KTXL, virtual and UHF digital channel 40, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Sacramento, California, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. KTXL's studios are located on Fruitridge Road on the southern side of Sacramento, and its transmitter is located near Walnut Grove.
Early history of channel 40 (1953–1960)Edit
The UHF channel 40 frequency in Sacramento was first occupied by KCCC-TV, which signed on in September 1953. It was affiliated with all four television networks of the time: ABC, CBS, NBC and the DuMont Television Network. KCCC's first broadcast was the 1953 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The station became a primary ABC affiliate by 1955, after KCRA-TV (channel 3) and KBET-TV (channel 10, now KXTV) signed on, respectively taking over NBC and CBS full-time; and dropped DuMont after that network folded in 1956. It was the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto area's first television station. However, as a UHF station, it suffered in the ratings because television sets were not required to incorporate UHF tuning until the All-Channel Receiver Act went into effect in 1964. Although its fate was sealed when the first VHF stations signed on in the area, it managed to hang on until 1957. The ABC affiliation moved to KOVR (channel 13) after KCCC-TV and KOVR reached an agreement to merge operations and turn over the KCCC license to the Federal Communications Commission.
The former KCCC-TV studios and transmitting facilities were then sold to a group of broadcasters who applied for a new license, returning channel 40 to the air in 1959 as KVUE, broadcasting from studios near the old California state fairgrounds off Stockton Boulevard. The station operated for just under five months before also falling silent. The KVUE call letters now reside on the ABC affiliate in Austin, Texas.
As an independent station (1963–1986)Edit
In 1963, KVUE attempted to file for a license renewal even though the station had been off the air for more than three years; Camellia City Telecasters, a group headed by Jack Matranga, former owner and co-founder of radio station KGMS (now KTKZ), filed an application with the FCC to build a station on channel 40, as a challenge to the KVUE renewal, and was granted the license in early 1965. KTXL first signed on the air on October 26, 1968, operating as an independent station for nearly the first two decades of its existence. It was then branded as "TV 40". The station gained a huge advantage early on when its original owner won the local syndication rights to a massive number of movies, including classic and contemporary films. At one point, it had one of the largest film libraries in the Sacramento area. In addition, KTXL ventured into in-house productions, such as the children's program "Captain Mitch", horror movie host Bob Wilkins and Big Time Wrestling. The latter show aired until 1979, and was syndicated to several stations in California, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii. Channel 40 was one of the few stations to hold syndicated rights to the entire Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes cartoon libraries (up until recently, different companies held different components of the cartoon output; all rights are now held by Warner Bros.).
In 1977, KTXL began a summer tradition by showcasing critically acclaimed classic feature films in annual "Summer Film Festival" presentations. Channel 40 made television history in 1981, by broadcasting the 1978 film The Deer Hunter (and later, many other movies) unedited with potentially objectionable material intact – this policy has been restricted somewhat in recent years. All of this made KTXL one of the leading independent stations in the western United States. It also attained regional superstation status via microwave relay to nearly every cable system in northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Fresno, as well as several cable systems in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana.
KTXL began transmitting its signal from a 2,000-foot (610 m) "Monster Tower" near Walnut Grove in October 1985, significantly increasing its signal strength and adding stereo capability. Initially, the station would only turn on the stereo feed during programming broadcast in the audio format. This sometimes resulted in the staff forgetting to turn it on right at the beginning of a stereo program.
Fox affiliation (1986–present)Edit
On October 9, 1986, KTXL became a charter affiliate of the upstart Fox network, and eventually started branding as "Fox 40" on-air. The following year, Camellia City Telecasters sold KTXL to Renaissance Broadcasting. While most Fox affiliates since the mid-1990s have shifted away from running classic sitcoms and cartoons, to run syndicated talk shows on their daytime schedules; until recently, KTXL was among a few stations to be an exception to this status: the daytime lineup continued to feature sitcoms well into the 2000s, even still holding syndication rights to The Andy Griffith Show after many decades. Though many shows from the 1980s and 1990s were featured on the schedule, a few talk shows, reality series and court shows also populated the lineup.
In place of the station's own children's lineup after Captain Mitch's retirement, the station aired programming from Fox Kids until the network eliminated the weekday afternoon block in September 2002; the Saturday morning lineup (which by that time, became known as 4Kids TV) was retained as it began being programmed by 4Kids Entertainment that year until Fox dropped children's programming from its schedule in November 2008.
KTXL, along with NBC affiliate KCRA-TV, are the only Sacramento television stations to have never changed their network affiliations, as they were unaffected by affiliation swaps in 1995 (when KXTV acquired the ABC affiliation from KOVR, which in turn, switched to CBS) and 1998 (when KMAX-TV—channel 31—took UPN from KQCA—channel 58, which switched from UPN to The WB).
KTXL was acquired by Tribune Broadcasting following the company's purchase of Renaissance Broadcasting in 1996.
Aborted sale to Sinclair; pending sale to Nexstar; possible sale to FoxEdit
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. If the deal receives regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, the proposed sale would put KTXL-TV (and sister stations KTLA in Los Angeles and KSWB-TV in San Diego) 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. It would have also marked a re-entry into the Sacramento market for Sinclair, which owned KOVR (channel 13) from 1997 until it sold the CBS affiliate to CBS Television Stations in 2005.
On February 22, 2018, Variety reported that Sinclair would sell KTXL to Fox Television Stations upon approval of the Tribune deal, On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that KTXL 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 KTXL, as part of a $910-million deal that also involved six other Tribune-owned stations (Fox affiliates KCPQ/Seattle, KSWB-TV/San Diego, KDVR/Denver, WJW/Cleveland and KSTU/Salt Lake City, and CW affiliate WSFL-TV/Miami). If the sale is approved, it would make KTXL a Fox owned-and-operated station and, along with existing sister station KSWB, a sister outlet to KTVU in San Francisco/Oakland and KTTV in Los Angeles.
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 KTXL and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
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 KTXL-TV under common ownership with Nexstar's existing properties in Bakersfield (NBC affiliate KGET-TV and low-power Telemundo affiliate KKEY-LP), Fresno (NBC affiliate KSEE and CBS affiliate KGPE) and San Francisco (MyNetworkTV affiliate KRON-TV, which would be displaced as Nexstar's largest station property by KTXL's New York City sister station WPIX). However, reports preceding the purchase announcement stated that, as it did during the group's failed purchase by Sinclair, Fox Television Stations may seek to acquire certain Fox-affiliated stations owned by Tribune—with KTXL potentially being a candidate for resale—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 Northern California, including Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto|
| KCRA 3 (NBC)|
KVIE 6 (PBS)