KTVI, virtual channel 2 (UHF digital channel 43), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to St. Louis, Missouri, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KPLR-TV (channel 11). The two stations share studios on Ball Drive in the northwestern St. Louis County community of Maryland Heights (though with a St. Louis city postal address); KTVI's transmitter is located in the unincorporated community of Sappington. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channels 2 (standard definition) and 702 (high definition), and on AT&T U-verse channels 2 (SD) and 1002 (HD).
The station first signed on the air by Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation on August 10, 1953 as WTVI, broadcasting on UHF channel 54. It was originally licensed to Belleville, Illinois (across the Mississippi River from St. Louis) and was the second television station in the St. Louis market after KSDK on February 8, 1947. The station's first broadcast was a baseball game between the St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds, announced by Buddy Blattner, Bill Durney and Milo Hamilton. It operated as a primary CBS affiliate, and held secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont. DuMont affiliation was agreed to in February 1953 to replace KSD-TV. The station was project to sign on May 15, 1953. The station originally operated from studios located in Alton, Illinois. The CBS affiliation moved to KWK-TV (channel 4, now KMOV) when it debuted on July 8, 1954; more or less by default, WTVI became a primary ABC affiliate.
The station moved to UHF channel 36, and relocated its city of license to St. Louis on April 9, 1955, keeping the base "TVI" letters as part of its callsign while flipping the first assigned letter from "W" to "K", thus changing to the current KTVI. It moved its operations to facilities located in the Clayton-Tamm/Dogtown neighborhood in west St. Louis (off present-day I-64/US 40 at the intersection of Berthold, Oakland and Hampton Avenues). However, the Federal Communications Commission had recently changed its regulations so that the station could have kept its license in Belleville even while moving its main studio to St. Louis. The WTVI calls are currently used by a PBS member station in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The station lost DuMont programming when the network ceased operations in 1956, making KTVI an exclusive ABC affiliate. As the FCC would not require television sets to include UHF tuners until 1961, on April 15, 1957, KTVI moved to VHF channel 2, something it had attempted to do soon after moving to St. Louis–the channel 2 allocation had been reassigned from Springfield, Illinois under pressure from the Truman Administration, originally done so as not to interfere with CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago.
For many years, the station was owned by the Newhouse newspaper chain, owners of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. In 1980, Newhouse exited from broadcasting, and sold KTVI and its other television outlets to the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Company. In March 1993, in order for the company to concentrate on its newspaper and cable television system franchises, Times Mirror sold KTVI and its three sister stations—fellow CBS affiliates KTBC in Austin and KDFW-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth and NBC affiliate WVTM-TV in Birmingham—to Argyle Television Holdings in a two-part deal for $335 million in cash and securities. Under the transaction's purchase option structure, WVTM and KTVI were the first two stations that Argyle sold to New World, which the latter purchased for a combined $80 million. (It would later respectively acquire KDFW and KTBC from the group for $335 million in cash and securities). The purchase of the entire group was completed in December of that year following securement of financing for the deal.
As a Fox station
New World Communications ownership
On May 23, 1994, as part of a $500-million overall deal in which network parent News Corporation also purchased a 20% equity interest in the group, New World signed a long-term affiliation agreement with Fox to switch thirteen television stations—five that New World had already owned and eight that the company was in the process of acquiring through separate deals with Great American Communications and Argyle Television Holdings (which New World purchased one week later in a purchase option-structured deal for $717 million), including KTVI—to the network. The stations involved in the agreement—all of which were affiliated with one of the three major broadcast networks (CBS, ABC and NBC)—would become Fox affiliates once individual affiliation contracts with each of the stations' existing network partners had expired. (WVTM did not switch as WBRC, which was placed in a blind trust, was later sold to Fox outright as New World could not keep both due to FCC rules at the time that forbade duopolies). The deal was motivated by the National Football League (NFL)'s awarding of the rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) television package to Fox on December 18, 1993, in which the conference's broadcast television rights moved to the network effective with the 1994 NFL season, ending a 38-year relationship with CBS.
ABC had a fourteen-month leeway to find a new affiliate in St. Louis, as its contract with KTVI did not expire until July 1, 1995; its affiliation contracts expired only one month after as CBS's agreement with KDFW and KTBC was scheduled to expire, giving the networks that were already affiliated with the three former Argyle stations slated to switch to Fox a longer grace period to find new affiliates than CBS, NBC and/or ABC were given in most of the other markets affected by the Fox-New World deal (ABC's affiliation contracts with WGHP and WBRC ended even later, respectively expiring in September 1995 and September 1996). Of ABC's options, four prospects were automatically eliminated as options: KSDK was in the middle of a long-term affiliation agreement between its owner at the time, Multimedia Broadcasting, and NBC; KMOV was under a long-term agreement between CBS and Paramount Stations Group (which was in the process of selling KMOV and its four other major network affiliates to focus on its Fox-affiliated and independent stations that were set to become charter affiliates of group parent Viacom's then-upstart United Paramount Network [UPN]); and KNLC (channel 24, now a MeTV affiliate) and WHSL (channel 46, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station WRBU) were respectively owned by the locally based New Life Christian Church and the Home Shopping Network at the time, making either unlikely choices as even last-ditch options. This left independent station KPLR-TV (channel 11, now a CW affiliate) and existing Fox station KDNL-TV (channel 30) as the only viable options with which ABC could reach an affiliation agreement. The network first approached KPLR about negotiating an affiliation deal, ultimately to be turned down by its then-owner Koplar Communications. On August 25, 1994, River City Broadcasting reached an agreement with ABC to shift the network's affiliation rights to KDNL.
KTVI switched to Fox on August 7, 1995, ending its relationship with ABC after 42 years; concurrently, ABC programming moved to KDNL-TV. As with most of the other New World-owned stations affected by the agreement with Fox, KTVI retained its longtime "Channel 2" branding upon the affiliation switch, with references to the Fox logo and name limited in most on-air imaging; it also retained the news branding it had been using before it joined the network—in its case, 2 News Team, which the station adopted in November 1990 as an ABC affiliate. In addition to expanding its local news programming at the time it joined Fox, the station replaced ABC daytime and late night programs that migrated to KDNL with an expanded slate of syndicated talk shows as well as some documentary-based reality series and off-network sitcoms, and also acquired some syndicated film packages and first-run and off-network syndicated drama series for broadcast in weekend afternoon timeslots on weeks when Fox did not provide sports programming.
News Corporation/Fox ownership
On July 17, 1996, News Corporation announced that it would acquire New World in an all-stock transaction worth $2.48 billion, with the latter company's ten Fox affiliates being folded into the former's Fox Television Stations subsidiary, making them all owned-and-operated stations of the network (the New World Communications name continued as a licensing purpose corporation for KTVI and its sister stations until 2007 under Fox, and from 2009 to 2011 under Local TV ownership); upon the completion of the merger on January 22, 1997, KTVI became the first network-owned station in the St. Louis market since CBS sold KMOX-TV (now KMOV) to Viacom in 1986. Under Fox ownership, programming began to change very slightly as KTVI (through Fox) began to add stronger first-run syndicated shows as well as stronger off-network sitcoms to the programming mix..
KTVI first launched its website on November 1, 1999, which featured a design similar to other sites belonging to Fox's owned-and-operated stations at the time and focused on promotional and programming content initially, but eventually incorporated news content. The website was migrated to the MyFox platform on September 14, 2006. On October 15, 2007, KTVI launched STLMoms.com, a website aimed at St. Louis area moms, whose concept spun off from a popular blog featured on the station's main website. Subsequently, on June 2, 2008, KTVI launched GarageSaleSTL.com, a free website that primarily features a Google-based map of viewer-submitted garage sales (the site has since been discontinued).
Local TV and Tribune ownership
On December 22, 2007, Fox sold KTVI and seven other owned-and-operated stations—WDAF-TV in Kansas City, WBRC in Birmingham, WGHP in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, WJW in Cleveland, WITI in Milwaukee, KDVR in Denver and KSTU in Salt Lake City—to Local TV (a broadcast holding company operated by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners that was formed on May 7 of that year to assume ownership of the broadcasting division of The New York Times Company) for $1.1 billion; the sale was finalized on July 14, 2008. On February 1, 2012, WJW redesigned its web site under the new WordPress-hosted design implemented months earlier by sister stations WDAF and WITI, replacing the site design previously used for the Local TV stations that was developed by Tribune Interactive (now Tribune Digital). On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which in 2008, had formed a joint management agreement involving its Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary and Local TV to operate stations owned by both companies and provide web hosting, technical and engineering services to those run by the latter group) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; the sale was completed on December 27.
On September 17, 2008, Local TV LLC entered into a local marketing agreement with Tribune Broadcasting, under which it assumed some operational responsibilities for CW affiliate KPLR-TV. The agreement, which took effect on October 1, allowed KTVI to provide advertising and promotional services as well as news operations for KPLR, while Tribune would retain responsibilities over channel 11's programming (although both stations would share certain syndicated programs), master control and production services. The LMA resulted from the formation of a "broadcast management company" that was created to provide management services to stations owned by both Tribune and Local TV. Although it was the senior partner in the agreement, KTVI vacated its longtime studios in the Clayton-Tamm/Dogtown neighborhood on St. Louis' west side and moved its operations to KPLR's facility in Maryland Heights (KPLR moved to that building, the larger of the two facilities, in 2003; whereas KTVI had been operating from the Berthold studios for nearly 50 years).
On July 1, 2013, Tribune acquired KTVI and Local TV's eighteen other television stations outright for $2.75 billion; the sale received FCC approval on December 20, and was completed on December 27, creating the first legal station duopoly in the St. Louis market between KTVI and KPLR. As FCC rules prohibit the common ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in the same market, Tribune's direct purchase of KTVI to form a duopoly with KPLR was permissible because KPLR ranked in fifth place in total day ratings at the time of the purchase. (In recent years, KPLR and KDNL – which ranked fourth in the ratings at that time – have rotated between fourth and fifth place in total day viewership due to the weaker viewership of KDNL's programming since its news department was shut down by owner Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2001); St. Louis also has only nine full-power television stations, seven of which are commercial outlets, making this the only legal duopoly allowable in the market under FCC rules.
Aborted sale to Sinclair; pending sale to Nexstar
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair—which has owned KDNL-TV since the group's 1996 acquisition of its previous corporate parent River City Broadcasting—entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. The market conditions that allowed for Tribune to form a duopoly between KTVI and KPLR in 2013, ironically, precluded Sinclair from acquiring KPLR directly as, at the time of the merger announcement, channel 11 ranked in fourth place and KDNL ranked fifth among the St. Louis market's television stations in total day viewership. As the FCC prohibits common ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in a single market, Sinclair was required to sell KPLR to a third-party group in order to comply with those rules and alleviate potential antitrust issues preceding approval of the acquisition (Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley cited St. Louis as one of three markets, out of fourteen where ownership conflicts existed between the two groups, where the proposed acquisition would likely result in divestitures).
Sinclair originally planned to retain operational stewardship of KPLR-TV through a local marketing agreement (possibly involving one of its partner companies); however, in an amendment to the Sinclair-Tribune merger submitted on February 21, 2018, the group announced that, in addition to purchasing KTVI's license and assets, it would retain ownership of KDNL, while selling KPLR-TV to an independent third party. (Sinclair, on behalf of Tribune, later attempted a sale proposal of KPLR to Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation—owner of KMOV since February 2014—for $65 million on April 24, 2018, only to cancel that deal on May 15 amid objections by the Justice Department, with Sinclair amending the merger transaction to place KPLR into a divestiture trust administered by Rafamedia LLC [led by media broker Richard A. Foreman] for sale to an independent third party that does not already own a television station in St. Louis.)
On July 18, 2018, the FCC voted to have the Sinclair–Tribune acquisition reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties. Three weeks later on August 9, 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 announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media 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 put KTVI and KPLR-TV under common ownership with Nexstar's existing properties in Champaign–Springfield–Decatur (CBS affiliate WCIA and MyNetworkTV affiliate WCIX), Peoria–Bloomington (CBS affiliate WMBD-TV and Fox-affiliated SSA partner WYZZ-TV), Rockford (Fox affiliate WQRF-TV and ABC-affiliated SSA partner WTVO) as well as its properties in Southwestern Missouri (NBC affiliate KSNF and ABC affiliate KODE-TV in Joplin and Fox affiliate KRBK, MyNetworkTV affiliate KOZL-TV and CBS-affiliated SSA partner KOLR-TV in Springfield).
|TV stations in Missouri|
|KTVI, St. Louis|
|TV stations in the Greater St. Louis and Metro East Illinois areas|
|KTVI 2 (Fox) |
KMOV 4 (CBS)
KSDK 5 (NBC)
KPTN-LD 7 (HSN)
KETC 9 (PBS)
KPLR 11 (CW)
WPXS 13 (Daystar)
KDTL-LD 16 (RTV)
KEFN-CD 20 (EWTN)
KNLC 24 (MeTV)
K25NG-D 25 (3ABN)
W29CI-D 29 (3ABN)
KDNL 30 (ABC)
KBGU-LP 33 (Buzzr)
K38HD-D 38 (HSN)
WODK-LD 45 (Cozi TV)
WRBU 46 (Ion)
W50CH 50 (Ind)