In the broadcasting industry, an owned-and-operated station (frequently abbreviated as O&O) usually refers to a television station or radio station that is owned by the network with which it is associated. This distinguishes such a station from an affiliate, whose ownership lies elsewhere other than the network it is linked to.
A good example would be the Washington, D.C. television market in the United States, whereby NBCUniversal-owned WRC-TV carries NBC programming, while 21st Century Fox-owned WTTG carries programming from Fox, another 21st Century Fox subsidiary. Therefore, both WRC-TV and WTTG are considered owned-and-operated stations. On the other hand, WJLA-TV and WUSA carry ABC and CBS programming respectively, but neither shares ownership ties with its parent network (WJLA-TV being owned by Allbritton Communications Company and WUSA by Gannett Company). As such, these two stations are considered affiliates.
The concept of an O&O is more clearly defined in the United States and Canada (and to some extent, several other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil), where network-owned stations had historically been the exception rather than the rule. In such places, broadcasting licenses are generally issued on a local (rather than national) basis, and there is (or was) some sort of regulatory mechanism in place to prevent any company (including a broadcasting network) from owning stations in every market in the country. In other parts of the world, many television networks were given national broadcasting licenses at launch; as such, they have traditionally been mostly (or entirely) composed of O&Os, rendering a separate notion for such a concept redundant.
- 1 Usage of the term
- 2 Distribution of O&Os
- 3 Branding
- 4 Ties to the networks
- 5 Ownership and network changes
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Usage of the term
In the broadcasting industry, the term owned-and-operated station refers exclusively to stations that are owned by television and radio networks. On the other hand, the term affiliate only applies to stations that are not owned by networks, but instead are contracted to air programming from one of the major networks. While in fact there may be an affiliation agreement between a network and an owned-and-operated station (as suggested under "Ownership Info" on the FCC TV Query search for WABC-TV), this is not necessarily required, and may simply be a legal technicality formalizing the relationship of separate entities under the same parent company. In any event, this does not prevent a network from effectively dictating an O&O's practices outside the scope of a normal affiliation agreement; for instance, network programming is very rarely preempted by O&Os, despite individual affiliates' rights to do so.
The term station correctly applies to the ownership of the station. For example, a station owned and operated by the ABC network is referred to as an ABC station or an ABC O&O, but normally should not be referred to as an affiliate. Likewise, a station not owned by ABC but contracted to air ABC's programming is correctly referred to as an ABC affiliate; that is, the station is affiliated with ABC.
However, informally or for promotional purposes, affiliated stations (or non-O&Os) are sometimes referred to as a network station, as in “WFAA is an ABC station” even though that ABC affiliate, in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, is owned by Belo. Correct formal phrasing could be, "ABC affiliate WFAA is a Belo station." Similarly, one may informally refer to "ABC affiliates" in regards to all stations (including O&Os) that air ABC programming, or to "the ABC affiliation" in regards to the transfer of rights to ABC programming from an affiliate to an O&O.
Some stations that are owned by networks but air another network's programming are referred to as an affiliate of the network that they carry. For example, WBFS-TV in Miami is owned by the CBS network's parent company CBS Corporation, but airs programming from MyNetworkTV; it is a MyNetworkTV affiliate. Prior to the Fall 2006 shutdown of the CBS-owned UPN television network, WBFS aired that network's programming; therefore, WBFS was a UPN O&O.
The stations carrying The WB Television Network were another exception. The ownership of WB was shared between Warner Bros. (a subsidiary of Time Warner), the Tribune Company and, for a portion of network's existence, ACME Communications. While Tribune-owned stations such as WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York City and KTLA in Los Angeles aired programming from The WB, they did not fit the standard definition of an O&O; they were nonetheless often referred to as WB O&Os. A similar exception existed when UPN launched in January 1995 by co-owners Chris-Craft and Viacom. Each of the companies owned a number of stations that aired the network. However, the stations were also not considered O&Os under the initial standard definition. This ambiguity ended with Viacom's buyout of Chris-Craft's share of the network in 2000, which came not long after its merger with the previous CBS Corporation. The stations were referred to informally as UPN O&Os (Chris-Craft later sold its stations to Fox).
Following the merger of UPN and The WB, CBS Corporation (former owner of UPN) and Warner Bros. Entertainment became co-owners of the new CW Television Network. The network launched in September 2006 on 11 UPN stations owned by CBS Corporation, and 15 WB affiliates owned by Tribune (which exchanged its ownership of The WB for affiliation on most of its stations with the new CW network). Certain UPN/WB affiliates in markets with both Tribune and CBS ownership either picked up a MyNetworkTV affiliation or became independent stations. The standard definition of an O&O again does not apply to The CW, but the CBS-owned stations that carry the network may be referred to as CW O&Os.
Some O&Os choose to refer to themselves as network-owned stations instead, reflecting the fact that while they may be owned by a national network, much of the actual operation is usually left to the discretion of the local station.
Distribution of O&Os
In Australia, Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten each own and operate stations in the five largest metropolitan areas (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide). These television markets together account for two thirds of the country's population. In addition, Seven also owns and operates its local station in regional Queensland, and Nine owns and operates its stations in Darwin and Newcastle; however, while the last of these is a Nine station, it is branded as NBN Television rather than Nine.
In the Philippines, networks such as ABS-CBN, GMA, PTV and TV5 own and operate almost all of their local television stations, although a few affiliates also exist. As regional stations mostly rebroadcast/relay programmes from their parent network's flagship station (usually based in Metro Manila), the terms network, station and channel can in practice be used interchangeably to refer to either one. In addition, networks are often informally referred to by their flagship stations' broadcast channel numbers; for example, ABS-CBN is referred to as "Channel 2" or "Dos" for its Manila O&O DWWX-TV.
The ITV network is jointly owned by the owners of the local "Channel 3" stations throughout the United Kingdom – that is, ITV plc, STV Group and UTV Media. In that sense, the stations own the network, rather than the network owning stations. However, since the 2004 creation of ITV plc, which owns and operates all of the Channel 3 licences serving England, Wales, southern Scotland, and the Channel Islands, most of the operations of the network have been absorbed into that entity. Moreover, the separately-owned stations serving northern and central Scotland (STV) and Northern Ireland (UTV) often deviate significantly from the schedule of the ITV channel as programmed by ITV plc. As a result of this restructuring and other changes in the relationship between ITV, STV and UTV, the Channel 3 franchises owned by ITV plc could now be considered ITV O&Os, with STV and UTV remaining as affiliates.
While both BBC One and BBC Two have regional output, the BBC produces all such regional programmes itself, and in this sense all BBC "stations" are O&Os. No other national British television channels currently have regional splits of this type.
In Brazil, the major television networks (Globo, Record, SBT, Band and RedeTV!) own and operate their local stations in the two major cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Other markets such as Brasilia and Belo Horizonte also have O&Os from one or more networks.
Due to the lack of an ownership cap in Mexico, some Mexican television networks own and operate all of their stations. However, there are privately owned local stations that still exist, which broadcast programming originating from the Mexico City stations.
In 1974, Telecentro was created as a division of ENRAD (Empresa Nacional de Radiodifusión), a state controlled company to operate all radio and television stations. However, private broadcasters still owned the broadcast stations. When satellite link was introduced in Peru in 1989, many affiliates had become repeaters of the main stations based in Lima.
In Canada, due to the population being concentrated to fewer urban centres (compared to the United States), as well as more lenient policies regarding media ownership (for example, an ownership cap on television stations does not exist, except for within one media market), many television stations have become (or began operation as) O&Os. For instance, CTV and Global currently own and operate an overwhelming majority of their local stations (most of which are located in major urban centres); the few affiliates are located in smaller regional markets like Lloydminster and Thunder Bay.
CBC Television, with its role as the publicly funded broadcaster, has at least one O&O in every single province and territory, although the three O&Os located in the territories are operated collectively as CBC North. While the majority of Canadians are served by CBC owned-and-operated stations, the CBC also has by far the most private affiliates of Canada's three main English television networks.
The French arm of the CBC, Télévision de Radio-Canada, is the only French-language network in Canada to have O&Os outside Quebec. It has an O&O in each province except Atlantic Canada, where CBAFT (based in Moncton, New Brunswick) serves the entire region via relay transmitters. The territories receive programming from Radio-Canada via translators relaying Montreal-based CBFT.
Along with the major networks, some media conglomerates also run second-tier television systems (e.g. Rogers Media's Omni Television and Bell Media's CTV Two). These systems share the same parent companies as most of their local stations, and such stations can be considered O&Os as well. For example, all of CTV Two's local stations are owned by Bell Media. On the other hand, Canwest's E! added a few private affiliates not owned by Canwest in Western Canada prior to its demise in 2009; those affiliates have since joined Rogers' City network.
In the United States, unlike Canada's O&O heavy geography, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently mandates that the total number of television stations owned by any company (including a television network) can only reach a maximum of 39% of the country. Given this restriction, television networks only have O&Os in a fraction of the 210 designated market areas around the country (the remainder of the markets are served by affiliates owned by other media companies). Periodically, networks may sell O&Os, to comply with this FCC restriction.
O&Os tend to be found in large urban centers like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and other markets typically among the 10 largest in the U.S. such as San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia, although they have also been found in markets as small as Green Bay, Wisconsin (DMA #69, 2006–07) in the past. Some networks such as Ion Television and non-commercial religious television networks like the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar own the vast majority of their stations., with only a few privately owned outlets carrying their programming (in the case of TBN and Daystar, both networks own their stations directly and through subsidiary licensees, such as Community Educational Television for TBN and Word of God Fellowship for Daystar).
Owned-and-operated stations used to be common in the days of network radio, but beginning in the 1980s, those radio networks began to be broken up. For all intents and purposes, NBC and ABC no longer exist as radio networks, beyond brand licensing and distribution agreements with Dial Global for NBC News Radio content and Cumulus Media Networks for ABC News Radio content, respectively. CBS's radio stations are now a separate company (CBS Radio) from its broadcast service. In the late 1990s, the original CBS Radio Network was reassigned to then-corporate sibling Westwood One via a series of complicated transactions, absorbing the former Mutual and the original NBC Radio (which General Electric spun off in 1987 after its merger with RCA) in the process. Westwood One was spun off in 2007 and merged into Dial Global in 2011. Today, CBS has separate distribution agreements between Dial Global (for CBS Radio News and its sports play-by-play packages, most notably the NFL and the NCAA) and Cumulus Media (for CBS Sports Radio).
However, new radio networks have cropped up with their own owned-and-operated networks. Clear Channel Communications owns many stations in the top 100 markets of the United States and in turn feeds them with programming, either from corporate subsidiary Premiere Radio Networks or via internal distribution. In particular, this is done with their talk radio station portfolio. Voicetracking purposes are handled either by internal methods or through their Premium Choice format menus, the latter of which is geared towards small and medium-market stations with air talent selected from larger market stations.
Cumulus Media often does the same with its own stations and broadcast service known as Cumulus Media Networks. The Walt Disney Company, which sold off ABC Radio in 2007 to Citadel Broadcasting (which merged into Cumulus in 2011) still owns two networks, ESPN Radio and Radio Disney. ESPN has only a few owned-and-operated stations in mostly major markets, but almost all Radio Disney outlets are owned by Disney itself.
A network's O&Os often share similar branding elements among themselves, reinforcing their common identity as stations owned by the same network; usually by identifying themselves as "[network][channel number]". This kind of sharing may also present some savings to the parent network (i.e. the owner), as its O&Os can use the same graphics and music rather than to each commission its own branding package. Examples include the circle 7 logo (originally designed in the early 1960s for ABC's aforementioned O&Os, all of which broadcast on channel 7 at the time), the I Love Chicago (Chicago My Home) musical signature for local newscasts (originally used by WBBM-TV, later spread to other CBS O&Os), and the "CBS Mandate" (a set of branding guidelines currently used at several CBS O&Os). Fox also has a set of branding guidelines for both its O&Os and affiliates. Supposedly, NBC and ABC also have branding guidelines for its affiliates, but not as extreme as CBS or Fox.
Networks in Canada took corporate branding to its logical conclusion; references to local call signs and channel numbers have almost completely been eliminated from the O&Os except during station sign-on and sign-off sequences (although some O&Os may occasionally refer to their channel numbers in passing).
Currently, other television station groups (such as Hearst Television) also implement common branding packages among its stations (even when affiliated with different networks). Some of the branding elements originally found only at the O&Os are now used by regular affiliates as well (as with the aforementioned circle 7 logo, and the use of the I Love Chicago theme music by some CBS affiliates that are not O&Os, such as KPHO-TV). Nonetheless, such practices and elements can still be traced back to the O&Os, which represented the earliest television station groups under common ownership, before the emergence and proliferation of nationwide station ownership groups in the subsequent decades.
Ties to the networks
Positions at network O&Os are frequently sought after by those who wish to eventually work for a television network. Indeed, many O&Os have served as a stepping stone for television personalities at their parent networks. For example, Matt Lauer and Al Roker worked for NBC's flagship O&O in New York City, WNBC-TV, before becoming hosts on The Today Show; Roker had begun his career with NBC at former O&O WKYC-TV in Cleveland, known as a 'farm station' which developed talent for the larger O&O stations and network (although this strategy left WKYC as a longtime also-ran in the Cleveland market due to heavy staff turnover). Whether or not one gets a job at a network obviously depends on one's abilities, and working at an O&O does not guarantee a network job down the line; however, the presenter does potentially receive additional exposure to the network.
Presenters at the O&Os also occasionally take on duties at the network level alongside their existing capacities at the local level. For example, several local anchors at CTV's O&Os have filled in for Lloyd Robertson in the past on the network's national newscast; and weathercasters from CTV's Toronto and Vancouver O&Os (CFTO and CIVT, respectively) present the weather segments on CTV News Channel. A number of personalities at New York City radio and television stations have also done assignments for both a station and a parent network at the same time, due to their proximity to network studios and offices.
Parts of a network's operations may also be co-located with one or more of its O&Os. For example, production of Global's national newscast is controlled from its Vancouver O&O, while CTV's network headquarters are co-located with CFTO at 9 Channel Nine Court in Scarborough, Ontario (the address refers to CFTO's over-the-air channel number). NBC's national network operations in both New York City and Los Angeles are housed in the same facilities as their local stations WNBC-TV and KNBC-TV, respectively, and both of these O&Os are considered flagship stations of the network.
Ownership and network changes
In general, an O&O is very unlikely to experience changes in its ownership, since it is often a significant source of revenue for its owner; and since its owner is also its parent network, the chances for an O&O to ever switch networks are also rather low.
However, in instances where the network finds an O&O no longer financially viable, it may choose to sell the station to a new owner or simply close the station. Even profitable O&Os might be sold off, often as a result (or in anticipation) of mergers and corporate deals, especially ones which put the network over the ownership limit in its local jurisdiction (e.g. the aforementioned 39% ownership cap in the United States imposed by the FCC). In addition, a network might decide to sell some of its O&Os and use the money raised to (at least temporarily) alleviate financial problems. Depending on the new owner, the station might continue to carry programming from the same network, affiliate with another network, or even become another network's O&O.
The following are examples of transactions involving O&Os:
- Perth's STW-9 and Brisbane's QTQ-9 became Nine Network O&Os in 1987 when the stations' parent company, Bond Media (headed by Alan Bond), purchased the network. After the collapse of Bond Media, STW-9 was sold to Sunraysia Television (and remained as the Nine Network affiliate in Perth, under the ownership of WIN Television until 2013, Nine Entertainment Co brought the station back and returned STW-9 as a Nine O&O) while QTQ-9 always remained a Nine O&O during that time.
- Perth's NEW-10 went on the air in 1988 as a Network Ten O&O. However, the station was sold off the next year as the network faced financial problems. The network (under CanWest Global) re-acquired the station in 1995, and NEW-10 has remained a Ten O&O ever since.
- Vancouver’s CKVU-TV was purchased by CanWest Global 1988, subsequently becoming part of that company's CanWest Global System (renamed the Global Television Network in 1997). However, in 2000, CanWest purchased the television stations of the WIC group, which included CHAN-TV in Vancouver and CHEK-TV in Victoria. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not allow any single company to own more than two stations in the same language serving the same Canadian television market, so Global had to sell one of the stations. It opted to keep CHAN due to its higher ratings and network of rebroadcasters that reaches 97% of British Columbia. CKVU was eventually sold to CHUM Limited, and has since been re-branded as a City network station.
- After purchasing the WIC stations, Canwest started a parallel system, first known as CH, and later as E!, for the WIC stations in areas overlapping existing Global stations (such as the aforementioned CHEK). However, facing financial difficulties, Canwest stated in 2009 that "a second conventional TV network [was] no longer key to the long-term success" of the company, and the five E! O&Os subsequently faced various outcomes: CHCH-TV Hamilton and CJNT-TV Montreal were sold to Channel Zero to be operated as independent stations; CHBC-TV Kelowna became a Global O&O; CHCA-TV Red Deer closed down on August 31, 2009; and CHEK-TV Victoria was sold to a consortium of station employees and local investors for $2, and has since been operated as an independent station.
- FCC's Review of the Broadcast Ownership Rules. Accessed online May 28, 2009.
- Matt Lauer, msnbc.com. Accessed online May 28, 2009.
- Al Roker, msnbc.com. Accessed online May 28, 2009.
- Nine Network – Australian Television Archive
- STW9 Perth – Australian Television Archive
- NEW10 Perth – Australian Television Archive
- Canwest announces strategic review of five conventional television stations, press release, February 5, 2009
- Canwest considers possible sale of 5 TV stations across Canada, The Canadian Press via Google News, February 5, 2009
- Channel Zero Inc. agrees to purchase CHCH-TV Hamilton and CJNT-TV Montreal from Canwest CNW Group (2009-06-30)
- Red Deer's CHCA signing off, Jack Wilson, Red Deer Advocate, August 28, 2009. Accessed online September 1, 2009.
- Employees buy CanWest TV station in Victoria for $2, Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail, September 4, 2009. Accessed online September 19, 2009.
- ABC Owned Television Stations – List of ABC O&Os
- CBS Television Stations Group – List of CBS and CW O&Os
- NBC Owned Television Stations – List of NBC O&Os
- Fox Television Stations Group – List of Fox and MyNetwork TV O&Os
- ITV – Home of ITV and the ITV O&Os
- CTV.ca: Local Stations – List of CTV O&Os and affiliates