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Iowa City/Dubuque, Iowa
|Branding||KFXA Fox 28 (general)
Fox 28 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Eastern Iowa's News
One Hour Earlier
|Channels||Digital: 27 (UHF)
Virtual: 28 (PSIP)
28.2 The Country Network
|Owner||Second Generation of Iowa, Ltd.
(operated under an LMA by Sinclair Broadcast Group)
|First air date||February 1, 1988|
|Call letters' meaning||FoX A (refers to former simulcast with KFXB-TV)|
|Former callsigns||KOCR-TV (1988–1995)|
|Former channel number(s)||28 (UHF analog, 1988–2009)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
KFXA is the Fox-affiliated television station for Eastern Iowa licensed to Cedar Rapids. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 27 (or virtual channel 28.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Van Horne. The station can also be seen on Mediacom channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 828. Owned by Second Generation of Iowa, KFXA is operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group as sister to CBS affiliate KGAN. The two outlets share studios at Broadcast Park on Old Marion Road Northeast (along IA 100) in Cedar Rapids. Syndicated programming on this station includes The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Steve Wilkos Show and Maury among others.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|28.1||720p||16:9||KFXA-DT||Main KFXA programming / Fox|
|28.2||480i||4:3||TCN||The Country Network|
The station signed-on February 1, 1988 as KOCR-TV with studios on Boyson Road Northeast in Cedar Rapids. Airing an analog signal on UHF channel 28, it was the first new full-market commercial station to launch in Eastern Iowa in 34 years. KOCR was a Fox affiliate from the beginning and owned by Gerald Fitzgerald and his company, Metro Program Network. After being on the air only a few weeks, it was ordered off-the-air by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because a $150 check from the station bounced. Once it got back on-air some weeks later, the full story came out. Metro Program Network planned and had a construction permit for a 1,200-foot tower between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Lacking financing for such a tower, the company instead built a tiny 500-foot tower next to its studio building without approval of the FCC or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This resulted in the station being practically unviewable in the eastern part of the market, and its signal was spotty at best even in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. It was thus forced to rely on cable television for most of its viewership.
By 1994, Fox was reaching new heights from gaining broadcast rights of the NFL's National Football Conference from CBS. However, KOCR's coverage area was not nearly as large as those of the other Eastern Iowa stations, so it sold local NFC rights to KGAN. Before the year was out, the FCC ordered the station off the air again due to financial troubles. After this, cable systems in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City offered the national Foxnet feed in place of KOCR.
In 1995, the station was purchased by current owner Second Generation of Iowa and returned to the air that August 13 under its current calls, KFXA. After the company took possession of the station, it entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with KDUB-TV in Dubuque which operated on UHF channel 40 as the ABC affiliate for the eastern part of the market. That station's call letters were changed to KFXB-TV, and it was converted into a semi-satellite of KFXA, serving as the Fox affiliate for the eastern portion of the market. The two stations were then branded together as "Fox 28&40". The LMA lasted until 2004 when Dubuque TV Limited Partnership sold KFXB to the Christian Television Network, making KFXA became the sole Fox outlet for Northeastern Iowa.
Eventually after establishing an operational outsourcing agreement with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group (owner of KGAN), Second Generation merged internal operations of KFXA into KGAN's studios. On February 1, 2008, Sinclair announced it would attempt to purchase KFXA outright for $19 million. The announcement was only partially true since the Sinclair press release only mentioned the company had acquired the non-license assets of KFXA, but holds the option to buy KFXA's license under a "failed station" waiver (which Sinclair has yet to exercise as of January 2012). Officially, Second Generation of Iowa continues to own KFXA's license but all of its operations are now outsourced to KGAN. At 11:59 p.m. on February 17, 2009, KFXA's digital signal remained on UHF channel 27 when the analog to digital conversion was completed.
As part of the KGAN twinstick, this station is considered an alternate CBS affiliate airing that network's programs when KGAN is unable to do so such as during a breaking news emergency (such as severe weather) or local special. The renewal of a retransmission dispute between Sinclair and Mediacom threatened to have the station removed from the cable provider's lineup. The dispute also affected KDSM-TV in Des Moines, which is directly owned by Sinclair. For a few weeks, it appeared that almost half the state would be left without access to the 2010 Orange Bowl which aired on Fox with local favorite Iowa Hawkeyes football team defeating the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. On December 31, 2009 the expiration date of the original agreement, Sinclair agreed to give Mediacom an eight-day extension that would keep the Orange Bowl on-the-air. Two days after the game, the parties agreed to a one-year carriage deal. KFXA airs Big 12 Conference basketball and the Iowa high school state championships in football, wrestling, as well as boys and girls basketball.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including KFXA, allowing them to continue carrying Fox programming until 2017.
Since KFXB operated as a semi-satellite of KFXA through the LMA, it allowed the former to keep its Dubuque-based news department established during its ABC affiliation. In 2004, Second Generation decided to close this operation down and have a combined news department based out of Cedar Rapids and KFXA. Currently, Dubuque has coverage provided though bureaus operated by KWWL and KCRG-TV. Ultimately, the former captured a majority of the local news market in the area. It is unknown exactly when KFXA's separate news department in Cedar Rapids was shut down with that outlet's consolidation with KGAN.
On March 4, 2001, KGAN began producing a nightly prime time newscast on sister station and fellow Fox affiliate KDSM-TV in Des Moines. Known as FOX17 News at 9:00PM, this half-hour show originated live from KGAN's studios and featured its own on-air personnel. There was regional news coverage and statewide weather forecasts provided since there were no locally-based personnel in Des Moines. In 2002 for the convenience of Eastern Iowa viewers, the thirty minute program was added to KFXA through a simulcast and renamed FOX28 News at 9:00PM.
For the most part, the broadcast's format remained the same although Eastern Iowa reports from KGAN reporters were added. On September 2, 2008, NBC affiliate WHO-DT (owned by Local TV) in Des Moines entered into a news share agreement with KDSM. As a result, the big three outlet began producing a Central Iowa-focused prime time newscast on that station from WHO's studios. Today, KGAN continues to produce an hour-long prime time newscast at 9 seen every night on KFXA.
The station did not participate in the wider implementation of Sinclair's now-defunct, controversial News Central format for its newscasts but did air "The Point" (a one-minute conservative political commentary) that was also controversial and a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with local news until the series was discontinued in December 2006. In Fall 2005 despite having no weekday morning show of its own, KGAN began producing Good Day Iowa on KFXA. This was seen for two hours from 7 until 9 and competed against national morning shows on Eastern Iowa's big three affiliates. Due to inconsistent viewership and low ratings, the newscast was canceled in July 2007.
At some point in September 2011, KGAN brought back a weekday morning show to KFXA after adding an hour-long 7 a.m. newscast on weekdays, which is seen for an hour until 8. The station remains the only news department in Eastern Iowa not to air local newscasts in true high definition although the KGAN/KFXA operation upgraded its broadcasts to 16:9 standard definition widescreen on April 8, 2012. KGAN operates a Doppler weather radar of its own at the Old Marion Road Northeast studios. Weather forecasts from this station can also heard on KCRR-FM 97.7, KKHQ-FM 92.3, KOEL-FM 98.5 and KCJJ-AM 1630.
Notable current on-air staff
- Mark E. Hyman - Sinclair Vice President for Corporate Relations and "Beyond the Headlines" segment producer
- Neumann, Douglas (1994-10-07). "KOCR-TV is evicted, but Fox still on cable". The Gazette. p. 1A.
- Chapman, Cindy Cullen (1995-08-12). "KFXA going live, but not yet on local cable". The Gazette. p. 2VI.
- DeWitte, David (2008-02-01). "KGAN owner Sinclair buys local Fox affiliate". The Gazette.
- Suchomel, Ryan (2009-12-15). "Fans may not get to see Orange Bowl on TV". Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Hicks, Lynn (2010-01-01). "Orange Bowl to Air on Mediacom". Des Moines Register.
- "Mediacom, Sinclair Reach TV Programming Contract". Wall Street Journal. 2010-01-07.
- Sinclair Reups With Fox, Gets WUTB Option, TVNewsCheck, May 15, 2012.
- fox28iowa.com (Official KFXA-TV Website)
- KFXA mobile (Official Mobile Website)
- cbs2iowa.com (Official KGAN-TV Website)
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KFXA