Repercussions of the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment

The 1994 United States broadcast television realignment consisted of a series of network affiliation switches and other transactions that resulted from a multimillion-dollar deal between the Fox Broadcasting Company (commonly known as simply Fox) and New World Communications, a media group that – in addition to its involvement in film and television production – owned several VHF television stations affiliated with major broadcast networks, primarily CBS.

The agreement between Fox and New World resulted not only in Fox affiliating with stations with histories as major network affiliates but also various other deals, most notably the buyout of CBS by Westinghouse, that caused several other broadcasting companies to reach affiliation deals that either extended ties with networks that were already aligned with some stations owned by the individual groups or created new relationships between at least one of the networks and the affected partner groups.

The repercussions of this realignment were gradual but swift, with nearly 70 stations in 30 media markets throughout the United States changing affiliations between September 1994 and September 1996. Fox ascended to the status of a major television network, comparable in influence to the Big Three television networks (CBS, NBC and ABC), while CBS was dealt the major blows of losing both its partial broadcast rights to the National Football League (NFL) and key affiliates in several major markets to Fox. All three major networks also wound up affiliating with stations that broadcast on the UHF band in a few cases, the vast majority of which operated as either Fox affiliates or independent stations prior to the switches; most of the new Big Three affiliates also created news departments from scratch or expanded their existing ones.


On December 17, 1993, Fox signed a four-year, $1.58 billion contract with the National Football League to televise games involving teams in the National Football Conference (NFC), effective with the 1994 season, as well as Super Bowl XXXI. CBS – then run by Laurence Tisch, known for instituting various cost-cutting measures during his tenure as chief operating officer of network parent (the original) CBS Corporation in part through the sale of underperforming units of the company – was reportedly unwilling to approach the price of Fox's bid and offered to pay only $290 million to renew the contractual rights to the NFC television package.[1] The deal stripped CBS of professional football broadcasts for the next four years, before it resumed its broadcasting relationship with the NFL when the network acquired the television rights to the American Football Conference (AFC) from NBC in 1998.[2]

In order to bolster the network's new NFL television package, Fox sought to reach affiliation deals with VHF stations (broadcasting on channels 2 to 13) that had established histories as major network affiliates, and carried more value with advertisers.[3] On May 23, 1994, Fox agreed to purchase a 20% stake (a $500 million investment) in New World Communications, a media company controlled by investor Ronald Perelman that had entered into television broadcasting just over a year earlier after Perelman purchased a 51% stake in SCI Television in February 1993, and subsequently acquired stations owned by Argyle Television Holdings and Great American Communications (which would be renamed Citicasters later that year) in May 1994.[4][5][6][7] As a result of the deal, New World also signed a group affiliation agreement with Fox to switch most of the company's television stations to the network beginning in September 1994. Twelve stations – six that New World had already owned and eight that the company was in the process of acquiring from Argyle and Great American/Citicasters in the deals struck the same month that the agreement was made – would join the network as affiliation contracts with their existing network partners came to an end.[8][9][10]

SF Broadcasting, a venture between Fox and film/television production firm Savoy Pictures,[11] purchased four television stations owned by Burnham Broadcasting in two separate deals reached in July and August 1994 for a combined $267 million;[12] the deal resulted in Fox also signing a separate agreement to affiliate these stations (three NBC affiliates and one ABC affiliate) with the network.[13] The New World agreement and Burnham Broadcasting purchases resulted in Fox gaining VHF affiliates in ten NFC markets – eight that were the home markets of teams in the conference, and two that were secondary markets of nearby franchises.

The deals caused major affiliation shakeups in the markets affected by the deals, as ABC, NBC and CBS immediately began seeking new affiliates, although the agreements that came about also created a domino effect in which all three longer-established networks switched affiliate partners in certain markets where neither New World nor Burnham owned stations.

Station group deals resulting from the New World agreement

Scripps/ABC affiliation deal

On June 16, 1994, ABC and the E. W. Scripps Company renewed affiliation agreements with the company's two largest television stations, WEWS (channel 5) in Cleveland and WXYZ-TV (channel 7) in Detroit. In addition, Scripps agreed to affiliate four of its other stations, including two affected by the New World deal, with ABC:[14][15]

Prior to the deal, WXYZ and WEWS were both being courted to affiliate with CBS. As a contingency plan if WXYZ-TV did reach a deal to switch to CBS, on October 3, 1994, ABC purchased its Flint, Michigan affiliate WJRT-TV (channel 12) and NBC affiliate WTVG (channel 13) in Toledo, Ohio – whose signals covered the Detroit market – from SJL Broadcast Management, which was in the process of selling its five television stations at the time.[19][20] The deal, valued at $155 million, closed on August 29, 1995.[21] However, because its affiliation contract with that network did not expire until November 1, ABC had to run WTVG (which as WSPD-TV, was a primary ABC affiliate from 1958 to 1969) as an NBC affiliate for two months, while the latter network searched for a new affiliate; NBC ended up aligning with Toledo's former ABC affiliate, WNWO-TV (channel 24). ABC's purchase of WJRT, along with CBS' affiliation agreement with WNEM-TV (channel 5), resulted in NBC affiliating with former CBS affiliate WEYI-TV (channel 25). Separately, Scripps also signed a deal to affiliate another displaced Fox station, KSHB-TV (channel 41) in Kansas City, Missouri, with NBC, picking up the affiliation from WDAF-TV (channel 4).

Westinghouse/CBS affiliation deal

The former offices of Philadelphia's KYW-TV, which became a CBS station in 1995 due to Westinghouse's deal with CBS.

The recruitment of WMAR-TV as Baltimore's new ABC affiliate concerned Westinghouse Broadcasting (popularly known as Group W), the broadcasting division of Westinghouse and owner of WJZ-TV (channel 13), as WJZ was one of ABC's strongest affiliates (as well as its longest-tenured affiliate) in contrast to perennial third-place WMAR (which CBS left for then-NBC affiliate WBAL-TV (channel 11) in August 1981 over dissatisfaction with its frequent preemptions of CBS programs and the poor ratings performance of its newscasts).[22][23][24] Group W had already held discussions with several networks – including CBS, NBC and Fox – for group-wide affiliation deals before the Fox-New World partnership was announced; these talks accelerated once ABC announced its agreement with WMAR.[25]

On July 14, 1994, Group W agreed to affiliate WJZ-TV, and NBC affiliates WBZ-TV (channel 4) in Boston and KYW-TV (channel 3) in Philadelphia with CBS;[26][27] while renewing affiliation agreements with KDKA-TV (channel 2) in Pittsburgh and KPIX (channel 5) in San Francisco, which both began carrying the entire CBS schedule that September as a condition of the deal. WJZ-TV and WBZ-TV switched to CBS on January 2, 1995 (the switch in Baltimore was originally slated to occur on August 29, however Group W executives elected not to exercise a six-month opt-out clause in WJZ's contract with ABC, which was set to expire on January 1, choosing to delay the transaction by five months), followed by KYW-TV on September 10; in Baltimore and Boston, NBC respectively affiliated with former CBS outlets WBAL-TV and WHDH-TV (channel 7).[28]

KYW-TV's switch to CBS prompted an additional swap between CBS and NBC, involving KYW and WCAU-TV (channel 10) in Philadelphia – which CBS had owned since 1958 – resulting in switches in three other markets. At one point, New World had considered buying WCAU, which would have resulted in that station becoming a Fox affiliate (and therefore would have allowed it to continue airing Philadelphia Eagles games, which it had done since 1950). Additionally, in August 1993, Fox announced that it would purchase independent station WGBS-TV (channel 57) from Combined Broadcasting, which would have resulted in the network's Philadelphia affiliation being taken away from Paramount Stations Group-owned WTXF-TV (channel 29). That October, Paramount announced that WTXF would disaffiliate from Fox and become a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) upon that network's launch on January 16, 1995.[29] Fox later chose to instead bid for WTXF in the event that New World did not purchase WCAU, and eventually purchased it outright; Paramount purchased WGBS (assigning it new call letters, WPSG) and made that station Philadelphia's UPN charter outlet.

In acquiring WCAU, NBC traded KCNC-TV (channel 4) in Denver and KUTV (channel 2) in Salt Lake City to CBS (NBC affiliated with CBS affiliate KSL-TV (channel 5) and ABC affiliate KUSA-TV (channel 9) in the respective markets). As compensation for the trades, CBS-owned WCIX in Miami swapped transmitter facilities and channel frequencies with NBC-owned WTVJ. Westinghouse and CBS then formed a joint venture that involved KUTV, KCNC and WCIX (the latter of which had its call letters changed to WFOR-TV upon moving to the former channel 4 position of WTVJ, which in turn moved to channel 6) with Group W as the majority (51%) owner.[30] All of the stations involved in the deal switched on September 10, 1995.

Other station group deals

Impact on CBS

One of the few VHF stations available for CBS was Phoenix's first television station, KPHO-TV, whose former transmitter atop Westward Ho is pictured here.

As expected, CBS bore the brunt of the changes. The network had developed a stodgy and overly budgeted image under Laurence Tisch, who had become CEO in 1985. Tisch was already notorious for having made deep cuts at CBS News and for selling off major portions of the company, such as the 1988 sale of Columbia Records to Sony. When CBS lost the National Football Conference rights to Fox, the "Tiffany Network"'s problems accelerated as it struggled to compete in the ratings with a slate of programming that attracted an older audience than the other networks, although it finished ahead of Fox. The Late Show with David Letterman, which often dominated late-night talk competitor The Tonight Show in its first two years, saw its viewership decline in large part due to the affiliation switches, at times even finishing third in its time slot behind the ABC newsmagazine Nightline.[43]

CBS eventually recovered and surpassed NBC – the leading broadcast network in the U.S. throughout the 1990s – as the most-watched network by 1999, until it was surpassed by ABC in 2000. After briefly retaking the lead from NBC in 2002, CBS rose to first place once again in 2005, and has been America's most watched television network for much of the period since then (except during the 2007–08 season, when Fox became the first non-Big Three network to reach first place in the Nielsen season ratings).

CBS' problems were especially evident in the recruiting of new affiliates; as a direct result of the New World-Fox alliance, only six of the new CBS affiliates were VHF stations:

Because of the New World and Scripps deals, and other stations' unwillingness to switch to the then-struggling network, CBS found itself in extremely undesirable situations in three major markets, where it ended up on low-profile UHF stations with far less transmitting power and viewer recognition than their previous affiliates:

While the former CBS affiliates in the three markets were all considered to be ratings contenders, ratings for CBS programming in these markets dropped significantly after the network moved to the lower-profile UHF stations, which had virtually no significant history as a former major network affiliate or as a first-tier independent station.

CBS also affiliated with UHF stations in two other markets affected by the New World deal, WOIO (channel 19) in Cleveland and KEYE-TV (channel 42) in Austin, through individual agreements with Malrite Communications Group and Granite Broadcasting that were respectively signed in July and October 1994.[65][66] However, unlike in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Detroit, KEYE and WOIO both had network affiliations prior to switching to CBS, as both stations – which respectively lost their affiliations with that network to KTBC-TV and WJW-TV (channel 8) – had been affiliated with Fox since it launched in October 1986. CBS had to affiliate with a UHF station by default in both cases; in Cleveland, WEWS renewed its contract with ABC through the network's agreement with Scripps, while NBC had owned a 49% interest in WKYC-TV (channel 3) at the time (with Multimedia Inc. holding the remaining controlling interest); in Austin, the vast majority of the television stations in that market (with KTBC as the only major exception) broadcast on the UHF band.

Other effects

Programming repercussions

Because Fox programmed far fewer hours of network content than CBS, NBC and ABC, the affiliation transactions in which the former aligned with stations previously affiliated with one of the latter three established networks resulted in time slots being opened up on the new Fox affiliates for those stations to fill via syndication. Despite this, several popular first-run syndicated programs at the time (such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Entertainment Tonight) were dropped by many of the New World stations – with a few exceptions – which replaced them with lower-budget syndicated programs or newer series (such as Access Hollywood and Judge Judy, the latter of which has since become a staple of many Fox stations). In several of the affected markets, the stations that switched to Fox kept or later acquired some of the aforementioned programs (for example, WVUE and WLUK now air both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; while KHON continued to carry Oprah until it ended in May 2011 and continues to carry Wheel).

The new Big Three outlets that were previously affiliated with Fox or operated as independent stations also dropped some first-run and off-network syndicated programs – mainly sitcoms and children's programs – due to local programming commitments and the heavier amount of programming being provided by their new network. The divested programs were acquired by other stations in the affected markets, primarily independents or charter affiliates of UPN and The WB. While these stations largely removed animated and some live-action syndicated children's programs from their schedules, some of the new Big Three stations continued to maintain a reduced syndication inventory that closely mirrored those typical of independent or Fox stations (at the time, CBS, NBC and ABC stations had begun refocusing their programming schedules outside of locally produced and network content around first-run syndicated shows, with a decreased emphasis on first-run and off-network scripted programs – dropping or scaling back sitcoms and relegating drama series to weekend early access and late-night time periods). A few of these newfound major network affiliates that retained certain off-network scripted series that they carried before joining their new networks (such as KSHB-TV, WGNO and WDJT-TV) chose to use those programs to fill select time slots traditionally occupied by local newscasts, until they were either able to start news departments or expanded their news programming output.

Stations that were impacted by the switches began turning down weaker programs aired by their departing network. In Phoenix, KTVK turned down an offer to affiliate with CBS in anticipation of renewing its affiliation agreement with ABC. However, after KNXV was awarded the ABC affiliation through the Scripps deal, KTVK began pre-empting most of the network's programming. On its final day as a lame-duck ABC affiliate (January 8, 1995), KTVK only had ABC's prime time lineup, major soap operas and sports programming remaining on its schedule, with KNXV picking up the pre-empted ABC programs. In Atlanta, WAGA began turning down some weaker CBS programs on a week-by-week basis before it switched to Fox on December 11, 1994, with those programs being aired in the interim by independent station WVEU.[90]

Local newscasts

In 1994, Fox (which only had a few affiliates that carried local newscasts at the time) began demanding that its affiliates launch newscasts in the run-up to the launches of Fox News Channel, and their connecting affiliate news sharing service, Fox NewsEdge in late 1996 (prior to and after NewsEdge's launch in August of that year, the new Fox stations as well as its news-producing charter outlets relied solely on external video feeds from CNN Newsource and in some cases, Associated Press Television News and/or the Reuters News Service to cover national and international news stories). The primary plus for the new Fox stations collectively was an increase in the amount of local news programming (in contrast with the syndication-dominant format of most Fox stations at the time), which Fox had a strong interest in its stations maintaining as the network did not have national newscasts – the lone exception later being Fox News Sunday, a political talk show that debuted in April 1996.

The new Fox affiliates retained most of their existing newscasts (though WVUE-TV, WALA-TV (channel 10) in Mobile and WLUK-TV (channel 11) in Green Bay would later drop those in the midday and, as with KSAZ and KTBC, 6:00 p.m. timeslots), but expanded their morning newscasts by one or, most commonly, two hours and early evening newscasts by a half-hour to replace news programs aired by their former network (though WAGA, WJBK, WITI, WJW and WTVT had dropped CBS This Morning in 1992 in favor of their own morning newscasts;[91] WVUE, however, did not launch a morning newscast until September 2002); exceptions to such expansions were WICZ and WSJV, which cancelled their early evening newscasts upon joining Fox, limiting news programming to prime time and (in the case of WSJV) morning newscasts. WDAF, KHON and KTBC replaced evening network newscasts with local programs with a similar focus on national and international news; KHON's Hawaii's World Report, which replaced NBC Nightly News after its January 1996 switch to Fox, is the only such program that remains as of 2016. The new Fox stations also added newscasts in the final hour of prime time (9:00 or 10:00 p.m., depending on the time zone), which either supplanted (such as on WJBK, WJW and WAGA) or were paired with (such as on KDFW, WDAF and WITI) existing late newscasts in the traditional 11:00/10:00 p.m. time slot – however upon joining Fox, KTVI (channel 2) in St. Louis, KTBC and KHON aired syndicated programs in the hour following Fox's prime time lineup instead, and would not add their own primetime newscasts until September 1996, August 2000 and September 2014[92][93] respectively.

Over time, Fox affiliates that did not have existing news operations have debuted their own local newscasts, usually starting with a prime time newscast, with broadcasts in other time periods being added gradually (Fox stations in some medium and most small markets, however, have had their newscasts produced by a local Big Three affiliate through news share agreements, an arrangement that typically limits them from maintaining a news-intensive schedule akin to the Big Three stations that joined Fox through the New World and SF Broadcasting deals, with some of them later terminating these partnerships to start producing their own newscasts); many Fox charter stations (including those owned and operated by the network), as well as the former Big Three stations which had aired newscasts for years, would gradually expand their news programming. Before the New World deal was announced, Fox was in the process of launching prime time newscasts on its owned-and-operated stations in Atlanta (WATL) and Dallas (KDAF), and had even hired a news director at WATL; these plans were shelved as a result of Fox affiliating with WAGA and KDFW (KDAF eventually launched a news department in September 1999; while WATL would not air news until September 2006, when it launched a 10:00 p.m. newscast produced by NBC affiliate WXIA-TV (channel 11), which became its sister station around that time after Tribune Broadcasting sold WATL to the Gannett Company).

By the time of Fox's buyout of the company in 1996, some of New World's stations were still underperforming. Observers cited "a reluctance of station managers to embrace the new network and a tendency to cling to conservative news and promotional styles."[94] Indeed, many of the group's stations retained their Big Three-era branding schemes after affiliating with Fox (such as WDAF, which retained its universal Newschannel 4 branding; KTBC, which retained its "Channel 7" and Newscenter 7 brands; and KDFW, which continued to title its newscasts as News 4 Texas but otherwise used the moniker "Fox 4 Texas"), but received major image overhauls between 1996 and 1998 (such as WTVT and WAGA dropping their heritage Eyewitness News branding, and KSAZ dropping its "sunset 10" logo after nearly fifteen years). In contrast, WITI, WJBK and KTVI discontinued their respective previous brand identities by the winter of late 1995, becoming the first New World stations to adopt those compliant with Fox's station branding conventions prior to Fox's acquisition of the group: WJBK and KTVI respectively replaced their "TV-2"/Eyewitness News and "Channel 2"/2 News Team brands in favor of the "Fox 2" moniker (although WJBK retained the Eyewitness News title for its newscasts until May 1996), while WITI – branding similarly to WJW – identified as "Fox is Six" for general promotion and "Six is News" for newscasts from 1996 until 1998, when it rebranded as "Fox Six" (altered to the numerical "Fox 6" in 1999). In September 1995, WJW controversially dropped its longtime "TV8" and Newscenter 8 brands in favor of "Fox is ei8ht" for general purposes and ei8ht IS NEWS for its newscasts;[95] both new brands were used fairly repititiously in promotions, until WJW rebranded as "Fox 8" when Fox purchased the station.

Additionally, some of the new Fox affiliates, perhaps in appealing to Fox's younger-skewing audiences, moved many older news personalities to daytime broadcasts or released them entirely from their news staffs (one notable exception is Dick Goddard, who joined WJW as its lead meteorologist in 1968 and remains with the station as of 2016 in a reduced role as the weeknight meteorologist for its 10:00 p.m. newscast, a role from which Goddard will depart upon his retirement from television broadcasting in November 2016).[96] Some of these personalities eventually wound up on other stations, such as the new Big Three affiliates.

To this day, New World's Fox affiliates saw mixed results with their newscasts:

Many of the new Big Three UHF affiliates found difficulty gaining an audience, and whether or not they were successful depended on their previous affiliations. As these were former Fox affiliates or independents that either did not have news departments or only offered a prime time newscast at the time they switched, almost all of them had to give in to launching new newscasts to back up the national news programs provided by the networks – replicating the previous news programming output of their new network's departing affiliate as part of the new affiliation deals in some cases, and carrying evening-only newscasts at the outset (with morning and, in many instances, midday newscasts being added at a later date) in others. Generally, the stations that continue to air newscasts to this day have generally finished in third or fourth place in overall viewership behind their VHF competitors. However, while many of these stations often finish near or at the bottom of their markets' local news ratings,[98] some – such as KNXV, WFTS, KSHB and WOIO (in the latter's case after making a switch to tabloid journalism in 2002 that garnered it national attention, eventually reverting to a traditional format in August 2015) – have experienced gradual ratings growth.

Furthermore, other new affiliates that launched newscasts failed to gain traction with their competitors and eventually either cancelled or outsourced their newscasts. In Evansville, WEVV-TV moved its 9:00 p.m. newscast to 10:00 p.m. (expanding it from five to seven days a week) and added newscasts at noon and 5:00 p.m. upon joining CBS on December 3, 1995. However, due to declining ratings, its news department was shut down in June 2001;[99] months after the station was sold to Bayou City Broadcasting (by way of an aborted deal to sell the station to a shell corporation of the Nexstar Broadcasting Group), WEVV relaunched an in-house news department on August 3, 2015.[100][101] In Detroit, WKBD began producing an 11:00 p.m. newscast for sister station WWJ-TV (in an arrangement identical to that between WOIO and WUAB) in April 2001, after the two formed a duopoly as a result of Viacom's 2000 merger with CBS. Despite being network-owned, prior to the launch of the program, WWJ-TV was the only station that became a Big Three outlet as a result of Fox's various affiliation deals that had not provided any news programming through a newly launched or existing news department. The WKBD and WWJ newscasts were canceled in December 2002 after WKBD entered into a news share agreement with WXYZ-TV to produce its 10:00 p.m. newscast, which was canceled in 2005.[102][103] As a result, WWJ became the largest major-network station by market size, and the only O&O of any major network at the time, without newscasts of any kind. From 2006 to 2008, WWJ-TV made light of this fact in its slogan, "Where No News is Good News", used to promote programming during periods where there would usually be newscasts. In May 2009, WWJ debuted First Forecast Mornings, a weekday morning newscast produced in association with the Detroit Free Press, which was cancelled in December 2012 due to low ratings.[104][105]

ABC affiliates KDNL-TV (channel 30) in St. Louis and WXLV-TV (channel 45) in Greensboro, North Carolina (which respectively replaced KTVI and WGHP (channel 8) as the ABC outlets for those markets as a result of Fox's agreement with then-KTVI owner New World and Fox Television Stations' purchase of WGHP due to FCC national ownership caps that forced New World to divest that station) also experienced difficulty with their newscasts. KDNL, which is currently one of ABC's weakest affiliates (perhaps the weakest among the 50 largest markets in sharp contrast to KTVI, which – although it ranked in third place locally for much of its tenure with the network – was one of ABC's strongest stations), shut down its news department in October 2001 after six years, a move widely blamed on a sharp ratings decline resulting from a transmitter problem that caused the station to go dark for several days. From January 3, 2011 to January 31, 2014, NBC affiliate KSDK (channel 5) produced weeknight-only newscasts for KDNL through a news share agreement (the agreement also allowed KDNL to air weekend rebroadcasts of KSDK's tourism/lifestyle program Show Me St. Louis);[106][107] afterward, KDNL began airing weather cut-ins during Good Morning America, which are now provided by Columbus, Ohio sister station WSYX (channel 6). KDNL resumed news production on January 13, 2015 with the debate-driven news program The Allman Report,[108] hosted by KFTK-FM radio host Jamie Allman. WXLV, which shut down its first news department on January 11, 2002, began producing an 11:00 p.m. newscast from 2004 to 2005 through owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's controversial News Central experiment; it was cancelled after Sinclair discontinued the local/national hybrid format due to poor ratings. In February 2012, News 14 Carolina (now Spectrum News North Carolina after Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016) began producing daily newscasts for WXLV, as part of a retransmission consent dispute settlement between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair.[109]

Fox Kids repercussions

Uncharacteristic for a major network affiliate, nearly all of the ten stations involved in the New World-Fox deal chose not to carry Fox's children's programming block, Fox Kids, due to an interest in airing more local news. In contrast, Big Three affiliates were required to air their network's children's programming, often airing them at the time around local weekend morning newscasts (though some stations have historically pre-empted some portion of the networks' children's blocks); however, ABC, NBC and CBS only aired their blocks on Saturday mornings, whereas Fox Kids aired Monday through Saturdays (consisting of a one-hour morning block and a two-hour afternoon block on weekdays, in addition to a four-hour Saturday morning lineup). Conversely, the SF Broadcasting stations and other new Fox affiliates from ancillary deals spurred by the New World agreement chose to carry Fox Kids.

Owing to it being acquired by the network outright, WGHP initially cleared Fox Kids upon its switch to Fox; but by the spring of 1996, Fox had decided to allow its owned-and-operated stations the option of dropping the block if another station in their local market was interested in airing it (as the New World stations had done). That March, Fox Kids moved to WB affiliate WBFX (channel 20, now CW affiliate WCWG). WBRC, which had also planned to air Fox Kids, likewise allowed former Fox affiliate WTTO (channel 21, now a CW affiliate) and its satellite WDBB (channel 17) to continue airing the block even after it became an independent station. These moves, along with WBRC remaining an ABC affiliate for its first six months under Fox ownership and the eventual acquisition of New World, made it the fourth network which had O&Os that did not air all network programming (as a CBS O&O, WCAU did not air CBS' Sunday morning cartoons during 1978; WPVI-TV (channel 6) in Philadelphia pre-empted an hour of ABC programming even after its owner Capital Cities Communications bought the network in 1986; and after its 1987 purchase of the station, NBC was forced to run WTVJ as a CBS affiliate until its contract ended on December 31, 1988). WTTO dropped Fox Kids in September 2000, with the former WBFX (renamed WTWB-TV) following suit a year later.

In St. Louis, religious station KNLC (channel 24), owned by the New Life Christian Church, began airing Fox Kids in August 1995 in lieu of KTVI; however, the church's reverend, Larry Rice, refused to show commercials during the block's program breaks, replacing them with ministry messages – some of which dealt with such controversial topics as abortion, same-sex marriage and the death penalty.[110] Concerned about this, Fox moved the block to KTVI in September 1996, making it the only former New World station to air Fox Kids (KTVI later carried its successors FoxBox and 4Kids TV); however, the station aired the Saturday block two hours earlier than other stations, in order to air a morning newscast at 9:00 a.m. In Cleveland, WBNX-TV (channel 55, now a CW affiliate) gained an extensive children's programming inventory when it acquired Fox Kids (in lieu of WJW) in September 1994, along with several syndicated children's programs dropped by WOIO (WBNX would later add the Kids' WB block in September 1997, when it assumed the WB affiliation from WUAB, which became an exclusive UPN affiliate). Even in markets without a New World/Fox-owned station, Fox affiliates began passing Fox Kids off to another local station, usually an independent station or minor network affiliate – such as in San Antonio, where 4KidsTV moved from KABB (channel 29) to WB-affiliated sister station KMYS (channel 35, now a CW affiliate) in September 2006, and Fresno, where KMPH-TV (channel 26) moved the block to its WB-affiliated sister KFRE-TV (channel 59, also now a CW affiliate) in September 2005.

Because of the various clearance shifts, Fox Kids/FoxBox/4Kids TV was merely a syndication package, even though Fox advertised in promos that aired during certain prime time shows (as well as in fall preview specials for the blocks that the affected stations were obligated to carry) that its children's programming was part of the network. Although New World stations in Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland, High Point and Phoenix had turned down the various iterations of Fox's children's program blocks (Fox Kids, FoxBox and 4Kids TV), none of them filled the Saturday morning timeslots with newscasts, carrying paid programming and local real estate presentation shows in their place; those stations, along with other Fox stations that did not air the blocks, also aired children's programs acquired via syndication – eventually incorporating series (such as Safari Tracks and Beakman's World) that meet FCC rules requiring stations to air three hours of educational and informative children's programs each week (unlike most seen on 4Kids TV) – either following a newscast or in place of it (as part of its Major League Baseball coverage, Fox aired This Week in Baseball to count towards a half-hour of E/I programming across the network,[111] which was replaced in 2013 by the short-lived MLB Player Poll). In Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham and the Piedmont Triad, 4Kids TV was not carried in those markets after stations that had held the local rights dropped the lineup.

Owing to the preemptions and other factors (such as a pay dispute with 4Kids Entertainment, and the shift of Saturday morning children's audiences to cable television and video on demand services), 4Kids TV ended on December 27, 2008.[112] Fox gave two of the block's four hours back to its stations, while the remaining two hours were retained to program a paid programming block under the branding Weekend Marketplace.[113] Many of the stations which took 4KidsTV in lieu of the local Fox stations (such as WMLW-CA (channel 41) in Milwaukee) chose not to take Weekend Marketplace, along with those Fox stations; as a result, the block saw limited clearance outside of O&Os and Fox stations which previously cleared 4Kids TV. On September 13, 2014, Fox debuted Xploration Station, a two-hour syndicated block of live-action programs from Steve Rotfeld Productions that focus on the STEM fields.[114] The block, which is designed to fulfill the FCC's educational programming requirements (stations carrying the block continue to air syndicated E/I-compliant programs to meet the entire three-hour quota), is primarily carried on Fox stations owned by Fox Television Stations and Tribune Broadcasting (including those that declined to carry Fox's earlier children's programming efforts and Weekend Marketplace);[115] however like Weekend Marketplace and Fox's predecessor children's program blocks, the block is carried on a CW or MyNetworkTV affiliate, or an independent station in most markets.

Canadian repercussions

Until the affiliation switches, subscription television providers in Canada could carry three American commercial networks and those three only if they also committed to carry a PBS member station (per an obscure rule dating to the late 1970s, referred to by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission at the time as the "3+1 rule"), with exceptions made to allow additional stations receivable over-the-air in certain areas (as a result, some towns in British Columbia received Fox programming via KAYU-TV (channel 28) in Spokane, Washington, and the WindsorEssex County region in Ontario received nearly the entire lineup of Detroit stations on cable and over-the-air, while towns in Alberta were denied such importation of signals). The CRTC had stated in June 1994 – a few weeks after New World agreed to affiliate most of its stations with Fox – that it was not willing to modify this rule,[116] but due to pressure from both citizens and cable operators, by September, it allowed Canadian cable providers to pick up a station affiliated with Fox without having to bump one affiliated with a Big Three network for it;[117] the "3+1" rule effectively became the "4+1" rule as a result.

Additional changes were in store for Canadian cable providers that carried the major network affiliates based out of Detroit; while they were able to continue carrying WJBK when it switched to Fox because of the new rules, they also had to add a CBS station, often from its new Detroit O&O WWJ-TV; providers in Southwestern Ontario had issues receiving the UHF signal of the network's new Cleveland affiliate, WOIO.

See also


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