TV Stations Wikia

KOKH-TV, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 24), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KOCB (channel 34). The two stations share studios and transmitter facilities on East Wilshire Boulevard on the city's northeast side (situated to the adjacent east of the respective studio facilities of the duopoly of CBS affiliate KWTV-DT [channel 9] and MyNetworkTV affiliate KSBI [channel 52], and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority [OETA] PBS member network).

On cable, KOKH is available on Cox Communications channel 12 (standard definition) and digital channel 712 (high definition) and AT&T U-verse channels 25 (standard definition) and 1025 (high definition) in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and on either channel 12 or channel 13 on most cable systems elsewhere within the Oklahoma City DMA. On satellite, the station is available on channel 25 on DirecTV and Dish Network.


For the history of UHF channel 25 in Oklahoma City prior to 1959, see KTVQ (Oklahoma City).

As a non-commercial educational station[]

On July 25, 1958, while it was in the midst of protracted hearings regarding the predecessor station's bankruptcy, the Republic Television and Radio Company (owner of the allocation's original occupant, ABC affiliate KTVQ, from November 1, 1953 until it was forced off the air by court order on December 15, 1955) donated the construction permit and license. Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved the UHF channel 25 allocation in Oklahoma City for commercial broadcasting purposes, the school district proposed upon acquiring the permit to operate it as a non-commercial educational independent station. The district requested for the television station to use the KOKH call letters assigned at the time to its public radio station on 88.9 FM (now KYLV).

The station first signed on the air on February 2, 1959. KOKH was founded by Independent School District No. 89 of Oklahoma County (now Oklahoma City Public Schools). It originally operated from studio facilities based out of the district's Broadcasting Center at the former Classen High School building on North Ellison Avenue and Northwest 17th Street in Oklahoma City's Mesta Park neighborhood (now occupied by the Classen School of Advanced Studies), which also served as a production facility for National Educational Television affiliate KETA-TV (channel 13, now a PBS member station), which the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) signed on as Oklahoma's first educational television station on April 13, 1956. Channel 25's programming—which originally ran from Monday through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.—consisted of instructional and lecture-based telecourse programs developed in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, which offered the course subjects attributable for college credit.

In the summer of 1970, KOKH became the last television station in the Oklahoma City market to transmit programming in color, after RCA color transmission equipment—including three studio cameras, two videotape recorders, two film systems and two switchers—worth around $500,000 was donated to the school district. By that time, KOKH had expanded its Monday through Friday programming to between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

As a commercial independent station[]

In the fall of 1978, Oklahoma City Public Schools considered selling KOKH-TV, citing the station's operating expenses (which averaged $300,000 per year) had outran any benefits to the district and its struggles to raise $350,000 in matching funds to replace its existing transmitter and broadcast tower; internal studies had also indicated that teachers employed with district schools seldom used the instructional programs carried by KOKH for classroom credit. The district had planned to redirect the money it funneled into the television station to raise the salaries of area teachers. In Oklahoma City Public Schools' favor was the fact that it had never formally requested that the UHF channel 25 allocation—which had officially been reserved by the FCC for commercial use—be reclassified to non-commercial status upon buying the permit from Republic Television and Radio; the Oklahoma City area had also grown to a population large enough that a commercial independent station could now viably operate, making it possible for the school district to sell the KOKH license to a commercial television station operator. On December 14, 1978, New York City-based John Blair & Co. for $3.5 million; Blair outbid two groups that were also competing for the UHF channel 14 allocation at that time, commercial broadcaster The Outlet Company and the noncommercial religious Trinity Broadcasting Network (which would sign on KTBO-TV on channel 14 in March 1981).

Blair formally took over KOKH's operations on October 1, 1979, converting it into the first commercial independent station in Oklahoma, and leaving OETA flagship KETA-TV as Oklahoma City's sole educational television station. The station's first broadcast was a special 30-minute program inaugurating the station's new format at 6:00 a.m. that morning; this was followed by KOKH's first entertainment program, the syndicated children's show New Zoo Revue. It adopted a general entertainment format typical of a UHF-based independent, initially carrying a mix of cartoons, classic sitcoms, religious programs, some sports programming, and certain network programs preempted by NBC affiliate KTVY (channel 4, now KFOR-TV), ABC affiliate KOCO-TV (channel 5) and CBS affiliate KWTV (channel 9) to carry local or syndicated programming (among them, the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow, which KTVY preempted from 1982 to 1985, and Nightline, which ABC contracted KOKH-TV to show live-to-air from September 1983 to February 1985, after KOCO attempted to push the newsmagazine to a post-midnight slot). The station also heavily incorporated feature films onto its schedule, to such an extent that it was promoted as "Oklahoma's Great[est] Movie Station" from 1979 to 1986; KOKH usually carried four films per day—two each in the afternoon, and one to two films per night in prime time—Monday through Friday, and five to six films per day each weekend.

KOKH gained a competitor four weeks later on October 28, when Seraphim Media signed on the similarly formatted KGMC-TV (channel 34, now CW-affiliated sister station KOCB). This was followed by the launch of KAUT (channel 43) by Golden West Broadcasters on October 15, 1980, which initially featured programming from subscription service Video Entertainment Unlimited (VEU) at night as well as on weekend afternoons. (Three weeks later on November 3, KAUT added a rolling news format as well as a limited schedule of syndicated entertainment programs during the daytime hours on weekdays.) In May 1980, the station relocated its operations into a new 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) studio facility on East Wilshire Boulevard/Northeast 78th Street in northeast Oklahoma City; its transmitter facilities were also relocated to a 1,620-foot (490 m) transmission tower that was built adjacent to the studio building. During the early 1980s, KOKH signed on eight low-power UHF translators (in Elk City, Hollis, Erick, Strong City, Woodward, Ponca City and Ardmore) to extend its over-the-air coverage throughout the western two-thirds of Oklahoma and (via a repeater in Quanah) far northwest Texas.

Because of its status as the strongest of Oklahoma City market's three commercial independents, in the spring of 1986, KOKH was approached by News Corporation to become a charter affiliate of the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company. Station management turned the offer down because Fox's request that its inaugural program, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, be aired at 10:00 p.m. (when the station's second scheduled film of the evening would normally be in progress) would have caused disruption to its prime time double feature strategy. On July 25, Fox reached an agreement with KAUT (then owned by Rollins Communications) to serve as the network's Oklahoma City affiliate.

In July 1986, John Blair & Co. was approached by private equity firm Reliance Capital Group to initiate a friendly takeover of the group; Reliance offered to acquire 61% of the common shares held by Blair for $31 per share, and exchange the remaining shares for a 15-year debenture at a $20.75 face value; Blair also offered to pay a $1.50 dividend on each of the unacquired shares, pending completion of the Reliance acquisition. Blair and Co. considered the offer to prevent a hostile takeover by minority stockholder Macfadden Holdings, amid conflicting ideological concerns expressed by company shareholders over Macfadden's ownership of adult-oriented publications (McFadden planned to use the proceeds from its 1985 sale of pornographic magazine Cheri to take full control of Blair). On November 5, in a corporate restructuring to focus on expanding its Spanish language network NetSpan and to pay off debt incurred by the Reliance purchase, Blair and Co. sold KOKH, and NBC affiliates KSBW-TV in Salinas and KSBY in San Luis Obispo, California to Nashville-based Gillett Communications for $86 million; the sale was finalized on December 31. Gillett subsequently transferred KOKH, Fox affiliate WRLH-TV in Richmond, Virginia, NBC affiliate WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and CBS affiliates KOLN in Lincoln, Nebraska (as well as Grand Island satellite KGIN) and WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Busse Broadcast Communications—founded by former Gillett president Lawrence A. Busse, and operated as a trust company held by the children of George N. Gillett—to address ownership issues related to Gillett's purchase of a majority stake in Storer Communications; the transaction was finalized on August 27.

Aborted sale to Pappas Telecasting[]

Despite just barely ranking as a top-40 Nielsen market at the time, the Oklahoma City market did not have enough television-viewing households to support what were essentially three independent stations, nor was there a supply of programming on the syndication market that could sufficiently fill their respective schedules. In the summer of 1988, Visalia, California-based Pappas Telecasting Companies proposed a deal with Busse to purchase KOKH. The complex $30-million asset transfer proposal would have resulted in Pappas acquiring the programming inventories of both KGMC and KAUT (including channel 43's Fox affiliation rights) and integrating many of their acquired programs onto channel 25's schedule, solidifying the station's status as Oklahoma City's dominant independent. Simultaneously, Seraphim Media would donate the license and certain intellectual assets of KGMC to the OETA—with the intent of converting it into a secondary PBS station—for $1 million, with Pappas acquiring equipment and property assets owned by the station for an additional $1 million. Heritage Media (through its Rollins Communications subsidiary) would sell KAUT to a religious broadcaster in turn, which would convert that station to a non-commercial religious format. By that point, the Oklahoma City market had three commercial independents that each competed for the best syndicated programming. Governor Henry Bellmon voiced concerns with OETA's involvement in the transaction, suggesting that the purchase of a second Oklahoma City station would result in the authority, which had limited appropriations to adequately operate its existing state network as it stood, constantly requesting additional state funding.

On August 17, 1988, OETA submitted an FCC application to purchase KGMC, after, in advance of a fundraising deadline set for that date, Pappas offered to provide a $1 million contribution toward purchasing the station, contingent upon the company completing the KOKH purchase. (After the KGMC proposal was voted down by OETA's Board of Directors that September, Seraphim Media chose to sell KGMC to Cleveland, Ohio-based Maddox Broadcasting Corp.—which would have refocused that station to primarily refocus a mix of religious and Home Shopping Network [HSN] programming—for $3.6 million, including $2.6 million in intellectual assets [such as transmitter facilities, studio equipment and licenses] that would not be acquired by Pappas; then on November 1, Heritage Media announced it would sell KAUT to the OETA for $9.25 million in assets, with Pappas agreeing to lease KAUT's transmitter facility to OETA for 25 years for an annual $1 operating fee plus an additional $1 million contribution should the acquisition be completed.) The National Black Media Coalition filed a petition asking for the FCC to deny the transaction, contending that OETA was not qualified to acquire KGMC (which had been the center of an investigation into disgraced stock trader Ivan Boesky's improper transference of his majority share of the station's parent company to his wife) under an FCC policy allowing stations facing revocation of their licenses to be sold to a group led by eitwomen or minorities at 75% of their market value.

On September 12, Pappas Telecasting announced that it would purchase KOKH from Busse for $9 million, plus the assumption of liabilities totaling up to $7 million. The company also planned to change the station's call letters to KOKC-TV (the KOKC calls are now used by a news/talk radio station on 1520 AM). Although OETA planned to fund the conversion of channel 43 partly through start-up grants (including a $75,000 award by KOCO-TV management), in a move that hamstrung its attempt to acquire KAUT, the Oklahoma Legislature incorporated stipulations into the bill appropriating OETA's funding for FY1990 that prohibited the use of state funds "for any operational or capital expense of the proposed second educational television channel in Oklahoma City" and from proposing any additional funding to finance the acquisition if it did not obtain sufficient funding from private sources. In late January 1989, Busse management denied Pappas' request to extend the completion deadline for the purchase past its scheduled January 31 deadline. The entire transaction fell through on February 3, when Busse formally terminated the purchase agreement with Pappas. Just three days earlier, the FCC had also dismissed the respective transfer applications for KGMC and KAUT.

As a Fox affiliate[]

On April 23, 1991, Heritage Media announced its intent to purchase KOKH-TV from Busse Broadcast Communications for $7 million. In a downscaled version of the earlier Pappas proposal, the deal—which was contingent on approval of Heritage's acquisition of channel 25—would result in KAUT's license, transmitter and master control equipment being donated to OETA, which would be given a two-year option to purchase the rest of KAUT's assets for $1.5 million. On August 15, 1991, Heritage transferred KAUT's Fox affiliation rights and inventory of acquired programming over to KOKH-TV, which became branded as "KOKH Fox 25". The station also hired 30 of KAUT's former employees (including that station's outgoing general manager Harlan Reams, who would be appointed to that same post at KOKH), and acquired other equipment and intellectual property belonging to KAUT. Meanwhile, OETA—under a broadcasting pilot initiative between Heritage, the OETA Board of Directors, the OETA Foundation Board of Trustees, PBS, and Children's Television Workshop management, and funded in part with private contributions—switched channel 43 to an educational format that featured a mix of PBS and syndicated public television programs repurposed from the OETA state network, along with additional children's, lifestyle and telecourse programs that could not fit onto OETA's main schedule. (Channel 43, which adopted the KTLC call letters in September 1992, later reverted to an entertainment format as UPN affiliate KPSG in June 1998, following OETA's sale of the station to the Paramount Stations Group.)

For its first two years as a Fox affiliate, KOKH was programmed as a de facto independent station but not to the same extent that many of the network's stations were in the years following Fox's 1986 launch; as the affiliation moved to channel 25, Fox was preparing to expand its prime time programming to four nights a week (adding programming on Thursdays and Fridays to join its existing Saturday and Sunday lineups). Still, until Fox began offering programming on a nightly basis (with the addition of programming on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings) in January 1993, KOKH continued to air a movie at 7:00 p.m. on nights when network programs were not offered. It also became less reliant on movies during this period, due to the growing cable television industry impacting the ability of broadcast stations to acquire film content. Channel 25 would also rely on the network's Fox Kids block for its children's programming inventory, resulting in many syndicated children's programs that KOKH had aired to occupy portions of the weekday daytime and Saturday morning time periods being relegated to early morning time slots as well as around the morning and afternoon network blocks.

On March 17, 1997, News Corporation announced that it would purchase Heritage Media for $1.35 billion. FCC approval was dependent upon Heritage divesting most or all of its stations, as its broadcast properties would put News Corporation—which was mainly interested in purchasing Heritage-owned marketing company ACTMEDIA, which, through its integration with News Corporation's existing marketing operations, would turn it into the world's largest in-store marketing company—over the defined 35% national market reach for an individual television station owner of that time. (The company's Fox Television Stations subsidiary had operated 22 Fox owned-and-operated stations and one independent station at the time, including twelve that it had just recently acquired from New World Communications.)

Sinclair ownership[]

On July 16, 1997, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would buy Heritage's television and radio stations from News Corporation for $630 million. However, the deal would create ownership conflicts between the television stations that Sinclair and Heritage each ran in several cities, including Oklahoma City's KOCB, which Sinclair had acquired from Superior Communications in 1996. At the time, FCC media ownership rules restricted broadcasters from owning more than one commercial television station in any market; however, since the agency did not count such agreements as de facto ownership, Sinclair initiated local marketing agreements—a concept originated in the radio industry that it brought to television through the formation of a virtual duopoly between Fox affiliate WPGH-TV and independent station WPTT (now MyNetworkTV affiliate WPNT) in Pittsburgh in 1991—to operate stations that it could not own legally in other markets. Through a series of sales made to address antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice's San Francisco field office over the deal, on August 7, 1997, Sinclair sold channel 25 to Sullivan Broadcast Holdings for $60 million. Three days after Sullivan finalized the KOKH purchase, on February 4, 1998, Sinclair reversed course and exercised an option to buy channel 25 from Sullivan for $60 million; the deal preceded Sinclair's $100-million cash and debt acquisition of the entire 13-station Sullivan group on February 24, a deal which was finalized on July 1. Under the terms, Sinclair began operating KOKH under a time brokerage agreement with Sullivan (which Sinclair retained as a separate entity to operate KOKH and three other Sullivan-owned Fox affiliates, WTAT-TV in Charleston, South Carolina, WVAH-TV in Charleston, West Virginia and WRGT-TV in Dayton, Ohio). With KOCB acting as the senior partner, this arrangement placed KOKH in the unusual position of being the junior partner in a virtual duopoly with an affiliate of the lower-rated WB network (the Big Four network affiliate normally serves as the senior partner in most virtual or legal duopolies involving a station affiliated with a minor network).

In April 1998, after NBC affiliate KTEN dropped its secondary affiliations with ABC and Fox, KOKH became the default Fox affiliate for the Oklahoma side of the Sherman–Ada media market (including Ardmore and Durant) through carriage on cable providers (cable subscribers on the Texas side of the market received Fox programming via network-owned KDFW in Dallas). Due to there not being enough commercial stations in the market to retain an exclusive affiliation with the network, Fox would not regain an affiliate in the Sherman/Ada region until KXII launched a Fox-affiliated digital subchannel in September 2006.

In the spring of 1998, Glencairn, Ltd. announced that it would acquire KOKH, and transfer the LMA to that entity. The family of Sinclair Broadcast Group founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned 97% of the stock in Glencairn (which was to be paid, in turn, with Sinclair stock for the purchases), which would have effectively made the KOKH/KOCB combination a duopoly in violation of FCC rules of the time; Glencairn owned eleven television stations nationwide that Sinclair operated under local marketing agreements, and subsequently announced plans to sell five of its stations to Sinclair outright. This prompted the Rainbow/PUSH coalition to file petitions to the FCC to deny approval of the transaction, citing concerns over a single company holding two broadcast licenses in one market and arguing that Glencairn passed itself off as a minority-owned company (its president at the time, former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards, is African American) when it was really an arm of Sinclair that used the LMA to gain control of the station. Kelley International Licensing, a subsidiary of KWTV owner Griffin Television, also filed a complaint on similar grounds. The FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair in December 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn, although it chose to approve the acquisitions. However, as noted in a 2003 ruling on the matter by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the issue involving KOKH was rendered somewhat moot, as on August 5, 1999, the FCC began allowing broadcasters the ability to form duopolies between television stations, provided that eight independent owners remain in a market once a duopoly is formed and one of the stations does not rank among the four highest-rated. On November 17, 1999, the deal was restructured to allow Sinclair to acquire KOKH from Sullivan Broadcasting directly as part of a $53.2 million cash and debt forgiveness acquisition involving four other stations—Mission Broadcasting-owned UPN affiliates WUXP-TV (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) in Nashville and WUPN-TV (now MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV) in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Montecito Broadcast Group-owned independent station KFBT (now CW affiliate KVCW) in Las Vegas—along with acquiring five stations from Glencairn (whose control would be fully transferred from Edwards to Carolyn Smith, widow of Julian Smith) in an $8-million all-stock purchase; the deal created the Oklahoma City market's first television duopoly with KOCB.

During the late 1990s, KOKH lessened its reliance on running cartoons and classic sitcoms, and began acquiring more talk shows, reality series and court shows, although more recent sitcoms remained as part of its schedule. After Fox discontinued the Fox Kids weekday block in December 2001, KOKH continued to carry retained the remaining Saturday morning children's lineup (which was relaunched FoxBox in September 2002, and was later branded as 4Kids TV from September 2005 until December 2008, when the network stopped providing children's programming after it declined to renew its agreement with time-lease partner 4Kids Entertainment). The station subsequently switched its weekday daytime schedule, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to a lineup dominated by court shows (such as Divorce Court, Judge Mathis and The People's Court); this reliance on the genre reached to the extent that it broadcast every court show available in syndication during the 2006-07 season. In September 2002, KOKH de-emphasized the "Fox 25" branding, opting to verbally identify the station alternatingly as "Fox Oklahoma City" or "Oklahoma City's Fox" in on-air promotions (though its channel 25 position continued to be featured within the station's logo); KOKH reverted to using the "Fox 25" branding full-time in 2006. On March 5, 2012, KOKH and KOCB became the last stations in the Oklahoma City market to begin carrying syndicated programs, station promos and other commercials in high definition.

Averted loss of Fox affiliation; aborted sale to Standard Media[]

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media—which has owned KFOR-TV and independent station KAUT-TV since December 2013—for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune, pending regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. Because Sinclair and Tribune each owned two television stations in the Oklahoma City market, with KFOR and KOKH both ranking among the market's four highest-rated stations in total day viewership, the companies were required to sell either KOKH or KFOR (and optionally, KOCB and KAUT) to another station owner in order to comply with FCC local ownership rules. On August 2, 2017, reports surfaced that 21st Century Fox was proposing a deal in which its Fox Television Stations division and Ion Media would contribute their respective stations into a joint venture, in which Fox programming would be shifted from as many as 26 Sinclair stations to the Ion-owned stations in markets where Sinclair and Tribune's stations conflict. As the initial deal would have combined Sinclair's 38 existing affiliates and Tribune's 14 Fox affiliates (comprising 28% of the network's national affiliate reach, with the bulk based among the top-50 markets), this proposal was seen as a tactic to place pressure on Sinclair to abandon the acquisition or to limit the group's reverse compensation leverage in future contract negotiations by forcing it to sell certain Fox stations involved, in exchange for renewing affiliation agreements that were set to expire at the end of 2017. The chances of KOKH keeping its Fox affiliation increased somewhat in October 2017 when Ion elected its stations to have must-carry status—which only applies to a station's main feed, allowing Fox to possibly affiliate with a digital subchannel of KOPX-TV (channel 62) and other Ion-owned stations—for a three-year period, instead of retransmission consent.

On April 24, 2018, in an amendment to the Tribune acquisition through which it proposed the sale of certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies to curry the DOJ's approval, Sinclair announced that it would sell KOKH-TV and eight other stations—Sinclair-operated WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines, WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton–Wilkes-Barre and WXLV-TV in Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids—to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million. The transaction included a transitional services agreement, through which Sinclair would have continued operating KOKH for six months after the sale's completion. Sinclair did not include KOCB in the sale; as a result, KOCB would have formed a new legal duopoly with KFOR-TV once Sinclair assumes ownership of the latter, but would have continued to operate channel 34 alongside KOKH under a transitional services agreement for six months after the sale's completion. Since FCC rules prohibit common ownership of more than two full-power stations in a single market, Sinclair would have spun off KAUT-TV to affiliate company Howard Stirk Holdings for $750,000; however, it would assume control of that station through shared services and joint sales agreements with Stirk.

Less than one month after the FCC voted to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties (such as KAUT-TV), and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. Standard Media's purchase of KOKH and the other six Tribune- and Sinclair-operated spin-off stations was also effectively terminated as that deal was predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.

TV stations in Oklahoma
KOKH, Oklahoma City

KOKI, Tulsa

TV stations in Central, Northwestern and West-central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City
KOMI-CD 24 (Youtoo)
KOKH 25 (Fox)
KOCB 34 (CW)
KAUT 43 (Ind.)
KOCM 46 (Daystar)
KOPX 62 (Ion)