KSWB-TV, virtual channel 69 (UHF digital channel 19), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in San Diego, California, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. KSWB maintains studio facilities located on Engineer Road in the city's Kearny Mesa section (within a quarter-mile to the west of the studios of CBS affiliate KFMB-TV), and its transmitter is located southeast of Spring Valley.
KSWB-TV is branded as "Fox 5 San Diego", in reference to its primary cable position in the market on local cable providers (it is also carried in Tijuana on Cablemás channel 165 and channel 166 in high definition); as such, until 2011, the logo bug shown during the station's newscasts rotated between its common cable channel position and its over-the-air virtual channel number, 69.
The station first signed on the air on October 1, 1984 as KTTY. The station originally operated from studios located on Frontage Road in Chula Vista. Originally locally owned by San Diego Television, it operated as an independent station; it maintained a general entertainment format featuring a mix of dramas, classic movies, cartoons and religious programming that the other stations in the market declined to air. KTTY also aired a significant amount of paid programming. The station suffered from low ratings throughout its run as an independent station, struggling to compete with established independents XETV-TV (channel 6) and KUSI-TV (channel 51). On January 11, 1995, KTTY became the San Diego charter affiliate of The WB, an upstart broadcast network that was majority owned by the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner.
The station fell into bankruptcy, and Tribune Broadcasting, whose corporate parent – the Tribune Company – owned the remaining stake in The WB that Time Warner did not maintain, purchased the station at a bankruptcy auction in 1995, and took control of it in 1996; shortly afterward, the company changed the station's call letters to KSWB-TV (for "San Diego's WB," which served as the station's slogan for most of its tenure with The WB). After Tribune took ownership of channel 69, the station added many off-network sitcoms to its schedule, with talk and court shows being mixed in as well throughout the remainder of the 1990s.
Transition to The CW
On January 24, 2006, Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down the broadcast networks that they had respectively owned, The WB and UPN. In their place, the companies would combine The WB and UPN's respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW (a name that represents the first initials of each of the network's corporate parents), which would also include newer series developed for the network. With the announcement, The CW signed a ten-year affiliation agreement with Tribune Broadcasting for 16 of the group's 19 WB affiliates, with KSWB-TV named as the network's San Diego affiliate.
The CW officially launched on September 18, 2006 (Entravision-owned UPN affiliate XHUPN-TV in nearby Tecate, Baja California, Mexico joined MyNetworkTV, another startup network run by Fox Entertainment Group that launched two weeks prior to The CW's debut, and changed its callsign to XHDTV-TV). Unlike many other former WB affiliates that also had call letters relating to its former affiliation, KSWB chose to retain the callsign that references the now-defunct network. The station also served as the local broadcaster of games from the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers until it switched to Fox, which were produced by Los Angeles sister station KTLA (KTLA itself would lose the broadcast rights to the Clippers to regional sports networks Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket in 2009).
Affiliation swap with XETV
During a seminar by Sam Zell on March 25, 2008, it was revealed that Tribune Broadcasting (which Zell acquired as part of his 2007 takeover of the Tribune Company, which would result in the start of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings that lasted four years until 2012 due to debt from Zell's leveraged buyout) had signed an affiliation agreement with Fox to make KSWB the network's new San Diego affiliate. This caught station management at Tijuana-licensed XETV-TV off guard as there was no knowledge about the impending loss of its Fox affiliation until the announcement was made public (that station's status as a Fox affiliate was contested unsuccessfully in a previous attempt by KUSI-TV to strip the affiliation from XETV in a 1995 U.S. Court of Appeals filing). Fox later cited concerns with having its programming airing on a Mexican-licensed station, even though XETV had broadcast its programming almost entirely in English for over half a century and was Fox's charter affiliate in the market since the network's October 1986 inception.
At first, there was speculation that CW network programming in the San Diego market would be brought in out-of-market from KSWB's Los Angeles sister station KTLA, which was carried on cable locally at the time on Cox Communications channel 14. Two other scenarios were also being entertained, including speculation that KUSI-TV would pick up the CW affiliation or that KSWB would re-activate its second digital subchannel (which had been silent since The Tube Music Network abruptly ceased operations in October 2007) and move the network's programming there. On July 2, 2008, Bay City Television/Grupo Televisa signed an affiliation agreement to bring The CW's programming over to XETV. With the Fox affiliation agreement, KSWB-TV's ten-year contract with The CW was rendered void, ending the station's two-year association with the network as it joined Fox on August 1, 2008, directly swapping affiliations with XETV-TV as the CW affiliation for the market was moved over to that station. In turn, XETV replaced KSWB as the default CW affiliate for DirecTV subscribers in the few areas of the western United States where a CW-affiliated station is not receivable over-the-air or through cable television.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|69.1||720p||16:9||KSWB||Main KSWB-TV programming / Fox|
|69.3||This TV||This TV|
Upon receiving the Fox affiliation, KSWB surpassed Syracuse, New York affiliate WSYT (which broadcast on UHF channel 68) as the highest channel allocation of any Fox station in the country (and was tied with Atlanta owned-and-operated station WUPA for the highest channel number of any CW affiliate during KSWB's two-year tenure with that network). Since the digital transition, it retains the highest PSIP channel number out of Fox's stations.
On October 1, 2010, the station began to carry This TV on its second digital subchannel, the first time since a short-lived affiliation with The Tube Music Network prior to that service ending operations in October 2007 that KSWB had carried a digital subchannel. The station then added the Tribune-owned classic television service Antenna TV to a new 69.3 subchannel upon that network's January 1, 2011 debut.
KSWB shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 69, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back five months to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 19. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 69, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.
As a WB affiliate, KSWB launched its first news department on September 27, 1999 with the debut of a half-hour 10:00 p.m. newscast (called WB News at Ten); the news operation was formed as a result of a corporate request by Tribune for its WB-affiliated stations that did not already have news departments to begin producing their own local newscasts. This program was designed to compete against an established hour-long primetime newscast on KUSI and gained a competitor in XETV-TV's upstart news department when it launched its own newscast at 10:00 p.m. that December. On March 7, 2005, the station debuted The WB Morning Show, a simulcast of Los Angeles sister station KTLA's weekday morning newscast interspersed with half-hourly local news inserts presented by a solo anchor from KSWB's San Diego studios.
On September 22, 2005, KSWB announced that its news department would be shut down, laying off 29 of the department's 30 staffers (with the exception of Jeff Powers, who continued to anchor the 10:00 p.m. newscast until he left the station). The final 10:00 p.m. newscast produced by KSWB aired on October 28, 2005. Production of the primetime newscast was turned over to NBC station KNSD (channel 39) through a news share agreement on October 31. The broadcast retained the WB News at Ten title and the 615 Music-composed music package Firepower News (which was originally commissioned by KSWB for its in-house newscasts), but now originated from KNSD's facility at the NBC Building in downtown San Diego (local cut-ins during The WB Morning Show continued to originate from KSWB's Kearny Mesa studios). The agreement between KNSD and KSWB was similar to outsourced newscasts on other Tribune stations such as WPHL-TV in Philadelphia (whose 10:00 p.m. newscast became produced by WCAU following the 2005 shutdown of WPHL's news department, before production was turned over to WPVI-TV in 2012) and KRCW-TV in Portland (whose 10:00 p.m. newscast is produced by KGW).
To correspond with KSWB's affiliation change to The CW, the KTLA morning news simulcast and the KNSD-produced 10:00 p.m. news were accordingly renamed as The CW Morning Show and CW News at Ten on September 18, 2006. KNSD reporter Anne State assumed co-anchoring duties until April 2008, when she left for Chicago CBS owned-and-operated station WBBM-TV. Vic Salazar then solo anchored the 10:00 p.m. broadcast for the final months of KNSD's production of the program, until he left that station. In addition, the station also produced a public affairs show called Take 5, that aired Sunday evenings at 10:30 p.m.
After the announcement that KSWB would become San Diego's new Fox affiliate, the station reassumed production responsibilities for its newscasts, with the KTLA simulcast and KNSD-produced 10:00 p.m. news airing for the last time on July 31, 2008. The second incarnation of the news department launched upon the August 1 affiliation switch with the debuts of a new weekday morning news program (initially airing from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m.) and a now hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast, which have both been produced in high definition since the return of in-house news operations. The station also began using a logo and graphics package by Hothaus Creative based on the standardized look of Fox's owned-and-operated stations (variants of the KSWB graphics were adapted for use by other Fox affiliates owned by Tribune and some previously owned by Newport Television).
On September 14, 2009, KSWB debuted an hour-long 6:00 p.m. newscast that competes against local newscasts on KUSI-TV (an hour-long program), KNSD and KGTV (channel 10) (both a half-hour at 6:00 p.m.), KFMB-TV (channel 8) (at 6:30) and evening network newscasts on the latter three stations. This was part of a companywide expansion of early evening and in some cases, midday newscasts on Tribune's Fox affiliates (KCPQ in Seattle was the last of the company's seven Fox stations to expand its news programming with the June 2011 debut of a 5:00 p.m. newscast). This was followed two years later on September 26, 2011 by the launch of an hour-long 5:00 p.m. newscast on weeknights; that broadcast was quietly expanded to weekend evenings in May 2014. On September 8, 2014, KSWB debuted two one-hour newscasts at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. on weekday afternoons.
Notable current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Ali Fedotowsky - features/lifestyle reporter (later host of NBC's 1st Look, now correspondent for E! News)
- Kendis Gibson - anchor (now with WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8 in Washington, D.C.)
- Arthel Neville - anchor (now with Fox News Channel)
- Anne State - anchor (later at WITI in Milwaukee, now at KOIN in Portland, Oregon)