|Jack Abernethy, CEO|
Fox Television Stations, LLC (FTS; alternately Fox Television Stations Group, LLC), is a group of television stations located within the United States which are owned-and-operated by the Fox Broadcasting Company, a subsidiary of the Fox Corporation.
FTS produced the first 25 seasons of Fox's program COPS (through Fox Television Stations Productions), until it moved to Spike (now Paramount Network) in the 2013-14 season. It also oversees the MyNetworkTV service and has a half-interest in the Movies! digital subchannel network, which is shared with Weigel Broadcasting.
FTS was formed in April 1986 after the acquisition of the Metromedia-owned independent stations by the 20th Century Fox film studio, at the time jointly owned by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and Denver-based billionaire Marvin Davis. These stations would later become the basis of the Fox Broadcasting Company, which launched in October 1986. Not long after the Metromedia deal was made, Murdoch purchased Davis's shares and News Corporation assumed complete control of 20th Century Fox.
Initially, FTS was a semi-autonomous unit in which News Corporation owned over 99% of the equity but only 24% of the voting power; the balance was held personally by Murdoch.Federal Communications Commission regulations of that era prohibited foreign interests or non-American citizens from controlling more than 25 per cent of an FCC-licensed broadcast station. Though News Corporation was still based in Australia, Murdoch had become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985, and the nominal transfer of a majority voting interest to Murdoch was sufficient to get around this hurdle. The quirk was removed permanently when News Corporation reincorporated in the U.S. in 2004. The Fox Broadcasting Company itself and affiliated cable channels were not affected by these regulations.
Starting with the original six stations, FTS gained the bulk of its group through two large transactions: the 1997 purchase of New World Communications, succeeding a 1994 business deal between the two companies which led to all of New World's stations switching from other networks to Fox during 1994-95; and the 2000 acquisition of the Chris-Craft/United group, which gave Fox ownership of several stations then affiliated with the UPN network, and also created several duopolies (two stations in the same market owned by the same company). A significant factor that resulted in Fox's affiliation with, and later purchase of, New World Communications was Fox acquiring TV rights to the National Football League (NFL), primarily covering games involving teams in the National Football Conference (NFC).
The Fox-owned UPN affiliates were not included in the UPN/WB merger (The CW), which was announced on January 23, 2006. Soon after, these stations removed references to UPN from their on-air branding and websites. On February 22, 2006, FTS announced that all nine of their non-Fox outlets will be charter affiliates of a new service known as MyNetworkTV, which commenced operations on September 5, 2006, with telenovela programming that was original to be syndicated. On May 23, 2016, it was announced that one of the Fox-owned former UPN affiliates that were left out of the initial negotiations for CW affiliation a decade earlier, MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WPWR in Chicago, would be taking over the market's affiliation with the network from rival WGN-TV in September of that year. MyNetworkTV remains on WPWR as a secondary affiliation.
On December 21, 2007, FTS announced that it would sell nine of its stations to Local TV, LLC, a division of Oak Hill Capital Partners. Six of the stations that were sold are ex-New World stations. The transaction was completed in 2008.
In January 2009, NBC Owned Television Stations and FTS set up the first Local News Service with their Philadelphia stations after testing since the summer 2008. Fox and NBC then added other markets where they both own stations.
On January 28, 2013, FTS announced that 17 of their stations would be affiliating with new subchannel network, Movies!, which is a joint venture between FTS and Weigel Broadcasting, on their subchannels. That same day, the company announced it would be acquiring the Charlotte duopoly of CW affiliate WJZY and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYT-TV from Capitol Broadcasting Company. The deal was approved by the FCC on March 11 and completed on April 17. As part of the deal, WJZY became a Fox owned-and-operated station on July 1. The station community believed that the Charlotte station's purchase by FTS is proof that Fox is interested in owning a TV station in NFL markets (specifically those with NFC teams, as Charlotte is) to up the station groups' "bargaining power in retransmission consent negotiations with cable, satellite and telco operators."
As part of the restructuring that stemmed from the News Corporation/21st Century Fox split, it was announced on July 8, 2013 that 20th Television, which was until that time under FTS, will operate under the management of 20th Century Fox Television.
On June 24, 2014, FTS announced it would acquire its existing San Francisco Bay Area affiliate KTVU, along with its duopoly partner KICU-TV, from Cox Media Group in exchange for WFXT in Boston and WHBQ-TV in Memphis. The station sale/trade was completed on October 8, 2014. Fox's motivation for acquiring KTVU was that it was another NFL market with an NFC team.
In addition to FTS's aforementioned purchases of Charlotte's WJZY in 2013 and the San Francisco Bay Area's KTVU in 2014, Variety reported that Fox is also interested in acquiring stations in the following other NFL markets: Seattle and St. Louis (the latter's KTVI had previously been owned by Fox, but was included in the 2007 sale to Local TV; with the St. Louis Rams relocating to Los Angeles starting with the 2016 NFL season, there is no word as to whether or not FTS' pursuit of a station in the St. Louis market has diminished). While discussions with Seattle's Fox affiliate KCPQ and its owner Tribune Broadcasting remained ongoing, Fox struck a deal on September 19, 2014, to buy KBCB, a station in nearby Bellingham, for $10 million; the purchase, submitted for FCC approval on October 3, was described as a "strategic option" for Fox by an insider. Tribune then agreed on October 17 to extend its affiliation agreement for KCPQ through July 2018, and pay increased reverse compensation fees to Fox for the broadcasting of the network's programming beginning in January 2015. Fox's application to acquire KBCB was dismissed by the FCC on November 20, 2014.
On January 20, 2015, it was announced that Fox Television Stations would be a charter launch partner for Buzzr, a new digital multicast network from Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia North America devoted to classic game shows, which launched that June. Later in the year, FTS also agreed to carry Weigel Broadcasting's Heroes & Icons network on subchannels of 11 major market stations.
On April 30, 2017, it was reported that 21st Century Fox was in talks to purchase Tribune Media in a joint venture with the Blackstone Group. On May 7, 2017, it was reported that Sinclair Broadcast Group was nearing a deal to purchase Tribune Media, and that 21st Century Fox had dropped its bid for the company. The deal was officially announced the next day. (However, on August 9, 2018, Tribune canceled the Sinclair deal.) On August 2, 2017, it was reported that 21st Century Fox was in talks to form a similar joint venture with Ion Media in an effort to counter Sinclair and displace Fox affiliations from their stations; analysts felt that the proposed partnership was meant as a bargaining ploy against Sinclair, as it would have to make significant investments into the acquired stations to make them profitable and capable of producing local news programming (Ion stations have historically had few employees or local infrastructure), and that Fox risked losing viewers through these transitions.
On December 14, 2017, after rumors of such a sale, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would purchase FTS's parent company, 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, plus the assumption of $13.7 billion in debt by Fox, subject to government approval. FTS, along with several other assets was spun off into Fox Corporation, a company owned by the Murdoch family. The deal was approved by Disney and Fox shareholders on July 27, 2018 and was completed on March 19, 2019.
In January 2018, the Financial Times reported that FTS was finalizing a deal to acquire as many as 10 Fox affiliates from Sinclair, as part of an effort to reach FCC approval of its proposed acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal would likely include Seattle's KCPQ (as Sinclair already owns ABC affiliate KOMO-TV there), KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City (Tribune already owns KFOR-TV), KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City (Sinclair already owns KUTV), KTVI in St. Louis (Sinclair owns KDNL) and Tribune's Fox/CW duopoly of KDVR and KWGN in Denver. This deal would bring several former O&Os previously divested to Local TV LLC (which was acquired by Tribune) back under Fox ownership.
On May 9, 2018, Fox announced it would purchase KCPQ, KDVR, KSTU, KTXL in Sacramento, KSWB-TV in San Diego, WJW in Cleveland and WSFL-TV, the CW affiliate for Miami-Fort Lauderdale. The move would give Fox stations in the home markets for the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins as the network takes over the Thursday Night Football package from CBS and NBC. After Tribune terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair on August 9, 2018, however, the sale of the seven aforementioned stations to FTS was likewise nullified.
Stations are arranged alphabetically by state and city of license.