox Kids' six), and when New World was bought out by Fox, it became the first network which had O&Os that did not air all network programming.

However, St. Louis religious station KNLC, owned by the New Life Christian Church and whom had picked up Fox Kids after then-Fox affiliate KDNL affiliated with ABC after its affiliate KTVI switched to Fox, chose to air ministry messages in place of commercials; the church's reverend, Larry Rice, refused to show commercials during Fox Kids programming. Uncomfortable with messages on controversial topics such as abortion being shown during Fox Kids programming, Fox ended up moving Fox Kids to KTVI, which remains the only ex-New World station airing 4Kids TV, however the station airs it two hours earlier than other stations that carry 4Kids TV, due to a morning newscast airing at 9 am. Although five stations (KSAZ, WGHP, WJW, KTBC and WAGA) had rejected Fox Kids programming (in its Fox Kids, FoxBox and 4Kids TV iterations), none of them filled the timeslots with local news on Saturday morning, instead filling the time with paid programming, local home selling presentation shows, and E/I programming acquired via syndication.

Many stations that rejected Fox Kids passed it to another station in the market, typically an independent station or a smaller network affiliate, this especially true following Fox's purchase of Chris-Craft/United Television in 2001. However in four ex-New World markets (Atlanta, Austin, Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, Birmingham), 4Kids TV does not air on another station in any of those markets due to stations dropping the lineup. In Milwaukee, 4Kids TV has aired on independent station WMLW-CA, a Class A television station, since September 2004. Though the station has extended cable coverage throughout the market, it is much less than former Fox Kids station WCGV. In the Phoenix market, KTVK acquired Fox Kids; when it entered into a local marketing agreement to buy out the television time of KASW because it had too much programming inventory to the point where it could not air Saturday morning news, the WB affiliation and Fox Kids programs moved. Because CW4Kids comes as part of the CW affiliation (which it obtained in May 2006), 4Kids TV is shifted to Sunday mornings.

At least three other stations (two of which are owned by Fox) have pulled such a maneuver. WFLD in Chicago, one of the original Fox O&Os dropped 4Kids TV and moved it to sister station WPWR in 2003. Minneapolis' KMSP also dropped 4Kids TV in 2006, moving it to sister station WFTC in the process. KABB in San Antonio (owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group) moved 4Kids TV to MyNetworkTV affiliate KMYS (also owned by Sinclair) the same year. In all three cases it was due to an expansion of their morning newscasts to Saturday mornings.

Because these Fox stations deny clearance of 4Kids TV, 4Kids TV is merely a syndication package, despite Fox continuing to advertise in promos airing during select Fox primetime shows that 4Kids TV programming is part of the network. If Fox limited 4Kids TV to air on Fox stations only, affiliates could be given the choice to broadcast the lineup around local news, as the case is with ABC and CBS.

Until such a thing happens, all Fox-owned stations that do not air 4Kids TV air syndicated educational programs that meet E/I guidelines (unlike those seen on 4Kids TV) in its place, either following a newscast or in place of it, such as "Safari Tracks" and "Beakman's World", so as to not violate FCC regulations requiring commercial broadcasters to air a certain amount of children's programming (deemed educational and informative) each week.

Post-switchover changes

Fox continued to upgrade its stations in at least two unrelated deals struck later:
* In 1995, NewsCorp purchased ABC affiliate WHBQ in Memphis, Tennessee from Communications Corporation of America. This was part of the RKO General empire which had collapsed due to corruption and perjury.
* In 2002, KMSP, which is in the home market of the Minnesota Vikings, returned to the Fox network after seven years as a UPN station. Fox had purchased KMSP from Chris-Craft two years earlier.

At least one other station owner has pulled off a similar maneuver. In 2002, Meredith Corporation moved the Fox affiliation in the Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington market from KPDX, on UHF channel 49, to KPTV, on VHF channel 12 (coincidentally, KPTV was a charter Fox afiliate from 1986-88). Meredith had just acquired KPTV from Chris-Craft. In an ironic twist, Fox Television Stations Group would later buy all the remaining Chris-Craft stations, which in 2006 would all join MyNetworkTV as part of the 2006 United States broadcast TV realignment. This makes for an indirect connection between the last two major changes in broadcast affiliate lineups in the U.S. (Another took place on August 1, 2008: XETV, whose presence in the San Diego market discouraged Fox from switching the affiliation to KNSD, switched with KSWB and became a CW affiliate. KSWB was one of 16 charter CW affiliates owned by Tribune Broadcasting.)

On the other hand, CBS saw an affiliate downgrade from VHF to UHF in an unrelated transaction, which occurred in the Jacksonville, Florida-Brunswick, Georgia market, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Being in the AFC, most Jaguars game are on CBS). In the summer of 2002, Post-Newsweek Stations, which owns WJXT, terminated that station's longtime affiliation with CBS in a dispute over compensation. The new affiliate became WTEV, which had been the local outlet of UPN (which was then co-owned with CBS). WJXT broadcasts on channel 4; WTEV on channel 47. The new UPN affiliate became Fox affiliate WAWS, on a secondary basis. Both WAWS and WTEV were sold by Clear Channel to Newport Television, but because of FCC regulations forbidding the ownership of two of the four top-rated stations in a market (Clear Channel had purchased WTEV when it was a low-rated UPN station), Newport sold WTEV to High Plains Television, though Newport continues to operate the station through a local marketing agreement. Due to the network switch in Jacksonville, nearby Gainesville, Florida's WB affiliate WGFL (channel 53), also switched to CBS in order to keep the network available in that area, sending the WB affiliation to a digital subchannel of WGFL (now the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate, as well as low-power WMYG-LP).

Only one other AFC team plays home games in a market with a UHF CBS affiliate: the Cleveland market, home of the Browns, has WOIO (channel 19) as its CBS affiliate. WOIO was once Cleveland's FOX station before the market was involved in the New World deal.

Long-term impact

The affiliation switches helped elevate Fox to major network status on par with its older competitors. As of 2007, its sports division has expanded to include Major League Baseball and NASCAR. The National Hockey League once aired on Fox as well, from 1995 - 1999.

Beginning in 2007, Fox Sports also claimed rights to the Bowl Championship Series with the exception of the Rose Bowl, which has an agreement of its own with ABC. It also airs coverage of the Cotton Bowl and is the exclusive television home of the Daytona 500. Fox Sports' coverage now also includes four Formula One races and live coverage of two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. Fox Sports' coverage also has expanded beyond terrestrial television with several cable networks, led by Fox Sports Net, which offers 24-hour sports coverage and many home team broadcasts.

Fox's entertainment programs have also benefited from the heavy promotion they received during the sportscasts. Some of the beneficiaries include shows already on Fox at the time, such as "The Simpsons", as well as newer programs like "American Idol" and "24". In fact, "Idol" has been the number one rated primetime program on all networks the last four years, from 2005 to 2008.

While CBS did eventually recover, its recovery is partially linked to, ironically, reacquiring NFL rights in 1998 when it took over rights to the AFC from NBC. The last year NBC had rights to the AFC saw the Denver Broncos, an original AFL team, defeat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, which aired on NBC and ended a 13-year drought against the NFC in the Super Bowl. Around the time CBS took over the rights to the AFC saw the trend of the 1980's and 1990's reverse, in that the AFC became the dominant conference over the NFC. The New England Patriots dynasty in the 2000's in the only AFC-only top-ten market also contributed to the ratings surge. In addition, the current AFC deal also saw CBS indirectly acquire rights to air games played by the Pittsburgh Steelers, which air locally on KDKA-TV (which was a CBS O&O by the time NFL rights were reacquired and has long been one of CBS's strongest stations) and often get the highest ratings for an NFL team on television due to the team's rabid fanbase on a national level.

Current statuses

To this day, six of the Fox stations owned by New World which changed affiliations (KDFW, WAGA, WJBK, KSAZ-TV, WTVT and KTBC) are still owned and operated by News Corporation. Fox Television Stations Group, the division of NewsCorp that controls the stations, announced its intent on June 13, 2007 to sell nine of their stations, six of which are former New World stations (WJW-TV, KTVI, WDAF-TV, WITI-TV, WBRC-TV and WGHP) (the other stations Fox has announced its intention to sell are KDVR in Denver, KSTU in Salt Lake City, and WHBQ-TV in Memphis). Of these nine, only KTVI is located in an NFC market (by way of the St. Louis Rams), while WITI is part of the Green Bay Packers' unique two market area encompassing Green Bay and Milwaukee. Subsequently, on December 21 of that same year, Fox agreed to sell eight of the stations -- all except WHBQ -- to Local TV, a subsidiary of Oak Hill Capital Partners. This group deal closed on July 14, 2008. Under the control of Local TV, the eight stations will remain Fox affiliates for the foreseeable future. (WHBQ is still for sale because Local TV could not buy it, for the same reason Newport sold WTEV. Local TV is the licensee for Memphis' CBS affiliate, WREG.)

Fox no longer owns any of the former Burnham stations. Savoy/Fox (SF) sold the stations in 1997 to now-defunct Silver King Broadcasting (later USA Broadcasting) and later to Emmis Communications to 1998. Emmis has since sold WLUK and WALA to LIN TV and KHON to Montecito Broadcast Group, who later sold KHON to New Vision Television. It took until May of 2008 for Emmis to finally find a buyer for WVUE, when the Louisiana Media Company, a new media holdings group founded by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, purchased the station (with the purchase closing on July 18, 2008). WVUE's sale process had been made more difficult in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which greatly affected its New Orleans viewing area. All stations are still Fox affiliates.

As a result of the affiliation deals, Fox now has VHF affiliates in 13 out of 16 television markets with NFL teams that are based in the NFC, including the Seattle Seahawks, who moved from the AFC to the NFC in 2002; Seattle's Fox affiliate, KCPQ, broadcasts on VHF channel 13. Only the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles are located in markets with UHF Fox affiliates. Two of them, WFLD in Chicago and WTXF in Philadelphia, are owned by the network. The third station, WCCB in Charlotte, is owned by Bahakel Communications.

Westinghouse bought CBS in 1996 after the affiliation deals, making all stations CBS owned-and-operated stations. Viacom bought CBS in 1999, which created duopolies in several markets between CBS O&O's and UPN O&O's. Viacom and CBS split in 2006, with the current CBS Corporation retaining the broadcasting side of the company including UPN. Shortly afterward, CBS and Time Warner announced the merger of UPN and The WB to form The CW. All of the stations that CBS acquired either by the station swap with NBC or when the network itself was acquired by Westinghouse are still owned by CBS except for KUTV which was sold to Cerberus Capital Management in 2007.

Effect in Top 10 markets

To this day, Washington, D.C. is the only Top 10 market from 1994 outside of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago not to have its ownership and/or major network affiliations (outside of network shutdowns and debuts) affected during and since the switches (Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit were affected by the New World deal, while Boston and Philadelphia were affected via the Westinghouse deal). While Houston was also not affected by the switches at the time and its major network affiliates remain the same, it was not a Top 10 market when the switches took place, as Houston only became a Top 10 market in 2005-06, surpassing Detroit.

San Francisco was also unaffected by the 1994 switches, as Westinghouse-owned KPIX-TV was already an affiliate of CBS. In 2002, however, its longtime NBC affiliate, KRON-TV, became an independent station after a bitter dispute between new KRON owner Young Broadcasting and NBC. After Young outbid NBC to purchase the station from its original owner Chronicle Publishing, NBC demanded that Young run the station in a fashion similar to that of an NBC O&O as a condition of renewal of its affiliation. NBC eventually bought San Jose ABC affiliate KNTV (which also served as the de facto ABC affiliate for the Monterey-Salinas market at the time).

See also

* Fox Broadcasting Company
* "NFL on FOX"
* Big Three Television Networks
* New World Communications


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fox Broadcasting Company — FOX redirects here. For other uses, see Fox (disambiguation). For the film studio that the network has been named after, see 20th Century Fox. Fox Broadcasting Company Country …   Wikipedia

  • Fox NFL Sunday — Format National Football League Starring Curt Menefee Terry Bradshaw Howie Long Jimmy Johnson Michael Strahan …   Wikipedia

  • Fox College Football — Format Sports Country of origin United States Production Running time 180 minutes or until game ends Broadcast Original …   Wikipedia

  • Fox Television Stations — The Fox Television Stations are a group of television stations located within the United States which are owned and operated by the Fox Broadcasting Company, a subsidiary of the News Corporation. FTS also produces the Fox program COPS . They also …   Wikipedia

  • NFL on Fox — Logo used since the 2003 NFL season Format Sports Starring Fox NFL Sunday crew NFL on Fox game commentators …   Wikipedia

  • List of NFL on Fox announcers — This is a list of the NFL on Fox game announcers: Current Contents: Top · 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A Kenny …   Wikipedia

  • List of NFL on Fox commentator pairings — These are the following announcer pairings for the NFL on Fox program. Contents 1 1990s 1.1 1994 1.2 1995 1.3 1996 1.4 1 …   Wikipedia

  • NFL on television — The television rights to broadcast National Football League (NFL) games are the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport. It was television that brought professional football into prominence in the modern era after World War II.… …   Wikipedia

  • Portal:Television in the United States — Wikipedia portals: Culture Geography Health History Mathematics Natural sciences People Philosophy Religion Society Technology …   Wikipedia

  • ON-TV — For the station in Hamilton, Ontario that used the branding OnTV during the 1990s, see CHCH TV. ON TV Type Pay television network (movies, s …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.