|Channels||Digital: 15 (UHF)|
Virtual: 15 (PSIP)
|Branding||ABC 15 Arizona (general)|
ABC 15 News (newscasts)
|Owner||E. W. Scripps Company |
(Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC)
|KASW, KGUN-TV, KWBA-TV|
First air date
|September 9, 1979|
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|Newswatch (intended format)|
Channel XV (Roman numeral 15)
|HAAT||521 m (1,709 ft)|
Public license information
KNXV-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 15, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KASW (channel 61). KNXV-TV's studios (which also house master control and most internal operations for KASW) are located along North 44th Street on the city's east side (north of Sky Harbor International Airport and next to the Loop 202 and SR 143 interchange), and its transmitter is located atop South Mountain on the city's south side. KASW maintains separate facilities on East Missouri Avenue in Uptown Phoenix.
In February 1975, pioneering UHF broadcaster Edwin Cooperstein announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had granted a construction permit to his company, New Television Corp., to build a television station in Phoenix on UHF channel 15. It was expected to begin broadcasting within a year and was intended to place a heavy emphasis on news programming, airing three 90-minute newscasts at different times between 4 p.m. and midnight. The lone legacy of this intended format was the station's call sign, KNXV, standing for "Newswatch 15" (the "XV" stood for 15 in Roman numerals). Plans were soon delayed by the inability to secure financing in a difficult economy, and by the end of 1976, the station still had not been built. In 1977, funding problems continued to stand in the way of getting KNXV-TV on the air.
In late 1978, firm plans were made for a 1979 launch of the station. The catalyst and financial backer was Oak Industries, which would broadcast the ON TV subscription television service in evening hours while New Television would program the station during the day as a commercial independent, airing first-run and off-network syndicated shows and children's programs. KNXV-TV signed on September 9, 1979, more than four and a half years after the construction permit was granted. One of the station's most memorable early promotions was the "Bluebird of Happy News," with the voice of Elroy "Buzz" Towers (who was voiced by an early station master control/videotape operator) in a helicopter taking jabs at local news on other stations.
In Phoenix, ON TV held telecast rights at various times to ASU sports, the Phoenix Suns,Phoenix Giants minor league baseball and Los Angeles Kings hockey. By July 1982, ON TV had 39,000 subscribers in Phoenix, but signs of trouble were emerging rapidly. In 1981, the Suns signed a 13-year agreement to telecast games through American Cable (resulting in the launch of the Arizona Sports Programming Network), which sub-licensed games to ON TV in part because they had not wired all of the metropolitan area. KNXV-TV also proved itself a tough partner for Oak's subscription service. The station resisted a request to expand ON TV to start before 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and 5:00 p.m. on weekends, while the station also threatened to stop airing ON TV's "adults only" late-night fare. ON TV took the station to court over its refusal to cede early evening hours, which generated 60 percent of the television station's revenue.
Phoenix was one of the first markets to show serious subscriber erosion. By April 1983, its subscriber base had dipped below 25,000, a drop of more than 35 percent. Oak Communications ultimately shuttered ON TV in Phoenix on May 4, 1983, resulting in the loss of 140 jobs. KNXV then became a full-time general entertainment independent station, and ran a number of cartoons, older off-network sitcoms, classic movies and drama series. The station pulled in mediocre ratings and lagged behind longtime independent station KPHO-TV (channel 5). Despite this, buyers appeared for channel 15. Cooperstein rebuffed a $22 million bid from the Tribune Company and accepted a $30 million offer from Scripps-Howard in late 1984, with the sale being finalized in 1985 after Scripps was required to divest itself of radio stations KMEO-AM-FM.
One new program on KNXV in its first months with Scripps had much to do with its new owner. In mid-1985, KNXV began producing Friday Night at the Frights starring "Edmus Scarey" (portrayed by Ed Muscare), a series of decidedly campy B-movie wraparounds. Ed Muscare had previously hosted shows for KNXV sister station KSHB-TV in Kansas City. Stuart Powell, general manager of KNXV in the mid-1980s and former KSHB-TV general manager, had convinced Muscare to work at the station coaxed Muscare out of retirement. Muscare resigned in September 1986, shortly before being arrested on charges of sexual battery with a minor stemming from an incident in Florida.
Under Scripps, KNXV began to purchase more recent sitcoms, often outbidding KPHO for strong shows. The station also became the over-the-air broadcaster of the Suns again; it lost the rights to televise the team's games to KUTP (channel 45) in 1988. After KPHO turned down an offer to affiliate with the fledgling Fox network, it approached KNXV. After Scripps promised to launch a news department, KNXV joined Fox at the network's inception on October 9, 1986, with the first Fox program airing on the station being the late night talk show The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, which was at that time the only program Fox offered, so KNXV still essentially remained independent. KNXV promoted its new affiliation with a campaign centered around the slogan "Light Up the Night with Late Night Fireworks".
The station also had a unique view of the development of the network. Station general manager Stu Powell, who later worked in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, also sat on Fox's first board of governors; he would remark of the early days, "The only definition of failure at Fox at that time was not trying things."
During this period, KNXV made steady rating gains. By 1990, KNXV nearly tied KPHO in the ratings, even though the station still produced no local newscasts. While KPHO attempted to woo Fox away with its existing news operation, KNXV retained the affiliation, having become by 1992 the second most successful Fox affiliate after KTXL (channel 40) in Sacramento.
On May 22, 1994, New World Communications signed a long-term groupwide affiliation agreement with Fox that would result in longtime CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV (channel 10, which New World was in the process of acquiring from Citicasters) becoming the Phoenix area's new Fox affiliate. The CBS affiliation, in turn, moved to KPHO, leaving KNXV without an affiliation and the likelihood of reverting into an independent, prompting Scripps to negotiate an affiliation agreement with ABC. CBS heavily wooed two Scripps stations, longtime ABC affiliates WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS-TV in Cleveland, to switch to that network, which was about to lose its longtime affiliates in those cities to Fox. In order to allow Scripps to renew its network affiliation agreements with WXYZ-TV and WEWS-TV, ABC agreed to affiliate with KNXV as well as two other Scripps stations: NBC affiliate WMAR-TV in Baltimore and outgoing Fox affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa. Locally, this resulted in the displacement of ABC from longtime affiliate KTVK (channel 3). As a condition of the deal, KNXV agreed to produce the same amount of local news programming as KTVK had been producing as an ABC affiliate. KNXV also agreed to not preempt any ABC programming, outside of coverage of breaking news events. KTVK later briefly joined the new WB network in 1995, then later that year, became an independent station.
KNXV was already in the process of building a local news department when the affiliation switch occurred. In September 1993, the station had hired its news director, and the station's staff of 30 had reported to Phoenix in the weeks before the New World deal was announced. As a result of the switch, the news staff swelled to 85, and the station delayed the launch of its newscast a month to August 1.
Over the second half of 1994, ABC programming migrated from KTVK to KNXV in stages, as the outgoing affiliate shed a variety of its soon-to-be former network's offerings. When KTVK launched a local morning newscast at the end of August, Good Morning America was the first ABC program to move to KNXV. KNXV then picked up Mike and Maty, World News Now, Nightline and ABC's Saturday morning cartoons when the station officially dropped its Fox affiliation on December 15. The rest of ABC's programming moved to KNXV on January 9, 1995. KNXV kept about one-third of its syndicated programming, with the rest moving to other area stations.
On July 27, 2007, two news helicopters leased to KNXV and KTVK collided while covering a police pursuit in downtown Phoenix. All four people on both helicopters were killed, including KNXV pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak.
Prior to the 2009 digital transition that resulted in many stations historically broadcasting on the VHF band moving their channel assignments to UHF, KNXV was ABC's largest affiliate on the UHF band (it remains the largest affiliate to broadcast with a virtual channel number higher than 13.1).
KNXV started a traffic channel on .2 called Go AZ given the area's traffic congestion.
KNXV-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 15, at 12:01 a.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. At 2 a.m. on that date, the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 56, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 15.
On April 1, 2015, Scripps acquired Journal Communications, owners of its two nearby ABC affiliates, Las Vegas' ABC affiliate KTNV-TV (channel 13) and Tucson ABC station KGUN-TV (channel 9), becoming sister stations to KNXV. Outside of the small corner of southwest Arizona covered by KECY-DT2 from El Centro, California, this effectively gives E. W. Scripps a monopoly on ABC programming throughout the state of Arizona. (Before KECY-DT2 became an ABC affiliate on January 1, 2007, that area's ABC programming was served by KNXV and eventual Scripps sister station KGTV (channel 10) in San Diego, the former of which had been carried as the default Fox affiliate for the eastern portion of the Yuma market until KECY-TV switched to Fox in late 1994.)
On March 20, 2019, Scripps announced that it would acquire CW affiliate KASW (channel 61), along with seven other stations, from Nexstar Media Group as part of its proposed acquisition of Tribune Media. This would create a new duopoly between KNXV and KASW, and it would be the third duopoly in the Phoenix market after Fox Television Stations' KSAZ-TV/KUTP and Meredith Corporation's KPHO-TV/KTVK. The sale was approved by the FCC on September 16 and was completed on September 19, 2019.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|15.1||720p||16:9||ABC15HD||Main KNXV-TV programming / ABC|
|61.1||1080i||KASW-HD||ATSC 1.0 simulcast of KASW / The CW|
In 2011, KNXV digital subchannel 15.2 began carrying the Live Well Network (now Localish). The station changed the subchannel's affiliation on 15.2 to the classic television network Antenna TV on January 1, 2014. Subchannel 15.3 was added with the launch of Laff on April 15, 2015. 15.4 began operation on May 7, 2019, running promos for the relaunched Court TV, which started regular programming the next day.
Outside of the ABC network schedule, syndicated programming featured on KNXV-TV (as of September 2019) includes Tamron Hall, The List and Right This Minute. KNXV was the third station in the Phoenix market to air Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune: the two shows were first seen on KSAZ-TV from 1983/1984 to 1994, then on KTVK from 1994 to 2003. Both shows were dropped by KNXV and other Scripps stations on September 17, 2012 as part of a corporate edict to reduce costs, and were replaced with programs produced by the company, Let's Ask America and The List, that would initially be syndicated exclusively to the group's stations.
Sports programming on KNXV is provided through ESPN on ABC and includes any games with the Phoenix Suns, Arizona State Sun Devils football, and Arizona Wildcats football selected for the broadcast package.
KNXV-TV presently broadcasts 40½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours each weekday, five hours on Saturdays, and 3½ hours on Sundays). KNXV is one of 10 television stations that airs consumer reports from John Matarese of Scripps sister station WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.
At the time that KNXV had been named Phoenix's new ABC affiliate in 1994, the station already had been building a news department under General Manager Raymond Hunt. Plans for KNXV's new newscast, originally built to match the Fox feel, included a purple set and special effects. After ABC came to KNXV, the style was toned down, though the set remained. The station's newscasts formally debuted on August 1, 1994, under the News 15 brand name with an 85-person news staff (larger than the 30 that the news department was originally planned to have). By September 1995, KNXV was airing daily newscasts at 6 and 11 a.m. in the morning, and evenings at 5, 6, and 10 p.m. During this time, the news department was being led by Susan Sullivan, who created an environment focused on enterprise and investigative reporting.
In September 1996, Michael Kronley was installed as station manager from Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV. The investigative reports were discontinued, replaced by more live shots. The station acquired a helicopter. The next year, KNXV rebranded, with a new slogan, "We Won't Waste Your Time". In 2006, KNXV debuted the first 4 p.m. newscast in the Phoenix market, which replaced a rerun of Jeopardy! in the timeslot.
In June 2007, KNXV became the third television station in the Phoenix market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. In 2009, KNXV began training its staff of photojournalists and reporters to take on roles as multimedia journalists. Employees in this classification generate story ideas, shoot, edit, write and publish the content.
On April 1, 2009, the E. W. Scripps Company and Fox Television Stations announced the formation of the Local News Service model among stations owned by the two station groups in the Phoenix, Detroit, and Tampa markets. The service allows the pooling of news-gathering efforts for local news events and each station provides employees to the pool service in exchange for the sharing of the video.Meredith Corporation-owned CBS affiliate KPHO-TV eventually joined the Phoenix LNS agreement shortly after the announcement.
On July 9, 2012, KNXV launched an hour-long midday newscast weekdays at 11 a.m.
On January 19, 2013, KNXV debuted weekend morning newscasts, airing from 5 to 7 a.m. with an additional hour running on Saturdays only from 8 to 9 a.m.
On July 7, 2014, KNXV extended its 6 p.m. newscast from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, making it "the only hour-long weekday local newscast" in the Phoenix market. On August 25 of that same year, KNXV reformatted its 4 p.m. newscast into The NOW Arizona (see above).
In 2016, KNXV extended its weekend 10 p.m. newscasts to run an hour on both Saturday and Sunday.
On July 9, 2018, KNXV extended its 4 p.m. newscast to a full hour.
KNXV did not have any translator coverage until 1989, when it signed on a translator in Flagstaff. When it became an ABC affiliate in 1995, it replaced KTVK on some transmitters in Mohave County's translator network, the largest in the state.