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Field Communications was a division of Field Enterprises, which owned the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News. The company owned independent television stations in the United States, with WFLD in Chicago as its largest-market station.
The broadcasting arm of Field Enterprises began in January 1966 with the initial sign-on of WFLD-TV (Channel 32). In 1972, Field sold a majority ownership (about 77.5 percent) of WFLD to Kaiser Broadcasting, owners of KBSC-TV (Channel 52) in Corona, California (serving the Los Angeles and southern California area), WKBG-TV in Cambridge, Massachusetts, (Channel 56 - serving the Boston metropolitan area, and in tandem with the daily newspaper"The Boston Globe"), WKBS-TV in Burlington, New Jersey (Channel 48 serving Philadelphia metro area), WKBF-TV (Channel 61) in Cleveland, WKBD-TV (Channel 50) in Detroit, and KBHK-TV in San Francisco. Field retained the remainder of WFLD's shares (about 22.5 percent), and in return, received a minority stake in Kaiser Broadcasting (also about 22.5 percent).
In 1975 Kaiser shut down WKBF in Cleveland, returning its license to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and merging most of its programming with WUAB, of which Kaiser purchased a minority ownership from United Artists Broadcasting.
In 1977, Kaiser sold its majority stake of their stations, sans KBSC (which was sold to Oak TV), to Field. This gave Field one-hundred percent ownership of WFLD again. Field did not acquire Kaiser's share of WUAB, which United Artists then sold to Gaylord Broadcasting (Gaylord Entertainment Company) that same year. The new owners also updated the look of all of the former Kaiser stations and also created a short melody which was played during program ads and after each program.
Beginning of the end
In 1982, half-brothers Marshall Field V and Frederick W. Field, who each controlled half of Field Enterprises, were at odds on how the company should operate which left them unable to work together. As a result of the dispute, Field Communications was put up for sale with the 5 stations as a packaged deal. With no takers the TV stations were individually put up for sale, as Field opted to dissolve the company. All of them were sold successfully except for the stations in Philadelphia and Detroit. However, WKBD in Detroit was eventually sold to Cox Enterprises in 1984. Many companies offered Field money for WKBS in Philadelphia; however, none of the bids was high enough. Meanwhile, the FCC gave Field a mandate which meant they had until July 15, 1983 to either sell WKBS, shut the station down, or remove it from the selling block and continue to broadcast. The Providence Journal Company, owners of rival Philadelphia independent TV station WPHL-TV, (and the major daily newspaper in Rhode Island, the "Providence Journal"), offered to buy WKBS and merge the assets of the two stations. Their bid was still too low, so WPHL offered to buy only equipment and programming from Field contingent upon the passing of their deadline and the exercising of their second option. The deadline had passed and Field decided to go through with the deal, and on August 30, 1983, Field signed WKBS-TV off the air for good and surrendered the license back to the FCC.
What became of the stations
|DMA||Market||Station||Sold To||Current Owners||Current Network Affiliation|
|3.||Chicago||WFLD-TV 32||Metromedia – 1983||Fox Television Stations – 1986||Fox (O&O) – 1986|
|4.||Burlington – Philadelphia||WKBS-TV 48||taken off the air – 1983||defunct1||defunct1|
|5.||San Francisco – Oakland -
|Chris-Craft Industries – 1983||CBS Corporation2 – 2002||CW – 2006|
|7.||Cambridge – Boston||WLVI-TV 56||Gannett Company – 1983||Sunbeam Television – 2006||CW – 2006|
|11.||Detroit – Windsor||WKBD-TV 50||Cox Broadcasting – 1984||CBS Corporation3 – 1993||CW – 2006|
- 1Frequency returned to the air in 1992 under new license/construction permit as WGTW-TV, purchased by/affiliated with TBN in 2004
- 2Originally sold to Viacom Television Stations Group
- 3Originally sold to Paramount Stations Group (later Viacom Television Stations Group following several mergers, now part of CBS Corporation as CBS Television Stations Group).
- It Sounded Like Dallas, Not Chicago, as Two Half Brothers Broke Up the Field Family Empire, by Barbara Kleban Mills and Susan Deutsch. People Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 24, 12 December 1983. Retrieved on 1 November 2010.