WFTC, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 29), is a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated television station licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and serving the Twin Cities television market. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station KMSP-TV (channel 9). The two stations share studios on Viking Drive in Eden Prairie, and a transmission tower in Shoreview.
WFTC rebroadcasts its signal on full-power satellite station KFTC (virtual and UHF digital channel 26) in Bemidji (with transmitter near Lake Bemidji State Park) and several low-power stations across Minnesota.
The station signed on air in October 1982 as WFBT (for "Family Bible Television"). Channel 29 originally maintained a schedule offering reruns of classic family-oriented series and Christian-based religious programming. It first operated from studio facilities located on Aspen Lane North in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. On May 6, 1984, the station was sold to the Beverly Hills Hotel Corporation, headed by prominent arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, who changed its call letters to KITN-TV (which although it actually stood for "Independent Twenty-Nine", colloquially meant "Kitten" as in, "The KITN That Roars!"). At that time, it transitioned into the market's second mainstream independent station, airing syndicated programs such as The Beverly Hillbillies, Batman and Star Trek: The Original Series. It also acquired broadcast rights to the NHL's Minnesota North Stars, as well as University of Minnesota college football games. In 1985, BHHC sold the station to Nationwide Communications, the broadcasting subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance.
As a Fox affiliate, then becoming a UPN station
In 1988, KMSP-TV ended its affiliation with Fox, disappointed with the network's weak programming offerings that were bogging down the station's otherwise successful general entertainment lineup. Fox then shifted its affiliation to KITN, which adopted the moniker "Fox 29". The station again changed its call sign to WFTC on October 1, 1994 (for "We're Fox Twin Cities"), with the additional change using the "W" first-letter identifier over the "K", allowed for by its transmitter location on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. The station later relocated its operations to a new studio located on Broadway Street Northeast in Minneapolis. With the Fox network gaining rights to NFL games (NFC games, and with it, Minnesota Vikings games) in 1994 season, channel 29 succeeded WCCO-TV as the unofficial home station of the team. It would hold this role until the end of the 2001 season (since 2002, most games are broadcast on KMSP-TV). Until 1998, it served as the de facto Fox affiliate for almost all of Minnesota; the state's other two markets, Duluth and Rochester, did not have Fox affiliates of their own until KXLT-TV signed on in Rochester in 1998, and KQDS-TV debuted in Duluth one year later. Most areas in western Minnesota received Fox programming from Fargo, North Dakota's KVRR or Sioux Falls, South Dakota's KTTW.
As part of its liquidation of its broadcasting interests, Nationwide Communications sold the station to Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) in 1993 (it was the last remaining television station under Nationwide's ownership, the company having sold its other three stations, all of which were affiliated with ABC, to Young Broadcasting the year before). In 2001, Clear Channel traded the station to Fox Television Stations for KMOL-TV (now WOAI-TV) in San Antonio and KTVX in Salt Lake City. Both stations were acquired by Fox through its purchase of Chris-Craft Industries' broadcast properties, which included then-UPN affiliate KMSP-TV. WFTC became the third station in the area to be owned-and-operated by a major network, but since KMSP had higher ratings and a stronger signal than WFTC, Fox switched the affiliations of the two stations on September 8, 2002: Fox programming returned to KMSP, while WFTC affiliated with UPN.
Switch to MyNetworkTV
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced that UPN and The WB would shut down and be replaced by a new network that would carry programs from both networks, The CW. Despite affiliating with most of CBS Corporation's UPN stations and Tribune Broadcasting's WB stations, Fox's UPN affiliates were not included in the new network. Although The CW did not sign its Twin Cities' affiliate until May 2006 (when KMWB-TV (which changed its calls to WUCW by the network's launch in September) was announced as the network's local affiliate-through an affiliation deal by its parent, Sinclair Broadcast Group), WFTC joined other Fox-owned UPN stations in scrubbing all UPN branding the following day, becoming branded as simply "WFTC 29". It also stopped promoting UPN programming outside of network hours. On February 22, less than a month after the announcement of The CW, Fox announced that it would (in conjunction with its syndication division Twentieth Television) launch a new network called MyNetworkTV, with WFTC and the other Fox-owned UPN stations (plus included in this deal is a Fox-owned independent station in Dallas-Fort Worth) as the nuclei. On June 2, 2006, WFTC officially changed its branding to "My 29", following its impending switch to the newly launched Fox-owned network.
Although MyNetworkTV announced its launch date to be September 5, UPN continued to broadcast on stations across the country until September 15, 2006. While some UPN affiliates that switched to MyNetworkTV aired the final two weeks of UPN's programming outside its regular primetime slot, the Fox-owned stations (including WFTC) dropped the network entirely on August 31, 2006. On September 9, 2006, WFTC began carrying the 4Kids TV lineup for the first time since 2002, when the station was a Fox affiliate airing what was then Fox Kids. The station continues to air the Weekend Marketplace infomercial block on Saturday mornings while sister station KMSP aired Xploration Station which started in the fall of 2014.
|TV stations in Minnesota|
|TV stations in Central Minnesota including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Brainierd|
|KTCA 2 (PBS)|
WCCO 4 (CBS)
|TV stations in Rural Minnesota|
|KAWE 9 (PBS)|