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KCAL-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 9, is an independent television station located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation as part of a duopoly with CBS owned-and-operated station KCBS-TV (channel 2). The two stations share studio facilities inside the CBS Studio Center in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.

HistoryEdit

KFI-TV (1948–1951)Edit

Channel 9 signed on the air as commercial station KFI-TV on August 25, 1948, owned by Earle C. Anthony alongside KFI radio (640 AM). However, the station was originally licensed as experimental W6XEA about 1940 and in 1944, applied for the call letters KSEE. It is unknown whether any transmissions occurred under either call sign. The station initially broadcast a limited schedule with six hours weekly, and formally began operations on October 6, 1948, with 3.5 hours that day. Though KFI had long been affiliated with NBC Radio, KFI-TV did not affiliate with the then-upstart NBC Television Network as it was building its own station, KNBH (channel 4, now KNBC), which went on the air in January 1949.; KFI general manager William B. Ryan indicated a willingness to affiliate with a network other than NBC or starting a mutual regional network. Channel 9 has been an independent station for virtually its entire history, though it carried DuMont programming from 1954 up until the network's 1956 demise.

KHJ-TV (1951-1989)Edit

Channel 9's engineers threatened to go on strike in 1951, leading Anthony to sell the station to the General Tire and Rubber Company in August of that year. A few months earlier, General Tire had purchased the Don Lee Broadcasting System, a regional West Coast radio network (the original Don Lee television station, KTSL channel 2, was sold separately to CBS). Don Lee's flagship station was KHJ radio (930 AM), and General Tire changed its new television station's call letters to KHJ-TV in September 1951. One former employee referred to the call letters as standing for "kindness, happiness and joy," although the call sign was likely randomly assigned. The Don Lee name was so well respected in California broadcasting that KHJ-TV called itself "Don Lee Television" for a few years in the early 1950s, even though it had never been affiliated with KHJ radio until the 1951 deal.

In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures, giving the company's television station group access to RKO's film library, and in 1959, General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed as RKO General.

By the mid-1960s, channel 9 offered a standard independent schedule of movies, off-network reruns, children's shows like The Pancake Man hosted by Hal Smith (who showed educational shorts like The Space Explorers), first-run syndicated programs, and locally produced programs including local newscasts, sports events and public affairs programs. In the late 1960s, KHJ embarked on a novel, groundbreaking (and inexpensive) experiment, called Tempo, which heavily borrowed from the talk radio craze on local radio stations. Daytime programming was divided into three blocks running three hours in length, called Tempo I, Tempo II and Tempo III. The second of the three programs, Tempo II was perhaps the most active, controversial and innovative. For the first couple of years the hosts were Stan Bohrman and Maria Cole (the wife of Nat King Cole). Guests ranged from William F. Buckley to Sammy Davis, Jr. and the political movers and shakers in Southern California. At one point, Stan even quit the program after what he called censorship on the topic of Eldridge Cleaver. Bohrman came back to the program and was joined by a new co-host, Regis Philbin. They became a very popular fixture in Los Angeles television. In fact, in his book about those days, Regis credits the chemistry with Stan and the format of the program as forerunners of much of what would become the cable news format 20 years later.

In the early 1970s, KHJ-TV sought a similar programming strategy to that of crosstown competitor KTLA (channel 5), which focused more on talk shows, game shows, sports, feature films and off-network drama series. The cartoons were phased out (some of them moving to KTTV and KCOP-TV), and the station ran fewer off-network sitcoms. It did continue to have a weekday children's show called Froozles, which ran until the late 1980s. It also produced many half-hour public affairs programs, as well as a local talk show called Mid-Morning L.A. The first hosts were Kathy McKee and Sandy Baron on the Mid Day and Good Morning L.A. talk shows. Both were hired by KHJ's then-station manager Lional Schaen. Bob Hilton, Meredith MacRae, Geoff Edwards and Regis Philbin, also hosted programs on the station well into the 1980s. Edwards and MacRae won Emmy Awards for their hosting duties during the early 1980s. Some other locally produced public affairs programs included the investigative show Camera 9 and The Changing Family, a program about family and social issues during the 1980s. Despite this, KHJ-TV was perceived as an also ran while KTLA was the leading independent station, even though it had a similar format.

Meanwhile, a behind-the-scenes battle was underway with serious implications on the station's future – and that of its owner. In 1965, RKO General faced a threat to its license for KHJ-TV from a group called Fidelity Television.[9] At first, Fidelity's claim focused on channel 9's programming quality. Later, Fidelity levied a more serious claim that KHJ-TV was involved in reciprocal trade practices. Fidelity alleged that RKO's parent company, General Tire, forced its retailers to purchase advertising on KHJ-TV and other RKO-owned stations as a condition of their contracts with General Tire. An administrative law judge found in favor of Fidelity, but RKO appealed.[citation needed] In 1972, the FCC allowed RKO to keep the license for KHJ-TV, but two years later conditioned future renewals on the renewal of sister station WNAC-TV (now WHDH-TV) in Boston.[10] Six years later, the FCC stripped WNAC-TV of its license for numerous reasons, but largely because RKO had misled the FCC about corporate misconduct at General Tire. The decision meant KHJ-TV and sister station WOR-TV in New York City lost their licenses as well. However, an appeals court ruled that the FCC had erred when it tied channel 9's renewal to that of WNAC-TV and ordered new hearings for KHJ-TV and WOR-TV.

The hearings dragged on until 1987; as a result of this, the station was forced to air an unusually large amount of public-affairs programming; a combination of this and the station's cash reserves being drained by RKO's legal battling led to decreased ratings (and the stations' perception as an "also-ran"). That year, an administrative law judge found RKO unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to numerous cases of dishonesty by RKO, including fraudulent billing and lying about its ratings.The FCC advised RKO that it would almost certainly deny any appeals, and persuaded RKO to sell its stations to avoid the indignity of having their licenses taken away.

KCAL-TV (1989–present)Edit

In the midst of RKO's corporate issues, the company reached terms to sell KHJ-TV to Westinghouse Broadcasting in November 1985. But the protracted legal issues delayed FCC action on the transfer and Westinghouse ultimately withdrew its offer. A short time later, RKO General agreed to sell the station to the Walt Disney Company; however, this transfer was also held up for over a year for the same reasons. Fidelity Television, the group that originally challenged the license in 1965, also argued against the sale. In July 1988, the FCC allowed the transfer in a complicated settlement deal: the station's license was awarded to Fidelity, with Disney then eventually purchasing the license from Fidelity and KHJ-TV's intellectual property and physical assets from RKO. The final purchase price was $324 million. As a result of the sale, KHJ-TV's entire management team, including longtime KHJ-TV general manager Charles Velona, was dismissed. During the RKO/Fidelity/Disney transition, KHJ-TV's community of license was changed to the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk, also as part of the FCC settlement; it was later moved back to Los Angeles proper.

Even though Channel 9's longtime radio sisters had changed their calls to KRTH some years before (although the AM station has since gone back to the KHJ callsign), Disney wanted to make a clean start. Accordingly, the company changed the station's callsign to KCAL-TV on December 2, 1989, and initially branded the station as "California 9", before it become known as "K-CAL 9" in 1995. The station also continued to overhaul its format in the wake of its ownership change, adding a three-hour primetime newscast on March 5, 1990 featuring veteran newscasters Jerry Dunphy, Pat Harvey and Jane Velez-Mitchell. KCAL also added many more children's programs, including cartoons from the Walt Disney animation library (including the syndicated series DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and later the Disney Afternoon). The station also added a few more family-oriented off-network sitcoms and syndicated programs and then broadcast the popular anime series Sailor Moon, that lasted well into 1997. In the early 1990s, family sitcoms were gradually phased out and KCAL added more first-run syndicated talk, reality and court shows, as well as newsmagazine series.

On March 30, 1992, Disney agreed to sell KCAL-TV's license to Pineland, Inc., then the parent company of channel 9's former New York City sister station, now called WWOR-TV. Disney would have received a 45% ownership stake in Pineland, allowing for increased original programming to be shared between the two reunited stations. The planned merger never materialized; Pineland would agree to sell WWOR-TV to Chris-Craft Industries, then-parent of KCOP (channel 13).

In 1996, the Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC, owners of KABC-TV (channel 7). Due to FCC regulations at the time that barred the ownership of two television stations in the same media market, Disney purchased KABC-TV and chose to divest KCAL, which was purchased by Young Broadcasting - which Disney owned a stake in at the time - on May 14, 1996, for $385 million. The afternoon children's program block would remain until 1999, when KCOP began airing a block of animated series that UPN contracted Disney to produce. By 2000, children's programs that aired during the morning hours were dropped as well under the ownership of Young Broadcasting.

Purchase by CBS (2002–present)Edit

As a result of a massive debt load that the company had accrued from its 2000 purchase of its San Francisco station, KRON-TV (which lost its NBC affiliation in January 2002 due to a dispute between Young and the network), Young Broadcasting put KCAL up for sale in 2002. The station was purchased by CBS, then a subsidiary of Viacom, on February 14, 2002; the deal was finalized on June 1, 2002. KCAL's operations were merged with those of KCBS-TV, and channel 9 moved from its longtime headquarters at the Viacom-owned Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood to CBS Columbia Square, located one mile north of the studio lot. The sale reunited the station with fellow former RKO General property KRTH-FM, which CBS had acquired in 1997. The properties were split again when CBS spun off its radio division to Entercom in 2017.

When CBS/Viacom bought KCAL-TV, broadcasting industry observers speculated that UPN's programming would move to KCAL from KCOP-TV. KCOP's previous owners, Chris-Craft Industries, had co-founded UPN with Viacom in 1995, and owned 50% of the network before selling its stake in UPN to Viacom in 2000; Fox Television Stations purchased KCOP and most of Chris-Craft's UPN stations in 2001. However, CBS continued to operate channel 9 as an independent station, as Fox renewed its affiliation agreement for its UPN affiliates; it is widely believed that Fox used KCOP as leverage to keep UPN on Fox-owned stations in New York City (WWOR-TV, KCAL's former sister station) and Chicago (WPWR-TV), threatening to drop the network in those markets should Viacom move the UPN affiliation in Los Angeles to KCAL. This issue became moot with the January 2006 announcement of the merger of UPN and The WB into The CW Television Network. The new network launched on September 18, 2006, with former WB affiliate KTLA as its Los Angeles outlet, due to an affiliation agreement with owner Tribune Broadcasting that resulted in 16 of Tribune's WB affiliates joining the network. KCAL-TV remains an independent station, and is currently one of three such stations owned by CBS (the others are KTXA in Fort Worth and WLNY-TV in the New York City area).

On April 21, 2007, KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV moved from Columbia Square to an all-digital facility at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. The move allowed both stations to begin broadcasting all locally produced programs in high definition, and in addition, the two stations operate in a completely tapeless newsroom. This newsroom is named in honor newscaster Jerry Dunphy, who worked at both stations during his career. With the move to Studio City and KCET's later move to Burbank, KTLA is currently the only remaining station in Los Angeles (either in radio or television) whose studios are operated out of Hollywood.

KCAL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, at 1:10 p.m. on June 12, 2009, and converted its broadcasts exclusively to digital television as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 43 to VHF channel 9. Sister station KCBS-TV took over the channel 43 allocation as it moved its digital signal from channel 60 as a result of the phaseout of channels 52-69.

Programming includes The People’s Court, Judge Mathis, and among others.

TV stations in California
Independent stations Public TV stations
KBTV-CD, Sacramento KCET, Los Angeles
KCAL, Los Angeles KMTP, San Francisco
KIIO-LD, Los Angeles KPJK, San Mateo
KSCI, Long Beach
KOFY, San Francisco
KHTV-CD, Los Angeles
KNLA-CD, Los Angeles
KBSV, Ceres
KTSF, San Francisco
KICU, San Francisco/San Jose
KXLA, Rancho Palos Verdes/Los Angeles
KUSI, San Diego
KSKT-CD, San Diego
KDOC, Los Angeles
KTNC, Concord
KGEC-LD, Redding
TV stations in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, and portions of the Inland Empire
KCBS 2 (CBS)
KNBC 4 (NBC)
KTLA 5 (CW)
KHTV-CD 6 (Ind)
KABC 7 (ABC)
KFLA-LD 8 (NEWSNET)
KCAL 9 (Ind)
KIIO-LD 10 (IND)
KTTV 11 (FOX)
KTBV-LD 12 (Ind)
KCOP 13 (MNTV)
KPOM-CD 14 (HSN2)
KSCI 18 (Ind)
KNLA-CD 20 (SBN)
KVME 20 (H&I)
KWHY 22 (Ind)
KVCR 24 (PBS)
KVHD-LD 26 (EVINE)
KSFV-CD 27 (JEWELRY)
KCET 28 (ETV)
KPXN 30 (Ion)
KVMD 31 (LATV)
KCIO-LD 33 (IND)
KMEX 34 (UNI)
KTAV-LD 35 (ALMA)
K36JH-D 36 (TVA)
KHIZ-LD 39 (COURT)
KTBN 40 (TBN)
KXLA 44 (Ind)
KFTR 46 (UnM)
KOCE 50 (PBS)
KVEA 52 (TLM)
KAZA 54 (MeTV)
KDOC 56 (Ind)
KJLA 57 (AZA)
KLCS 58 (PBS)
KRCA 62 (ESTRELLA)
KBEH 63 (Rel)
KILM 64 (Ion Life)
KEDD-LD 69 (HSN)
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