KTVU, virtual channel 2 (UHF digital channel 44), is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to Oakland, California, United States and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with San Jose-licensed independent station KICU-TV (channel 36). The two stations share studios at Jack London Square in downtown Oakland; KTVU's transmitter is located at Sutro Tower in San Francisco.
History[edit | edit source]
As an independent station[edit | edit source]
The station first signed on the air on March 3, 1958, originally operating as an independent station. The station was originally owned by San Francisco-Oakland Television, Inc., a local firm whose principals were William D. Pabst and Ward D. Ingrim, former executives at the Don Lee Network and KFRC radio; and Edwin W. Pauley, a Bay Area businessman who had led a separate group which competed against Pabst and Ingrim for the station's construction permit. KTVU's operations were inaugurated with a special live telecast from its temporary studio facility at the former Paris Theatre in downtown Oakland. That June, the station moved into a permanent facility at Jack London Square in western Oakland, which was constructed using material gathered by the Port of Oakland and repurposed from a demolished pier.
Channel 2 was the fourth commercial television station to sign on in the Bay Area, and the first independent station in the market. It was the second television outlet in Northern California to have been assigned the KTVU call letters, which were previously used by a short-lived station on UHF channel 36 in Stockton, which operated from September 1955 to April 30, 1956. During its first 15 years on the air, KTVU's transmitter facilities were originally based from a tower on San Bruno Mountain in northern San Mateo County. KTVU moved its transmitter facilities to the Sutro Tower, after the structure was completed in 1973.
The Ingrim–Pabst–Pauley group attempted to sell KTVU to NBC in 1960, as the network sought to acquire a television station in the Bay Area to operate alongside KNBC radio (now KNBR). The sale was eventually cancelled in October 1961, due to pre-existing concerns over the sale cited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that were related to NBC's ownership of radio and television stations in Philadelphia. Eighteen months after the sale to NBC was aborted, in July 1963 channel 2 was sold to the Miami Valley Broadcasting Company, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, for $12.3 million; the sale was finalized in mid-October of that year. Over the station's history as an independent, KTVU's programming schedule consisted mainly of syndicated off-network series, movies, talk shows and religious programs, as well as a sizeable amount of locally produced news, sports, talk and public affairs programming. In 1960, after acquiring camera, projection and slide equipment to transmit programming available in the format, the station began broadcasting its programming in color; much of the programs that it broadcast in color consisted of movies and certain series acquired from the syndication market that were produced in the format, as well as locally produced specials.
Under Cox's stewardship, channel 2 became the leading independent station in the San Francisco–Oakland market and one of the top-rated independents in the Western United States. KTVU retained this status even as competing independents on the UHF band signed on during the late 1960s, most notably KBHK-TV (channel 44, now KBCW) and KEMO-TV (channel 20, now KOFY-TV) within months of each other in early 1968.
In the early 1960s, KTVU obtained the local broadcast rights to the Warner Bros. Pictures library; the films it broadcast from the studio primarily consisted of those released during the 1950s, most being presented in color, which aired at 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. Channel 2 was the first television station in the Bay Area to air such films as A Star Is Born, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. KTVU exercised discretion and limited the amount of commercial break interruptions during the movie telecasts, often airing the films uncensored and with commentary, either by a studio host or via slides. The station even televised the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Hollywood Revue of 1929 with some of the original two-strip Technicolor sequences. During the early 1970s, the station began employing a different programming strategy to stand out from the other independents in the market, acquiring first-run syndicated sitcoms and drama series, several comedies and dramas from the United Kingdom (such as Upstairs, Downstairs and The Benny Hill Show, the latter of which had some episodes re-edited by the station to remove scenes of frontal nudity accidentally left in the broadcast prints), and various nature series (including National Geographic specials) as alternative offerings.
As an independent competitor, KTVU aired a nightly film showcase, The 8 O'Clock Movie, as an alternative to network programs that aired during prime time on then-NBC affiliate KRON-TV (channel 4, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate), CBS station KPIX (channel 5) and ABC-owned KGO-TV (channel 7). Continuing into its early years as a Fox affiliate, KTVU frequently aired classic movies (around 20 per week) in the 8:00 p.m. time slot as well as on Sunday afternoons. Many of the films presented were prints restored by the station's editing department to eliminate color and splicing errors, and scratches present within the negatives. It also occasionally aired movies originally assigned an R rating for their theatrical release (such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Walkabout) without editing for strong profanity, nudity or violence, some of which aired during prime time. In 1992, KTVU ran a station-edited version of the 1984 science fiction film Dune, which combined footage from the Alan Smithee television cut with the original theatrical release (thereby restoring all the violence featured in the latter cut, while eliminating some of the objectionable edits that caused director David Lynch to remove his name from the credits of the television print).
Channel 2 adapted to competition over the years by reinventing the station's own image with the launch of a promotional campaign using the slogan, "There's Only One 2" – which was used in its marketing and on-air promos, including a musical jingle, during the 1970s and 1980s (the slogan was reintroduced under Fox ownership in 2015).
In 1977, KTVU was uplinked to satellite as a national superstation, being carried primarily on systems operated by cable television provider and corporate cousin, Cox Cable. However, the station was unable to compete with WTBS (now WPCH-TV) in Atlanta, and two other independent stations that were uplinked to satellite as superstations in the two years after KTVU gained national distribution, WGN-TV in Chicago and WOR-TV (now co-owned MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WWOR-TV) in New York City, and began to scale down its national coverage via cable in 1982. While KTVU remained a superstation for the remainder of its run as an independent, its cable coverage would become limited to providers within the Western United States—primarily those located in Northern California, Nevada, Oregon and select areas of Utah. The station continued to be distributed nationally, however, on direct broadcast satellite via C-Band systems until the late 1990s; KTVU was also carried on PrimeStar as its Fox network feed for the Pacific Time Zone until the satellite provider merged with DirecTV in 1999. KTVU also carried programming from the Operation Prime Time programming service (at least) in 1978.
Fox affiliation[edit | edit source]
In October 1985, News Corporation—which had purchased a 50% interest in 20th Century Fox corporate parent TCF Holdings for $250 million in March 1985—announced its intentions to create a fourth television network that would use the resources of 20th Century Fox Television to both produce and distribute programming, intending to compete with ABC, CBS and NBC. The company formally announced the launch of the new network, the Fox Broadcasting Company, on May 7, 1986. Subsequently, Fox approached Cox Enterprises to affiliate with the upstart network months prior to its formal launch, with KTVU agreeing to serve as its charter affiliate for the San Francisco–Oakland–San Jose market. Channel 2's affiliation with Fox could be seen as a major coup for the fledgling network, because of its distinction as the highest-rated independent station in the Bay Area as well as one of the strongest independents in the U.S. It was also one of the few independents to affiliate with the network (outside of three which News Corporation had earlier acquired from Metromedia) which broadcast on the VHF band and had an established local news identity.
KTVU officially joined Fox seven months later on October 9, 1986, when the fledgling network inaugurated programming with the debut of the late night talk show The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Similar to other Fox stations during the network's early years, KTVU was programmed as a de facto independent station, even after Fox expanded its programming into prime time on weekend evenings in April 1987. Until Fox completed the expansion of its prime time schedule (which began with the launch of a Saturday night lineup in July 1987, and was gradually rolled out to additional nights over the next seven years) and began offering programming on a nightly basis in September 1993, KTVU continued to air a movie at 8:00 p.m. on nights when the network did not offer any programming. However, the station also decreased its reliance on movies during this period, due to the growing difficulty of broadcast stations in acquiring film content as the number of cable television networks increased. The strong ratings that KTVU had as an independent station carried over into its tenure with Fox, turning it into one of the network's strongest affiliates; despite having its programming occasionally being pre-empted by San Francisco Giants game telecasts, Fox was very satisfied with KTVU because of its ratings performance.
During the early and mid-1990s, the station gradually shifted the focus of its daytime schedule from a mix of off-network sitcoms and drama series to a lineup predominately made up of first-run syndicated talk, court and reality shows; it also continued to run some off-network sitcoms during the evening and late-night hours. In addition, Channel 2 began to air an afternoon cartoon block supplied by the network, Fox Kids, when the Monday through Saturday children's lineup debuted in September 1990. The station continued to run Fox Kids programming on weekdays—moving it to an earlier time period on weekday afternoons in January 2000, to build an adult-targeted audience for the pending launch of its 6:00 p.m. newscast by filling the 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. slot with talk and court shows—until the network discontinued its afternoon block in January 2002; it retained the Saturday morning lineup, which eventually became known as 4Kids TV under a programming agreement with 4Kids Entertainment, until Fox discontinued its children's programming altogether on December 27, 2008 (replacing it with the two-hour infomercial block Weekend Marketplace).
Throughout its affiliation with Fox under Cox Enterprises ownership, the station continued to brand itself as "Channel 2", even as the network began to require that its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates incorporate the "Fox" name within their on-air branding. However, KTVU would begin to alternately brand as "Fox Channel 2" by the early 1990s, which was mainly used within promotions for Fox network programs, with the network's logo being placed to the left of KTVU's longtime "Circle Laser 2" logo (which was first introduced in 1975). In September 1997, the Fox wordmark logo was added onto the underside of the top line of "Circle Laser 2"; the station also concurrently changed its branding to "KTVU Fox 2" as the network tightened its branding standardizations for its stations—although the previous "KTVU Channel 2" moniker remained in use as part of its newscast branding (the "Fox 2" logo and moniker was used on the station's 10:00 p.m. newscast from 2001 to 2002).
On November 29, 1999, Cox Enterprises acquired San Jose-based independent station KICU-TV from Detroit businessman and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and KICU president/general manager Jim Evers. The resulting pairing of KICU with KTVU created the Bay Area's first television station duopoly when the deal was finalized in March 2000; the operations of KICU migrated from that station's original studio facilities in San Jose, where KTVU relocated its South Bay news bureau, and were consolidated into KTVU's Jack London Square facility in Oakland. On March 3, 2008, KTVU celebrated its 50th anniversary of broadcasting. In honor of the anniversary, a series of fifteen promos were produced, which included those honoring past KTVU programs such as Romper Room and Captain Satellite as well as the station's sports programming.
Acquisition by Fox Television Stations[edit | edit source]
Following its purchase of WJZY in Charlotte, North Carolina in March 2013, Variety reported that Fox Television Stations was pursuing station acquisitions in San Francisco and Seattle as it desired to have a larger presence in the markets of NFL teams that are part of the National Football Conference (such as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks), the conference to which Fox holds broadcast rights. Fox had for many years wanted to have an owned-and-operated station in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has always been one of the ten largest Nielsen television markets. After Fox Television Stations assumed ownership of charter affiliate WTXF-TV in Philadelphia in 1995, KTVU became the largest Fox station by market size not to be owned by the network. Fox's original parent company News Corporation (which spun off the network to 21st Century Fox in July 2013 as part of the company's separation of its entertainment and publishing assets) made several offers to buy KTVU, but Cox turned down each of News Corporation's proposals (Fox had also reportedly considered purchasing KTVU's CBS-affiliated sister station in Seattle, KIRO-TV, which would have displaced that market's charter Fox affiliate, KCPQ; such a purchase never materialized, although Fox did attempt to buy KCPQ outright before renewing its affiliation contract with that station in July 2014, after it was unsuccessful in pressuring Tribune Broadcasting to sell KCPQ by purchasing and proposing to move its programming to Bellingham, Washington-based KBCB).
On June 24, 2014, Fox announced that it would trade two of its owned-and-operated stations, WFXT in Boston and WHBQ-TV in Memphis, to the Cox Media Group in exchange for acquiring KTVU and KICU. The deal made KTVU the last Big Four network station in the Bay Area to become an owned-and-operated station of its associated network. Prior to this announcement it was rumored that Fox had considered buying rival (and former NBC affiliate) KRON-TV (channel 4) and moving its programming there (which would have resulted in KTVU losing its Fox affiliation to channel 4 had Fox acquired that station instead). The trade was completed on October 8, 2014, marking Channel 2's first ownership change in 51 years; the trade with Fox Television Stations also resulted in WFXT supplanting KTVU as the company's largest television station by market size. As part of the trade, Cox Media Group and Fox Television Stations also reassigned key management personnel between the two markets; KTVU-KICU general manager Tom Raponi was reassigned to serve in the same position at WFXT, while Gregg Kelley was reassigned from WFXT to become vice president and general manager of the KTVU-KICU duopoly.
In November 2014, KTVU transitioned from Cox's in-house digital platforms to those operated by Fox, which included the release of new mobile apps and the transition of its website to the WorldNow platform and the webpage layouts that the provider designed for the Fox-owned stations. On February 8, 2015, KTVU began to fully comply with Fox's station branding guidelines, extending the "KTVU Fox 2" brand to its news programming (as well as adopting Fox Television Stations' standardized graphics package for the group's Fox O&Os); however, the station retained the "Circle Laser 2" logo by both including it within the group's standardized "boxkite" logo and in an alternate version in which it is now placed next to the Fox wordmark (the latter became the main logo in August 2015, when KTVU introduced updated introductions for its newscasts, which de-emphasized the standardized graphics).
|TV stations in California|
|KTTV, Los Angeles|
KKFX-CD, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo
|TV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area|
|KAXT-CD 1 (Decades) |
KTVU 2 (Fox)
KRON 4 (MNTV)
KPIX 5 (CBS)
KGO 7 (ABC)
KQSL 8 (TLN)
KQED 9 (PBS)
KNTV 11 (NBC)
KDTV 14 (Uni)
KOFY 20 (Ind)
KRCB 22 (PBS)
KAAP-LD 24 (DIYA)
KTSF 26 (Ind)
KCNZ-CD 28 (CRTV)
KMTP 32 (ETV)
KICU 36 (Ind)
KCNS 38 (SBN)
KMMC-LD 40 (3ABN Latino)
KTNC 42 (Ind)
KBCW 44 (CW)
KSTS 48 (TLM)
KZHD-LD 49 (Ind)
KEMO 50 (AZA)
KDTS 52 (DAYSTAR)
KQEH 54 (PBS)
KPJK 60 (ETV)
KKPX 65 (Ion)
KFSF 66 (UMas)
KTLN 68 (H&I)