KICU-TV

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KICU-TV
KICU 2016 logo.png
San JoseSan Francisco
Oakland, California
United States
City San Jose, California
Branding KTVU Plus (general)
KTVU Fox 2 News on KTVU Plus (newscasts)
Slogan Complete Bay Area News Coverage (news)
Channels Digital: 36 (UHF)
Virtual: 36 (PSIP)
Translators Analog:
K29AB Monterey
K31GK Ukiah
Affiliations
Owner Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations, Inc.)
First air date October 9, 1967; 49 years ago (1967-10-09)
Call letters' meaning ICU = "I See (C) YoU"
Sister station(s) KTVU
Former callsigns KGSC-TV (1967–1981)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 36 (UHF, 1967–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 52 (UHF, 2004–2009)
Former affiliations
  • Secondary:
  • NBC (2008–2009, 2012–2014)
Transmitter power 550 kW
Height 668 m (2,192 ft)
Facility ID 34564
Transmitter coordinates 37°29′17″N 121°51′59″W / 37.48806°N 121.86639°W / 37.48806; -121.86639Coordinates: 37°29′17″N 121°51′59″W / 37.48806°N 121.86639°W / 37.48806; -121.86639
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.ktvu.com/news/ktvuplus

KICU-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 36, is an independent television station serving the San Francisco Bay Area that is licensed to San Jose, California, United States. It is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, as part of a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station KTVU (channel 2). The two stations share studio facilities located at Jack London Square on Washington Street (between The Embarcadero and the San Francisco Bay Trail) in West Oakland; KICU maintains transmitter facilities located on Monument Peak in Milpitas.

History[edit]

Prior history of UHF channel 36 in Northern California[edit]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) originally assigned the UHF channel 36 allocation in Northern California to Stockton. It was occupied by KTVU (no relation to the present-day Oakland-based sister station of KICU), a short-lived independent station that signed on the air on December 18, 1953. The station carried mainly low-cost barter syndicated programming and a limited amount of locally produced programs; during its final month of operation in April 1955, KTVU also carried a few NBC programs (including Mr. Peepers, My Little Margie, Howdy Doody and You Bet Your Life) via simulcast with KRON-TV (channel 4, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate).

At the time, most television sets did not have built-in UHF tuners; the signal quality of UHF television stations, however, was marginal at best even with an external converter (the FCC did not require electronics manufacturers to equip televisions with UHF tuners until the All-Channel Receiver Act was passed into law in 1961, although UHF tuners were not included on all newer sets until 1964). Consequently, as it was hampered by low viewership, the (original) KTVU ultimately ceased operations on April 30, 1955. Shortly afterward, Capital City TV Corp. (owner of independent station KCCC-TV [now Fox affiliate KTXL-TV] in Sacramento) entered into negotiations to purchase KTVU and return it into operation as a satellite station (Capital City also proposed as a backup to move the UHF channel 16 allocation from Red Bluff to the Pittsburg-Antioch area, a proposal that was approved by the FCC on June 8, 1955; however, Capital City TV never formally applied for a construction permit, and the allocation was later reassigned for land mobile telephone use).

On August 26, 1955, the FCC approved Capital City TV's purchase of KTVU and granted it authorization to resume KTVU's operations that same day; however, ABC refused to grant permission to have its programming be simulcast on KTVU, as its signal overlapped with the network's owned-and-operated station in the Bay Area, KGO-TV (channel 7). Channel 36 never returned to the air and its construction permit was deleted by the Commission less than a year later.[1] The FCC later reassigned the UHF channel 36 allocation to the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose television market in the early 1960s; Stockton, meanwhile, became part of the Sacramento television market.

KICU station history[edit]

KICU-TV first signed on the air on October 9, 1967, under the callsign KGSC-TV. It is currently the longest continuously operating commercial UHF television station in the Bay Area, as well as the longest continuously operating independent station in the market (KTVU (channel 2), which became the first independent station based in the San Francisco market when it signed on in March 1958, became a network affiliate as a charter outlet of the Fox Broadcasting Company in October 1986).

For much of its history, the station's programming schedule consisted mainly of syndicated off-network series, talk shows and religious programs, as well as a limited amount of locally produced public affairs programming. However, as KGSC, Channel 36 was notable for its all-night movie presentations, which were co-hosted for several years during the early 1970s by Andy Moore as prospector Old Sourdough and Gary Ferry as his Native American companion Chief Wachikanoka, characters that Moore and Ferry originated for a similar movie showcase on rival independent KEMO-TV (channel 20, now KOFY-TV) (Moore and Ferry hosted a similar program, as the characters Race Street and Bascom Avenue, until Moore left KGSC in 1973/74). The two characters often made jokes about the movies being showcased (similar to the humor used in Mystery Science Theater 3000), as well as engaged in comedic banter with guests promoting local businesses. The format would eventually be revised, with the interstitial segments conducted by Moore and Ferry being phased out in favor of a half-hour segment preceding the film.[2]

While there were several sets of hosts for the all-night movies, including Eugene Hogan, an experienced emcee who was best known for his work at San Jose radio station KLOK (1170 AM), most of the station's film presentations following Moore's departure from the station were branded as Movies 'Til Dawn (which was also used by KTLA in Los Angeles for its overnight film telecasts during the 1970s and 1980s), and sponsored by local retailer MMM Carpets, with which Ferry served as its television spokesman until the mid-1990s. The station promoted itself as "The Perfect 36" during the 1970s, employing busty San Francisco stripper/entertainer Carol Doda as its spokesmodel for station image promotions; Gloria Aponte-Rodriguez also served as spokesmodel for the Latin Weekend Audience programming block during the period.

In the winter of early 1981, the station was sold to Ralph Wilson Enterprises, operated by Detroit businessman Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise. The station subsequently changed its call letters to KICU-TV (a play on the phrase "I See You") on March 27 of that year; the KICU calls had previously been assigned to an independent station on UHF channel 43 (now occupied by MundoMax affiliate KGMC) in Clovis, which signed on in December 1961 under the ownership of Norwood Patterson (son of Rev. Sherwood Patterson, owner of now-defunct San Francisco-based independent KSAN-TV, channel 32, which operated as a satellite of the Fresno station from 1966 to 1968) and operated until October 1968 (although the license would not be cancelled by the FCC until 1975).[3] The on-air identifications used by the station following the callsign change featured a breathy, husky voiceover by Doda reading: "I see you, San Francisco. You're watching the perfect 36 ... KICU, San Jose." In addition to breathing the station IDs, Doda would also perform the station's editorial segments, which like the IDs were laced with double entendres. The first take of the editorials was always broadcast, with any mistakes made by Doda when they were recorded left in the aired segments.[4]

Over the years, the station ran a number of drama series and older movies; it also added more classic sitcoms and children's programs by the mid-1990s. However, the station gradually decreased the amount of children's programs it carried on its schedule between 1998 and 2002, outside of those it aired on Saturday mornings. In 1992, William Hirshey and three members of the station's management staff – president/general manager Jim Evers, vice president of operations Bill Beeman, and vice president and general sales manager John DuBois – acquired minority ownership stakes in the station, with Ralph Wilson Enterprises retaining majority control.

Cox Enterprises ownership[edit]

KICU logo under the "TV36" brand, used from September 2007 to April 25, 2016.

On August 28, 1999, after having rejected unsolicited bids to sell the station for the several years, Ralph Wilson Enterprises announced that it would sell KICU-TV. Station management cited the FCC's August 5 decision to relax its ownership rules to allow a single broadcasting company to own two television stations in the same market (on the pretense that one of the station is not among the four highest-rated) as a caveat in its decision to divest KICU.[5][6][7][8]

Among the station groups reportedly interested in acquiring KICU was NBC Television Stations, which sought to acquire an owned-and-operated station in the Bay Area after NBC was outbid by Young Broadcasting for longtime NBC affiliate KRON-TV in November 1999, leading to a dispute between the network and Young (which has since merged with Media General) during negotiations to renew NBC's affiliation agreement with KRON that resulted in the latter group declining to renew the contract after it expired on December 31, 2001.[9][10] NBC would ultimately reach an affiliation deal with San Jose-based WB affiliate KNTV (channel 11), after then-owner Granite Broadcasting Corporation (from which NBC would later acquire KNTV) on February 18, 2000.[11][12]

On November 29, 1999, Wilson sold the station to the Cox Broadcasting (now Cox Media Group) subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The resulting pairing of KICU with KTVU created the Bay Area's first television station duopoly when the deal was finalized in March 2000;[13][14] the operations of KICU migrated from that station's original studio facilities on Kerley Drive in San Jose, where KTVU relocated its South Bay news bureau, and were consolidated into KTVU's Jack London Square facility in Oakland.[15]

Acquisition by Fox Television Stations[edit]

On June 24, 2014, Fox Television Stations announced that it would acquire KTVU and KICU from the Cox Media Group, in exchange for trading two Fox owned-and-operated stations, WFXT in Boston and WHBQ-TV in Memphis, to the latter group.[16][17][18] The trade, which was part of Fox's pursuit of station acquisitions in the markets of NFL teams that are part of the National Football Conference (the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, where the San Francisco 49ers are based, became the sixth-largest NFC market where Fox owned at least one television station), was completed on October 8, 2014.[19][20]

With the completion of the deal, KICU became the first independent station to be operated by Fox since September 2006, when it converted KDFI in Dallas-Fort Worth into a charter owned-and-operated station of the co-owned MyNetworkTV programming service. As of 2016, KICU remains the only Fox Television Stations outlet that is not a MyNetworkTV O&O, due to an existing agreement with KRON-TV (channel 4), which has been affiliated with the service since MyNetworkTV launched. There remains the possibility that KICU may convert into a MyNetworkTV O&O in the future, either after the service's current affiliation agreement with KRON expires (similar to the situation in Charlotte in which Fox Television Stations purchased WJZY and nullified its affiliation agreement with charter Fox affiliate WCCB) or is given up voluntarily before KRON's agreement with MyNetworkTV lapses. If so, this will make the Bay Area the only American television market in which the stations carrying each of the six broadcast networks (though MyNetworkTV has been a programming service since 2009) are owned by their associated network's respective parent companies.

In November 2014, when KTVU transitioned from Cox's in-house digital platforms to the WorldNow platform used for Fox Television Stations' websites and mobile apps,[21] KICU discontinued its standalone website, with Fox reducing the station's web presence to a minimalist subpage on the revamped KTVU site, incorporating only listings for KICU and KTVU, FCC-required disclosures for Children's Television Act and employment requirements and forms of contact, and the default TMZ on TV video portal.

On April 25, 2016, KICU adopted the "KTVU Plus" brand, replacing the "TV 36" branding that had been in use since September 2007. The co-branding with sister station KTVU is similar to that adopted in 2009 by San Jose PBS member station KQEH (channel 54), when that station, as a result of its purchase by Northern California Public Broadcasting two years earlier, changed its branding to "KQED Plus" to reflect its ties to sister station KQED (channel 9).[22][23]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[24]
36.1 720p 16:9 KICU-TV Main KICU-TV programming
36.2 480i 4:3 KICU-SD KEMS / KBS World
36.3 KICUSD2 CCTV News
36.4 16:9 KICUSD3 Heroes & Icons

Sister station KTVU used to operate its Mobile DTV feed over KICU-TV's digital signal, broadcasting at 1.83 Mbit/s, but later moved the Mobile DTV feed to its own signal.[25][26] After the move, KICU began to broadcast its own programming over the feed.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KICU-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 36, on February 17, 2009, the original target date of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which was delayed to June 12 through the passage of a Congressional resolution on February 6, intended to give those who own television sets with analog tuners, but do not have a pay television subscription, additional time to obtain digital tuning equipment).[27][28][29] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 52, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its former analog-era UHF channel 36 for post-transition operations.[30]

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programs broadcast by KICU-TV (as of September 2015) include Maury, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cops Reloaded, Elementary and TMZ Live.[31]

Occasionally as time permits, KICU may air Fox network programs normally seen on KTVU in the event that Channel 2 is unable to air them because of extended breaking news coverage or conflicts with Fox Sports event telecasts or locally produced special programming on that station; this was also the case when KTVU aired San Francisco Giants baseball games that ran into or aired during prime time hours, until that station lost the broadcast television rights to the Giants to NBC owned-and-operated station KNTV (channel 11) in 2007. Channel 36 assumed additional backup programming responsibilities in April 2016, when it began to air local newscasts normally seen on KTVU whenever that station is scheduled to air Fox Sports event telecasts that will overflow predeterminedly into the time slot of the given program.[22]

KICU previously aired select NBC programs pre-empted by the network's designated Bay Area affiliates at three separate times throughout its history. After the market's original NBC affiliate, KRON-TV, removed the program from its schedule in July 1998 (in favor of syndicated talk program The Howie Mandel Show), KICU aired Another World until the soap opera ended its run on the network in August 1999.[32][33] Ten years later, after KNTV became the broadcast home of the Giants in 2008, KICU took on the role of airing NBC daytime and prime time programs pre-empted by the NBC-owned station. In April 2010, KRON took over the duties of running NBC programs preempted by KNTV. The duty of being NBC's backup affiliate in the Bay Area in the event that KNTV broadcasts Giants games and breaking news coverage reverted over to KICU in 2012. However, as of 2014, it is unlikely that preempted NBC programming will air on KICU due to its ownership by the corporate parent of competing network Fox; NBC O&O KNTV currently uses its Cozi TV-affiliated second digital subchannel to carry network programs in such situations.

Sports programming[edit]

During the station's ownership tenures under Ralph Wilson Enterprises and Cox Enterprises, KICU-TV maintained a strong association with Bay Area sports. Perhaps with the exception of the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball, the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and the now-defunct San Jose Lasers of the American Basketball League, each of the city's major professional sports franchises, along with several local college and high school teams, have had their games televised on Channel 36.

In the spring of 1985, KICU obtained the broadcast rights to carry NBA games involving the Golden State Warriors, beginning with the 1985-86 season. The station initially aired up to 70 preseason and regular season games per season, some of which were broadcast on tape delay beginning in the late 1990s; the number of Warriors games aired on Channel 36 decreased to 30 per season after the 1997-98 season, when the team renewed its cable agreement with regional sports network SportsChannel Bay Area (later FSN Bay Area), with KICU also passing a limited number of additional games over to KTVU following Cox's 1999 purchase of KICU. The Warriors' relationship with KICU ended after the 2001-02 season, when the team moved its local broadcasts exclusively to Fox Sports Net Bay Area through the signing of a ten-year deal with the cable channel.[34][35][36][37]

On October 28, 1998, KICU-TV acquired the rights to broadcast Major League Baseball games from the Oakland Athletics, after the team exercised a clause in its existing five-year television contract with KRON-TV to shop the rights to other Bay Area television outlets following the 1998 regular season. Under the initial deal in which it became the team's broadcast television flagship, which began with the 1999 season, Channel 36 offered an expanded schedule of 55 regular season games, 25 more than what KRON was able to offer within its schedule due to difficulties with its programming obligations with NBC (all other A's games that were not televised nationally aired in the market on now-defunct Fox Sports Bay Area).[38]

During the first year of the contract, KICU carried all of the team's afternoon games on tape delay on a trial basis, to allow viewers who were at work while the game was being played the opportunity to watch it that evening. However, due to viewer complaints (particularly since play-by-play audio of the games that KICU televised could be heard on radio live, although A's director of broadcasting Ken Pries noted to the San Francisco Chronicle that the team had reservations about allowing the telecasts to be tape-delayed beforehand), the station switched to airing all A's telecasts, regardless of when they were held, live-to-air in May 1999.[39] After it was purchased by Cox, the duopoly of KICU and KTVU, which held the over-the-air rights to the Giants, essentially had exclusive control of the local broadcast television contracts to both of the Bay Area's MLB teams; this lasted until Channel 2 lost the rights to the Giants to NBC owned-and-operated station KNTV following the 2007 season. KICU subsequently lost the rights to the Athletics after the 2009 season, when the team signed an exclusive television deal with Comcast SportsNet California.

The station also was a longtime broadcaster of National Hockey League games featuring the San Jose Sharks from the team's inaugural season in 1991 until FSN Bay Area took over as the Sharks' exclusive local television broadcaster following the 2000-01 season.[40][41] The station also carried Major League Soccer games involving the San Jose Clash (now the San Jose Earthquakes) from the team's inaugural season in 1996 until FSN Bay Area took over the local rights following the 2000-01 season, and the San Jose SaberCats Arena Football League franchise from that team's inaugural season in 1998 until FSN Bay Area assumed the local television rights to the team following the 2000-01 season.

From 1991 until the program's cancellation in 2008, the station also aired the sports highlight program High School Sports Focus on Friday nights at 11:00 p.m. (which was rebroadcast on Sundays at 4:00 p.m.), which covered high school sports events throughout the Bay Area with a primary focus on events involving Santa Clara County area schools; the program won several Regional Emmy Awards throughout its 18-year run.[42] In addition, after FSN Bay Area shut down in 2008, KICU occasionally served as a backup Fox Sports Net affiliate, carrying select California Bears basketball and football games to which FSN holds rights through its contract with the Pacific-10 Conference.[43]

Newscasts[edit]

As of April 2016, KTVU presently produces ten hours of locally produced newscasts each week for KICU (with two hours on weekdays); KICU does not carry newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, the station airs the KTVU-produced program Bay Area People, which is rebroadcast Sundays at 9:00 a.m.

In 1986, KICU-TV debuted a half-hour early evening newscast at 7:30 p.m., called Action 36 News, the first newscast on a commercial television station in the market to have aired in the prime access time period. The program was eventually moved to 10:00 p.m. in 1988, placing it in direct competition with eventual sister station KTVU's higher-rated prime time newscast The 10 o'clock News. The newscast was anchored for several years by former KPIX-TV (channel 5) sports anchor Jan Hutchins and Bay Area news veteran Ysabel Duron; the station's reporting staff included among others Bill Buckmaster, Tony Russomanno and Melanie Morgan. During its first three years in the later slot, Action 36 News at Ten was accompanied at 10:30 p.m. by the nationally syndicated Independent Network News, which was produced by fellow independent station WPIX (now a CW affiliate) in New York City, until both programs were cancelled in June 1990. KICU revived its news department in 1992, with the debut of Action 36 Prime News, an early evening local newscast at 7:00 p.m. that aired seven nights a week; this program was cancelled in 1994. In 1995, the station began producing the technology-focused business news program Silicon Valley Business This Week, which aired until 1999.

After being acquired by Cox Enterprises, sister station KTVU began simulcasting its flagship newscast on KICU. In January 2000, the station began airing a rebroadcast of The Ten O'Clock News immediately following its initial broadcast on KTVU each night at 11:00 p.m., under the title The Eleven O'Clock Edition of the Original Ten O'Clock News (the "Original" branding was used during that period to differentiate from other prime time newscasts that aired in that hour a few years prior on KRON-TV and CBS station KPIX-TV – both of which pushed their network evening schedules one hour early in August 1992, in an attempt to improve prime time viewership and to compete with KTVU – as well as a KNTV-produced program that aired on KBWB-TV (channel 20, now KOFY-TV) at the time); the simulcast was dropped from the schedule on September 14, 2001. From 2001 to 2003, KICU also aired a simulcast of KTVU's morning newscast Mornings on 2 each Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., with the station inserting a ticker featuring traffic and weather information, news briefs and breaking news stories specific to the South Bay region.

KTVU restored news programming to Channel 36's schedule on January 21, 2008, when that station began producing the half-hour Bay Area News at 7 on TV 36, airing at 7:00 p.m. each weeknight.[44] The rebroadcast of The Ten O'Clock News was restored onto KICU's schedule on April 5, 2010, being shown this time at 11:30 p.m. each weeknight; the rebroadcast reverted to the 11:00 p.m. slot it held during its original run on KICU on July 1, 2013.

Concurrent with the station's rebranding under the "KTVU Plus" moniker on April 25, 2016, in addition to retaining the late rebroadcast of The Ten O'Clock News, KICU expanded its 7:00 p.m. newscast to one hour. KTVU also began producing an hour-long extension of Mornings on 2 for Channel 36; the newly added 10:00 a.m. hour of Mornings on 2 extended the weekday editions of the program to a combined seven hours between the two stations (alongside the existing six-hour broadcast which precedes it on KTVU).[22]

On-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

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References[edit]

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External links[edit]