KICU-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 36, branded as KTVU Plus, is an independent television station licensed to San Jose, California, United States and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Oakland-licensed Fox owned-and-operated station KTVU (channel 2). The two stations share studios at Jack London Square in downtown Oakland; KICU's transmitter is located on Monument Peak in Milpitas. On cable, the station is carried on channel 6 on most providers in the market.
Prior history of UHF channel 36 in Northern California
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 new 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. 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
KICU-TV first signed on the air on October 3, 1967 as 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. It was originally owned by Continental-Urban Television Corporation. It first operated from studios located on Kerley Drive in San Jose.
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.
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.
Continental sold the station to Ralph Wilson Enterprises, owned by Detroit businessman Ralph Wilson who also managed the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise in 1979. The station subsequently changed its call letters to KICU-TV (a play on the phrase "I See You") on March 27, 1981. the KICU calls had previously been assigned to an independent station on UHF channel 43 (now occupied by Estrella TV 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). 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.
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
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 stations is not among the four highest-rated) as a caveat in its decision to divest KICU.
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. 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.
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; 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.
Acquisition by Fox Television Stations
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. The trade was completed on October 8, 2014. It 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.
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 would 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, 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). The "KTVU Plus" branding has since inspired Fox to de-emphasis its localized MyNetworkTV brand and rebrand to an extension of their Fox O&O sisters in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Phoenix and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
|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|
|KTSF, San Francisco|
|KICU, San Francisco/San Jose|
|KXLA, Rancho Palos Verdes/Los Angeles|
|KUSI, San Diego|
|KSKT-CD, San Diego|
|KDOC, Los Angeles|
|TV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area|
|KAXT-CD 1 (Decades) |
KTVU 2 (Fox)
KRON 4 (MNTV)
KPIX 5 (CBS)
KGO 7 (ABC)
KQSL 8 (TLN)
KQED 9 (PBS)
KNTV 11 (NBC)
KDTV-DT/KDTV-CD 14/28 (Uni)
KOFY 20 (Ind)
KRCB 22 (PBS)
KAAP-LD 24 (DIYA)
KTSF 26 (Ind)
KCNZ-CD 28 (CRTV)
KMTP 32 (ETV)
KICU 36 (Ind)
KCNS 38 (SBN)
KMMC-LD 40 (3ABN Latino)
KTNC 42 (TCT)
KBCW 44 (CW)
KSTS 48 (TLM)
KZHD-LD 49 (Ind)
KEMO 50 (AZA)
KDTS 52 (DAYSTAR)
KQEH 54 (PBS)
KPJK 60 (ETV)
KKPX 65 (Ion)
KFSF-DT 66 (UMas)
KTLN 68 (H&I)