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San Francisco/Oakland/
San Jose, California
United States
City of license San Francisco, California
Branding KTSF
Slogan The Face of the Bay Area
Channels Digital: 27 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Affiliations Multicultural independent
Owner Lincoln Broadcasting Company, a California LP
First air date September 4, 1976
Call letters' meaning Television
Former callsigns KTSF-TV (September 4, 1976 to December 31, 1981)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
26 (UHF, September 4, 1976 to June 12, 2009)
Transmitter power 500 kW
Height 403.4 m
Facility ID 37511
Transmitter coordinates 37°41′12″N 122°26′3″W / 37.68667°N 122.43417°W / 37.68667; -122.43417
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.ktsf.com

KTSF, virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 27), is a leading independent Asian television station located in San Francisco, California, United States. The station is owned by Lincoln Broadcasting Company. KTSF maintains studio facilities located on Valley Drive in south suburban Brisbane, and its transmitter is located atop San Bruno Mountain.


In 1965, Lillian Lincoln Howell was issued a broadcast license for a new television station in San Francisco. Her goal was to offer programming to audiences that were not targeted by the television stations already on the air at the time. Her stated mission was to "serve the underserved." It took many years to build the station, but when KTSF finally signed on the air on September 4, 1976,[1] it began broadcasting a general entertainment format featuring older off network shows from the 1950 and 1965, Japanese cartoons and live action shows dubbed in English, and older movies during the day and Asian programming after 7:00pm weekdays and 4:00pm weekends. The station also ran religious shows in the morning hours such as PTL Club and Praise The Lord. Entertainment shows included Dennis the Menace (Sitcom), Donna Reed Show, Hazel, Flying Nun, Father Knows Best, Lassie, Marine Boy, Ultra Man, King Kong cartoons, Space Giants, and others. At that time, three other independent Bay Area stations had general entertainment schedules, including KTVU 2, 44 KBHK, and 36 KICU. By 1981, the Japanese Animated and live action shows were dropped. KTSF (the "-TV" calls were dropped on December 31, 1981) became the first U.S. broadcaster to carry Asian-language programming.

In January 1, 1980, KTSF the Chinese and Asian programming weeknights, relegating it to weekend afternoons. Daily after 7:00pm, the station picked up a subscription movie service called ONTV. Its signal would appear scrambled, with an audio message being played that described the service and provided a phone number to subscribe. Descrambler boxes could be rented to view the channel.

In 1983, KTSF expanded its Asian content to reflect the changing demographics of the Bay Area. With increasing immigration of the Bay Area's Asian population from the Philippines and Korea, KTSF Tagalog and Korean language program content and expanded its schedule to include programming from India and Iran. The station began running this programming a couple hours a day middays. In the Spring of 1985, ONTV was winding down operations nationally so KTSF expended Asian offerings to evenings and overnights as well. Also, in 1985, KTSF dropped English general entertainment programming as well, partly due to the fact that San Francisco had 4 stations doing such a format.

A significant step in the station's history came in 1987 when it hired Gallup to perform the first Chinese-language consumer study ever conducted in the United States. The challenge for any commercial broadcaster is to be able to demonstrate to advertisers a profile of its viewers. The Gallup study demonstrated to mainstream U.S. companies that the Chinese-American market behaved like most other groups. For instance, the vast majority of Chinese people had bank accounts at "mainstream" financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, while only a small percentage had accounts at Chinese-owned banks. The major grocery store chains, with their large variety of products and convenient locations, were patronized by 75% of Chinese-Americans on a weekly basis.

With this new research, KTSF was able to attract mainstream U.S. companies to the Asian American market. On February 6, 1989,[1] KTSF launched the first live Chinese language newscast in the United States. Throughout the 1990s, with the H1-B visas in place, it was easier for U.S. companies to attract qualified workers from other countries. The Bay Area saw a large number of workers from China, Taiwan and India move to Silicon Valley. KTSF responded by dramatically expanding its Mandarin-language and South Asian programming.

In 2005, KTSF became the first Asian broadcaster in the U.S. to subscribe to Nielsen. With the daily overnight viewing data, KTSF was able to help advertisers better target the Asian demographic. By 2010, KTSF carried programming in twelve languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Hindi and Tagalog.

In 2007, the KTSF news department expanded by adding a special features unit. A series of in-depth news features and hour-long documentaries were scheduled throughout the year. Topics included the tenth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, the fashion industry in China, Olympic previews and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution which landed KTSF its first Emmy nomination.

In 2008, a weekly business show - Business and Lifestyle - began airing. The show featured successful business profiles from the industries of finance, real estate, beauty, health and nutrition. It also included tips from established entrepreneurs on how to grow your business and how to avoid the common pitfalls of first-time business owner as well.

In 2010, the first-ever American beauty television show, Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal began airing. The show produced and broadcast in Mandarin-Chinese with English subtitles and hosted by popular beauty blogger- Kuan-Ling Kaitlyn Chen, features make-up application tips, hair and nail care how-to's, product reviews and tests, and the latest fashion trends. Kaitlyn’s Beauty Journal broadcasts in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston. Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal has the potential to reach 56.3% of all Chinese in the U.S.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
26.1 1080i 16:9 KTSF-D1 Main KTSF programming
26.2 KTSF-D2 Diya TV
26.3 KTSF-D3 TBD (formerly KBS World)
26.4 KTSF-D4 ICN
26.5 KTSF-D5 Viet Today TV
26.6 KTSF-D6 Viet Shopping TV

KTSF formerly carried NHK World on digital channel 26.2; the network moved to KCNS digital subchannel 38.4 on November 1, 2011. KTSF also formerly carried KBS World on digital channel 26.3 until KBS and KTSF discontinued their relationship on January 1, 2015.[3]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KTSF's digital signal launched in 2002 on UHF channel 27.[4] KTSF shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 27,[5] using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 26.[6]


Mandarin programming[edit]

On February 13, 2006, KTSF began broadcasting Talk Tonight, a live Mandarin-language phone-in talk show; guests have included a variety of entertainment, political and sports figures. On August 4, 2013, the station began producing a local Mandarin-language financial program titled Talk Finance.

Japanese programming[edit]

KTSF broadcast Japanese programming during primetime on Saturday and Sunday, along with a Japanese language morning news program on weekdays, titled FCI Morning Eye. Fuji TV provided the Saturday night programming, while Tokyo TV provided its Sunday night programming, branded as TTV.[7] Fuji TV had been broadcasting since February 20, 1972 (predating KTSF's actual debut),[8] while Tokyo Television programming debuted on KTSF when it launched on September 4, 1976.[9] By December 2011, TTV programming had moved to KCNS channel 38.4.[10]

Fuji TV telecasts on KTSF ceased after March 29, 2014. As of that date, KTSF no longer airs any Japanese language programming.

CMC on KTSF[edit]

On weekday afternoons, KTSF carries programming from the California Music Channel, consisting of CMC California Music Channel and CMC Beat Lounge. The station also airs a late-night version of CMC that broadcasts on Saturday nights, known as CMC Late Night.[11]

News operation[edit]

KTSF presently broadcasts 12 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with two hours on weekdays, and one hour on weekends). The station's newscasts are subject to delay or preemption due to special programming. It is currently the only television station in the United States broadcasting nightly, live local and international news programming in both the Cantonese and Mandarin languages. KTSF currently utilizes Traditional Chinese subtitles for both the Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts; open captions are employed, since closed captioning is only available for languages based on the Latin alphabet (e.g. English and Spanish).

The station launched its news department on February 6, 1989, with the debut of Cantonese News and Mandarin News as the first live Chinese-language television program in the United States. The station launched Mandarin News, as well as a local Mandarin-language talk program, known presently as Talk Tonight. Chinese News at 9 originally aired at 9:00pm for 30 minutes. In September 27, 1993 was renamed Cantonese News before it extended to one hour and moved back to the 8:00pm. In December 17, 2001 moved back to the 7:00pm. Mandarin News originally aired at 7:30pm for 30 minutes. In December 17, 2001 before it extended to one hour and moved to 10:00pm.

The station aired Hong Kong Weekly News from February 11, 1989 to March 18, 2006. In December 28, 2002 moved back to the 5:30pm. In March 6, 2004 moved back to the 5:00pm. The station began producing weekend editions of its Cantonese and Mandarin language newscasts on March 25, 2006 at 6:00pm (the weekend edition of Cantonese News airs only on Saturday at 7:00pm and the weekend edition of Mandarin News airs exclusively on Sunday at 7:00pm). In January 4, 2014 moved to 7:00pm. In April 5, 2014 Saturday & Sunday at 7:00pm (Cantonese) and 10:30pm (Mandarin).

Notable on-air staff[edit]


External links[edit]