San Jose, California
|City of license||San Francisco, California|
|Channels||Digital: 45 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
CBS (alternate affiliate)
(San Francisco Television Station KBCW, Inc.)
|First air date||January 2, 1968|
|Call letters' meaning||A portmanteau of:
Kaiser Broadcasting and Bay Area CW
(reflects original owner and current affiliation)
|Former callsigns||KBHK-TV (1968–2006)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
44 (UHF, 1968–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1968–1993)
|Transmitter power||400 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
KBCW, virtual channel 44 (UHF digital channel 45), is a CW owned-and-operated television station located in San Francisco, California, United States which serves as the West Coast flagship of the network. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CBS owned-and-operated station KPIX-TV (channel 5). The two stations share studios located on Battery Street in San Francisco, KBCW's transmitter is located atop Sutro Tower. The station is available on channel 12 on most cable providers in the Bay Area.
As an independent station
The station first signed on the air on January 2, 1968 as KBHK-TV (standing for Kaiser Broadcasting/Henry Kaiser), it was originally owned by Kaiser Broadcasting, which owned other UHF independent stations in Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Cleveland. It was the second commercial UHF station in the San Francisco Bay area behind San Jose-based KICU (channel 36, originally KGSC-TV). It was the first independent station in the region that was licensed to San Francisco, as KTVU (channel 2) is based in Oakland.
The station was originally based in studios located at 650 California Street. Several key scenes from the Robert Redford movie The Candidate were filmed in KBHK's studio at 420 Taylor Street (originally NBC Radio Studios). Many of KBHK's technicians appeared in the movie as themselves. Kaiser Broadcasting merged with Chicago-based Field Communications in 1973 as part of a joint venture between the companies. In 1977, Kaiser sold its interest in the stations to Field, making Field the sole owner of KBHK. Field later put its stations up for sale in 1982, and KBHK was sold to United Television in 1983.
KBHK maintained a general entertainment program schedule that included morning and afternoon children's blocks (which in the 1970s consisted mainly of off-network reruns of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, as well as the Famous Studios Popeye shorts, the classic Warner Bros. Cartoons, Dusty's Treehouse, New Zoo Revue, plus the Our Gang and Three Stooges shorts), off-network sitcoms (such as The Brady Bunch), feature films, and public affairs programming. At one point, KBHK advertised itself as the "Bay Area's Movie Station" and aired a movie in prime time six nights a week. KBHK also aired hit first-run syndicated series including Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Arsenio Hall Show. Bay Area kids were introduced to Japanese anime programs such as Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Robotech and Captain Harlock and the Queen of 1000 Years. Later on in the 1990s, KBHK became home to anime series such as Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and Pokémon (the latter aired during its short syndication run, before it moved to Kids' WB).
Several local programs produced at KBHK were syndicated nationally including Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Memories (distributed by Paramount Television) and The Twilight Zone Special (distributed by Viacom). KBHK also aired two wrestling shows: Big Time Wrestling in late 1970s and Glow in the 1980s. In 1993, the station began carrying programs from the Prime Time Entertainment Network programming service (which was owned jointly by Chris-Craft/United Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment) which it carried until January 1995.
As a UPN affiliate
In 1994, Chris-Craft/United Television partnered with Paramount Television to launch the United Paramount Network (UPN). As a result of Chris-Craft/United's interest in the network, UPN signed affiliation deals with both the company's independent stations (along with those owned by the Paramount Stations Group) to become charter owned-and-operated stations of the network. KBHK joined UPN when it launched on January 11, 1995. The station continued with its programming format, essentially continuing to program similarly to an independent as UPN would not expand to five nights a week of programming until 1998. The older sitcoms and cartoons were gradually replaced during the late 1990s and early 2000s with more recent sitcoms, talk shows, game shows, court shows and reality shows.
In 2000, Viacom bought Chris-Craft's 50% ownership interest in UPN (which Chris-Craft had wholly owned, until Viacom acquired a stake in the network in 1996). On August 12 of that year, Chris-Craft sold its UPN stations to the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of News Corporation for $5.5 billion; the deal that was finalized on July 31, 2001. Fox subsequently traded KBHK-TV to Viacom in exchange for KTXH in Houston and WDCA in Washington, D.C. Viacom had purchased CBS a year earlier, resulting in the creation of a duopoly between KBHK and CBS O&O KPIX.
Since News Corporation also owned the Fox network at the time (the company split in two in 2013; the company that now owns the network is 21st Century Fox); the trade protected the former Cox-owned KTVU as the Bay Area's Fox affiliate; in October 2014, Fox purchased KTVU (and sister station KICU) in exchange for their Boston station WFXT and Memphis station WHBQ-TV. The Viacom purchase also reunited KBHK with Detroit's WKBD, which had been purchased by Paramount Stations Group (which was in the process of being sold to Viacom, through that company's acquisition of Paramount) in 1993. After its purchase by Viacom was finalized, KBHK moved from its original longtime studios on California Street in the Nob Hill area and integrated its operations with KPIX at their studios on Battery Street.
As a CW affiliate
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On the day of the announcement, the network signed a ten-year affiliation deal with 11 of CBS Corporation's 13 UPN stations, including KBHK. However, it is likely that KBHK would have been chosen even without the affiliation deal. Network representatives were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates in terms of viewership, and KBHK had been well ahead of WB affiliate KBWB-TV (channel 20, now KOFY-TV) in the ratings for virtually all of UPN's run.
KBCW holds the distinction of being The CW's West Coast flagship station, even though this position is normally assigned to a Los Angeles station; CBS Corporation does not own a CW station in that market – the company owns KCAL-TV, which it runs as an independent station, L.A.'s CW station KTLA (owned by Tribune Broadcasting) serves as the network's unofficial West Coast flagship. With the launch of The CW, KBCW became the Bay Area's only major English-language network (and network-owned) station on the UHF dial. To reflect the new affiliation, KBHK officially changed its call letters to KBCW on July 1, 2006. In June 2013, the station changed its logo from the generic design used since The CW's launch to a version utilizing the station's call letters.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|44.1||1080i||16:9||KBCW-DT||Main KBCW programming / The CW|
KBCW shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 44, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 45, using PSIP to display KBCW's virtual channel as 44 on digital television receivers (KTVU, virtual channel 2, now utilizes UHF channel 44 for its post-transition digital signal).
Outside of the CW network schedule, Syndicated programming on KBCW includes The Queen Latifah Show, Divorce Court, Rachael Ray, Family Feud, and its sister show Celebrity Name Game, among others. The station is considered an alternate CBS affiliate, and as such, KBCW may air CBS network programs as time permits in the event that KPIX is unable to in the event of extended breaking news coverage or special event programming; the CBS Dream Team Saturday morning children's block, for example, airs on KBCW due to live CBS Sports coverage on KPIX that airs on the network in the early afternoon in the Eastern Time Zone (the Dream Team block would itself pre-empt The CW's One Magnificent Morning block). KBCW also airs rebroadcasts of CBS News programs Face the Nation and CBS Sunday Morning, and local programs produced by KPIX such as Eye on the Bay and the Last Honest Sports Show.
Over the years at various times, KBHK served as the television home of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics, the NBA's Golden State Warriors, the now-defunct California Golden Seals NHL franchise and preseason games from the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
The station attempted to produce a nightly newscast in the 1970s, only to eventually cancel the program due to low ratings. On March 3, 2008, KPIX began producing a nightly half-hour primetime newscast at 10:00 p.m. for KBCW; this program competes against KTVU's longer-established and hour-long newscast, whose viewership regularly dominates KBCW's newscast in the timeslot. The KBCW program has been produced in high definition since its debut. In January 2012, KPIX-TV began producing an hour-long extension of its weekend morning newscast for KBCW airing on Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
Notable current on–air staff
- Veronica De La Cruz – weeknights
- Susan, King (January 23, 1994). "Space, 2258, in the Year 1994". Los Angeles Times. p. 4. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
- Hofmeister, Sallie (August 12, 2000). "News Corp. to Buy Chris-Craft Parent for $5.5 Billion, Outbidding Viacom". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
- 'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September, CNNMoney.com, January 24, 2006.
- UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
- RabbitEars TV Query for KBCW
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- CDBS Print
- Official website
- Official website – KPIX–TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KBCW
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KBCW-TV