KVIA-TV, virtual channel 7 (digital channel UHF 17), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in El Paso, Texas, United States. The station is owned by the News-Press & Gazette Company. KVIA-TV maintains studio facilities located on Rio Bravo Street in northwest El Paso, and its transmitter is located atop the Franklin Mountains on the El Paso city limits.
The station first signed on the air on September 1, 1956 as KILT, broadcasting on VHF channel 13; the station was originally owned by television and radio personality Gordon McLendon. It was the third television station to sign on in the El Paso market, after KROD-TV (channel 4, now KDBC-TV) – which signed on in December 1952. KTSM-TV (channel 9) operated a tall tower at a lower elevation in downtown El Paso. After a short period of ownership, the McClendon Investment Corporation sold KILT to Joseph Harris and Norman Alexander in March 1957, after which, the station changed its call letters to KELP-TV. The station was purchased by John B. Walton Jr. in January 1966. The station's original studio facilities were located in central El Paso at 4530 Delta Drive, which also housed sister radio station KELP (920 AM, now KQBU), which was leased from the city of El Paso.
The station's original studio site amounted to a landfill next to a sewer; the studio land subsided over the years, resulting in the floors becoming uneven; cameras having to be chocked in place to prevent them from coming loose and run to the end of cables, slam into walls or trip over cables; outside walls developing gaps through which studio lights shone outward; and landfill/sewer insects flown into the building. Anchors needed to lean with the sets and cameras to appear upright on camera. The 350-foot (110 m) tower (placing the antenna about 110 feet above average terrain) operated at only 28,000 watts. During the same period, the station depended on microwave relays sent from Los Angeles for its network transmissions; on at least one occasion, an ice storm in Arizona caused a significant disruption in the station's network programming.
KELP-TV's transmitter facility moved to the south end of Comanche Peak, just above Scenic Drive, in 1961. Walton oversaw the move of the station's operations to its current studio facilities at 4140 Rio Bravo Street, off Executive Center in western El Paso, in 1968. During the 1960s and 1970s, KELP-TV was one of the few television stations in the United States that had an outdoor swimming pool. In the 1960s, the station carried a popular dance program titled Crosno's Hop, hosted by local radio DJ Steve Crosno.
Before satellites were widely used in U.S. broadcast television, network affiliates in many smaller markets had to arrange their own network connections. KELP-TV leased mountain tops between Phoenix and El Paso to create these relays. It picked up Phoenix ABC affiliate KTVK (now an independent station) and the network's Tucson affiliate KGUN-TV off-air, and fed them over several microwave relay towers, which landed back at the mountain top transmitter of KELP-TV. For a time, this required the transmitter operator at the site to switch between the studio feed and that of the incoming network feed. Later, the station added a backhaul link to allow the network feed to be transmitted directly to the studios, allowing the studio operator to preview network shows before broadcasting them on the station.
In February 1976, the station was purchased by Stanley Marsh 3. That year, the company signed on KAVE-TV (channel 6) in Carlsbad, New Mexico to act as a satellite station of KVIA; the station used a "circle 6" logo to align it with KVIA's "circle 7 logo". In 1987, that station changed its call letters to KVIO-TV to better identify it with its parent station. In 1979, it changed its call letters to KVIA-TV. On July 10, 1981, KVIA switched channel positions with KCOS, the city's PBS member station, and moved to VHF channel 7. This was done to give KVIA a greater broadcast signal range on parity with NBC affiliate KTSM-TV and CBS affiliate KDBC-TV.
In 1993, KVIO was sold to Pulitzer Broadcasting, then-owner of fellow ABC affiliate KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, which changed its call letters to KOCT and converted it into a satellite of KOAT; it was supplanted by a translator of that station in 2012. In 1995, Stanley Marsh 3 sold KVIA-TV to the St. Joseph, Missouri-based News-Press & Gazette Company; after the purchase, channel 7 served as the flagship television station of News-Press & Gazette, this status ended when the company acquired Colorado Springs ABC affiliate KRDO-TV in 2006.
KVIA utilizes a red version of the G. Dean Smith-designed version of the "circle 7 logo" commonly used by ABC stations broadcasting on channel 7, as opposed to the more widely used blue variant. The "red 7" is very similar in color, but not in shape, to the logos used by Boston NBC affiliate WHDH and Miami Fox affiliate WSVN.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||720p||16:9||KVIA-DT||Main KVIA-TV programming / ABC|
|7.2||480i||CW||The CW Plus ("El Paso-Las Cruces CW")|
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On March 7, KVIA signed an affiliation agreement to become the market's CW affiliate; the station began carrying the network through its CW Plus feed on its second digital subchannel (branded as "El Paso-Las Cruces CW") when the network launched on September 18, 2006.
As in other markets where The CW ended up being carried on a digital subchannel of a station affiliated with another major network, News-Press & Gazette Company was unable to strike a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable to carry KVIA-DT2 when the network launched; Time Warner Cable would not carry the subchannel until April 20, 2007, adding it on cable channel 13. In 2007, KVIA began carrying LATV on a fourth digital subchannel. On December 5, 2010, KVIA-TV began carrying Azteca América on digital subchannel 7.4, displacing competing Spanish language network LATV (which later moved to the third digital subchannels of Univision affiliate KINT-TV (channel 26) and TeleFutura affiliate KTFN (channel 65)).
KVIA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, at 12:30 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 17 to VHF channel 7 for post-transition operations. Due to reports of reception issues with its signal, KVIA was granted permission by the Federal Communications Commission to operate a secondary signal on its former UHF digital channel 19 under special temporary authorization on July 23, 2009, mapped to virtual channel 7.1. KVIA later filed a petition to the FCC to permanently operate its digital signal exclusively on UHF channel 17. The license to operate on channel 17 was issued on October 10, 2014.
KVIA-TV clears the entire ABC network schedule; however, the station airs The Chew at 11:00 a.m. weekdays due to its hour-long noon newscast. Syndicated programs broadcast by KVIA-TV include Live! with Kelly, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood among others. KVIA-TV is one of the few remaining U.S. television stations that continues to sign off during the overnight hours, occurring on Saturday night/early Sunday mornings from 4:00 to 5:00 a.m.
KVIA-TV presently broadcasts 29 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays). KVIA-TV shares news resources with Televisa Regional station XEPM-TV (channel 2) in Juárez, particularly in regards to coverage of crime in the Mexico border town. The station debuted the first midday newscast in the El Paso market in 1976, airing at noon. Channel 7 was also the first television station in El Paso to introduce a computerized weather radar system in 1979.
Gary Warner and Estela Casas hold the distinction of being the longest-running anchor team in El Paso television history; the two were paired together on KVIA's evening newscasts in 1993, and remained co-anchors until Warner retired from the station on May 21, 2008. Warner had joined channel 7 in the mid-1970s as a reporter, before being promoted to co-anchor of the station's evening newscasts in 1976 alongside Al Hinojos; Warner briefly left KVIA in the late 1980s work for CNN, before returning to KVIA a few years later. On February 7, 2009, KVIA-TV became the second television station in the El Paso market to begin broadcasting its news in high-definition.