1994 United States broadcast TV realignment

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The 1994 United States broadcast television realignment consisted of a series of events, primarily affiliation switches between television stations, that resulted from a multi-million dollar deal between the Fox Broadcasting Company (commonly known as simply Fox) and New World Communications, a broadcasting group that owned 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 television package. 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. As a result of this realignment, Fox ascended to the status of a major television network, comparable in influence to the Big Three television networks (CBS, NBC and ABC). Nearly 70 stations in 30 media markets throughout the United States changed affiliations starting in September 1994 and continuing through September 1996.

NFL on Fox[edit]

Main article: NFL on Fox

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

In 1987, the NFL rejected a bid by Fox to acquire the rights to Monday Night Football, then the league's crown-jewel program, from ABC. Six years later on December 20, 1993, Fox stunned the sports and television worlds by reaching a four-year, $1.58 billion contract with the NFL effective with the 1994 season to televise games involving teams in the National Football Conference (NFC) – a package previously owned by CBS – as well as Super Bowl XXXI. CBS, then run by the cost-cutting Laurence Tisch, had reportedly bid only $290 million to retain rights to the NFC television package and was unwilling to even approach the Fox offer.[1]

At the time of Fox's bid, some of its owned-and-operated stations (except those in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Salt Lake City) and most of its affiliates were lower-powered UHF stations. As Fox put together its new sports division to cover the NFL, it sought to affiliate with VHF stations (broadcasting on channels 2 to 13) that had more established histories, and carried more value with advertisers.[2]

New World Communications deal[edit]

The deal affected WAGA-TV in Atlanta, who switched to Fox after a longtime affiliation with CBS.

On May 23, 1994, Fox agreed to purchase a 20% stake (a $500 million investment) in New World Communications, a media company controlled by investor Ronald Perelman.[3][4] The following stations were part of the deal:

Existing New World stations[edit]

Stations acquired from Argyle Television[edit]

Stations acquired from Citicasters[edit]

Exceptions[edit]

Several stations owned by the groups involved in the New World acquisitions were either sold to other parties or left out of the deal:

  • New World retained ownership of KNSD – which remained an NBC affiliate as Fox already had a VHF affiliate in San Diego at the time, XETV (channel 6, now a CW affiliate) – and WVTM in the interim, before selling both stations to NBC for $425 million in May 1996.[7] NBC later sold WVTM to Media General in April 2006.[8]
  • As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s television ownership rules at the time limited a single company from owning more than twelve stations (the Argyle and Citicasters purchases, combined with its existing seven stations, gave New World 15 overall) and forbade common ownership of two stations in the same market, New World placed WBRC and WGHP in a blind trust. Both stations were sold directly to the Fox network's broadcasting subsidiary, Fox Television Stations, in 1995.
  • New World excluded WSBK from the Fox affiliation deal as Fox Television Stations re-acquired WFXT (channel 25), which it previously owned from 1987 to 1989. Due to the same ownership limits that led to WBRC and WGHP being sold to Fox, WSBK was later sold to the Paramount Stations Group, and became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) when it launched on January 16, 1995.[9]
  • Citicasters retained ownership of WKRC-TV (channel 12) in Cincinnati, Ohio (whose NFL franchise, the Bengals, are part of the American Football Conference (AFC), to which NBC held broadcast rights at the time) and WTSP (channel 10) in St. Petersburg, Florida – both of which were ABC affiliates at the time. In the case of Tampa, New World opted to keep WTVT, which had higher viewership and a broader signal coverage area, which – unlike WTSP – included Sarasota (WTSP's transmitter was short-spaced to avoid signal interference with WPLG (channel 10) in Miami, resulting in ABC maintaining an affiliation with WWSB (channel 40) to serve the southern part of the Tampa market).

NFL connection to deal[edit]

The key to the deal was that Fox upgraded its stations in several markets. Prior to the deal, of the 14 NFC teams at the time, only four – the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins – were located in markets with VHF Fox affiliates. The Fox stations in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are three of the network's original six owned-and-operated outlets. The San Francisco Bay Area affiliate, KTVU (channel 2), was owned by Cox Enterprises at the time, and would not be acquired by Fox until 2014.[10]

Most of the stations involved in the New World deal were located in markets with teams in the NFC, which at the time was considered the more prestigious of the two NFL conferences. In particular, the conference had teams located in nine of the ten largest television markets at the time – with the exception of Boston, whose NFL team, the New England Patriots, played in the AFC. Also, most of the NFC teams existed before the formation of the predecessor American Football League 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.[11] Many of the stations slated to join Fox were CBS affiliates in markets where NFC teams were located, therefore fans would continue to see at least their team's road games on (the same) local VHF stations.

NFC teams in markets related to deal

AFC teams in markets related to deal

KTBC and WITI served markets containing significant fan bases for nearby NFC teams. KTBC had aired Cowboys games (including during the preseason) for years, while WITI had broadcast Packers games to its Milwaukee audience since it switched to CBS (from ABC) in 1977 (through the 1994 season, the Packers had played select regular season games in Milwaukee). In Cleveland and Kansas City, WJW and WDAF respectively aired Browns (except during the team's temporary deactivation from 1996 to 1998) and Chiefs games only when Fox aired a game featuring an NFC opponent (ironically in Kansas City, WDAF aired most of the Chiefs' games as an NBC affiliate).

In 1995, St. Louis became the ninth NFC market with a VHF Fox affiliate as a result of the Rams' relocation from Los Angeles, and KTVI – the ninth station (and the sixth in an NFC market) involved in the New World deal to switch – affiliating with the network.[12] That year, the Carolina Panthers joined the NFL as an expansion team,[13] 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.

Because of the time it took for the FCC to approve News Corporation's investment in New World and the subsequent Burnham station purchases (as well as waiting for affiliation contracts to expire), the old, "lame duck" affiliates carried Fox's NFL telecasts as late as the 1995 season in some markets. For example, most Cowboys games aired on KDAF (channel 33) in Dallas and KBVO (channel 42, now KEYE-TV) in Austin, while the Lions were seen on WKBD-TV (channel 50). WCGV-TV (channel 24) in Milwaukee carried Packers games until WITI's CBS affiliation ended on December 1, 1994, the only break in that station's carriage of the team's games since it rejoined CBS in 1977. New Orleans Saints games were carried on WNOL (channel 38) until December 1995.

Burnham Broadcasting[edit]

See also: SF Broadcasting

In March 1994, Fox and Savoy Pictures established a venture called SF Broadcasting. Fox held no voting stock in the company (which instead was held entirely by Savoy Pictures chairmen Victor Kaufman and Lewis Korman), but supplied 58% of the original $100 million capital.[14] Weeks after the New World deal, SF acquired four stations owned by Burnham Broadcasting:

SF Broadcasting purchased WLUK-TV on July 29, 1994 for $38 million,[16] and WALA, KHON and WVUE one month later on August 25 for $229 million.[17] The deal gave Fox upgrades in the home markets of the Packers and the Saints, giving Fox VHF affiliates in 11 of the 15 NFC markets.[18] On September 23, 1994, NBC filed a petition to the FCC challenging the purchase of WLUK, alleging that SF was a shell corporation created by News Corporation to circumvent FCC limits on the amount of capital a foreign company can invest in an American television station;[19] NBC withdrew the petition on February 17, 1995,[20] and the FCC approved the deal two months later on April 27.[15]

Burnham spun off ABC affiliate KBAK-TV (channel 29, now a CBS affiliate) in Bakersfield, California to Westwind Communications, a company founded by several former Burnham executives. The season after WLUK first began carrying the Packers as a Fox station (1996), the team won Super Bowl XXXI, the first Super Bowl televised by the network.

Repercussions[edit]

The affiliation changes officially commenced on September 12, 1994, when WJW-TV and WDAF-TV became the first stations involved in the agreement with New World to become Fox affiliates (New World had finalized its acquisition of KSAZ-TV and WDAF only three days before the latter switched from NBC to Fox), and formally concluded on September 1, 1996 when WBRC officially joined Fox as an owned-and-operated station.

WBRC's switch in Birmingham resulted in the most complicated swap, in which six stations changed affiliations. Since WBRC's affiliation contract with the network did not expire until September 1996, ABC had a year to find a new affiliate. It reached a unique deal with Allbritton Communications Company in which WCFT-TV (channel 33) and WJSU-TV (channel 40), the respective CBS affiliates for Tuscaloosa and Anniston (which were both collapsed into the Birmingham market in 1998[21]), would jointly become the ABC affiliate for central Alabama. However, because reception of both stations was poor in Birmingham proper, Allbritton purchased low-power station W58CK (channel 58, now WBMA-LD), also making it an ABC affiliate as well as the main station of the cluster. Gadsden Fox affiliate WNAL (channel 44, now WPXH-TV) became the CBS affiliate for northeast Alabama – the second in the area, alongside Birmingham's WIAT (channel 42) – before becoming the Pax TV (now Ion Television) O&O for Birmingham in 1999.[22] WTTO and WDBB (channels 21 and 17), the Fox affiliates for Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, became independent stations before affiliating with The WB in February 1997.

With ABC, NBC and CBS suddenly in need of new affiliates in the markets affected by the New World and Burnham deals, major affiliation shakeups began to occur. In some markets (such as Kansas City, Austin, Cleveland and Honolulu), the old Fox affiliates simply took up the previous affiliation of the new Fox affiliate;[23][24][25] in other markets (such as Detroit and Phoenix), the former Fox station affiliated with a network that was not the prior affiliation of the new Fox outlet, resulting in swaps involving multiple stations. The shakeups involving the Big Three networks were mostly along station group lines, which also affected markets where neither New World or Burnham had stations.

Scripps/ABC affiliation deal[edit]

In June 1994, ABC and the E. W. Scripps Company renewed affiliation agreements with the company's two largest stations, WEWS (channel 5) in Cleveland and WXYZ-TV (channel 7) in Detroit. In addition, Scripps agreed to affiliate four of its other stations, including two affected by the New World deal, with ABC:[26][27]

  • NBC affiliate WMAR-TV (channel 2) in Baltimore, replacing WJZ-TV (channel 13);
  • CBS station WCPO-TV (channel 9) in Cincinnati, replacing WKRC-TV and reversing an affiliation switch that occurred in 1961;[28]
  • KNXV-TV (channel 15) in Phoenix, which was slated to lose Fox through the New World deal, replacing market-leading KTVK (channel 3).[6]
  • WFTS-TV (channel 28) in Tampa, which was also to be displaced by Fox, replacing WTSP.

Prior to the deal, WXYZ and WEWS were both being courted to affiliate with CBS. As a contingency plan if WXYZ-TV did switch to CBS, ABC purchased its Flint, Michigan affiliate WJRT-TV (channel 12) and NBC affiliate WTVG (channel 13) in Toledo, Ohio – whose signals covered the Detroit market – from SJL Broadcast Management. However, ABC had to run WTVG (which as WSPD-TV, was a primary ABC affiliate from 1958 to 1970) as an NBC affiliate for two months, while the latter network searched for a new affiliate; NBC ended up with Toledo's former ABC affiliate, WNWO-TV (channel 24). ABC's purchase of WJRT, along with CBS' affiliation agreement with WNEM-TV, resulted in NBC affiliating with former CBS affiliate WEYI-TV (channel 25). Separately, Scripps also signed a deal to affiliate another displaced Fox station, KSHB-TV (channel 41) in Kansas City, with NBC, picking up the affiliation from WDAF-TV.

Westinghouse/CBS affiliation deal[edit]

The former offices of Philadelphia's KYW-TV, which became a CBS station in 1995 due to Westinghouse's deal with CBS.

The recruitment of WMAR-TV as Baltimore's new ABC affiliate concerned Westinghouse Broadcasting (popularly known as Group W), the broadcasting division of Westinghouse and owner of WJZ-TV (channel 13), as WJZ was one of ABC's strongest affiliates (as well as its longest-tenured affiliate) in contrast to perennial third-place WMAR (which CBS left for then-NBC affiliate WBAL-TV (channel 11) in 1981 over dissatisfaction with its frequent preemptions of CBS programs and the poor ratings performance of its newscasts).[29] Group W had already held discussions with several networks – including CBS, NBC and Fox – for group-wide affiliation deals before the Fox-New World partnership was announced; these talks accelerated once ABC announced its agreement with WMAR.[30]

On July 14, 1994, Group W agreed to affiliate WJZ-TV, and NBC affiliates WBZ-TV (channel 4) in Boston and KYW-TV (channel 3) in Philadelphia with CBS;[31][32] while renewing affiliation agreements with KDKA-TV (channel 2) in Pittsburgh and KPIX (channel 5) in San Francisco, which began carrying the entire CBS schedule that September as a condition of the deal. WJZ-TV and WBZ-TV switched to CBS on January 2, 1995, followed by KYW-TV on September 10; in Baltimore and Boston, NBC respectively affiliated with former CBS outlets WBAL-TV and WHDH-TV (channel 7).

KYW-TV's switch to CBS prompted an additional swap between CBS and NBC, involving KYW and WCAU-TV (channel 10) in Philadelphia – which CBS had owned since 1958 – resulting in switches in three other markets. At one point, New World had considered buying WCAU, which would have resulted in that station becoming a Fox affiliate (and thus allowing it to continue airing Philadelphia Eagles games, which it had done since 1950). Additionally, Fox bought WGBS-TV (channel 57, now a CW owned-and-operated station) as a result of rumors that Paramount Pictures-owned Fox affiliate WTXF-TV (channel 29) would switch to UPN. Fox later chose to instead bid for WTXF in the event that New World did not purchase WCAU, and eventually purchased it outright; Paramount purchased WGBS (renaming it WPSG).

In acquiring WCAU, NBC traded KCNC-TV (channel 4) in Denver and KUTV (channel 2) in Salt Lake City to CBS (NBC affiliated with KSL-TV (channel 5) and KUSA-TV (channel 9) in the respective markets). As compensation for the trades, CBS-owned WCIX in Miami swapped transmitter facilities and channel frequencies with NBC-owned WTVJ. Westinghouse and CBS then formed a joint venture involving KUTV, KCNC and WCIX (which was renamed WFOR-TV upon moving to the former channel 4 position of WTVJ, which in turn moved to channel 6) with Group W as the majority (51%) owner.[33] All of the stations involved in the deal switched on September 10, 1995.

Other station group deals[edit]

  • McGraw-Hill, as part of a deal that renewed agreements with existing ABC affiliates WRTV (channel 6) in Indianapolis and KGTV (channel 10) in San Diego, also agreed to switch its two CBS affiliates to ABC: KERO-TV (channel 23) in Bakersfield, California, and KMGH-TV (channel 7) in Denver.[34] KMGH-TV, which lost its CBS affiliation due to the deals spurred by NBC's purchase of WCAU, joined ABC on September 10, 1995; KERO-TV waited until its affiliation deal with CBS expired in 1996 before becoming an ABC affiliate.
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group and Belo Corporation both renewed affiliation agreements for their ABC affiliates. However in Sacramento, California, Sinclair, then-owner of ABC affiliate KOVR (channel 13, now a CBS owned-and-operated station), agreed to swap networks with CBS affiliate KXTV (channel 10), then-owned by Belo; the two stations switched on September 10, 1995.[35][36]
  • Allbritton Communications Company signed a group deal with ABC, renewing agreements with its existing affiliates (including flagship WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.) and agreeing to affiliate its other stations with the network, including upstart WJXX (channel 25) in Jacksonville, Florida and simulcaster WBSG (channel 21, now WPXC-TV) in Brunswick, Georgia (both replacing WJKS-TV (channel 17, now CW affiliate WCWJ; WBSG would become a Pax TV affiliate in 2000); NBC affiliate WCIV (channel 4) in Charleston, South Carolina (replacing WCBD-TV (channel 2)); and its new W58CK/WCFT/WJSU cluster in Birmingham.[37]

Impact on CBS[edit]

One of the few VHF stations available for CBS was Phoenix's first television station, KPHO-TV, whose former transmitter atop Westward Ho is pictured here.

As expected, CBS bore the brunt of the changes. The network had developed a stodgy and overly budgeted image under Laurence Tisch, who had become CEO in 1985. Tisch was already notorious for having made deep cuts at CBS News and for selling off major portions of the company, such as the 1988 sale of Columbia Records to Sony. When CBS lost the NFL to Fox, the "Tiffany Network" '​s problems accelerated as it struggled to compete in the ratings with a slate of programming that attracted an older audience than the other networks, although it finished ahead of Fox. The Late Show with David Letterman, which often dominated The Tonight Show in its first two years, saw its viewership decline in large part due to the affiliation switches, at times even finishing third in its timeslot behind ABC's Nightline.[38] CBS eventually recovered and became the most-watched network by 1999, until it was surpassed by ABC in 2000. After briefly retaking the lead from NBC in 2002, CBS rose to first place once again in 2005.

CBS' problems were especially evident in the recruiting of new affiliates; as a direct result of the New World-Fox alliance, only six of the new CBS affiliates were VHF stations:

  • In Dallas-Fort Worth, Gaylord Broadcasting-owned KTVT (channel 11) replaced KDFW as the market's CBS affiliate on July 1, 1995;[39] CBS eventually purchased KTVT in 1999.[40] KDAF (channel 33, now a CW affiliate), an original Fox-owned station,[41] became a WB affiliate.
  • As a byproduct of the KTVT deal, SeattleTacoma sister station KSTW (channel 11) affiliated with CBS on March 13, 1995. KIRO-TV (channel 7), which affiliated with UPN at that time,[39][42][43] rejoined CBS on June 30, 1997 following Belo Corporation's sale of KIRO to Cox Enterprises[44] (incidentally, in 1997, Fox planned a trade of KSAZ and KTBC to Belo in exchange for KIRO-TV, which never materialized[45]). CBS has since acquired KSTW, which is now a CW owned-and-operated station.[46]
  • As a condition of renewing its affiliation with KCTV (channel 5) in Kansas City, CBS persuaded the Meredith Corporation to affiliate independent station KPHO-TV (channel 5) in Phoenix (which was that market's original CBS affiliate from 1949 to 1953) and NBC affiliate WNEM-TV (channel 5) in Bay City, Michigan with the network.[47]
  • The two Citicasters stations displaced in the ABC-Scripps alliance, WTSP in Tampa-St. Petersburg (which switched to CBS on December 12, 1994) and WKRC-TV in Cincinnati (which waited until WCPO-TV's contract with CBS ended in June 1996 to switch), also affiliated with CBS.[28]

Because of the New World and Scripps deals, and other stations' unwillingness to switch to the then-struggling network, CBS found itself in extremely undesirable situations in three major markets, were it ended up on low-profile UHF stations with far less transmitting power and viewer recognition than their previous affiliates:

  • In Atlanta, CBS affiliated with independent station WGNX (channel 46, now WGCL-TV),[48] which was originally slated to become a charter affiliate of The WB.[49] Shortly beforehand, CBS almost purchased WVEU (now CW owned-and-operated station WUPA), which broadcast on channel 69, the highest available channel in the U.S. during the later era of analog television;[50] it would later buy that station in 2000 as a UPN affiliate. The market's former Fox O&O, WATL (channel 36, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate), became a WB affiliate.
  • In Milwaukee, CBS considered importing the signals of O&Os WBBM-TV (channel 2) in Chicago or WFRV-TV (channel 5) in Green Bay, or its Madison, Wisconsin affiliate WISC-TV (channel 3), via cable due to its difficulty in finding an affiliate to replace WITI. One week before the switch, after an attempt to buy religious station WVCY-TV (channel 30) fell through,[51] CBS struck an affiliation deal with WDJT-TV (channel 58), a general entertainment independent station with some ethnic and time-brokered religious programming. Its owner, Weigel Broadcasting, had its roots in running Chicago independent WCIU-TV (channel 26), and at the time never had any of its stations affiliated with a major network. Former Fox affiliate WCGV-TV (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) joined UPN.[5][52] As WDJT lacked cable carriage in the market, several of CBS' remaining sports properties, most notably the Daytona 500, could not be viewed on some southeastern Wisconsin cable systems in 1995 until the station could sign new carriage contracts. In 1996, WDJT moved from the Marc Plaza Hotel to a larger studio space in one of the former buildings of the Allis-Chalmers complex in West Allis and started a news department. WDJT built a new transmitter in 1999, which has transmitting power equal with the five other commercial stations in the market.
  • In Detroit, finding an affiliate to replace WJBK-TV proved especially difficult for CBS. The network was unable to strike an affiliation deal with NBC affiliate WDIV (channel 4), and most of the market's independent stations either displayed disinterest or an unwillingness to enter into negotiations with CBS. CBS had earlier broken off negotiations to affiliate with WADL (channel 38), when that station's owner, Kevin Adell, began making unreasonable demands. In an eleventh-hour deal reached mere days before WJBK switched to Fox, CBS purchased WGPR-TV (channel 62) from an African-American group of Masons and changed its calls to WWJ-TV. The purchase of WGPR (notable for being the first U.S. television station to have been owned by African-Americans) by a major network instead of a minority-owned broadcaster was controversial, leading Spectrum Detroit Inc., an investment group led by Lansing-based real estate investor and broadcaster Joel Ferguson, to sue to block the purchase and gain control of the station;[53] however, a court ruled in 1996 to allow the sale to CBS to go forward. WGPR previously had the weakest signal of any UHF station in Detroit, but CBS invested heavily in the station and significantly upgraded its facilities. The former Fox affiliate, WKBD-TV (now a CW owned-and-operated station and co-owned with WWJ-TV), joined UPN.[50]

While the former CBS affiliates in the three markets were all considered to be ratings contenders, ratings for CBS programming in these markets dropped significantly after the network moved to the lower-profile UHF stations, which had virtually no significant history as a former major network affiliate or as a first-tier independent station.

Other effects[edit]

  • The Westinghouse deal involving WBZ-TV resulted in CBS selling WPRI-TV (channel 12) in Providence, Rhode Island, which it had acquired months before in March 1995. That purchase was the catalyst of another affiliation switch, as the ABC affiliation in Providence moved from WPRI to CBS affiliate WLNE (channel 6).[54] The sale of WPRI resulted from FCC rules at the time that prohibited common ownership of stations in adjacent markets with overlapping signals, with no consideration for a waiver for stations with large overlapping coverage areas (WPRI's signal carried over into most of the Boston market, whereas WBZ-TV's signal covered almost all of Rhode Island).
  • In Evansville, Indiana, longtime ABC affiliate WTVW (channel 7) switched to Fox in December 1995 through a deal with then-owner Petracom Communications. At that time, ABC programming moved to WEHT (channel 25); the CBS affiliation displaced by WEHT moved to the market's original Fox affiliate WEVV-TV (channel 44). On July 1, 2011, the Fox affiliation moved to WEVV's digital subchannel, as the network disaffiliated from WTVW due to a dispute in which then-owner Nexstar Broadcasting Group objected to a plan to increase the share of retransmission revenue its affiliates paid to Fox.[55]
  • In Terre Haute, Indiana, ABC affiliate WBAK-TV (channel 38) switched to Fox in September 1995. Due to a lack of available stations in the market for ABC to maintain a full-time affiliation (WTWO (channel 2) and WTHI-TV (channel 10) are the only other commercial full-power stations in Terre Haute), this left viewers with only fringe access to out-of-market ABC stations, including WEHT, WRTV in Indianapolis and WICS/WICD (channel 20 and 15, both now affiliated with NBC) from Champaign-Decatur, Illinois. Due to the same dispute that led WTVW to lose its Fox affiliation in 2011,[55] what had become WFXW rejoined ABC and changed its call letters to WAWV-TV, while Fox moved to a subchannel of WTHI.
  • In San Diego, UPN affiliate KUSI-TV (channel 51, now an independent station) tried unsuccessfully to take the Fox affiliation away from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico-licensed XETV, citing FCC regulations preventing any foreign station outside of the United States from airing live American sporting events without an FCC-approved license; Fox was eventually granted the permit to allow XETV to carry the games.[56]
  • In Honolulu, where its longtime affiliate KHON joined Fox, NBC courted ABC affiliate KITV (channel 4) for an affiliation. However, after KITV was sold to Argyle Television Holdings II and opted to stay with ABC instead, NBC instead affiliated with former Fox affiliate KHNL (channel 13).
  • In some smaller markets where Fox did not have an affiliate, the network had to strike deals with Big Three-affiliated stations to carry its football telecasts. In Wausau, Wisconsin, ABC affiliate WAOW-TV (channel 9) aired Fox's NFL broadcasts until Wittenberg-licensed Fox affiliate WFXS (channel 55) signed on in 1999 (as a result, WAOW carried up to 13 Packers games a year from 1994 to 1998 from both Fox and ABC). In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, CBS affiliate KGAN-TV (channel 2) carried the NFL on Fox package, as a result of Fox affiliate KOCR-TV (channel 28, now KFXA) ceasing operations in 1994 due to its failure to make electricity payments and eviction from its facilities.[57] ABC affiliate WYTV (channel 33) in Youngstown, Ohio took on Fox as a secondary affiliate strictly for the NFL package, due to the ownership of the San Francisco 49ers being locally-based, as well as to be able to air Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns home games against NFC teams (the latter reasoning would temporarily become moot due to the Browns' temporary deactivation from 1995 to 1998), until CBS affiliate WKBN-TV (channel 27) launched WYFX-LP (channel 21) as a full-time Fox affiliate in 1998. (WYTV is now operated by WKBN though a shared services agreement).
  • In South Bend, Indiana, where full-power affiliate WSJV (channel 28) switched to Fox in August 1995,[58] ABC affiliated with Weigel-owned W58BT (channel 58), a low-power translator of WCIU-TV which also carried Fox programming, almost by default due to the lack of another available commercial full-power station in the market (the only other choice, WHME-TV (channel 46), was owned by religious organization Lester Sumrall Evangelistic Association and had no intent to sell).[59] This caused the same cable entanglements and reception problems that occurred in Milwaukee, though the market had fringe access to several other ABC stations, including its Chicago O&O WLS-TV (channel 7) and Battle Creek, Michigan affiliate WOTV (channel 41). W58BT eventually became a licensed low-power outlet under the calls WBND-LP; it did not start a limited news operation until 2008, and launched a full locally-based news department in 2011. Because of its weakness in the market, Weigel tried to sell WBND, along with sister MyNetworkTV and CW low-power stations WCWW-LP (channel 51) and WMYS-LP (channel 69), to Schurz Communications, the founding owners of CBS affiliate WSBT-TV (channel 22) in 2008. However, FCC inaction and concerns about Schurz having a virtual television monopoly in South Bend led to the deal being aborted in August 2009 (the sale would have been legal, as the FCC permits common ownership of low-power and full-power television stations in the same market).

Programming repercussions[edit]

Because Fox programmed far fewer hours of network content than CBS, NBC and ABC, this left open timeslots for the new Fox affiliates to fill via syndication. Despite this, several popular first-run syndicated programs at the time (such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Entertainment Tonight) were dropped by many of the New World stations – with a few exceptions – replacing them with lower-budget syndicated programs or newer series (such as Access Hollywood and Judge Judy, the latter of which has since become a staple of many Fox stations). In several of the affected markets, the stations that switched to Fox kept or later acquired some of the aforementioned programs (for example, WVUE and WLUK now air both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; KHON continued to carry Oprah until it ended in May 2011 and continues to carry Wheel). The new Big Three outlets that were previously Fox affiliates or independent stations also dropped some first-run and off-network syndicated programs – mainly sitcoms and children's programs – due to local programming commitments and the heavier amount of programming from their new network; the divested programs were acquired by other stations in the affected markets, primarily independents or affiliates of UPN and The WB.

Stations that were impacted by the switches began turning down weaker programs of their departing network. In Phoenix, KTVK turned down an offer to affiliate with CBS in anticipation of renewing its affiliation agreement with ABC. However, after KNXV was awarded the ABC affiliation through the Scripps deal, KTVK began pre-empting most of the network's programming. On its final day as a lame-duck ABC affiliate (January 8, 1995), KTVK only had ABC's primetime lineup, major soap operas and sports programming remaining on its schedule, with KNXV picking up the pre-empted ABC programs. In Atlanta, WAGA began turning down some weaker CBS programs on a week-by-week basis before it switched to Fox on December 11, 1994.[60]

Local newscasts[edit]

In 1994, Fox (which only had a few affiliates that carried local newscasts at the time) began demanding that its affiliates launch newscasts in the run-up to the launches of Fox News Channel, and their connecting affiliate news sharing service, Fox NewsEdge in late 1996 (prior to and after NewsEdge's launch, the new Fox stations as well as its news-producing charter outlets relied solely on external video feeds from CNN Newsource and in some cases, Associated Press Television News and/or the Reuters News Service to cover national and international news stories). The primary plus for the new Fox stations collectively was an increase in the amount of local news programming (in contrast with the syndication-dominant format of most Fox stations at the time), which Fox had a strong interest in as the network did not have national newscasts – the lone exception later being Fox News Sunday, a political talk show that debuted in 1996.

The new Fox affiliates retained most of their existing newscasts (though WVUE, WALA and WLUK would later drop those in the midday and, as with KSAZ and KTBC, 6:00 p.m. timeslots), but expanded their morning newscasts by one or, most commonly, two hours and early evening newscasts by a half-hour to replace news programs aired by their former network (though WAGA, WJBK, WITI, WJW and WTVT had dropped CBS This Morning in 1992 in favor of their own morning newscasts; WVUE, however, did not launch a morning newscast until 2002). WDAF, KHON and KTBC replaced evening network newscasts with local programs with a similar focus on national and international news; KHON's Hawaii's World Report, which replaced NBC Nightly News after its January 1996 switch to Fox, is the only such program that remains as of 2014. The new Fox stations also added newscasts in the final hour of primetime (9:00 or 10:00 p.m., depending on the time zone), which either supplanted (such as on WJBK, WJW and WAGA) or were paired with (such as on KDFW, WDAF and WITI) existing late newscasts in the traditional 11:00/10:00 p.m. timeslot – however upon joining Fox, KTBC and KHON aired syndicated programs in the hour following Fox's primetime lineup instead, and would not add their own primetime newscasts until 1998 and 2014[61] respectively.

Over time, Fox affiliates that did not have existing news operations have debuted their own local newscasts, usually starting with a primetime newscast, with broadcasts in other time periods being added gradually (Fox stations in some medium and most small markets, however, have had their newscasts produced by a local Big Three affiliate through news share agreements, with some of them later ending these partnerships to start producing their own newscasts); many Fox charter stations, as well as the former Big Three stations which had aired newscasts for years, would gradually expand their news programming. Before the New World deal was announced, Fox was in the process of launching primetime newscasts on its owned-and-operated stations in Atlanta (WATL) and Dallas (KDAF), and had even hired a news director at WATL; these plans were shelved as a result of Fox affiliating with WAGA and KDFW (KDAF eventually launched a news department in 1999; while WATL would not air news until 2006, produced by then-new sister station WXIA-TV (channel 11)).

By the time of Fox's buyout of the company in 1996, some of New World's stations were still underperforming. Observers cited "a reluctance of station managers to embrace the new network and a tendency to cling to conservative news and promotional styles."[62] Indeed, many of the group's stations (except for WITI, KTVI and WJBK) retained their Big Three-era branding schemes after affiliating with Fox, but received major image overhauls between 1996 and 1998 (such as WTVT and WAGA dropping their heritage Eyewitness News branding, and KSAZ dropping its "sunset 10" logo after nearly fifteen years). In 1995, WJW controversially dropped its longtime "TV-8" and Newscenter 8 brands in favor of "Fox is ei8ht" for general purposes and ei8ht IS NEWS for its newscasts;[63] both new brands were used fairly repititiously in promotions, until WJW rebranded as "Fox 8" when Fox purchased the station. 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 staffs. Some of these personalities eventually wound up on other stations, such as the new Big Three affiliates.

To this day, New World's Fox affiliates saw mixed results with their newscasts:

  • In Tampa, after it switched to Fox, WTVT lost its first place position to NBC affiliate WFLA-TV (channel 8), which was the only major network station in the market that was not affected by the switches.
  • In Cleveland, WEWS (which shunned CBS via the ABC-Scripps deal) overtook WJW-TV as the market's top-rated news station. The problems with WJW's news coverage were especially evident following the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, as it had to rely on external feeds from CNN Newsource since Fox did not have a news division. NBC station WKYC-TV (channel 3), a longtime also-ran that for years (until it sold a controlling stake in the station to Multimedia Inc. in 1990) had been used as a "farm team" outlet under NBC ownership to build up talent for its sister NBC O&Os in larger markets, began to post higher ratings for the first time in decades.[64] WJW has since regained the ratings lead for most of its newscasts.
  • In Austin, KTBC, which had long been the market's dominant news station (and the sole VHF station), fell to the bottom of the ratings behind two of its UHF competitors, NBC affiliate KXAN-TV (channel 36) and ABC affiliate KVUE (channel 24).
  • In Phoenix, NBC affiliate KPNX (channel 12), the only VHF commercial station not affected by the four-station switch spurred by KSAZ-TV's move to Fox, rose from third to first place in the market.
  • Some New World stations, however, have maintained their ratings dominance. In Birmingham, WBRC places first in most news timeslots, and its primetime newscast is considered one of the nation's highest-rated newscasts. After briefly falling to second behind ABC affiliate KMBC-TV (channel 9), whose reclaimation of first place after WDAF's switch to Fox further intensified the rivalry between the two stations, WDAF in Kansas City has since finished at #1 in several timeslots, including in the morning and at 9:00 p.m. (in timeslots where the station does not have an absolute hold in that position, WDAF competes for second place with KCTV).
  • Another key positive was also in regards to the morning newscasts on the new Fox affiliates, most of which perform competitively and even place first in the ratings, in contrast to the constant flux and upheavals with CBS' morning shows.

Many of the new Big Three UHF affiliates found difficulty gaining an audience, and whether or not they were successful depended on their previous affiliations. As these were former Fox affiliates or independents that either did not have news departments or only offered a primetime newscast at the time they switched, almost all of them had to give in to launching new newscasts to back up the national news programs provided by the networks – in some cases, replicating the previous news programming output of their new network's departing affiliate as part of the new affiliation deals. Generally, the stations that continue to air newscasts to this day have generally finished in third or fourth place behind their VHF competitors. However, while many of these stations often finish near or at the bottom of their markets' local news ratings,[65] some – such as KNXV, WFTS, KSHB and WOIO (in the latter's case after making a switch to tabloid journalism that has garnered it national attention) – have experienced gradual ratings growth.

Furthermore, other new affiliates that launched newscasts failed to gain traction with their competitors and eventually either cancelled or outsourced their newscasts. In Evansville, WEVV-TV moved its 9:00 p.m. newscast to 10:00 p.m. (expanding it from five to seven days a week) and added newscasts at noon and 5:00 p.m. upon joining CBS in December 1995. However, due to declining ratings, its news department was shut down in June 2001. In Detroit, WKBD began producing an 11:00 p.m. newscast for sister station WWJ-TV in April 2001 (WOIO similarly had then-LMA partner WUAB (channel 43), which had been producing a primetime newscast of its own since 1988, produce its newscasts when it joined CBS). The WKBD and WWJ newscasts were canceled in December 2002 after WKBD entered into a news share agreement with WXYZ-TV to produce its 10:00 p.m. newscast, which was canceled in 2005. As a result, WWJ became the largest major-network affiliate by market size, and the only O&O of any major network at the time, without newscasts of any kind. From 2006 to 2008, WWJ-TV made light of this fact in its slogan, Where No News is Good News, used to promote programming during periods where there would usually be newscasts. In 2009, WWJ debu ted First Forecast Mornings, a weekday morning newscast produced in association with the Detroit Free Press,[66] which was cancelled in December 2012 due to low ratings.[67]

ABC affiliates KDNL-TV in St. Louis and WXLV in the Piedmont Triad also experienced difficulty with their newscasts. KDNL, which is currently one of ABC's weakest affiliates (perhaps the weakest among the 50 largest markets is in sharp contrast to KTVI, which was one of ABC's strongest stations), shut down its news department in 2001 after six years, which was widely blamed on a transmitter problem. From 2011 to December 31, 2013, NBC affiliate KSDK (channel 5) produced weeknight-only newscasts for KDNL through a news share agreement;[68][69] KDNL now only airs weather cut-ins during Good Morning America provided by Columbus, Ohio sister station WSYX (channel 6). WXLV, which shut down its first news department on January 11, 2002, began producing an 11:00 p.m. newscast from 2004 to 2005 through owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's controversial News Central experiment; it was cancelled after Sinclair discontinued the local/national hybrid format due to poor ratings. In 2012, News 14 Carolina began producing weekdaily newscasts for WXLV, as part of a retransmission consent dispute settlement between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair.[70]

Fox Kids repercussions[edit]

Uncharacteristic for a major network affiliate, nearly all of the twelve stations involved in the New World-Fox deal chose not to carry Fox's children's programming block, Fox Kids, due to an interest in airing more local news. In contrast, Big Three affiliates were required to air their network's children's programming, often airing them at the time around local weekend morning newscasts (though some stations have historically preempted some portion of the networks' children's blocks); however, ABC, NBC and CBS only aired their blocks on Saturday mornings, whereas Fox Kids aired Monday through Saturdays. Conversely, the SF Broadcasting stations and other new Fox affiliates from ancillary deals spurred by the New World agreement chose to carry Fox Kids.

Owing to it being acquired by the network outright, WGHP initially cleared Fox Kids upon its switch to Fox; but by the spring of 1996, Fox had decided to allow its owned-and-operated stations to drop the block if another station in the market was interested in airing it (as the New World stations had done). That March, Fox Kids moved to WB affiliate WBFX (channel 20, now WCWG). WBRC, which had also planned to air Fox Kids, likewise allowed former Fox affiliate WTTO to continue airing the block even after it became an independent station. These moves, along with WBRC remaining an ABC affiliate for its first six months under Fox ownership and the eventual acquisition of New World, made it the fourth network which had O&Os that did not air all network programming (as a CBS O&O, WCAU did not air CBS' Sunday morning cartoons during 1978; WPVI-TV (channel 6) in Philadelphia pre-empted an hour of ABC programming even after its owner Capital Cities Communications bought the network in 1986; and after its 1987 purchase of the station, NBC was forced to run WTVJ as a CBS affiliate until its contract ended in 1989). WTTO dropped Fox Kids in 2000, with the former WBFX (renamed WTWB-TV) following suit a year later.

In St. Louis, religious station KNLC (channel 24), owned by the New Life Christian Church, began airing Fox Kids in August 1995 in lieu of KTVI; however, the church's reverend, Larry Rice, refused to show commercials during the block's program breaks, replacing them with ministry messages – some of which dealt with such controversial topics as abortion, same-sex marriage and the death penalty.[71] Concerned about this, Fox moved the block to KTVI in September 1996, making it the only former New World station to air Fox Kids (KTVI later carried its successors FoxBox and 4Kids TV); however, the station aired the Saturday block two hours earlier than other stations, in order to air a morning newscast at 9:00 a.m. In Cleveland, WBNX-TV (channel 55, now a CW affiliate) gained an extensive children's programming inventory when it acquired Fox Kids (in lieu of WJW) in September 1994, along with several syndicated children's programs dropped by WOIO (in 1997, WBNX also added the Kids' WB block when it became a WB affiliate). Even in markets without a New World/Fox-owned station, Fox affiliates began passing Fox Kids off to another local station, usually an independent station or minor network affiliate – such as in San Antonio, where 4KidsTV moved from KABB (channel 29) to sister station KMYS (channel 35) in 2006, and Fresno, where KMPH-TV (channel 26) moved the block to sister station KFRE-TV (channel 59) in 2005.

Because of the various clearance shifts, Fox Kids/FoxBox/4Kids TV was merely a syndication package, even though Fox advertised in promos that aired during certain primetime shows that its children's programming was part of the network. Although New World stations in Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland, High Point and Phoenix had turned down the various iterations of Fox's children's program blocks (Fox Kids, FoxBox and 4Kids TV), none of them filled the Saturday morning timeslots with newscasts, carrying paid programming and local real estate presentation shows in their place; those stations, along with other Fox stations that did not air the blocks, also aired children's programs acquired via syndication – eventually incorporating series (such as Safari Tracks and Beakman's World) that meet FCC rules requiring stations to air three hours of educational and informative children's programs each week (unlike most seen on 4Kids TV) – either following a newscast or in place of it (as part of its Major League Baseball coverage, Fox aired This Week in Baseball to count towards a half-hour of E/I programming across the network,[72] which was replaced in 2013 by the short-lived MLB Player Poll). In Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham and the Piedmont Triad, 4Kids TV was not carried in those markets after stations that had held the local rights dropped the lineup.

Owing to the preemptions and other factors (such as a pay dispute with 4Kids Entertainment, and the shift of Saturday morning children's audiences to cable television and video on demand services), 4Kids TV ended on December 27, 2008.[73] Fox gave two of the block's four hours back to its stations, while the remaining two hours were retained to program a paid programming block under the branding Weekend Marketplace.[74] Many of the stations which took 4KidsTV in lieu of the local Fox stations (such as WMLW-CA (channel 41) in Milwaukee) chose not to take Weekend Marketplace, along with those Fox stations; as a result, the block sees limited clearance outside of O&Os and Fox stations which previously cleared 4Kids TV. On September 13, 2014, Fox debuted Xploration Station, a two-hour syndicated block of live-action programs from Steve Rotfeld Productions that focus on the STEM fields.[75] The block, which is designed to fulfill the FCC's educational programming requirements (stations carrying the block continue to air syndicated E/I-compliant programs to meet the entire three-hour quota), is primarily carried on Fox stations owned by Fox Television Stations and Tribune Broadcasting (including those that declined to carry Fox's earlier children's programming efforts and Weekend Marketplace);[76] however like Weekend Marketplace and Fox's predecessor children's program blocks, the block is carried on a CW or MyNetworkTV affiliate, or an independent station in most markets.

Canadian repercussions[edit]

Until the affiliation switches, Canadian television providers could carry three American commercial networks and those three only if they also committed to carry a PBS member station (per an obscure rule dating to the late 1970s, commonly referred to presently by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as the "4+1 rule"), with exceptions made to allow additional stations receivable over-the-air in certain areas (as a result, some towns in British Columbia received Fox programming via KAYU-TV (channel 28) in Spokane, Washington, and the WindsorEssex County region in Ontario received nearly the entire lineup of Detroit stations on cable and over-the-air, while towns in Alberta were denied such importation of signals). The CRTC had stated in June 1994 that it was not willing to modify this rule,[77] but due to pressure from cable operators, by September, it allowed Canadian cable providers to pick up Fox without having to bump a Big Three network for it.[78]

Additional changes were in store for Canadian cable providers that carried the affiliates from Detroit; while they were able to continue carrying WJBK when it switched to Fox because of the new rules, they also had to add CBS, often from its new Detroit O&O WWJ-TV; providers in Southwestern Ontario had issues receiving CBS' new Cleveland affiliate, WOIO.

Post-switchover changes[edit]

Fox continued to upgrade its stations in at least two unrelated deals struck later:

  • In August 1994, Fox Television Stations purchased ABC affiliate WHBQ-TV (channel 13) in Memphis from Communications Corporation of America.[79] WHBQ-TV was part of the RKO General broadcasting empire, which had collapsed in the late 1980s due to corruption and perjury. Former Fox affiliate WPTY-TV (channel 24, now WATN-TV) affiliated with ABC.
  • On September 8, 2002, UPN affiliate KMSP-TV (channel 9) in MinneapolisSt. Paul, the home market of the Minnesota Vikings, became a Fox affiliate, trading affiliations with WFTC (channel 29, now a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station).[80] Fox had purchased KMSP as part of its 2001 acquisition of Chris-Craft Industries' television station group (a similar swap occurred that year in Portland, Oregon, when Meredith Corporation swapped the affiliations of Fox affiliate KPDX (channel 49) and newly acquired UPN affiliate KPTV (channel 12); KPTV and KMSP were previously affiliated with Fox from 1986 to 1988, when they both disaffiliated from the network due to issues over its then-weakly performing programs).

Another switch occurred in San Diego on August 1, 2008, when KSWB-TV (channel 69) – one of 16 charter CW affiliates owned by Tribune Broadcasting – became a Fox affiliate, swapping networks with XETV.[81] Although it might have been seen as a downgrade on the surface, as KSWB's analog position was UHF channel 69 while XETV was on VHF channel 6, the market has heavy cable penetration and the majority of its stations are on UHF, which then brand by their dominant cable channel slot rather than their broadcast channel allocation; as such, KSWB is branded as "Fox 5" and only uses its over-the-air channel position as its PSIP virtual channel, in legally required station IDs and (previously) a short sweep of a "Fox 69" logo in the bug seen during its newscasts. With the switch to Fox, Tribune re-established a news department for KSWB (which produced a primetime newscast from 1999 to 2005, before production was taken over by KNSD through a news share agreement). In regards to the NFL, this switchover is an irrelevant issue, as the Chargers play in the AFC and thus most of the team's Sunday afternoon games air locally on KFMB-TV (channel 8) (ironically, Chargers games had aired on KNSD from 1977 to 1997).

CBS saw an affiliate downgrade from VHF to UHF in an unrelated transaction in the Jacksonville, Florida-Brunswick, Georgia market – home of the Jacksonville Jaguars (whose games air on CBS through its rights to the AFC) – after Post-Newsweek Stations announced in April 2002 that it would end the network's affiliation with WJXT (channel 4) due to a dispute over planned reverse compensation demands by CBS.[82] On July 15, 2002, WTEV-TV (channel 47, now WJAX-TV[83]) became the market's CBS affiliate, with Fox-affiliated sister station WAWS (channel 30, now WFOX-TV[83]) assuming its displaced UPN affiliation as a secondary affiliation.[84] The loss of the CBS affiliation on WJXT, which became an independent station, caused a switch in nearby Gainesville (home to the University of Florida, whose football games regularly air on CBS through its contract with the Southeastern Conference), where primary WB/secondary UPN affiliate WGFL (channel 53, now on channel 28) switched to CBS in order to keep the network available in that area; UPN and The WB were relegated to a digital subchannel of the station (now affiliated with MyNetworkTV, as well as low-power WMYG-LP), one of the earliest instances of a subchannel being established to carry a major network prior to the 2006 realignment resulting from the merger of The WB and UPN to form The CW.

Out of the CBS affiliates in the 16 AFC markets, WJAX-TV and Cleveland affiliate WOIO, in the home market of the Browns, are the only stations which have virtual channels corresponding to the UHF band. WOIO (which actually transmits its digital signal over VHF channel 10) was Cleveland's charter Fox affiliate before swapping affiliations with WJW as a result of the New World deal, and has even held rights to the teams' preseason games from 1988 as a Fox affiliate until 1995, and in 2005 as a CBS affiliate. Currently, WOIO only airs the Browns' CBS game telecasts, due to conflicts between the team and WOIO's news department over coverage about personal issues involving team players and ownership; NBC affiliate WKYC carries the bulk of the team's preseason games and other Browns programs.

On July 1, 2013, CW affiliate WJZY (channel 46) in Charlotte, North Carolina became a Fox owned-and-operated station, after Fox Television Stations purchased it and MyNetworkTV-affiliated sister station WMYT-TV (channel 55) from the Capitol Broadcasting Company that April. The switch resulted in an upgrade for The CW through the network's move to displaced Fox charter affiliate WCCB, as that station broadcasts on UHF channel 18,[85][86] and also has a news department (becoming one of a handful of news-producing CW-affiliated stations as a result), which WJZY did not have until January 2014 as a Fox O&O.

Long-term impact[edit]

Growth of Fox Sports[edit]

The affiliation switches helped elevate Fox to major network status, on par with its older competitors. As of 2014, its sports division has expanded to include Major League Baseball[87] and NASCAR.[88] In addition, Fox aired National Hockey League games from 1995 to 1999[89] and the Bowl Championship Series (except for the Rose Bowl) from 2007 to 2010. Other former properties include Formula One races (now held by NBCSN) and the Cotton Bowl Classic (which will move to ESPN in 2015). Fox Sports' coverage also has expanded to encompass several cable networks, led by its Fox Sports Net chain of regional sports networks and Fox Sports 1.

In the fall of 2011, Fox added regular season college football games from the Pac-12 and Big 12 Conferences,[90][91] and the Big Ten and Pac-12 championship games,[92] as well as four matches per year from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.[93] England's FA Cup final came to the network on May 11, 2013. In August 2013, Fox Sports signed a deal to broadcast the three major open championships of the United States Golf Association, including the U.S. Open, starting in 2015.[94] Current Fox Sports properties seen over-the-air also include exclusive coverage of the Daytona 500 and the final game of the UEFA Champions League. In addition, the World Superbike Championship races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were moved to Fox Sports 1 in 2013.

Rise of Fox in primetime[edit]

Fox's entertainment programs have also benefited from the heavy promotion they received during the sports telecasts, including shows it already aired at the time (such as Beverly Hills, 90210, The X-Files and The Simpsons), as well as newer programs (such as American Idol and 24). In fact, Idol was the highest-rated primetime network program for eight consecutive seasons, from 2003-04 to 2010-11, the longest such streak in U.S. television history.[95]

The resilience of CBS[edit]

While CBS eventually recovered, its recovery is partially linked to, ironically, re-acquiring NFL rights in 1998 when it took over the AFC television contract from NBC.[96] The last year that NBC held the AFC rights 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 AFC rights, the trend of the 1980s and 1990s reversed, in that the AFC became the dominant conference over the NFC. The New England Patriots dynasty in the 2000s in the only top-10 market with an AFC franchise also contributed to the ratings surge. In fact, the primary stations for both the Broncos and Patriots are the same as when NBC carried the AFC (until 1995) – KCNC-TV in Denver and WBZ-TV in Boston (KUSA and WHDH-TV carried those teams' games from 1995 to 1997). 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 CBS re-acquired the NFL rights, and has long been one of the network's strongest stations) and often earn the highest television ratings for an NFL team due to the Steelers' rabid fanbase on a national level. Coincidentally, before the AFL-NFL merger, the team's road games had aired on KDKA as part of CBS' deal to air NFL games, while home games could not be televised at all during this period, even if they did sell out.

Impact on NBC[edit]

As CBS took the hardest hit from the switches, due partly to having been relegated to lower-tier affiliates in several major markets, NBC became the most-watched network in the United States, as it not only experienced the fewest effects of the switchover, but also benefited from a strong slate of programming at the time (including Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, ER and Dateline NBC). NBC would maintain its ratings lead until 1999, the year after it lost the AFC television rights to CBS, which overtook it for first place.[96] After Friends and Frasier ended their runs in 2004, NBC largely struggled in the ratings until 2013; however, one of the few shows to earn strong ratings during the period was Sunday Night Football, which moved to the network in 2006 from ESPN as part of the same NFL television contract that saw ABC's venerable Monday Night Football move to ESPN.

Current statuses[edit]

On July 17, 1996, News Corporation announced that it would acquire New World outright, making the latter company's twelve Fox affiliates owned-and-operated stations of the network;[97] the deal was completed on January 22, 1997. Today, six of the New World stations that switched to Fox (KDFW, WAGA, WJBK, KSAZ-TV, WTVT and KTBC) are owned by 21st Century Fox – a company created out of the July 2013 separation of News Corporation's entertainment (including Fox and its related broadcast and cable television assets, but excluding the company's Australian television properties) and publishing assets. Fox Television Stations, the division of 21st Century Fox that controls the stations, announced its intent on June 13, 2007 – under News Corporation ownership – to sell nine of its stations, six of which were formerly owned by New World (WJW, KTVI, WDAF-TV, WITI-TV, WBRC and WGHP; Fox also announced it would sell WHBQ-TV, KDVR (channel 31) in Denver and KSTU (channel 13) in Salt Lake City). Of these nine, only KTVI and WITI are located in NFC markets (KTVI by way of the St. Louis Rams; and WITI through the Green Bay Packers' unique two-market area encompassing Green Bay and Milwaukee). On December 21, 2007, Fox sold eight of the stations – excluding WHBQ – to Local TV, a subsidiary of Oak Hill Capital Partners that was formed on May 7 of that year to assume ownership of the broadcasting division of The New York Times Company.[98] This group deal closed on July 14, 2008.[99]

Because of FCC rules that bar same-market ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations by one company, Fox exempted WHBQ from the Local TV sale as that company already owned Memphis' CBS affiliate, WREG-TV (channel 3); Fox Television Stations took WHBQ off the sale block on January 16, 2009, retaining it as a Fox O&O. As part of its June 24, 2014 acquisition of KTVU and sister independent station KICU-TV (channel 36) from Cox Media Group, Fox announced that it would trade WHBQ and WFXT to Cox in exchange for the San Francisco duopoly; the deal was finalized on October 8, 2014.[100][10] In 2009, Local TV swapped WBRC to Raycom Media in exchange for Richmond, Virginia CBS affiliate WTVR-TV (channel 6).[101] The Local TV stations were operated under a joint management agreement with Tribune Broadcasting, which provided web hosting, technical and engineering services to the Local TV stations, along with news content sharing among all of the stations; the Local TV/Tribune stations also made up the nucleus of the Antenna TV digital subchannel network.[102] Tribune purchased Local TV outright for $2.75 billion on July 1, 2013, adding the seven former Fox O&Os to the six Fox affiliates it already owned, making Tribune the largest owner of Fox-affiliated stations by total market coverage (surpassing the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which remains the largest Fox affiliate owner by total number of stations owned and/or operated).[103] The sale was completed on December 27, 2013.[104]

SF Broadcasting sold its stations in 1997 to Silver King Broadcasting (later USA Broadcasting, which later sold its remaining independent stations to Univision Communications in 2001 to form the nucleus of the present-day UniMás network); Silver King later sold the four Fox affiliates to Emmis Communications to 1998. Emmis later sold WLUK and WALA to LIN TV and KHON to the Montecito Broadcast Group (which subsequently sold KHON to New Vision Television, which ironically was purchased by LIN in 2012[105]). In May 2008, Emmis sold WVUE – whose sale process was made more difficult in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which greatly affected its New Orleans viewing area – to the Louisiana Media Company, founded by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson;[106] the sale closed on July 18, 2008. On November 20, 2013, Raycom Media announced it would operate WVUE under a shared services agreement, with Louisiana Media retaining ownership of the station.[107] All of the stations involved in the New World and SF Broadcasting deals, as well as other related affiliation transactions involving Fox (except for those affected by the network's 2011 dispute with Nexstar Broadcasting Group), remain Fox affiliates.

Westinghouse purchased CBS on August 1, 1995, resulting in all of the CBS-affiliated Group W stations becoming CBS O&Os when the sale was completed that November. The announcement came just one day after Capital Cities/ABC, parent company of rival ABC, was to be acquired by The Walt Disney Company.[108][109] Viacom bought Westinghouse/CBS in 1999, which created duopolies in several markets between O&Os of CBS and UPN. Viacom and CBS split in 2006, with the current CBS Corporation retaining the company's broadcasting assets, including UPN.[110] CBS still owns the stations that it acquired either through the station swap with NBC or through its merger with Westinghouse, except for KUTV, which was sold to the Four Points Media Group in 2007 (the Four Points stations – with the exception of WLWC (channel 28) in Providence – are now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group).[111]

On November 3, 2010, ABC sold WJRT and WTVG back to SJL Broadcasting, now owned by the principal owners of Lilly Broadcasting, for $30 million[112] On July 24, 2014, Gray Television purchased both stations for $128 million.[113] On October 3, 2011, McGraw-Hill sold its television stations to the E. W. Scripps Company for $212 million, adding four ABC affiliates to the six Scripps already owned, making that company the second-largest owner of ABC-affiliated stations by total market coverage (after Argyle successor Hearst Television).[114]

Effect in Top 10 markets[edit]

To this day, Washington, D.C. is the only Nielsen market ranked among the Top 10 in 1994 outside of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago that did not have its 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 and its major network affiliates remain the same, it did not become a Top 10 market until 2005–06, surpassing Detroit.

San Francisco was also unaffected by the 1994 switches, as Westinghouse-owned KPIX-TV had been a CBS affiliate since it signed on in 1948. However in January 2002, KRON-TV (channel 4) became an independent station after a bitter dispute between NBC and the station's then-owner Young Broadcasting (which merged with Media General in 2013); after Young outbid NBC to buy the station from the Chronicle Publishing Company (publishers of the San Francisco Chronicle, which was sold to the Hearst Corporation as part of a liquidation of Chronicle's assets[115]) in November 1999,[116][117] NBC demanded that Young run the station under the conventions of an NBC O&O as a condition of renewing its affiliation;[118] Young refused these demands, along with the affiliation renewal. NBC then struck an affiliation deal with, and subsequently purchased, Granite Broadcasting Corporation-owned KNTV (channel 11) in San Jose, which became a WB affiliate in 1999, after agreeing to disaffiliate from ABC due to a market exclusivity claim for the network in San Jose by ABC O&O KGO-TV (channel 7).[119] As KNTV had been serving the Monterey Bay area as its ABC affiliate – moreso than San Jose (located 50 miles (80 km) to the north) – KGO was added to cable systems in that area as compensation for the loss (Salinas NBC affiliate KSBW-TV (channel 8) would later launch an ABC-affiliated digital subchannel on April 18, 2011).[120]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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