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KTSF Channel 26 logo.png
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California
United States
CitySan Francisco, California
SloganThe Face of the Bay Area
ChannelsDigital: 51 (UHF)
(shared with KDTV-DT; to move to 20 (UHF))
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
Subchannels(see article)
AffiliationsMulticultural independent
OwnerLincoln Broadcasting Company
(Lincoln Broadcasting Company, a California LP)
First air dateSeptember 4, 1976 (42 years ago) (1976-09-04)
Call letters' meaningTelevision
Former callsignsKTSF-TV (1976–1981)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
26 (UHF, 1976–2009)
27 (UHF, until May 7, 2018)
Transmitter power476.3 kW
200 kW (CP)
Height701 m (2,300 ft)
Facility ID37511
Transmitter coordinates37°29′57″N 121°52′20″W / 37.49917°N 121.87222°W / 37.49917; -121.87222
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license information:Profile
KTSF-DT1 livestream via SBTV.com

KTSF, virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 51), is an independent Asian television station licensed to San Francisco, California, United States and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by Lincoln Broadcasting Company. KTSF's studios are located on Valley Drive in south suburban Brisbane, and it shares transmitter facilities with Univision owned-and-operated station KDTV-DT (channel 14) atop Mount Allison. Until May 7, 2018, KTSF's transmitter was located atop San Bruno Mountain.[1] On cable, the station is carried on channel 8 on most providers in the market.


Former logo of KTSF until December 2016

In 1965, Lillian Lincoln Howell was issued a broadcast license for a new television station in San Francisco. Her goal was to offer programming to audiences that were not targeted by the television stations already on the air at the time. Her stated mission was to "serve the underserved." It took many years to build the station, but when KTSF finally signed on the air on September 4, 1976,[2] it began broadcasting a general entertainment format featuring older off-network shows from the 1950 and 1965, Japanese cartoons and live-action shows dubbed in English, and older movies during the day and Asian programming after 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 4:00 p.m. weekends. For many years, a half-hour horse racing program hosted by Sam Speer brought a video of the Golden Gate Fields or Bay Meadows daily results which ran until December 2017. The station also ran religious shows in the morning hours such as The PTL Club and Praise The Lord. Entertainment shows included Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hazel, The Flying Nun, Father Knows Best, Lassie, Marine Boy, Ultraman, King Kong cartoons and The Space Giants. At that time, four other independent Bay Area stations had general entertainment schedules, including KTVU, KTZO (now KOFY-TV), KICU, and KBHK (now KBCW). By 1981, the Japanese animated and live action shows were dropped. KTSF (the "-TV" calls were dropped on December 31, 1981) became the first U.S. broadcaster to carry Asian-language programming.

On January 1, 1980, KTSF ended the Chinese and other Asian programming weeknights, relegating it to weekend afternoons. Daily after 7:00 p.m., the station picked up a subscription TV service called Super-Time, later STAR TV, operated by Subscription Television of San Francisco. Its signal would appear scrambled, with an audio message being played that described the service and provided a phone number to subscribe. Descrambler boxes could be rented to view the channel. In 1983, STAR, Inc., the parent company of Subscription Television of San Francisco and part-owner of a similar service in Boston, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and was liquidated.[3] STAR TV was replaced by another service, Select TV, but in late 1984, Vision Enterprises, the operator, declared bankruptcy, and a federal judge allowed KTSF to stop carrying their programming over $250,000 in unpaid fees to the station.[4]

In 1983, KTSF expanded its Asian content to reflect the changing demographics of the Bay Area. With increasing immigration of the Bay Area's Asian population from the Philippines and Korea, KTSF Tagalog and Korean language program content and expanded its schedule to include programming from India and Iran. The station began running this programming a couple hours a day middays. With Select TV having collapsed, KTSF expanded its Asian offerings to evenings and overnights as well. Also, in 1985, KTSF dropped English general entertainment programming as well, partly due to the fact that San Francisco had 4 stations doing such a format.

A significant step in the station's history came in 1987 when it hired Gallup to perform the first Chinese-language consumer study ever conducted in the United States. The challenge for any commercial broadcaster is to be able to demonstrate to advertisers a profile of its viewers. The Gallup study demonstrated to mainstream U.S. companies that the Chinese-American market behaved like most other groups. For instance, the vast majority of Chinese people had bank accounts at "mainstream" financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, while only a small percentage had accounts at Chinese-owned banks. The major grocery store chains, with their large variety of products and convenient locations, were patronized by 75% of Chinese-Americans on a weekly basis.

With this new research, KTSF was able to attract mainstream U.S. companies to the Asian American market. On February 6, 1989,[2] KTSF launched the first live Chinese language newscast in the United States. Throughout the 1990s, with the H-1B visas in place, it was easier for U.S. companies to attract qualified workers from other countries. The Bay Area saw a large number of workers from China, Taiwan and India moved to Silicon Valley. KTSF responded by dramatically expanding its Mandarin-language and South Asian programming.

In 2005, KTSF became the first Asian broadcaster in the U.S. to subscribe to Nielsen. With the daily overnight viewing data, KTSF was able to help advertisers better target the Asian demographic. By 2010, KTSF carried programming in twelve languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Hindi and Tagalog.

In 2007, the KTSF news department expanded by adding a special features unit. A series of in-depth news features and hour-long documentaries were scheduled throughout the year. Topics included the tenth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, the fashion industry in China, Olympic previews and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution which landed KTSF its first Emmy nomination.[citation needed]

In 2008, a weekly business show, Business and Lifestyle, began airing. The show featured successful business profiles from the industries of finance, real estate, beauty, health, and nutrition. It also included tips from established entrepreneurs on how to grow your business and how to avoid the common pitfalls of first-time business owners as well.

In 2010, Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal began airing. The show was produced and broadcast in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles and hosted by popular beauty blogger Kuan-Ling Kaitlyn Chen, features make-up application tips, hair and nail care how-to's, product reviews and tests, and the latest fashion trends. Kaitlyn’s Beauty Journal broadcasts in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston. Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal has the potential to reach 56.3% of all Chinese in the U.S.

In 2014, KTSF launched its local TV App in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and fully implemented Nielsen proprietary mobile measurement software in order to inform its research and insights and drive advertising effectiveness.[5]

On February 1, 2016, KTSF's main signal upgraded from 4:3 standard definition (480i) to 16:9 high definition (720p), which allowed local programming and the Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts to be broadcast in widescreen.[6]

On May 7, 2018, KTSF's transmitter moved from San Bruno Mountain to Mount Allison, that shares with Univision owned-and-operated station KDTV-DT (channel 14).[7]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[8]
26.1 720p 16:9 KTSF Main KTSF programming
26.3 480i MBC KBS World
26.5 Vietday Viet Today TV
26.6 VSTV Viet Shopping TV

KTSF formerly carried NHK World on digital channel 26.2; the network moved to KCNS digital subchannel 38.4 on November 1, 2011. KTSF also formerly carried KBS World on digital channel 26.3 until KBS and KTSF discontinued their relationship on January 1, 2015.[9] ICN on subchannel 26.4, a Chinese TV network also formerly available in New York and Los Angeles, ceased operations in mid-2016. Indian network, Diya TV, ceased on May 7, 2018, at midnight, due to KTSF moving to a new antenna.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KTSF's digital signal launched in 2002 on UHF channel 27.[10] The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 26, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[11] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 27,[12] using PSIP to display KTSF's virtual channel as 26 on digital television receivers. On May 7, 2018, the DTV transmitter for KTSF was turned off, and KTSF programming was shifted to virtual channels broadcast by KDTV from Mt. Allison.[13]


Mandarin programming[edit]

On February 13, 2006, KTSF began broadcasting Talk Tonight, a live Mandarin-language phone-in talk show; guests have included a variety of entertainment, political and sports figures. On August 4, 2013, the station began producing a local Mandarin-language financial program titled Talk Finance.

Japanese programming[edit]

KTSF broadcast Japanese programming during primetime on Saturday and Sunday, along with a Japanese language morning news program on weekdays, titled FCI Morning Eye. Fuji TV provided the Saturday night programming, while Tokyo TV provided its Sunday night programming, branded as TTV.[14] Fuji TV had been broadcasting since February 20, 1972 (predating KTSF's actual debut),[15] while Tokyo Television programming debuted on KTSF when it launched on September 4, 1976.[16] By December 2011, TTV programming had moved to KCNS channel 38.4.[17]

Fuji TV telecasts on KTSF ceased after March 29, 2014. As of that date, KTSF no longer airs any Japanese language programming.

CMC on KTSF[edit]

On weekday afternoons, KTSF carried programming from the California Music Channel, consisting of CMC California Music Channel and CMC Beat Lounge. The station also aired a late-night version of CMC that broadcasts on Saturday nights, known as CMC Late Night.,[18] However, that station dropped CMC on February 23, 2018 after 34 years.

News operation[edit]

KTSF presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays, and one hour on weekends). The station's newscasts are subject to delay or preemption due to special programming. It is currently the only television station in the United States broadcasting daily, live local and international news programming in both the Cantonese and Mandarin languages. KTSF currently utilizes Traditional Chinese subtitles for both the Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts; open captions are employed since closed captioning is only available for languages based on the Latin alphabet (e.g. English and Spanish).

The station launched its news department on February 6, 1989, with the debut of Cantonese News and Mandarin News as the first live Chinese-language television program in the United States. The station launched Mandarin News, as well as a local Mandarin-language talk program, known presently as Talk Tonight. Chinese News at 9 originally aired at 9:00 p.m. for 30 minutes, but was renamed Cantonese News on September 27, 1993, before it was extended to one hour and moved back to the 8:00 p.m. timeslot and eventually the current 7:00 p.m. on December 17, 2001. Chinese News at 8:45 originally aired at 8:45 p.m. for 15 minutes, but was renamed Mandarin News on February 7, 1994 before it was extended to 30 minutes and moved back to the 7:30 p.m. timeslot and eventually the current before it was extended to one hour and moved to 10:00 p.m. on December 17, 2001.

The station aired Hong Kong Weekly News from February 11, 1989, to March 18, 2006, with minor schedule changes. That show was pushed back to the 5:30 p.m. on December 28, 2002, and then moved back to the 5:00 p.m. timeslot on March 6, 2004. The station began producing weekend editions of its newscasts in Cantonese and Mandarin on March 25, 2006, that originally aired only in Cantonese on Saturday and Mandarin on Sunday; both of which aired originally at 6:00 p.m. before moving to 7:00 p.m. on January 4, 2014. Another major change occurred on January 9, 2016, as both the Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts expanded to air on both Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 and 10:00 p.m., respectively, to match their weekday counterparts. Unlike the weekday newscasts, the weekend news in both Cantonese and Mandarin airs for 30 minutes as opposed to one hour on weekdays.

The first local morning news in Cantonese debuted on October 17, 2016, Monday to Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m., with frequent weather and traffic updates every 10 minutes. Unlike a typical Chinese morning newscast, which runs their traffic and weather updates every 30 minutes, KTSF runs their morning newscast as a conventional morning news and adapting news in a similar format to most morning newscasts in the United States, but retaining features that are common on evening newscasts broadcast in Cantonese. Another major change occurred on March 4, 2016, as the Cantonese morning newscasts to air on Saturday at 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and on Sunday at 6:30 to 8:00 a.m.

Notable on-air staff[edit]

Former on-air staff[edit]


  1. ^ "On May 7th, KTSF will begin transmitting from a new antenna". www.ktsf.com. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  2. ^ a b KTSF Celebrates 30 Years as the Nation's Leading Asian Broadcaster
  3. ^ "Falling STAR" (PDF). Broadcasting. 4 April 1983. p. 131. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  4. ^ Dougan, Michael (28 November 1984). San Francisco Examiner. p. E-1 https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/460804074. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/local-tv-station-ktsf-in-san-francisco-launches-nielsen-measured-mobile-tv-app.html
  6. ^ http://www.ktsf.com/en/hd/
  7. ^ "On May 7th, KTSF will begin transmitting from a new antenna". www.ktsf.com. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  8. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KTSF
  9. ^ "Comcast Help and Support Forums > Xfinity TV > Channels and Programming > KTSF 173". 2015-01-06. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
  10. ^ BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KTSF-TV[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations Archived 2013-08-29 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ KTSF DTV Information
  13. ^ "On May 7th, KTSF will begin transmitting from a new antenna". www.ktsf.com. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  14. ^ "TOKYO TV". www.ttvusa.com. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "Tokyo TV - About Us". www.ttvusa.com. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ [3]

External links[edit]