KSWB-TV, virtual channel 69 (UHF digital channel 5), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to San Diego, California, United States. The station is owned by the Nexstar Media Group subsidiary of the Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. KSWB's studios are located on Engineer Road in the city's Kearny Mesa section (within a quarter-mile to the west of the studios of CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, channel 8), and its transmitter is located southeast of Spring Valley.
KSWB-TV is branded as Fox 5 San Diego, in reference to its primary cable channel position in the market on most local cable providers (it is also carried in Baja California, Mexico on Izzi channel 92). Until 2011, the logo bug shown during the station's newscasts rotated between its common cable channel position and its over-the-air virtual channel number, 69.
The station first signed on the air on October 1, 1984 as KTTY. The station originally operated from studios located on Frontage Road in Chula Vista. Originally locally owned by San Diego Television, it operated as an independent station; it maintained a general entertainment format featuring a mix of dramas, classic movies, cartoons and religious programming that the other stations in the market declined to air. KTTY also aired a significant amount of paid programming. The station suffered from low ratings throughout its run as an independent station, struggling to compete with established independents XETV-TV (channel 6) and KUSI-TV (channel 51). On January 11, 1995, KTTY became the San Diego charter affiliate of The WB, an upstart broadcast network that was majority owned by the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner.
The station fell into bankruptcy, and Tribune Broadcasting, whose corporate parent—the Tribune Company—owned the remaining stake in The WB that Time Warner did not maintain, purchased the station at a bankruptcy auction in 1995, and took control of it in 1996; on August 16 of that year, the company changed the station's call letters to KSWB-TV (for "San Diego's WB," which served as the station's slogan for most of its tenure with The WB). After Tribune took ownership of channel 69, the station added many off-network sitcoms to its schedule, with talk and court shows being mixed in as well throughout the remainder of the 1990s.
Transition to The CW
On January 24, 2006, Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down the broadcast networks that they had respectively owned, The WB and UPN. In their place, the companies would combine The WB and UPN's respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW (a name that represents the first initials of each of the network's corporate parents), which would also include newer series developed for the network. With the announcement, The CW signed a ten-year affiliation agreement with Tribune Broadcasting for 16 of the group's 19 WB affiliates, with KSWB-TV named as the network's San Diego affiliate.
The CW officially launched on September 18, 2006 (Entravision-owned UPN affiliate XHUPN-TV in nearby Tecate, Baja California, Mexico joined MyNetworkTV, another startup network run by Fox Entertainment Group that launched two weeks prior to The CW's debut, and changed its callsign to XHDTV-TV). Unlike many other former WB affiliates that also had call letters relating to its former affiliation, KSWB chose to retain the callsign that references the now-defunct network. The station also served as the local broadcaster of games from the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers until it switched to Fox, which were produced by Los Angeles sister station KTLA (KTLA itself would lose the broadcast rights to the Clippers to regional sports networks Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket in 2009).
Affiliation swap with XETV
During a seminar by Sam Zell on March 25, 2008, it was revealed that Tribune Broadcasting (which Zell acquired as part of his 2007 takeover of the Tribune Company, which would result in the start of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings that lasted four years until 2012 due to debt from Zell's leveraged buyout) had signed an affiliation agreement with Fox to make KSWB the network's new San Diego affiliate. This caught station management at Tijuana-licensed XETV-TV off guard as there was no knowledge about the impending loss of its Fox affiliation until the announcement was made public (that station's status as a Fox affiliate was contested unsuccessfully in a previous attempt by KUSI-TV to strip the affiliation from XETV in a 1995 U.S. Court of Appeals filing). Fox later cited concerns with having its programming airing on a Mexican-licensed station, even though XETV had broadcast its programming almost entirely in English for over half a century and was Fox's charter affiliate in the market since the network's October 1986 inception.
At first, there was speculation that CW network programming in the San Diego market would be brought in out-of-market from KSWB's Los Angeles sister station KTLA, which was carried on cable locally at the time on Cox Communications channel 14. Two other scenarios were also being entertained, including speculation that KUSI-TV would pick up the CW affiliation or that KSWB would re-activate its second digital subchannel (which had been silent since The Tube Music Network abruptly ceased operations in October 2007) and move the network's programming there. On July 2, 2008, Bay City Television/Grupo Televisa signed an affiliation agreement to bring The CW's programming over to XETV. With the Fox affiliation agreement, KSWB-TV's ten-year contract with The CW was rendered void, ending the station's two-year association with the network as it joined Fox on August 1, 2008, directly swapping affiliations with XETV-TV as the CW affiliation for the market was moved over to that station. In turn, XETV replaced KSWB as the default CW affiliate for DirecTV subscribers in the few areas of the western United States where a CW-affiliated station is not receivable over-the-air or through cable television.
Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Had the deal received regulatory approval, the proposed sale would have put KSWB-TV (and sister stations KTLA in Los Angeles and KTXL-TV in Sacramento) under common ownership with Sinclair's two existing California-based duopolies: CBS affiliate KBAK-TV and Fox affiliate KBFX-CD in Bakersfield, and Fox affiliate KMPH-TV and CW affiliate KFRE-TV in Fresno, California, plus pending acquisitions (from a separate deal) KRCR-TV and KAEF-TV in Redding and Eureka, respectively.
On December 15, 2017, it was speculated that Sinclair would resell KSWB-TV to Fox Television Stations upon approval of the Tribune deal. On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that KSWB-TV would be one of 23 stations sold to obtain approval for the merger, though it was one of seven stations for which a buyer was not disclosed. On May 9, 2018, it was officially announced that Fox Television Stations would buy KSWB-TV, as part of a $910-million deal that also involved six other Tribune-owned stations (Fox affiliates KTXL, KCPQ/Seattle, KDVR/Denver, WJW/Cleveland and KSTU/Salt Lake City, and CW affiliate WSFL-TV/Miami). If the sale is approved, it would make KSWB-TV (and sister station KTXL) a Fox owned-and-operated station and sister to KTVU in Oakland/San Francisco and KTTV in Los Angeles. It would also be the third O&O station in San Diego (behind NBC O&O KNSD and Telemundo O&O KUAN-LD).
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote 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 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. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Fox's purchases of KSWB and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
Pending sale to Nexstar Media Group and possible resale
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. In the case of KSWB, reports preceding the purchase announcement stated that, as it did during the group's failed purchase by Sinclair, Fox Television Stations would seek to acquire certain Fox-affiliated stations owned by Tribune from the eventual buyer of that group.
|TV stations in California|
|KTTV, Los Angeles|
KKFX-CD, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo
|TV Stations in the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area|
|English stations||Spanish stations|
|KZTC-LP 7 (SBN)||XHJK-TDT 1 (A1)|
|KFMB 8 (CBS)||XHCTTI-TDT 3 (Imagen)|
|KGTV/KZSD-LP 10 (ABC)||XETV-TDT 6 (Canal 5)|
|KPBS 15 (PBS)||XHTJB-TDT 11 (Once)|
|KVSD-LD 26 (Ind)||XEWT-TDT 12 (Televisa Regional)|
|KNSD 39 (NBC)||KBNT-CD 17 (UNI)|
|KSKT-CD 43 (Ind)||XHTIT-TDT 21 (A7)|
|KUSI 51 (Ind)||KSDX-LD 29 (ESTRELLA)|
|KSWB 69 (Fox)||XHAS-TDT 33 (AZA)|
|KDTF-LD 36 (UMas)|
|XHBJ-TDT 45 (Nu9ve)|
|KUAN-LD 48 (TLM)|
|XHDTV-TDT 49 (Milenio)|
|KSDY-LD 50 (Nuestra Vision)|
|XHUAA-TDT 57 (Las Estrellas)|
|K09YL-D 9 (Multimedios/Tr3s)|
|K35DG-D 35 (UCSD TV)|
|KSEX-CD 42 (Info)|