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KRCW-TV, virtual channel 32 (UHF digital channel 33), is a CW-affiliated television station serving Portland, Oregon, United States that is licensed to the state capital of Salem. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. KRCW's studios are located on Southwest Arctic Drive in Beaverton, and its transmitter is located in the Sylvan-Highlands section of Portland. It operates a low-powered fill-in digital translator in Portland, KRCW-LP (VHF channel 5, also remapped to virtual channel 32 via PSIP), which operates its transmitter alongside KRCW's digital signal.


Early history[]

The station was launched on May 8, 1989 under the call sign KUTF (standing for "Keep Up The Faith"), its original transmitter was located outside Molalla. The station's original programming format almost entirely consisted of religious programs. It was originally operated by Dove Broadcasting then sold to Eagle Broadcasting on July 17, 1991. On February 11, 1992, the station's callsign was changed to KEBN (standing for "Eagle Broadcasting Network"). The previous KUTF calls now reside on the Daystar owned-and-operated station in Logan, Utah. On April 26, 1992, it was announced that KEBN would adopt a general entertainment programming format as "Oregon's New Eagle 32". On October 1, the station went off the air but returned on September 5, 1994 airing a number of infomercials, public domain movies, and brokered shows for eight hours a day (it expanded to 24 hours by Labor Day of that year). James R. McDonald owned the station via Channel 32, Inc.

KEBN became a charter affiliate of The WB upon its launch on January 11, 1995 and changed its call letters to KWBP to reflect its new affiliation on October 2. By the fall of that year, bartered syndicated programming (including cartoons, and some older sitcoms and dramas) were added to the station's schedule. It also relayed the O. J. Simpson trial from future sister station KTLA in Los Angeles. After becoming a WB affiliate, KWBP significantly upgraded its on-air look and schedule. It acquired several first-run syndicated sitcoms and talk shows. It grew even further after being purchased by ACME Communications in 1997. At that point, a low-power relay, KWBP-LP (originally operating on channel 4, now on channel 5) was established in Downtown Portland to address signal issues in that area. By the start of the new millennium, KWBP had established itself as a solid competitor to established non-Big Three stations KPTV (channel 12) and KPDX (channel 49).

Tribune ownership[]

On December 30, 2002, ACME sold KWBP and KPLR-TV in St. Louis, Missouri to the Tribune Company for $270 million ($70 million of which was declared as the purchase price for KWBP). KWBP's growth continued, especially with KPDX's parent company Meredith Corporation purchasing KPTV and absorbing both that station's Fox affiliation and news operation into KPTV, leaving KPDX a weakened rival in the aftermath.

On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. KWBP was announced as Portland's CW affiliate through a 16-station group affiliation agreement with Tribune, while the market's UPN affiliate KPDX-TV (channel 49, owned by the Meredith Corporation) was named as the Portland affiliate of MyNetworkTV (another new network created by News Corporation as a result of the formation of The CW).

On September 16, 2006, KWBP changed its call letters to the current KRCW-TV. It affiliated with The CW when it launched on September 18, 2006. On April 6, 2009, KRCW joined other Tribune-owned CW affiliates in phasing out the network's branding from the station's own on-air brand, referring to itself as "NW 32 TV." The station reinstated CW branding in August 2012, rebranding as "Portland's CW 32."

Aborted sale to Sinclair; pending sale to Nexstar[]

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group—owner of ABC affiliate KATU (channel 2) and Univision affiliate KUNP (channel 16)—entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media 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. The creation of an additional duopoly in the Portland market would result in only seven full-power television owners. Under the previous rules, the companies would have been required to sell either KATU or KRCW to another station group in order to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership rules preceding approval of the acquisition (KUNP would not be affected as its contours do not overlap either station); however, a change in local ownership rules permitted duopolies in all markets (provided only one of the stations ranks in the top four), hence the duopoly became permissible. As a result, KRCW would become a sister station to KATU.[

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 U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, 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.

On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned CBS affiliate KOIN (channel 6) since January 2017—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar included the overlap between KOIN and KRCW-TV among the television stations in thirteen markets where the group may consider making divestitures to address national ownership cap issues related to the Tribune transaction and/or to comply with FCC local ownership rules preventing it from owning two or more stations in the same market. However, KRCW does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Portland market in total day viewership, and FCC regulations no longer preclude legal duopolies that would leave fewer than eight independently owned television stations in a single market (a KOIN/KRCW combination would leave only seven full-power commercial television stations with independent ownership remaining in the market, barring a second legal duopoly in the market under the previous "eight-voices test" rules repealed by the FCC in November 2017), hence there are no legal hurdles in place which would otherwise preclude a KOIN/KRCW duopoly.

TV stations in Oregon
KRCW, Salem

KMTR-DT2/KMCB-DT2/KTCW-DT2, Eugene/Coos Bay/Roseburg
KTVL-DT2, Medford
KTVZ-DT2, Bend

TV stations in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, including Portland, Salem and Vancouver
KPTV 12 (Fox)
KWVT-LD 17 (Youtoo)
KOXI-CD 20 (Youtoo)
KPXG 22 (Ion)
KRCW 32 (CW)
KORK-CD 35 (Youtoo)
KOXO-CD 41 (Youtoo)
KGWZ-LD 46 (Ind.)