KTVK, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 24), is an independent television station located in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The station is owned by Meredith Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CBS affiliate KPHO-TV (channel 5). Its studio facilities are located on the northwest end of the Central Avenue Corridor in Phoenix; KTVK's transmitter is located on South Mountain. Its signal is relayed across northern Arizona on a network of translator stations.
As an ABC affiliate
Former U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland, author of the GI Bill, was awed by the new medium of television. With a few friends, he formed the Arizona Television Company and applied for a television station license with the Federal Communications Commission. KTVK signed on the air as Phoenix's fourth television station on February 28, 1955 – shortly after McFarland was elected governor of Arizona – immediately becoming an ABC affiliate. McFarland quoted that he chose the KTVK call letters "because TV will be our middle name."
KTVK cleared most of ABC's network schedule with the exception of some lower-rated daytime shows, as well as an occasional program during prime time hours. It soon built a translator network stretching across the entire state of Arizona, including Tucson. Occasionally, the station preempted ABC programming so as not to interfere with Tucson's local ABC affiliate, KGUN-TV. Despite the preemptions, ABC was generally satisfied with KTVK, as the station was one of the network's strongest affiliates. Even so, KTVK's news programming was a very distant second to longtime leader KOOL-TV (channel 10, now KSAZ-TV) for many years, even when KTAR-TV (channel 12)'s 1979 sale to the Gannett Company (and subsequent call sign change to KPNX) made KTVK the only locally owned network affiliate in the market. McFarland died in 1985. His daughter, Jewell McFarland Lewis, inherited the station, and ran it alongside her husband Delbert.
The station's fortunes began to improve significantly after several members of channel 10's (by now KTSP) news management staff defected to KTVK in 1986. An aggressive marketing campaign, a new brand (NewsChannel 3, one of the earliest uses of the "NewsChannel" brand that became popular with television stations in the 1990s), and a popular new anchor team finally helped make KTVK a truly competitive player in local news. By the late 1980s, KTVK was the top-rated television station in Arizona. The station slowly expanded its news programming during the late 1980s and early 1990s, eventually adding weekend morning newscasts with the launch of a two-hour program on Saturday mornings from 7 to 9 a.m. in 1993. KTVK's atmosphere was somewhat different from that of a typical major market Big Three network affiliate. McFarland ran his station as a "mom and pop" business, and had an open-door policy which the Lewises continued when they took over the station. Employee turnover was very low, and hugs were very common in the newsroom. This was an outgrowth of what would become the station's longtime slogan, "Arizona's Family".
On May 23, 1994, New World Communications announced an affiliation deal with Fox in which twelve of its stations – including Phoenix's longtime CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV – would defect from their affiliations with ABC, CBS and NBC to join Fox. CBS approached KTVK for an affiliation, but the Lewises turned the offer down, expecting a renewed pact with ABC. Much to the Lewises' surprise though, the E. W. Scripps Company forced ABC to move its Phoenix area affiliation to the company's then-Fox affiliate KNXV-TV (channel 15) as a condition of retaining ABC on the company's two biggest stations, WEWS-TV in Cleveland and WXYZ-TV in Detroit. KTVK then approached CBS in an effort to secure that network affiliation, but Meredith Corporation, owner of then-independent future-sister station KPHO-TV (channel 5), convinced CBS to move its affiliation there as a condition of keeping the CBS affiliation on its Kansas City station KCTV.
The Lewises appealed to the Federal Communications Commission on grounds that Scripps had "abused its license power for anti-competitive purposes", but their appeal was denied. After nearly 40 years with ABC, the Lewises decided to turn KTVK into an independent station. Channel 3 immediately began purchasing more syndicated programming, increasing local news programming and gradually removed ABC network programs from its schedule. In August 1994, it dropped Good Morning America and launched Good Morning Arizona in the 6:00-9:00 a.m. slot (the 6:00–7:00 a.m. slot had previously been occupied by a more traditional newscast). KNXV would begin airing Good Morning America beginning that September.
On December 15, 1994, KTVK also dropped Mike and Maty (of which KTVK had aired for only 30 minutes daily), World News Now and Nightline, which were also picked up by KNXV. At that point, ABC's cartoons also moved to KNXV; KTVK then dropped its Saturday morning newscast and began running Fox Kids (which had been turned down by KSAZ) instead. By then, KTVK was only airing prime time programming, sports and popular soap operas from ABC. KTVK renewed its local syndication rights to Oprah and Inside Edition, and purchased all available syndicated shows distributed by King World such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (which was not renewed by KSAZ, and later moved to KNXV; both shows have since returned to KTVK), American Journal (which was not renewed by KPNX), Rolonda, Branded and The Little Rascals (the latter two were both selected to air on weekends).
KNXV officially became Phoenix's ABC affiliate on January 9, 1995, after which KTVK transitioned to a news-intensive schedule that retained all existing newscasts, with a half-hour tacked onto its weekday 5:00 p.m. newscast. KTVK nominally became the market's WB affiliate when that network debuted two days later on January 11, but since The WB initially had only one night of programming each week, KTVK chose to tape delay the network's Wednesday prime time schedule to air on Saturday nights. The WB added a second night of programming on Sundays that September, shortly before it dropped the network, which KTVK aired in pattern.
With The WB only occupying two nights of programming, KTVK was still essentially a de facto independent station. It also continued to broadcast Fox Kids programming on weekend mornings (a similar situation occurred in Canada where longtime CTV affiliate CJON-TV in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, retained news programming from CTV and simultaneously added news and entertainment programs from the rival Global after becoming an independent in 2002). A quirk of KTVK's scheduling of the Fox Kids lineup was that the station aired Animaniacs and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Sunday evenings, after the 5:00 p.m. news and before feature films at 7:00 p.m. The station aired Wheel, Jeopardy!, Star Trek: The Next Generation and several off-network sitcoms during primetime, and ran classic sitcoms and movies on weekends.
As an independent station
KTVK owned a substantial programming inventory, but did not have enough room on its schedule to air it all, even after dropping ABC. As such, KTVK entered into an agreement with the Brooks family to program the soon-to-launch KASW (channel 61) under a local marketing agreement, with KTVK leasing the new station's entire broadcast day. KASW signed on the air and took over the WB affiliation on September 22, 1995, officially rendering channel 3 as a true independent station; Fox Kids programming moved to channel 61 soon afterwards as KTVK reinstated newscasts on Saturday mornings, as a result of KASW airing not only Fox Kids' hit shows, but also airing the rival Kids' WB block & syndicated animated programs, KASW had the same extensive children's programming lineup as Cleveland's WB affiliate WBNX. When KASW debuted, the Arizona Television Company officially changed its name to MAC America Communications, after its founder's nickname, "Mac." By this time, the company had grown to include two FM radio stations and a magazine; on November 4, 1996, MAC America launched Arizona NewsChannel, a cable news channel operated as a joint venture with Phoenix's major cable provider Cox Communications. KTVK ran talk shows during the late morning and afternoon hours between newscasts during this period, along with a mix of news magazines, game shows, sitcoms and drama series during prime time, and a mix of classic sitcoms, classic movies and talk show reruns in late night. Weekends had a lesser amount of newscasts, along with a mix of movies and classic sitcoms. Most of the older shows also ran on KASW at different times.
In 1998, when the team joined Major League Baseball's National League, KTVK became the original over-the-air broadcaster of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Television rights to the team's games remained with KTVK through the end of the 2007 season, when the team opted to move all of its English-language broadcasts (not counting national telecasts) to cable on regional sports network Fox Sports Arizona. In the fall of 1998, KTVK briefly aired The Howard Stern Radio Show; both KTVK (which aired the program after its 10 p.m. news) and Lubbock, Texas Fox affiliate KJTV-TV pulled the program from their schedules after two episodes.
Sale to Belo
After pressure trying to compete with the major giant corporate owned affiliates, MAC America decided to sell off most of its media assets, including KTVK, in 1999, but was very selective about a buyer. It wanted to sell to a company that would continue to keep a local presence at the station (particularly important to the Lewises, as KTVK was the last locally owned station in the market) and allow the station to continue its growth of the last decade. In the end, it sold KTVK, the LMA with KASW and its share of the Arizona NewsChannel to the Belo Corporation in 1999, ending 44 years of McFarland-Lewis ownership (Belo would buy KASW outright in 2001). In 2000, Belo and Cox partnered to create a new Spanish-language channel, ¡Más! Arizona, that launched on October 16 of that year. In recent years, KTVK has further expanded its newscasts, added more talk shows and completely moved away from older shows. KASW made similar gradual changes as well. In 2003, KTVK's airings of Oprah were ranked as the top-rated syndicated program in the market. That year, KTVK declined to renew its syndication rights to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (both shows then moved to KNXV, before returning to KTVK in September 2012).
On July 27, 2007, KTVK's news helicopter "News Chopper 3" was involved in a mid-air collision when another news helicopter, belonging to KNXV-TV, struck it from behind. The collision occurred above Steele Indian School Park (near Third Street and Indian School Road), while both aircraft were covering a police pursuit in downtown Phoenix. All four people aboard both helicopters were killed, including KTVK pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox. An investigation conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board determined that the accident was caused by both pilots' inability to see one another and avoid a collision with the other helicopter.
Sale to Meredith
On June 13, 2013, the Gannett Company, the owner of KPNX and the Arizona Republic, acquired Belo. As FCC rules restrict one company from owning more than two television stations in the same market, Gannett announced that it would spin off KTVK and KASW to Sander Media, LLC (operated by former Belo executive Jack Sander). While Gannett intended to provide services to the stations through a shared services agreement, KTVK and KASW's operations would have remained largely separate from KPNX and the Republic. Despite objections to the Gannett-Belo merger by anti-consolidation groups (such as the Free Press) and pay television providers (due to ownership conflicts involving television stations and newspapers both companies owned in other markets, the use of Sander as a third-party licensee to buy stations that would be operated by the owner of a same-market competitor, concerns over any future operational consolidation of the stations involved in the deal, and the Gannett and Sander stations colluding in retransmission consent negotiations), the FCC granted approval of the deal on December 20.
As the sale was completed on December 23, 2013, Sander/Gannett then sold KTVK to the Meredith Corporation, owner of CBS affiliate KPHO-TV. The license assets of KASW were sold to SagamoreHill Broadcasting, with Meredith to operate that station through a shared services agreement. However, as a voluntary condition of the transaction's approval, that station was instead sold off to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The sale was approved on June 16, 2014, and completed on June 19. On August 7, 2014, Meredith bought the station's studio, with an intent to re-locate KPHO into the larger facilities of KTVK.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||KTVK-HD||Main KTVK programming|
|3.2||480i||4:3||-||Local news 24/7 loop|
|3.3||480i||4:3||-||CBS 5 Weather NOW|
On October 20, 2009, KTVK added This TV to its 3.2 digital subchannel. This TV was dropped on April 13, 2015 and replaced with 24/7 loop of local news. On the same day, sister station KPHO's former 24/7 weather service, moved to KTVK's 3.3 digital subchannel. It was dropped from KPHO in favor of Cozi TV.
KTVK shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, 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. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 24. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.
As part of the SAFER Act, KTVK kept its analog signal on the air to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters. KTVK's "nightlight" service was originally intended to last 30 days, but was instead discontinued two weeks after the analog-to-digital transition on June 26.
Syndicated programs seen on KTVK include Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Insider, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil, The Meredith Vieira Show, Steve Harvey, The Queen Latifah Show, The Doctors, Hot in Cleveland, and Everybody Loves Raymond. KTVK also holds the rights to local simulcasts of Monday Night Football games from ESPN featuring the Arizona Cardinals. Even with the station's loss of the ABC affiliation in 1995, KTVK overall has been one of the nation's strongest and most successful independent stations. Without a network affiliation, KTVK fills the two primetime hours preceding its hour-long 9 p.m. newscast with syndicated programs.
Since Meredith/KPHO's acquisition of KTVK, they also act as a secondary affiliate of CBS in certain situations, including during KPHO's simulcasts of NFL Network's Thursday Night Football games featuring the Arizona Cardinals.
KTVK presently broadcasts 55 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with nine hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among all broadcast television stations in the state of Arizona, surpassing Fox owned-and-operated station KSAZ (which runs 52 hours each week), the two stations produce the same amount of local newscasts (nine hours) on weekdays. The station's sports department also produces a half-hour sports wrap-up program called the 3TV Sports Show, airing on Sunday evenings after the 9 p.m. newscast.
As KTVK's affiliation with ABC began to wind down in 1994, the station gradually increased its news programming output, eventually carrying just over 40 hours a week by 1997. Besides relaunching its weekday morning newscast as the originally three-hour Good Morning Arizona and debuting the half-hour First News that preceded the program and retaining its other existing newscasts, KTVK added a half-hour newscast at 5:30 p.m. weeknights (creating a 90-minute early evening news block by bridging the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts). Unlike other former Big Three affiliates that joined one of the post-1986 networks or became an independent station, KTVK did not initially carry a prime time newscast; the station began producing a half-hour 9 p.m. newscast for KASW when that station signed on in September 1995. Prime time newscasts on KTVK began with the launch of an hour-long 8 p.m. newscast in the late 1990s, which was later discontinued and replaced with syndicated programming on June 23, 2008, when the station launched an hour-long 9 p.m. newscast (which competes with the 9 p.m. newscast on Fox-owned KSAZ).
One of the station's flagship programs is Good Morning Arizona, one of the country's original long-form local morning newscasts. Running weekdays from 4:30 to 10 a.m., and weekends from 6 to 10 a.m., the show has long been the top-rated local morning news program in Phoenix and the highest-rated program of its kind in the United States. The program has its own budget, writers and on-air staff. The program was also simulcast on sister station KMSB in Tucson until February 2012, when Raycom Media-owned KOLD-TV began producing a morning newscast for the Fox affiliate as part of a shared services agreement involving KMSB and fellow sister station KTTU. The station is unique in that while it uses a unified brand for its news operation, it uses individual titles for specific newscasts. Besides Good Morning Arizona, the station's early evening newscasts are titled Good Evening Arizona; its now-defunct 11 a.m. newscast was formerly titled Good Day Arizona, its 8 p.m. newscast was formerly known as Arizona Tonight @ 8 and its 10 p.m. newscast was previously called Tonight Arizona and later The NewsShow, the latter titles were later dropped in favor of the conventional news brand and daypart naming.
Even with the station's loss of the ABC affiliation in 1995, KTVK's newscasts have continued to receive decent ratings, though its news viewership outside of Good Morning Arizona has declined somewhat in recent years. Although KPNX's ratings increased rapidly as it remained with NBC at a time when that network rocketed to the top of the ratings, KTVK remained the dominant news station in Arizona well into 2003; KTVK held the evening news crown that year while KPNX led in late news. Its evening newscast, "Good Evening Arizona," regularly beats the national network newscasts on KPHO, KPNX and KNXV in the ratings. The Saturday edition of Good Morning Arizona had the highest ratings of any other newscast in Phoenix during the February 2010 ratings period. KTVK currently advertises that Good Evening Arizona places #1 in the ratings during the 4:30-6:30 p.m. time period.
On April 26, 2007, KTVK became the second television station in the Phoenix market (after NBC affiliate KPNX) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On March 1, 2009, KTVK began to share a news helicopter operated by Helicopters Inc., as part of a Local News Service agreement with KPHO-TV and KPNX; the helicopter is named "News Chopper 20", as a combination of the over-the-air virtual channel numbers of the three stations (3, 5 and 12).
Notable former on-air staff
- Jodi Applegate - Good Morning Arizona anchor (1994–1996; left to become weekend anchor for NBC's Today, later at WNYW and WPIX in New York City)
- Christi Paul - Former KTVK anchor and consumer reporter, left in 2003 to work for CNN. Currently a weekday news anchor at HLN and weekend anchor for CNN's New Day. 
KTVK is rebroadcast on the following translator stations: