KOVR, virtual channel 13 (UHF digital channel 25), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station serving Sacramento, California, United States that is licensed to Stockton. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Sacramento-licensed CW owned-and-operated station KMAX-TV (channel 31). The two stations share studios on KOVR Drive in West Sacramento and transmitter facilities in Walnut Grove.
The station first signed on the air on September 6, 1954, with its first broadcast originating from the California State Fair. KOVR is the oldest continuously operating television station in the Sacramento market. Originally serving as an independent station with its transmitter located on Mount Diablo, its signal reached the San Francisco Bay Area, lending to the KOVR call letters ("covering" all of Northern California). The station originally operated from studio facilities located on Miner Avenue in Stockton. Art Finley hosted an afternoon children's program, Toonytown, on the station for several years, before moving to San Francisco's KRON-TV.
As an ABC affiliateEdit
In May 1957, KOVR merged its operations with Sacramento's original ABC affiliate, KCCC-TV (channel 40, which signed on eleven months before KOVR in September 1953). KCCC shut down, with KOVR acquiring the ABC affiliation. At the network's request, the station moved its transmitter facilities to a temporary site near Jackson to avoid competition with KGO-TV in San Francisco. By this time, it was obvious that Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto were going to be a single television market. In 1960, KOVR teamed up with KCRA-TV (channel 3) and KXTV (channel 10) to build a new 1,549-foot (472 m) tower in Walnut Grove. In 1985, KOVR and KXTV moved to their current 2,049-foot (625 m) tower while KCRA moved to its own 2,000-foot (610 m) tower; KCRA still uses the old tower as an auxiliary facility.
In 1958, the Gannett Company (whose successor company, Tegna, now owns rival KXTV) bought KOVR from its original owners, then sold it the following year to John Kluge's Metropolitan Broadcasting (which later became Metromedia). In 1960, the station moved its business offices and news department to a new studio facility on Arden Way in Sacramento. In 1987, KOVR consolidated its operations into its current facility in West Sacramento.
Metromedia sold KOVR to McClatchy Newspapers in 1964. McClatchy ran the station alongside The Sacramento Bee and Modesto Bee newspapers, as well as radio stations KWG (1230 AM) in Stockton, KBEE (970 AM) in Modesto and KFBK (1530 AM) in Sacramento. McClatchy was able to own KOVR, KWG, KBEE and KFBK because Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto, then as now, were separate radio markets. McClatchy had established a trio of bee mascots (originally designed by Walt Disney, whose namesake company would eventually acquire ABC in 1996) for its properties. Teevee the Bee was KOVR's official mascot during the years that McClatchy owned the station – short cartoons of the bee bookended KOVR's broadcast day, either ushering in or concluding the day's programming.
After McClatchy sold the station to Outlet Communications in 1978, KOVR went into a gradual decline in terms of both ratings and programming quality (even as ABC became the country's highest-rated network), and has been in third place in the Sacramento ratings for most of the time since then. The station was then sold to Narragansett Television LP in 1986, then to Anchor Media in 1988. Anchor Media was merged into River City Broadcasting in 1993, and River City was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group three years later. KOVR has made some firsts in local broadcasting: it was the first station in Northern California to use videotape (rather than film) for its newscasts, and was the first station in the Sacramento/Stockton area to broadcast in stereo.
As an ABC affiliate, KOVR preempted a moderate amount of programming, even the 30-minute soap opera Loving. It also aired some ABC programming out of pattern: All My Children in the early years was aired at 11 a.m. (half of ABC's affiliates aired the soap at 11 a.m. to follow it with their noon newscasts; until the series was cancelled in 2011, the network recommended that the program run in the noon timeslot). In the mid-1990s, KOVR moved the soap opera to 3 p.m., a practice continued by KXTV following its affiliation switch with KOVR until the early 2000s.
Switching to CBSEdit
On March 6, 1995, KOVR swapped networks with longtime CBS affiliate KXTV; KOVR is the third station in Sacramento to have been affiliated with CBS: before moving to KXTV, KCCC carried the network secondarily to its primary ABC affiliation. Despite joining CBS, KOVR chose not to air Guiding Light, a practice originated by KXTV during its CBS days (due to the show's below-average ratings in the area). When the program ended its run on September 18, 2009, it was one of only two CBS affiliates that did not carry the show; the other, WNEM-TV in Bay City, Michigan, aired it on a MyNetworkTV-affiliated digital subchannel. During Guiding Light's last 16 seasons, Sacramento viewers had to view it on cable via San Francisco's CBS affiliate, KPIX.
A more notable oddity with KOVR's affiliation with CBS is that the station runs the network's primetime lineup one hour earlier than the standard 8 (7 on Sundays) to 11 p.m. scheduling for the Pacific as well as the Eastern time zones, opting to run it from 7 to 10 p.m. (the standard scheduling used by stations in the Central and Mountain time zones). When KOVR was an ABC affiliate, the station had an 11 p.m. newscast like most stations on the coastal time zones. Upon the network switch, the station followed the then-practice of now-sister station KPIX in having an hour-long primetime newscast at 10 p.m. (KPIX later moved its late evening newscast back to the 11 p.m. slot in 1998). In recent ratings periods, KOVR has battled Fox affiliate KTXL (channel 40) for the lead among the newscasts in the 10 p.m. timeslot, with KOVR leading in total households and KTXL leading in the key demographics.
In 2001, KOVR gained attention when it landed a "local exclusive" interview with Congressman Gary Condit regarding the Chandra Levy murder case (Condit appeared the same evening on ABC, in an interview with Connie Chung). The station televised an interview on August 30 in which Condit claimed that he did not kill Levy after a visit with the slain intern. Despite numerous KOVR reports filed by reporter Gloria Gomez, the Condit interview was granted to another KOVR reporter, Jodi Hernandez. Much of the national interest in the case was lost days later, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
In December 2004, Sinclair sold KOVR to Viacom Television Stations Group (now part of CBS Corporation as CBS Television Stations), creating the third duopoly in the Sacramento market with KMAX-TV (channel 31, then a UPN owned-and-operated station, now a CW O&O) and CBS' third television duopoly in California (after KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV in Los Angeles; and KPIX and KBCW in San Francisco). Viacom was forced to sell KFRC radio in San Francisco as a condition of the sale, as the station's city-grade signal reaches Sacramento; the purchase was finalized on April 29, 2005. The station then changed its on-air branding from "KOVR 13" to "CBS 13".
|TV stations in California|
| KCBS, Los Angeles|
KCOY, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo
|TV stations in Northern California, including Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto|
| KCRA 3 (NBC)|
KVIE 6 (PBS)