Capital Cities Communications
|Industry||radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, publishing, recording|
|Fate||Acquired by the Walt Disney Company|
|Successor(s)||Disney-ABC Television Group|
|Headquarters||Albany, New York, New York City|
|Key people||Lowell Thomas, founder
Frank Smith, co-founder
Thomas S. Murphy, chairman/CEO
Daniel J. Burke, president
Capital Cities Communications (sometimes referred to as "CapCities") was an American media company best known for its surprise purchase of the much larger American Broadcasting Company in 1985 and became Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Its successor is the Walt Disney Company, which purchased CapCities in 1996.
Capital Cities' origins are traced to 1947, when the Hudson Valley Broadcasting Company received a license for WROW radio in Albany, New York. In October 1953, it opened the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area's second television station, WROW-TV on channel 41. In the winter of 1954, a group of New York City-based investors, led by legendary radio broadcaster and author Lowell Thomas, bought majority control of Hudson Valley Broadcasting.
In 1957, WROW-TV moved from channel 41 to channel 10 and became WCDA. That same year, Hudson Valley Broadcasting merged with Durham Broadcasting Enterprises, the owners of WTVD television in Durham, North Carolina. The new company took the name Capital Cities Television Corporation, as both WCDA (now WTEN) and WTVD served the capital regions of their respective states. Capital Cities then began purchasing stations, starting with WPRO-AM-FM-TV in Providence, Rhode Island (another capital city) in 1959. In 1960, the company's name was changed to Capital Cities Broadcasting.
During the 1960s, Capital Cities' holdings grew with the separate 1961 purchases of WPAT-AM-FM in Paterson, New Jersey, and WKBW radio and WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York; and of the Goodwill Stations, which included WJR-AM-FM in Detroit, WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan, and WSAZ-AM-TV in Huntington, West Virginia, in 1964. CapCities entered the Los Angeles market in 1966 with its purchase of KPOL (later KZLA) and KPOL-FM (later KZLA-FM and now KXOS).
As a result of the Goodwill Stations purchase, and to adhere to Federal Communications Commission rules limiting ownership of VHF television stations to five per company, Capital Cities spun off WJRT-TV to Poole Broadcasting, a company owned by former CapCities shareholder John B. Poole. Poole Broadcasting would later purchase two other television stations from CapCities: the second was WPRO-TV (now WPRI-TV) in 1967, coinciding with CapCities' purchase of KTRK-TV in Houston from the Houston Chronicle in June of that year.
In 1968, Capital Cities entered the publishing business by acquiring Fairchild Publications, publisher of several magazines including Womens Wear Daily. The following year the firm purchased its first newspaper, The Oakland Press of Pontiac, Michigan.
The following year, the company made another big purchase—acquiring WFIL-AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia, WNHC-AM-FM-TV in New Haven, Connecticut, and KFRE-AM-FM-TV in Fresno, California from Triangle Publications. Capital Cities would immediately sell the radio stations to new owners, and changed the television stations' calls to WPVI-TV, WTNH-TV, and KFSN-TV respectively. The acquisition of WPVI and WTNH gave them seven VHF stations, two stations over the FCC limit, and WTEN and WSAZ-TV were respectively spun off by CapCities to Poole Broadcasting and Lee Enterprises not long after the Triangle purchase was finalized. WSAZ radio in Huntington was divested to Stoner Broadcasting (it is now WRVC), also as a result of the Triangle deal. To reflect the diversity of their holdings, the company changed its name to Capital Cities Communications in 1973.
In 1974, Capital Cities bought WBAP and KSCS-FM in Fort Worth, Texas, along with its purchase of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The firm also increased its newspaper and publishing holdings during the middle-1970s. In 1974, Capital Cities acquired the Oregon-based Jackson Newspapers chain, which included the Albany Democrat-Herald, the Ashland Daily Tidings, and several other local newspapers and magazines. The Kansas City (Missouri) Star was acquired in 1977, and the following year CapCities bought The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Returning to broadcasting, WBIE-FM (now WKHX-FM) in Marietta, Georgia, was bought in 1981. WROW radio in Albany, the company's first station, and its FM counterpart (which is now WYJB) were sold in 1983, and in 1984 the company made its last pre-ABC-merger purchases with independent television station WFTS in Tampa, Florida and KLAC radio in Los Angeles (concurrent with the sale of KZLA).
Purchase of ABC 
Capital Cities' announced $3.5 billion purchase of ABC on March 18, 1985, stunned the media industry, as ABC was some four times bigger than Capital Cities was at the time. Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett helped to finance the deal in exchange for a 25 percent share in the combined company.
The newly merged company, known as Capital Cities/ABC (or CapCities/ABC), was forced to sell off some stations due to FCC ownership rules. Between them, ABC and CapCities owned more television stations than FCC rules allowed at the time. Also, the two companies owned several radio stations in the same markets.
Of the former Capital Cities television stations, the new company opted to keep the outlets in Houston, Durham, and Fresno. WFTS and ABC's WXYZ-TV in Detroit were divested as a pair to the E.W. Scripps Company. WTNH and WKBW-TV were sold separately to minority-owned companies.
The new company originally planned to retain WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, but FCC rules could have forced a sale of that station because its signal overlapped with that of ABC's New York City flagship station. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow companies to own two television stations with common coverage areas (known commonly as the "one-to-a-market" rule). Citing CBS' ownership of television stations in New York City (WCBS-TV) and Philadelphia (at the time WCAU-TV) under grandfathered status, Capital Cities/ABC requested, and received a permanent waiver from the FCC allowing them to keep WPVI. If the request were disallowed, WXYZ-TV would have been retained instead.
WPVI and KTRK had long been ABC affiliates (in fact, two of ABC's strongest affiliates), while WTVD and KFSN, longtime CBS affiliates, respectively switched to ABC in August and September 1985.
On the radio side, new owners were found for CapCities' WPAT stations (Park Communications was the buyer), WKBW (Price Communications, the new owner, changed its call letters to WWKB) and KLAC and KZLA-FM (to Malrite Communications), and ABC's WRIF-FM in Detroit (to a minority-owned concern), among others.
The purchase was completed on January 3, 1986. The new company retained ABC's radio and television combinations in New York City (WABC-AM-TV and WPLJ), Los Angeles (KABC-AM-TV and KLOS), Chicago (WLS-AM-FM-TV), and San Francisco (KGO-AM-TV), along with WMAL and WRQX-FM in Washington, D.C.; CapCities' aforementioned television outlets and the Detroit, Providence, Marietta, and Fort Worth radio stations, Fairchild Publications, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Kansas City Star; and other broadcasting and publishing properties.
The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC in February 1996, and changed the corporate name back to ABC.
Former Capital Cities-owned stations 
Stations are listed alphabetically by state and city of license.
1. Two boldface asterisks appearing following a station's call letters (**) indicate a station that was built and signed-on by a predecessor company of Capital Cities;
2. This list does not include WTVG in Toledo, Ohio. That station was purchased by Capital Cities/ABC in 1995, and was completed just before Disney's acquisition of the combined group was finalized. In addition, WJRT-TV was reacquired in the same deal. However, in November 2010, Disney/ABC reached an agreement to sell the two stations back to previous owner SJL Broadcasting, which was completed on April 1, 2011.
Television stations 
|City of license/Market||Station||Channel
|Years owned||Current affiliation and ownership|
|Fresno, California||KFSN-TV||30 (30)||1971–1985||ABC owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|New Haven - Hartford, CT||WTNH-TV||8 (10)||1971–1985||ABC affiliate owned by LIN Television|
|Tampa - St. Petersburg||WFTS||28 (29)||1984–1985||ABC affiliate owned by E. W. Scripps Company|
|Flint - Saginaw - Bay City, MI||WJRT-TV||12 (12)||1964||ABC affiliate owned by SJL Broadcasting|
|Albany - Schenectady - Troy, N.Y.||WROW-TV/WCDA/WTEN **||10 (26)||1954–1971||ABC affiliate owned by New Young Broadcasting
(operated by Gray Television)
|Buffalo, New York||WKBW-TV||7 (38)||1961–1985||ABC affiliate owned by Granite Broadcasting|
|Durham - Raleigh - Fayetteville||WTVD **||11 (11)||1957–1985||ABC owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|Philadelphia||WPVI-TV||6 (6)||1971–1985||ABC owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|Providence, R.I. - New Bedford, MA||WPRO-TV
|12 (13)||1959–1967||CBS affiliate owned by LIN Television|
|Houston||KTRK-TV||13 (13)||1967–1985||ABC owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|Huntington - Charleston, W.V.||WSAZ-TV||3 (23)||1964–1971||NBC affiliate owned by Gray Television|
Radio stations 
|AM Stations||FM Stations|
|City of License/Market||Station||Years owned||Current Ownership|
|1966–1984||owned by P&Y Broadcasting Licensee, L.L.C.|
|KLAC–570||1984–1985||owned by Clear Channel Communications|
|1966–1985||owned by Emmis Communications|
|Atlanta - Marietta, GA||WKHX–590
|1985||owned by Disney/ABC (Radio Disney)|
|WKHX-FM–101.5||1981–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|Detroit||WJR–760||1964–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|1964–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|Paterson, N.J. - New York City||WPAT–930||1961–1985||owned by Multicultural Broadcasting|
|WPAT-FM–93.1||1961–1985||owned by Spanish Broadcasting System|
|Albany - Schenectady - Troy, N.Y.||WROW–590||1947–1983||owned by Pamal Broadcasting|
|1959–1983||owned by Pamal Broadcasting|
|Buffalo, New York||WKBW–1520
|1961–1985||owned by Entercom Communications|
|Providence - Warwick, R.I.||WPRO–630||1959–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|WPRO-FM–92.3||1959–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|Fort Worth - Dallas||WBAP–820||1974–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|KSCS–96.3||1974–1985||owned by Cumulus Media|
|Huntington, W.V. - Ashland, KY||WSAZ–930
|1964–1970||owned by Kindred Communications|
- NOTE: All stations currently under ownership of Cumulus Media were previously owned by Citadel Broadcasting before Cumulus acquired the company on September 16, 2011. Most of these same stations were owned by the Walt Disney Company until Citadel's purchase of ABC Radio Networks and these stations on June 12, 2007 (except for WPRO-AM-FM, which were sold by Capital Cities/ABC in 1993 and acquired by Citadel in 1997).
- "This week's receipts: $26 million." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 8, 1957, pp. 31-32. 
- "Providence stations sold." Broadcasting, December 22, 1958, pg. 9. 
- "FCC okays $30 million in station sales." Broadcasting, August 7, 1961, pg. 90. 
- "Another group gets bigger." Broadcasting, March 2, 1964, pg. 64. 
- "Capital Cities Corp. agrees to purchase station KPOL." The New York Times, March 5, 1966, pg. 51.
- "Big sales get FCC approval." Broadcasting, August 3, 1964, pp. 52-53. 
- "Capital Cities buys KTRK-TV in Houston." Broadcasting, November 21, 1966, pg. 9. 
- "Poole buying WPRO-TV for $16.5 million." Broadcasting, February 27, 1967, pg. 9. 
- "Capcities buys 9 Triangle outlets." Broadcasting, February 16, 1970, pg. 9. 
- "Last minute clearance for Capcities." Broadcasting, March 1, 1971, pp. 19-20. 
- "Another spin-off by Capcities: WSAZ-TV goes next, to Lee Enterprises for $18 million." Broadcasting, April 13, 1970, pg. 46. 
- "Another spin-off by Capcities: WTEN(TV) goes to Poole Broadcasting for $19 million." Broadcasting, April 27, 1970, pg. 36. 
- "Capcities sells its AM in Huntington, W.Va." Broadcasting, May 25, 1970, pg. 50. 
- "Fort Worth media deal hits $115 million mark." Broadcasting, January 8, 1973, pg. 10. 
- "Changing Hands." Broadcasting, June 8, 1981, pg. 91. 
- "Changing Hands." Broadcasting, December 5, 1983, pg. 72. 
- "Changing Hands." Broadcasting, April 23, 1984, pg. 150. 
- "Changing Hands." Broadcasting, August 20, 1984, pp. 65-66. 
- Kleinfield, N.R. "ABC is being sold for $3.5 billion; 1st network sale." The New York Times, March 19, 1985.
- "Capcities + ABC." Broadcasting, March 25, 1985, pp. 31-32. 
- "FCC approval of CapCities/ABC deal likely." Broadcasting, March 25, 1985, pg. 33. 
- "ABC/CCC sells four TV's for $485 million; Detroit, Tampa to Scripps Howard." Broadcasting, July 29, 1985, pg. 30. 
- Stevenson, Richard W. "ABC, Capital Cities to sell stations." The New York Times, May 14, 1985.
- "Approval sought for ABC merger." Associated Press, July 2, 1985.
- Fabrikant, Geraldine. "TV station winners reported." The New York Times, July 26, 1985.
- "Breaking up and breaking records." Broadcasting, August 12, 1985, pg. 29.