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The New World 12

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The twelve markets affected by the 1994 Fox-New World deal, struck on May 23, 1994.

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The New World 12

  1. 1. The New World 12 Back on May 23, 1994, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch shocked the broadcasting world by striking a deal with 12 New World-owned television stations to become Fox affiliate. Here’s a detailed description of what happened in each of those markets: Dallas-Fort Worth Switch Date: July 2, 1995 The stations involved: CBS affiliate KDFW (Ch. 4) switched to Fox, taking the affiliation away from KDAF (Ch. 33), who happened to be a Fox owned-and-operated station - but was one of the lowest-rated in the entire chain. Fox sold KDAF to Renaissance Broadcasting and became a WB affiliate. CBS relocated to Gaylord's KTVT (Ch.11), whom it subsequently bought. KDFW is very competitive with the other news stations in the Metroplex, while KDAF was sold to Tribune and became a CW outlet. Tribune is in the process of being bought by Nexstar. Atlanta Switch date: December 11, 1994 The stations involved: New World's WAGA (Ch.5) switched to Fox from CBS ending a 45-year relationship, with Fox opting to sell WATL (Ch. 36). The WB was set to affiliate with Tribune's WGNX (Ch.46), but made a last-minute switch to CBS, even though the network did buy WVEU (Ch. 69). WATL wound up with The WB. Today, WAGA is a strong second in news to ABC affiliate WSB-TV; WGCL (formerly WGNX) often ranks fourth in news. WATL is now a My Network TV affiliate in a duopoly with Tegna NBC outlet WXIA-TV. WVEU became a UPN affiliate and is now CW affiliate WUPA, a CBS-owned- and-operated station.
  2. 2. Phoenix Switch dates: Varied; from September 1994 to January 1995 The stations involved: New World's CBS affiliate KSAZ (Ch. 10) switched to Fox, whose relationship with Scripps' KNXV (Ch. 15) ended, despite being one of the strongest Fox stations in the country. In July 1994, Scripps struck a five-station affiliation deal with ABC, ending a 39- year relationship with locally-owned KTVK (Ch. 3), who became an independent. However, CBS chose to hook up with existing independent KPHO-TV (Ch. 5), owned by Meredith Corp. Phoenix is a complicated market to analyze with so many ownership changes in the last few years and because of space limitations, won't be able to detail them here. But it is understood KSAZ is a strong local news player in Phoenix market. Of note is Meredith now owns independent KTVK in addition to KPHO in a duopoly. KTVK was briefly affiliated with The WB. Tampa-St. Petersburg Switch date: December 12, 1994 The stations involved: New World's WTVT (Ch. 13) - a station formerly owned by Gaylord Broadcasting - switched to Fox, taking away the affiliation from Scripps' WFTS (Ch. 28). As noted above, Scripps struck a deal with ABC in a five-station deal, ending WTSP's (Ch. 10) long run with the network. CBS signed with WTSP, lessening the blow of relocating to a UHF station. WTVT often ranked second behind market leader WFLA in news, followed by WTSP and WFTS. Of note here is later, Viacom/CBS wound up owning UPN station WTOG (another former Fox affiliate now a CBS-owned CW outlet), while The WB shifted its affiliation from WMOR to WTTA, who is now a My Network TV affiliate.
  3. 3. Detroit Switch Date: December 11, 1994 The stations involved: As a CBS station, WJBK (Ch. 2) was considered a joke in some circles with low-rated newscasts and lackluster syndicated programming (Variety even noted WJBK's newscasts were outdrawn by Jetsons reruns.) WJBK went to Fox, replacing WKBD (Ch. 50) whose preemptions of prime-time programming for Pistons and Red Wings games were a real sore point with the network. WKBD opted to sign with UPN instead of CBS, forcing the network to buy little-watched WGPR-TV Channel 62, (now WWJ-TV) one of the first African-American owned stations in the country. Today, WJBK's news ratings are much better than they were during its CBS days as the station routinely places second in most time periods, and often ranks first in the ratings. When Viacom and CBS merged in 1999, WKBD and WWJ became sister stations and both became owned by CBS in 2005 when Viacom and CBS split. CBS tried local newscasts at WWJ, but wasn't successful. WWJ is the only network-owned station in the country without a news operation. Cleveland Switch Date: September 3, 1994 The stations involved: The first switch in the New World deals was a straight swap of affiliations between longtime ratings leader WJW (Ch. 8) swapping CBS for Fox, with WOIO (Ch. 19) doing vice versa. In recent years, WJW has maintained its news dominance, though at times challenged by NBC affiliate WKYC and ABC outlet WEWS. WJW was sold by Fox in 2007 to Local TV LLC, who was swallowed by Tribune, who in turn is being swallowed by Nexstar.
  4. 4. WOIO meanwhile, lags behind all of its competitors and has made headlines for several bizarre incidents including an anchor posing nude as part of a story the station was doing and using puppets to re-enact jury testimony in a criminal trial. WOIO is now owned by Gray Television. St. Louis Switch date: August 7, 1995 The stations involved: Often having a rocky relationship with ABC, KTVI (Ch. 2) became a Fox affiliate in the Fox-New World deal, in a straight swap with former Fox affiliate KDNL (Ch. 30). Like WJW, KTVI was sold by Fox in 2007 to Local TV, who was swallowed by Tribune and became a duopoly partner with CW's KPLR, whom Tribune bought in 2003 (both are being sold to Nexstar.) KTVI often trails CBS affiliate KMOV and NBC affiliate KSDK in the news ratings. Due to weak ratings, KDNL shuttered its news operation in October 2001, becoming the only ABC affiliate in the 100 largest markets not to have a news operation. KDNL did launch a nightly "news" show with conservative radio personality Jamie Allman, but was fired after a controversial tweet. KDNL remains one of the lowest-rated ABC affiliates in the country. Of note here is when KDNL switched to ABC, Fox Kids programming wound up on independent KNLC, a religious station owned by the Rev. Larry Rice. But Fox objected to the station filling local commercial time with PSAs dealing with adult issues and wound up terminating its contract after a few months.
  5. 5. Milwaukee Switch date: December 11, 1994 WITI (Ch. 6) - whose former parent company (Storer) switched its affiliation to CBS from ABC in 1977 due to losing the top-rated network to another station in San Diego, switched to Fox ending former affiliate WCGV's (Ch. 24) association with the network after seven years. After being unable to strike a deal with WCGV (who went to UPN) or WVTV (who went to The WB), CBS was days away from not having a presence at all in Milwaukee until it struck a last- minute deal with Weigel's WDJT (Ch.58), who already carried the network's Late Show With David Letterman. A former Fox O&O, WITI is owned by Tribune (in the process of being sold to Nexstar.) WITI has often placed second in the ratings behind ABC affiliate WISN in news. While WDJT still ranks fourth, its programming schedule has improved in recent years with the addition of Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, the latter two were longtime staples of NBC affiliate WTMJ. Kansas City Switch Date: September 12, 1994 The stations involved: An NBC affiliate since 1949, WDAF (Ch. 4) switched to the Fox network while former affiliate KSHB (Ch. 41) switched to NBC. WDAF often places behind CBS affiliate KCTV and ABC affiliate KMBC in news - as it did during its NBC days. KSHB often finished fourth behind everyone else, but ratings improved thanks to NBC's powerful lineup in the late '90s. WDAF is currently owned by Tribune; KSHB is owned by Scripps since 1977 and was not involved in the company's five-market affiliation deal with ABC. KSHB is in a duopoly with independent KMCI, who Scripps took over in 1996.
  6. 6. Greensboro, N.C. Switch date: September 3, 1995 The stations involved: Longtime ABC affiliate WGHP (Ch. 8) moved to Fox in the deal, stripping away the affiliation of WNRW (now Sinclair-owned WXLV, Ch. 45), who in turn signed with ABC (New World opted to put WGHP in a trust, then sell it outright to Fox due to legal concerns.) The story: Like the Cleveland, Kansas City, and Milwaukee stations, WGHP was a Fox O&O until its sale to Local TV then Tribune. WGHP often ranks third in news behind competitors WFMY and WXII. Due to its high channel number, WXLV has lagged behind everyone - it news ratings were so bad at one point - they discontinued their news operations. Today, their local news is produced by cable MSO Charter Communications as Spectrum News on ABC45 (formerly Time Warner Cable News on ABC 45, pre Time Warner Cable-Spectrum merger.) Birmingham, Ala. Switch Date: September 1, 1996 The last of the conversions took place here, as ABC affiliate WBRC (Ch. 6) became a Fox-owned station, replacing Sinclair's WTTO (Ch. 21) in the role (New World opted to put WBRC in a trust, then sell it outright to Fox due to legal concerns.) After failing to reach an affiliation agreement with WTTO, ABC signed with two stations in a very complicated deal to cover the Birmingham market: Tuscaloosa's WCFT (Ch. 33) and Anniston's WJSU (Ch. 40). WTTO signed on with The WB (and is now a CW affiliate.) Ratings for the once-dominant WBRC fell after longtime ratings laggard WIAT (CBS) picked up considerable steam. WBRC has had a revolving door of owners since Fox sold the station and is now run by Gray Television. Sinclair owns the former WCFT and WJSU what is now known as WBMA-LD (Ch. 58) and is in a defacto triopoly with WTTO and My Network TV's WABM (Ch. 68). New World also owned NBC outlet WTVM but due to FCC rules at the time, weren't allowed to own two stations in the same market. New World sold WTVM and San Diego's KNSD to NBC; In 2006, NBC unloaded WTVM to Media General, now known as Nexstar. Fox had to operate WBRC as an ABC affiliate for a year as they weren’t allowed to drop the network until its contract expired.
  7. 7. Austin, Tex. Switch date: July 1, 1995 The only VHF station in town, KTBC (Ch. 7) became the Fox affiliate, swapping with KBVO-TV, who became CBS and relaunched itself as KEYE (Ch. 42). Have not come across Austin TV ratings in years, so I can't tell you how KTBC is doing. But KEYE underwent numerous ownership changes including a stint with CBS itself; KEYE is now owned by Sinclair. Of note is KTBC was once owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird.

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