|Sydney Ansin, founder
Edmund Ansin, co-founder/CEO
Sunbeam Television was founded in 1962 by Sydney Ansin, who inherited his family's shoemaking business in Massachusetts and later purchased South Florida real estate in the years after World War II, eventually settling in Miami Beach. Sydney's son, Edmund ("Ed") Ansin, joined his father when the elder Ansin prevailed in a lengthy quest to acquire Miami television station WCKT from the Cox and Knight publishing families. The Cox/Knight cooperative, Biscayne Television Corporation, had its license to operate the station revoked by the Federal Communications Commission due to improper contact with an FCC commissioner.
Ed Ansin was installed as WCKT's executive vice president upon Sunbeam's takeover of the station. He became the company's president and chief operating officer after Sydney's death in 1971. WCKT would change its call letters to WSVN in 1983, and would remain Sunbeam's lone property until 1993, when they acquired WHDH in Boston from New England Television.
On September 14, 2006, it was announced that Boston's WLVI would be acquired by Sunbeam from Tribune Broadcasting. The sale was approved in late November 2006, and Sunbeam took control of the station on December 18, 2006.
Miami loses NBC, gains Fox
Sunbeam's flagship station, WCKT/WSVN in Miami, had been an NBC affiliate from the day it began operations in 1956. However, it suffered from poor viewership for its local news, and frequently pre-empted lower-rated network programming, much to NBC's chagrin. As NBC rose to ratings prominence during the middle 1980s, the network sought to upgrade its visibility in the growing Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.
In 1987, NBC parent company General Electric purchased CBS affiliate WTVJ, the area's number one news station at the time from investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Sunbeam immediately sought to block the purchase, and spent over a year fighting NBC in court. As a result of the litigation NBC was forced to run WTVJ as a CBS affiliate for over a year, something neither network was too happy about. Sunbeam's efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and on December 31, 1988, NBC ended its 32-year relationship with WCKT/WSVN and moved all its programming to WTVJ.
Not long after giving up on NBC, Sunbeam tried to acquire an affiliation with CBS, which was losing WTVJ to NBC after 40 years. However, CBS declined the offer. WSVN was slated to become an independent station. However, as a sidebar to the NBC purchase of WTVJ, CBS acquired independent/Fox affiliate WCIX (now WFOR-TV) in the spring of 1988, despite its very weak signal. This ended up leaving the young Fox network without a Miami outlet. WSVN and Fox soon agreed to an affiliation deal, initiating a partnership which began on January 1, 1989.
Not long after becoming a Fox station, WSVN increased its news output (the station currently has more hours of local news than any network-affiliated station in the U.S.). The station also revamped its coverage to place an emphasis on crime stories. Under the direction of news director Joel Cheatwood, WSVN came to be known both in and out of South Florida as the station where "if it bleeds, it leads", with the slogan espousing a tabloid-like philosophy. This sensational approach, along with a flash-heavy visual look, vaulted WSVN from perennial third-place finisher to the market's number-one news operation. WSVN also influenced what many Fox affiliates' newscasts would look like in years to come.
The tabloid approach also garnered heavy criticism, both positive and negative, from within the television industry. WSVN continues with this format today, and WHDH adopted it (to a lesser extent) after Sunbeam bought that station in 1993.
Boston says no (then yes) to Jay Leno
On April 2, 2009, WHDH in Boston announced that it would not join other NBC affiliates in airing a new hour-long program fronted by outgoing Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Instead, the station said it would simulcast an hour of local news at 10:00 P.M. with its sister station WLVI. In its statement, Sunbeam CEO Ed Ansin cited concerns with both ratings and advertising revenue for its existing 11:00 P.M. newscast as the main impetus for the decision. NBC answered Sunbeam with a threat to strip WHDH of its affiliation. WHDH had offered to air the new program at 11:00 as a compromise, but the network rejected that offer.
With the threats of lawsuits and the strong possibility of NBC making good on its threat, Sunbeam/WHDH reconsidered its decision two weeks later. However, Ansin's foresight would later prove to be correct. Viewership for WHDH's 11:00 news dropped 20 percent in the November 2009 sweeps period, and a wave of affiliate complaints about similar decreases would force NBC to end the primetime run of the program on February 11, 2010 in a very controversial shake-up of its late night lineup.
Sunbeam vs. DirecTV Dispute
At midnight on January 14, 2012, Sunbeam Communications shut down its link between its stations and the DirecTV satellite service after talks to increase the retransmission fees paid to the stations by a reported 300% failed. The effect of this dispute affected an estimated 230,000 customers in the South Florida area and will interfere with the carrying of several NFL football games by local bars that subscribe to DirecTV during the outage. The dispute was resolved between Sunbeam and DirecTV with those local channels being restored to those affected customers at 6 pm on January 26.
|City of license / Market||Station||Channel TV (RF)||Owned Since||Affiliation|
|Boston - Cambridge||WHDH||7 (42)||1993||NBC|
|WLVI||56 (41)||2006||The CW|
|Miami - Fort Lauderdale||WSVN||7 (7)||1962||Fox|
- South Florida Business Journal - by Kevin Gale (2001-08-27). "Ansin family to keep working until the cows have no home | South Florida Business Journal". Southflorida.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
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- "WLVI's main man takes the high road". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. December 14, 2006. Retrieved March 22, 2013. – via NewsBank (subscription required)
- Jicha, Tom (29 March 1991). "News Show To Get WSVN`s Familiar Tabloid Touch". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
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