KTLA, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CW-affiliated television station located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The station is owned by the Nexstar Media Group subsidiary of Nexstar Broadcasting Inc.. KTLA maintains studio facilities located at the Sunset Bronson Studios at 5800 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.
KTLA was the first commercially licensed television station in the western United States, having begun operations in January of 1947. Although not as widespread in national carriage as its Chicago sister station WGN-TV, KTLA is available as a superstation throughout North America via DirecTV and Dish Network (the latter service available only to grandfathered subscribers that had purchased its a la carte superstation tier before Dish halted sales of the package to new subscribers in September 2013), as well as on cable providers in select cities within the southwestern United States and throughout Canada.
History[edit | edit source]
Experimental years[edit | edit source]
The station was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1939 as experimental station W6XYZ, broadcasting on VHF channel 4; it did not sign on the air until September 1942. The station was originally owned by Paramount Pictures subsidiary Television Productions, Inc., and was based at the Paramount Studios lot. Klaus Landsberg, already an accomplished television pioneer at the age of 26, was the original station manager and engineer.
Early years as a commercially licensed station[edit | edit source]
On January 22, 1947, the station was licensed for commercial broadcasting as KTLA on channel 5, becoming the first commercial television station in Los Angeles, the first to broadcast west of the Mississippi River, and the eighth commercial television station in the United States. Estimates of television sets in Los Angeles County at the time ranged from 350 to 600, since experimental station W6XAO (later KTSL and KNXT, now KCBS-TV) was already in operation broadcasting with a regular schedule. Bob Hope served as the emcee for KTLA's inaugural broadcast, titled as The Western Premiere of Commercial Television, which was broadcast live that evening from a garage on the Paramount Studios lot and featured appearances from many Hollywood luminaries. Hope delivered what was perhaps the most famous line of the telecast when, at the program's start, he identified the new station as "KTL" – mistakenly omitting the "A" at the end of the call sign. A 10-minute fragment from KTLA's first broadcast exists at the Paley Center for Media.
KTLA was originally affiliated with the DuMont Television Network, of which Paramount held a minority stake; it disaffiliated from the network in 1948 and converted into an independent station. Despite this, the FCC still considered Paramount as controlling manager of DuMont due to the strength of the company's voting stock and their influence in managing the network. As a result, the agency did not allow DuMont to buy additional VHF stations – a problem that would later play a large role in the failure of DuMont, whose programming was splintered among other Los Angeles stations – including KTSL, KHJ-TV (channel 9, now KCAL-TV), KTTV (channel 11) and KCOP-TV (channel 13) – until the network's demise in 1956. Paramount even launched a short-lived programming service, the Paramount Television Network, in 1948, with KTLA and WBKB-TV (now WBBM-TV) in Chicago serving as its flagship stations. The service never gelled into a true television network, but during KTLA's early years, the station produced over a dozen series that were syndicated in much of the U.S., including Armchair Detective, Bandstand Revue, Dixie Showboat, Frosty Frolics, Hollywood Reel, Hollywood Wrestling, Latin Cruise, Movietown, RSVP, Olympic Wrestling, Sandy Dreams, and Time for Beany.
In 1958, KTLA moved its operations into the Paramount Sunset Studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. For many years, those who have worked on Stage 6 at KTLA were told that it was the site where Al Jolson's landmark film The Jazz Singer was shot in 1927, when the lot was known as the Warner Bros. Sunset Studios; Mark Evanier, who wrote for one such show in 1978, points out on his website that Stage 6 did not even exist at the time that The Jazz Singer was produced and that it was actually probably filmed at what is now Stage 9. The former Warner Bros./Paramount lot is now known as Sunset Bronson Studios, where KTLA's facility remains based to this day, and where shows such as WKRP in Cincinnati, Judge Judy, Hannah Montana, The Gong Show, Solid Gold, Name That Tune, Family Feud, The Newlywed Game, MADtv and Let's Make a Deal have been produced over the years. KTLA is currently the only Los Angeles area broadcaster that remains based in Hollywood as many other television and radio stations have moved to other parts of the region.
Golden West Broadcasters ownership[edit | edit source]
In November 1963, KTLA was purchased by actor and singer Gene Autry for $12 million; upon the sale's finalization in May 1964, Autry merged the station with his other broadcasting properties, including KMPC radio (710 AM, now KSPN) into an umbrella company known as Golden West Broadcasters. During the 1970s, KTLA was uplinked to satellite and became one of the nation's first superstations; the station was eventually carried on cable providers across much of the United States located west of the Mississippi River.
KTLA sought a different programming strategy from its competitors during the late 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing syndicated reruns of off-network hour long dramas with a heavy emphasis on western-themed programs such as The Gene Autry Show, Bonanza, The Big Valley, first-run talk shows, movies and sports programming. Children's programs, with the exception of weekend morning Popeye cartoons (which originally came from former parent Paramount, but had been sold off to what became the syndication arm of United Artists Television), were also phased out. Popeye continued Sunday Mornings but with only the 1960s King Features episodes. Later in the 1970s more drama shows like Kung Fu, Wonder Woman and Starsky and Hutch were added. In 1979, KTLA acquired much of the programming inventory of struggling independent competitor KBSC-TV (channel 52, now Telemundo owned-and-operated station KVEA) including The Little Rascals, Three Stooges, The Munsters, Addams Family, Gilligan's Island, Leave It To Beaver, among others. These shows ran weekend mornings and weekend early afternoons. In 1979, KTLA acquired Happy Days, in 1981 Laverne and Shirley, Little House On The Prairie, in 1982 Taxi, and CHiPs, among other shows. The station continued to emphasize hour long dramas during the day on weekdays but began to run recent sitcoms in the evenings.
Tribune Broadcasting ownership[edit | edit source]
In November 1982, Golden West sold KTLA to investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for $245 million. In May 1985, KKR sold the station to Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting, for a then-record price of $510 million, which beat the station's earlier record sale price set by the 1982 acquisition by KKR. Under Tribune, KTLA continued to acquire high rated off-network sitcoms as well as talk shows for its schedule.
KTLA became an affiliate of the MGM/UA Premiere Network, a film-based ad hoc television network, with the showing of Clash of the Titans. The station added the syndicated Action Pack programming block to its schedule starting in mid-January 1994.
KTLA spent much of the early and mid-1980s battling KTTV (channel 11) for the spot of the top-rated independent station in Southern California, offering a variety of general entertainment programs including movies, sports and off-network reruns; it took the top spot among the market's independents full-time after KTTV became a Fox charter station in October 1986. The station stayed out of the kids' business throughout the 1980s, unlike other Tribune stations but acquired stronger programming like Full House, Cheers, Punky Brewster, and Silver Spoons. The station also mixed in a few classic sitcoms weekday early mornings as well as on weekends. In the summer of 1991, the station debuted a two-hour weekday morning newscast. Sitcoms ran on the station 9 a.m. to noon weekdays.
The WB affiliation[edit | edit source]
On November 2, 1993, the Warner Bros. Television division of Time Warner and the Tribune Company announced the formation of The WB Television Network. Due to the company's ownership interest in the network (initially a 12.5% stake, later expanding to 22%), Tribune signed its seven existing independent stations (one such station, Atlanta's WGNX, joined CBS instead one month prior to The WB's launch), along with an eighth that the company had acquired the following year, to serve as The WB's charter affiliates. With this, KTLA became a network affiliate for the first time in 47 years when The WB launched on January 11, 1995.
Like with other WB-affiliated stations during the network's first four years, KTLA initially continued to essentially program as a de facto independent station as The WB had broadcast only a two-hour primetime schedule on Wednesday nights at the network's launch; the station continued to broadcast films in prime time along with some first-run syndicated scripted series on nights when network programs did not air. The WB would eventually carry prime time shows six nights a week (Sunday through Friday) by September 1999. In September 1995, KTLA added afternoon cartoons and Saturday morning cartoons from the network's newly launched Kids' WB block, bringing weekday children's programs back to channel 5 for the first time in close to 25 years. The station continued use the "Channel 5" brand it used prior to its WB affiliation (with The WB logo simply tacked onto the station's "Gold 5" logo) until 1997, when the station overhauled its on-air branding to "KTLA 5, L.A.'s WB".
The Tribune Company purchased the Times Mirror Company (then-owners of the Los Angeles Times) in 2000, bringing the newspaper into common ownership with channel 5; ironically, the Los Angeles Times was the original owner of Fox owned-and-operated station KTTV from 1949 (under a joint venture with CBS through 1951) until it sold the station to Metromedia in 1963 (that company would eventually become Fox Television Stations upon Metromedia's 1986 merger with News Corporation); as FCC rules prohibited the common ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same market, Tribune filed for and was granted a waiver by the agency in order to acquire the Times. The Times and KTLA were separated on August 4, 2014, when Tribune spun off its publishing division into a separate company; KTLA and Tribune's other broadcasting properties (as well as its Media Services and real estate units) remained with the original company, which was renamed as the Tribune Media Company.
KTLA unveiled a new branding campaign on January 1, 2005, that omitted all references to its over-the-air channel 5 position (although the references returned after the station became a CW affiliate one year later). The new look included a modernized logo with a halo emblem over the KTLA calls and WB logo, and a change in branding to KTLA, The WB.
CW affiliation[edit | edit source]
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. With the announcement, Tribune Broadcasting signed ten-year agreements for KTLA and 16 of the company's 18 other WB-affiliated stations (three of which it would sell to other groups shortly before The CW launched including WLVI, WATL, and WCWN) to become charter affiliates of The CW. The station changed its branding to "KTLA 5, The CW" on September 17, 2006 immediately after the airing of The WB's final broadcast, The Night of Favorites and Farewells.
On January 22, 2007, KTLA celebrated its 60th anniversary of continuous broadcasting. Two days later, on January 24, 2007, KTLA became the first television entity to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition to the station itself, six other individuals associated with KTLA – former owner Gene Autry, newsmen Hal Fishman, George Putnam, Stan Chambers and Larry McCormick, and founding manager Klaus Landsberg – have received stars on the Walk of Fame. In addition, KTLA continued its celebration on the weekend after Thanksgiving with a 60-hour marathon of classic shows that aired on KTLA in the past such as The Honeymooners, The Jack Benny Program, The Little Rascals, Wonder Woman and Peter Gunn. KTLA also aired retrospectives of historic Los Angeles news stories during its weekend evening newscasts, until November 24 due to coverage of the Corral Canyon fire in Malibu.
On February 14, 2008, the Tribune Company sold Tribune Studios and related real estate in Los Angeles to equity firm Hudson Capital LLC for $125 million, with the studio lot being renamed Sunset Bronson Studios following the sale. There had been speculation that KTLA would move into the Los Angeles Times Building in downtown Los Angeles, combining operations and staff with the Times newspaper; this arrangement is also used by two other Tribune combined newspaper/broadcast operations: Miami's WSFL-TV is based out of the offices of former sister newspaper Sun-Sentinel, while the Hartford duopoly of WTIC-TV/WTXX moved into new facilities in the Hartford Courant building in December 2009.
On October 14, 2009, KTLA unveiled a new logo and a redesigned news set, bringing back the classic stylized number "5" that was previously used by the station from 1981 to 1997, and eliminating The CW's logo from regular usage (though it is still used in promotions for the network's programs). The "LA" in the KTLA callsign is rendered in bold lettering to emphasize the station's Los Angeles location and coverage area, similar to a previous wordmark logo used from 1997 to 2005.
Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group[edit | edit source]
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. The deal would have given KTLA additional sister stations in Sinclair's existing properties in Bakersfield (where the group already owns CBS affiliate KBAK-TV and Fox affiliate KBFX-CD) and Fresno (where it owns Fox affiliate KMPH-TV and CW affiliate KFRE-TV). The prospect of Sinclair acquiring KTLA was met with consternation among station employees, due to concerns over the influence the company might have on the station's news content. Sinclair has been known for requiring its stations to run news reports and commentaries that reflect a conservative perspective; the city of Los Angeles and some adjacent and outlying suburbs are predominately liberal, while some outlying areas elsewhere in the market (including portions of Orange County) lean conservative.
On July 18, 2018, hours after Sinclair submitted a revision to the acquisition proposal that rescinded plans for WGN-TV and CW-affiliated sisters KDAF in Dallas-Fort Worth and KIAH in Houston to be sold to closely tied third-party companies—WGN-TV LLC and Cunningham Broadcasting, respectively—in order to address concerns expressed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai concerning the partner licensees Sinclair proposed using to allow it to operate certain Tribune stations in circumvention of the 39% national ownership cap, the FCC Commissioners' Board voted unanimously, 4-0, to send the Sinclair-Tribune acquisition proposal to an evidentiary review hearing before an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain stations in markets where Sinclair and Tribune both had television properties. On August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, and concurrently 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, 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.
Pending sale to Nexstar Media Group[edit | edit source]
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group announced it would acquire Tribune's assets for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. The deal—which would make Nexstar the largest television station operator by total number of stations upon its expected closure late in the third quarter of 2019—would give KTLA additional sister stations in the same two markets where it would have gained adjacent outlets under the aborted Sinclair deal (Nexstar owns NBC affiliate KGET-TV and low-power Telemundo affiliate KKEY-LP in Bakersfield and NBC affiliate KSEE and CBS affiliate KGPE in Fresno) as well as an additional sister station upstate in the San Francisco–Oakland–San Jose market (MyNetworkTV affiliate KRON-TV, which would be displaced as Nexstar's largest station property by KTLA's New York City sister station WPIX).
|TV stations in California|
|KTLA, Los Angeles|
KSBY-DT2, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo
|TV stations in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, and portions of the Inland Empire|
|KCBS 2 (CBS) |
KNBC 4 (NBC)
KTLA 5 (CW)
KHTV-CD 6 (Ind)
KABC 7 (ABC)
KFLA-LD 8 (NEWSNET)
KCAL 9 (Ind)
KIIO-LD 10 (IND)
KTTV 11 (FOX)
KTBV-LD 12 (Ind)
KCOP 13 (MNTV)
KPOM-CD 14 (HSN2)
KSCI 18 (Ind)
KNLA-CD 20 (SBN)
KVME 20 (H&I)
KWHY 22 (Ind)
KVCR 24 (PBS)
KVHD-LD 26 (EVINE)
KSFV-CD 27 (JEWELRY)
KCET 28 (ETV)
KPXN 30 (Ion)
KVMD 31 (LATV)
KCIO-LD 33 (IND)
KMEX 34 (UNI)
KTAV-LD 35 (ALMA)
K36JH-D 36 (TVA)
KHIZ-LD 39 (COURT)
KTBN 40 (TBN)
KXLA 44 (Ind)
KFTR 46 (UnM)
KOCE 50 (PBS)
KVEA 52 (TLM)
KAZA 54 (MeTV)
KDOC 56 (Ind)
KJLA 57 (AZA)
KLCS 58 (PBS)
KRCA 62 (ESTRELLA)
KBEH 63 (Rel)
KILM 64 (Ion Life)
KEDD-LD 69 (HSN)