KTSF, virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 20), is an multicultural independent television station licensed to San Francisco, California, United States, and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by Lincoln Broadcasting Company. KTSF's studios are located on Valley Drive in south suburban Brisbane, and it shares transmitter facilities with Univision owned-and-operated station KDTV-DT (channel 14) atop Mount Allison. Until May 7, 2018, KTSF's transmitter was located atop San Bruno Mountain. On cable, the station is carried on channel 8 on most providers in the market.
In 1965, Lillian Lincoln Howell was issued a broadcast license for a new television station in San Francisco. Her goal was to offer programming to audiences that were not targeted by the television stations already on the air at the time. Her stated mission was to "serve the underserved." It took many years to build the station, but when KTSF finally signed on the air on September 4, 1976, it began broadcasting a general entertainment format featuring older off-network shows from the 1950 and 1965, Japanese cartoons and live-action shows dubbed in English, and older movies during the day and Asian programming after 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 4:00 p.m. weekends. For many years, a half-hour horse racing program hosted by Sam Speer brought a video of the Golden Gate Fields or Bay Meadows daily results which ran until December 2017. The station also ran religious shows in the morning hours such as The PTL Club and Praise The Lord. Entertainment shows included Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hazel, The Flying Nun, Father Knows Best, Lassie, Marine Boy, Ultraman, King Kong cartoons and The Space Giants. At that time, four other independent Bay Area stations had general entertainment schedules, including KTVU, KTZO (now KOFY-TV), KICU, and KBHK (now KBCW). By 1981, the Japanese animated and live action shows were dropped. KTSF (the "-TV" calls were dropped on December 31, 1981) became the first U.S. broadcaster to carry Asian-language programming.
On January 1, 1980, KTSF ended the Chinese and other Asian programming weeknights, relegating it to weekend afternoons. Daily after 7:00 p.m., the station picked up a subscription TV service called Super-Time, later STAR TV, operated by Subscription Television of San Francisco. Its signal would appear scrambled, with an audio message being played that described the service and provided a phone number to subscribe. Descrambler boxes could be rented to view the channel. In 1983, STAR, Inc., the parent company of Subscription Television of San Francisco and part-owner of a similar service in Boston, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and was liquidated. STAR TV was replaced by another service, Select TV, but in late 1984, Vision Enterprises, the operator, declared bankruptcy, and a federal judge allowed KTSF to stop carrying their programming over $250,000 in unpaid fees to the station.
In 1983, KTSF expanded its Asian content to reflect the changing demographics of the Bay Area. With increasing immigration of the Bay Area's Asian population from the Philippines and Korea, KTSF Tagalog and Korean language program content and expanded its schedule to include programming from India and Iran. The station began running this programming a couple hours a day middays. With Select TV having collapsed, KTSF expanded its Asian offerings to evenings and overnights as well. Also, in 1985, KTSF dropped English general entertainment programming as well, partly due to the fact that San Francisco had 4 stations doing such a format.
A significant step in the station's history came in 1987 when it hired Gallup to perform the first Chinese-language consumer study ever conducted in the United States. The challenge for any commercial broadcaster is to be able to demonstrate to advertisers a profile of its viewers. The Gallup study demonstrated to mainstream U.S. companies that the Chinese-American market behaved like most other groups. For instance, the vast majority of Chinese people had bank accounts at "mainstream" financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, while only a small percentage had accounts at Chinese-owned banks. The major grocery store chains, with their large variety of products and convenient locations, were patronized by 75% of Chinese-Americans on a weekly basis.
With this new research, KTSF was able to attract mainstream U.S. companies to the Asian American market. On February 6, 1989, KTSF launched the first live Chinese language newscast in the United States. Throughout the 1990s, with the H-1B visas in place, it was easier for U.S. companies to attract qualified workers from other countries. The Bay Area saw a large number of workers from China, Taiwan and India moved to Silicon Valley. KTSF responded by dramatically expanding its Mandarin-language and South Asian programming.
In 2005, KTSF became the first Asian broadcaster in the U.S. to subscribe to Nielsen. With the daily overnight viewing data, KTSF was able to help advertisers better target the Asian demographic. By 2010, KTSF carried programming in twelve languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Hindi and Tagalog.
In 2007, the KTSF news department expanded by adding a special features unit. A series of in-depth news features and hour-long documentaries were scheduled throughout the year. Topics included the tenth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, the fashion industry in China, Olympic previews and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution which landed KTSF its first Emmy nomination.
In 2008, a weekly business show, Business and Lifestyle, began airing. The show featured successful business profiles from the industries of finance, real estate, beauty, health, and nutrition. It also included tips from established entrepreneurs on how to grow your business and how to avoid the common pitfalls of first-time business owners as well.
In 2010, Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal began airing. The show was produced and broadcast in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles and hosted by popular beauty blogger Kuan-Ling Kaitlyn Chen, features make-up application tips, hair and nail care how-to's, product reviews and tests, and the latest fashion trends. Kaitlyn’s Beauty Journal broadcasts in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston. Kaitlyn's Beauty Journal has the potential to reach 56.3% of all Chinese in the U.S.
In 2014, KTSF launched its local TV App in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and fully implemented Nielsen proprietary mobile measurement software in order to inform its research and insights and drive advertising effectiveness.
On February 1, 2016, KTSF's main signal upgraded from 4:3 standard definition (480i) to 16:9 high definition (720p), which allowed local programming and the Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts to be broadcast in widescreen.
On May 7, 2018, KTSF's transmitter moved from San Bruno Mountain to Mount Allison, that shares with Univision owned-and-operated station KDTV-DT (channel 14).
|TV stations in California|
|Independent stations||Public TV stations|
|KBTV-CD, Sacramento||KCET, Los Angeles|
|KCAL, Los Angeles||KMTP, San Francisco|
|KIIO-LD, Los Angeles||KPJK, San Mateo|
|KSCI, Long Beach|
|KHTV-CD, Los Angeles|
|KNLA-CD, Los Angeles|
|KTSF, San Francisco|
|KICU, San Francisco/San Jose|
|KXLA, Rancho Palos Verdes/Los Angeles|
|KUSI, San Diego|
|KSKT-CD, San Diego|
|KDOC, Los Angeles|
|Broadcast television in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose|
|English stations||Spanish stations|
|KAXT-CD 1 (Decades)||KDTV-DT 14 (UNI)|
|KTVU 2 (Fox)||KCNZ-CD 28 (LATV)|
|KURK-LD 3 (CMC)||KSTS 48 (TLM)|
|KRON 4 (MNTV)||KEMO 50 (Estrell)|
|KPIX 5 (CBS)||KFSF-DT 66 (UMas)|
|KGO 7 (ABC)|
|KNTV 11 (NBC)|
|KQTA-LD 15 (Jewelry)|
|KOFY 20 (Grit)|
|KICU 36 (Ind)|
|KCNS 38 (ShopHQ)|
|KBCW 44 (CW)|
|KKPX 65 (ION)|
|KTLN 68 (H&I)|
|Public television stations|
|KQED 9 (PBS)|
|KRCB 22 (PBS)|
|KQEH 54 (PBS)|
|KPJK 60 (Ind)|
|KQSL-LD 17 (RDI)|
|KDTS-LD 52 (Daystar)|