KNVA, virtual channel 54 (UHF digital channel 49), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Austin, Texas, United States. The station is owned by Vaughan Media; Nexstar Media Group, which owns NBC/Ion Television affiliate KXAN-TV (channel 36) and Llano-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO (channel 14), operates KNVA under a local marketing agreement (LMA). The three stations share studios on West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and San Gabriel Street (between the Old West Austin section of Austin and the University of Texas at Austin campus); KNVA's transmitter is located at the West Austin Antenna Farm on Mount Larson (near Loop 360 and Westlake Drive, north of West Lake Hills).
On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channels 12 (SD) and 1212 (HD), Grande Communications channels 12 (SD) and 812 (HD), Suddenlink and Google Fiber channel 7 (SD/HD) and AT&T U-verse channels 12 (SD) and 1012 (HD).
The UHF channel 54 allocation in Austin was contested between three groups that competed for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of a construction permit to build and license to operate a new television station. Capitol City Community Interests Inc. (headed by David L. Ferguson and owned by Allandale Baptist Church) filed the initial application on May 22, 1984. Local entrepreneur Jo Cardenaz Stolz (doing business as DB Broadcasting Inc.) filed a separate application less than two months later on July 10. Four other locally based groups followed suit on July 11: Balcones Broadcasting (majority owned by Houston-based attorney Billy B. "Paz" Goldberg [who held a controlling 80% interest], along with his daughter-in-law, Edila P. Goldberg [who owned 4%], television journalist and then-anchor at ABC affiliate KVUE [channel 24] Ronnell H. "Ron" Oliveira, and Edna I. Ramon [both of whom held 8% shares]), Lake Country Telecasters Inc. (jointly owned by Evangelina D. Martinez and Cynthia Sau-Fong Soo), Channel 54 Ltd. (later Television 54 Corp., and owned by Noemi Correa [who held 30%], Berl L. Handcox and his wife, Ruby Hancox [both of whom owned 40% interests]) and ATV Associates Inc. (owned by Karen S. Daigle [who held a majority 47.66% interest], Diana G. Louis [who owned 19%] and Frances Pico [who owned 33.33%]). On September 3, 1985, Capital City Community Interests had its application dismissed with prejudice per a request to the FCC filed by Lake Country Telecasters.
In an administrative proceeding, FCC Administrative Law Judge Joseph Chachkin conditionally granted the permit to Balcones Broadcasting on July 10, 1986, denying the applications of Capital City Community Interests, Television 54 Corp., Capitol Area Broadcasting, ATV Associates and DB Broadcasting. The grant was conditioned on Billy Goldberg divesting his interests in NBC affiliate KVEO-TV in Brownsville and KVEO (at which Oliveira served as an assistant to the station's general manager at the time of the grant and which Goldberg was in the process of acquiring at the time Balcones filed its application) and Odessa-based independent station KPEJ (now a Fox affiliate). Shortly after obtaining approval for the permit and license, Balcones Broadcasting chose to request KCFP as the planned television station's call letters.
The original decision was affirmed on October 30, 1987, when the FCC approved a settlement agreement between the seven applicants and granted Balcones's amended application for UHF channel 54. Balcones' grant was subsequently challenged by Frontier Southwest Broadcasting Inc., only to be upheld on April 15, 1988 on grounds that denying the application in its favor would otherwise nullify Frontier's existing construction permit for a low-power station on UHF channel 55. On October 12, 1990, Balcones filed to sell the license to 54 Broadcasting Inc. (owned by Ron Oliveira and Billy Goldberg, along with Billy's wife, Rosalie Goldberg, and son Mark Goldberg of private equity firm Goldberg-Hirsch Ventures and a special assistant to the Texas State Comptroller at the time, and Mark Cohen and Mitchel Levy of LS Communications) for assumption of liabilities and payments to the Balcones partners to cover permit acquisition costs. The transfer received FCC approval 17 months later on March 26, 1992. Partly as a result of the sagging Texas economy caused by the oil bust of the late 1980s, the Goldberg-Oliveira consortium could not economically start up the station until it obtained financial backing from Houston-based investment firm 21st Century Corp. Aiding in helping 54 Broadcasting get the station on the air was LIN TV Corporation – then-owner of NBC affiliate KXAN-TV (channel 36) and its Llano satellite KXAM-TV (channel 14, now MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO) – with which the consortium entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) in the spring of 1994, in which KXAN would provide technical, programming and advertising resources.
Channel 54 – as KNVA (meaning "Nueva," in reference to the originally planned Spanish-language format) – began test broadcasts on August 24, 1994, in order to meet an FCC-required deadline to commence broadcasts by the end of that month to maintain the license. The station formally signed on the air one week later on August 31 (one week before Oliveira left his role as KVUE weeknight co-anchor to focus on managing KNVA). It was originally formatted as a 24-hour weather forecast service similar to the "Local Weather Station" format originated at the group as a cable channel operated by Indianapolis sister station WISH-TV – with content selected by the on-duty meteorologist – that featured loops of Doppler radar and satellite imagery, current conditions from KXAN's live weather observation network (along with maps detailing actual and apparent temperatures, and wind speeds within the viewing area), area lake levels, pollen counts, and local and regional forecasts as well as live and pre-recorded forecast segments presented by KXAN-TV's meteorologists. The format – which included breakaways for brief commercial breaks and customary station identifications – could also allow KNVA to provide supplementary live coverage from the KXAN weather staff in severe weather situations that did not warrant extended coverage on Channel 36.
Amid a network realignment caused by New World Communications's affiliation agreement with Fox (which planned to move its programming to CBS affiliate KTBC-TV [channel 7]) and the launches of the United Paramount Network (UPN, a joint venture between Paramount Television and Chris-Craft/United Television) and The WB (a venture between Time Warner and Tribune Broadcasting), 54 Broadcasting considered making bids for the affiliation rights to either CBS or UPN. However, CBS would sign a contract with lame-duck Fox affiliate KBVO-TV (channel 42, which changed its call letters to KEYE-TV upon joining the network in July 1995), as it had been longer established (signing on in December 1983) and was the only television station in Austin not affiliated with the Big Three networks that had a local news presence; meanwhile, KNVA managing partner LIN TV acquired the UPN affiliation, but opted to carry the network on seven low-power repeaters of KXAN. Instead, on November 10, 1994, KNVA signed an agreement to become a charter affiliate of The WB.
As a WB affiliate
On January 9, 1995, KNVA switched to a family-oriented general entertainment programming format, with program selections made based on suggestions from Central Texas residents; it originally carried a mix of classic and some recent off-network sitcoms and drama series, some feature films, first-run syndicated programs (including reality-based lifestyle and documentary programs and some scripted series), animated series, rebroadcasts of KXAN's local newscasts and a limited amount of Spanish-language programming. (Oliveira and his partners in the former Balcones Broadcasting originally considered operating Channel 54 as a Spanish-language outlet when the group submitted its initial application for the license, citing the lack of such an existing station in Austin even though the Hispanic/Latino populace accounted for roughly 25% of the area's total population.) Two days later on January 11, the station became a charter affiliate of The WB. Similar to other WB-affiliated stations of the period, KNVA – which initially branded as "KNVA 54" – filled the 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. time slot with first-run and off-network syndicated programs as The WB had only maintained a lineup of prime time programs on Wednesday nights at launch; this would become less of an issue as The WB launched additional nights of programming over the next four years, adopting a six-night weekly schedule in September 1999 (running Sunday through Fridays). By September 1995, KNVA began incorporating some series onto its schedule that KEYE was forced to vacate from its inventory to make room for the heavy amount of network programming brought on by its new CBS affiliation.
KNVA gradually evolved its programming slate during the late 1990s, scaling back many of the classic sitcom reruns that populated its schedule and shifting its focus more towards a lineup consisting primarily of family-oriented sitcoms and first-run talk shows during the daytime hours, and more recent sitcoms and first-run and off-network drama series as well as select reality series at night. In September 2001, the station changed its on-air branding to "Austin's WB 54". By 2002, court shows and additional talk and reality series had been added to the schedule, while animated programs carried on KNVA's schedule were relegated to those coming from Kids' WB; it became the last station in the market that continued to run cartoons on weekday afternoons until the weekday edition of the block was discontinued by The WB in January 2006, when the network replaced it with the Daytime WB rerun block (which would evolve into The CW Daytime).
Between March and September 2003, the station acquired a few syndicated shows that had been displaced from low-power independent station K13VC (channel 13) after it was forced off the air to make room for the digital signal of Killeen-licensed Univision owned-and-operated station KAKW-TV (channel 62). (KAKW had originally served the adjacent Waco–Temple–Killeen market since its sign-on as a primary WB/secondary UPN affiliate in 1996 until shortly after its purchase by Univision Communications the year prior, when the station's transmitter was relocated southward to primarily serve Austin and surrounding areas of the central Hill Country.) KNVA switched to identifying as simply "Austin's WB" in September 2003, amid a growing trend among Austin's UHF television stations of reducing their dependence on referencing their over-the-air channel allocation due to the high cable peneration rate within the market in order to receive UHF signals that were otherwise impaired by the Hill Country's rugged terrain.
As a (primary) CW affiliate
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that they would launch The CW Television Network, a joint venture that initially featured programs carried over from The WB and UPN – which Time Warner and CBS, respectively, would shut down in concurrence with the new network's launch – as well as new series specifically produced for The CW. Subsequently, on February 22, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a venture between its Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television units that was created to primarily to provide a network programming option for UPN and WB stations not chosen for charter affiliation by The CW (which, in markets where the two predecessor networks were carried on separate broadcast stations, chose its initial affiliates based on the highest viewership average between the local WB and UPN outlets).
At first, those moves put KNVA's future in doubt, as The CW and Corridor Television announced on March 28, that it had signed an agreement to affiliate the network with Fredericksburg-based UPN affiliate KBEJ (channel 2, now MyNetworkTV affiliate KCWX, a callsign that station adopted prior to joining The CW in August 2006). However, even though it had been serving as the Austin market's de facto UPN affiliate since K13VC abruptly disaffiliated from that network in October 2000, KBEJ/KCWX serves and its city of license is considered part of the San Antonio market (to its adjacent south). As such, KNVA's only options would have been either to join MyNetworkTV or default to operating as an independent station. But in a surprise move on April 18, LIN TV – as part of an affiliation deal that also consigned sister stations in Columbus, Buffalo and Mobile to join the network – announced that KNVA would serve as The CW's Austin charter affiliate. Even if KCWX's de facto dual-market status was not a factor, there was a likelihood that KNVA would have been chosen to join The CW in any event as – even though Austin had been large enough to support six commercial English-language television stations since the late 1980s – the Austin market lacked a sixth full-power commercial station at the time, which would have left a subchannel-only affiliation with one of the market's Big Four network stations as the network's only other viable option. As a result of both stations choosing to affiliate with The CW, KCWX management decided to re-target that station exclusively towards the San Antonio market. To comply with FCC restrictions on network duplication by cable providers, Time Warner Cable (which had its franchise rights acquired by Charter Spectrum in 2016, via its merger with Charter Communications) began blacking out CW programming carried over KCWX within its Austin service area effective October 1, 2006; it continued to transmit KCWX's syndicated and paid programming until April 3, 2007, when the provider officially removed the station from its Austin-area lineup.
Over a week after the CW affiliation announcement, on April 26, 2006, LIN – as part of a separate contract also covering sister stations in Indianapolis, Hartford–New Haven and Grand Rapids – announced that KNVA would also became a charter outlet of MyNetworkTV, offering its programming on a secondary basis. To date, KNVA was one of two American television stations carrying affiliations with both The CW and MyNetworkTV (the other being KWKB in Iowa City, Iowa, which would also drop MyNetworkTV and become an exclusive CW affiliate in September 2011). Until 2016, fellow MyNetworkTV charter stations WKTC in Columbia, South Carolina and WPWR-TV in Chicago (the latter serving as an O&O of the service) added primary CW affiliations while retaining a secondary MyNetworkTV affiliation over their main channels. (They were joined in August 2018 by WUAB in Cleveland, which also served as a dual affiliate of both networks until its MyNetworkTV programming rights were shifted to a subchannel of CBS-affiliated sister WOIO in February 2019; as of 2019, WKTC and WPWR are the only two American television stations that carry both networks on their primary channel.) On August 1, a video posted to the KNVA/KXAN shared website revealed the station would be officially branded as "The CW Austin," with MyNetworkTV programming branded as "MyNetworkTV on The CW Austin".
KNVA disaffiliated from UPN on September 4 and replaced its prime time programming with the MyNetworkTV lineup upon that network's September 5 launch. Channel 54 remained a primary affiliate of The WB until that network ceased operations in September 17, and subsequently affiliated with The CW when it debuted the following day (September 18). During prime time, KNVA initially carried programming from both networks each weeknight (with The CW's prime time schedule airing in pattern from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and MyNetworkTV programming carried on a two-hour delay from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m.). As the two networks did not have overlapping prime time schedules on weekend evenings, KNVA exclusively carried MyNetworkTV programs on Saturdays and exclusively carried CW programs on Sundays.
On July 27, 2009, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the original majority shareholders, Decatur, Illinois-based Vaughan Media (owned by media executive Thomas J. Vaughan) acquired a 95.5% majority stake in 54 Broadcasting, Inc. from Oliveira, LS Communications and Goldberg-Hirsch Ventures for $6 million. LIN TV continued to hold a 4.5% stake in the station thereafter, which was forwarded to the eventual acquirers of LIN's former assets. On October 21 of that year, Llano-based sister station KBVO – which had been serving as a semi-satellite of KXAN (as KLNO and later, KXAM-TV) since it signed on in September 1991 – adopted a separate entertainment schedule, assuming the MyNetworkTV affiliation rights for the Austin market from KNVA. This left Channel 54 exclusively affiliated with The CW, with syndicated programs – including some first-run and off-network series whose rights had been held by KNVA – being moved to KBVO to fill that station's new general-entertainment-based schedule; other syndicated shows were moved to new timeslots or added to KNVA's schedule to fill the former MyNetworkTV-occupied time slot on Monday through Friday evenings.
On March 21, 2014, Richmond, Virginia-based Media General announced that it would purchase the LIN Media stations, including KXAN-TV, KBVO (which it retained through the renewal of a satellite relay waiver that predated the termination of its KXAN simulcast to comply with FCC rules that prohibited legal duopolies in markets with fewer than eight independent full-power television station owners), and the LMA with and 4.5-percent stake in KNVA, in a $1.6 billion merger. The FCC approved the merger on December 12, 2014, with the deal being consummated on December 19.
On January 27, 2016, Irving-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group – which had a previous $14.50-per-share offer for the group be rejected two months earlier – announced that it would acquire Media General for an evaluation of $4.6 billion in cash and stock plus the assumption of $2.3 billion in Media General-held debt, in exchange for giving right of first refusal to the Meredith Corporation to acquire any divested broadcast or digital properties (a clause that Meredith did not exercise) as compensation for terminating a prior $2.4-billion acquisition agreement it reached with Media General the previous September to accept Nexstar's counterbid. The transaction was approved by the FCC on January 11, 2017; the sale was completed six days later on January 17, at which point the existing Nexstar stations and the former Media General outlets that were not subject to divestiture to address ownership conflicts in certain overlapping markets became part of the renamed Nexstar Media Group. The deal marked Nexstar's re-entry into the Austin market, as the group had previously operated CBS affiliate KEYE-TV (channel 42) under a local marketing agreement with Four Points Media Group from 2009 to 2011, concluding after Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired the KEYE and the other Four Points stations.
|TV stations in Texas|
|TV stations in Austin/Hill Country region|
|KTBC 7 (Fox) |
KBVO 14 (MNTV)
KADT-LD 16 (Daystar)
KVAT-LD 17 (AZA)
KLRU 18 (PBS)
KGBS-CD 19 (Stadium)
KADF-LP 20 (ANTENNA)
KVUE 24 (ABC)
K29HW-D 29 (Ind)
KTFO-CD 31 (UMas)
K34FM-D 34 (TBN)
KXAN 36 (NBC)
KXLK-CD 40 (Justice)
KEYE 42 (CBS)
KNVA 54 (CW)
KAKW 62 (UNI)