KVOS-TV is a television station licensed to Bellingham, Washington, serving as an affiliate of MeTV as well as Movies! on its digital subchannel. The station's over-the-air transmissions are on digital channel 35, though the station remaps to its former analog channel 12 through PSIP. While it is licensed in Bellingham and is nominally part of the Seattle market, it primarily serves an audience in southwestern British Columbia including Vancouver and Victoria. The station currently broadcasts in standard definition.
KVOS' OTA channel 35 transmitter is situated atop Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, at an altitude of approximately 800 meters above the adjacent terrain. The OTA channel 35 signal is very well received throughout the British Columbia Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island, and much of northwest Washington. KVOS has studios in Bellingham, with offices in Burnaby and Seattle. KVOS's previous Vancouver offices were located on West 7th Avenue.
As KVOS serves both sides of the border, at one time KVOS decided to use both Canadian and American TV ratings at the start of each program, after they were established—they were the only station on either side of the border to do so. As of early 2007, only US ratings have been shown.
KVOS signed on June 3, 1953; owned by Bellingham businessman Rogan Jones along with KVOS radio (AM 790, now KGMI). Jones had owned the radio station since 1928, and was best known for being the focus of a case that established broadcasters' right to the same news reports as newspapers. Its first broadcast was a kinescope of Elizabeth II's coronation. Since Canada had no television stations west of Ontario at that point (CBUT did not sign on until December that year), the British government flew film of the BBC's coverage to Vancouver, where the Mounties escorted it to the border. The Washington State Patrol then drove the film to Bellingham. The station's original slogan was "Your Peace Arch Station, serving Northwest Washington and British Columbia."
KVOS initially experienced financial trouble, despite Jones thinking that he could successfully support a television station in a city the size of Bellingham. He built a powerful transmitter on Orcas Island in hopes of reaching Seattle, but even with increased power it didn't cover enough of the Seattle area to solve the problem. For a time, the revenues from his radio station were all that kept channel 12 afloat. In 1955, Jones, realizing that most of his audience was across the border, incorporated KVOS in Canada, establishing a subsidiary company in Vancouver. The subsidiary, KVOS-TV Limited, brought in revenue for the station by allowing many Vancouver-area businesses to buy advertising time on the station, which is still the case today. KVOS-TV continued to broadcast from Bellingham, with much of its audience based in southwestern British Columbia.
KVOS began as an affiliate of DuMont upon sign-on in 1953 and remained so until DuMont folded in 1956. From January 1, 1955 until the late 1970s, KVOS was a CBS affiliate. In the late 1970s, KVOS sharply reduced its carriage of CBS programming to resolve two commercial disputes. First, Seattle's CBS affiliate, KIRO-TV, had launched complaints against the station and CBS regarding duplicate transmission of CBS programming in the Seattle media market. Second, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regulations seeking to increase Canadian content and reduce the number of American network affiliates retransmitted on cable television systems in Canada put pressure on the station.
While KVOS nominally retained its CBS affiliation up to 1987, carrying a few CBS programs such as 60 Minutes, the station primarily carried a diverse mix of syndicated and locally produced programming, including locally produced news and public affairs programs. The station also carried a number of programs syndicated from the Toronto-based independent station Citytv, whose owner CHUM Limited did not yet have an outlet in nearby Vancouver.
Wometco was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1984. KKR sold off the Wometco group in 1985, with KVOS sold to Ackerley Communications. In the early 1990s, due to Federal Communications Commission syndicated exclusivity rules affecting the Seattle media market, KVOS was dropped from most Seattle cable television systems.
In 2001, CHUM Limited purchased the Vancouver station CKVU-TV from Canwest (turning it into a local version of Citytv in 2002, but beginning to air CHUM-provided programming on September 1, 2001) and launched a new station in Victoria, British Columbia known as CIVI-TV. The launch of the new outlets, along with a major series of affiliation and ownership changes in the Vancouver/Vancouver Island market in September 2001, caused KVOS to be displaced by CIVI from its long-time home on channel 12 on many Vancouver-area cable systems.
The station came under the ownership of Clear Channel Communications in 2003, following that company's purchase of Ackerley. On November 16, 2006, Clear Channel announced that it would be selling its entire television division, including KVOS-TV, after being bought by private equity firms. On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television stations group to Providence Equity Partners' Newport Television. Providence Equity initially announced that it would not keep KVOS or KFTY in Santa Rosa, California; instead, those stations were to be resold to LK Station Group. However, LK could not obtain financing, so KVOS remained with Newport. (KFTY was eventually sold to High Plains Broadcasting, with Newport operating the station; it is now owned today by Northstar Media, as KEMO-TV.)
In 2008, KVOS filed an application to the FCC to build its digital facility in Granite Falls in Snohomish County. () The proposed location would have provided city-grade coverage of most of the Seattle area while remaining within 15 miles of Bellingham, as required by FCC rules. However, it would have significantly diminished its reach into Canada. Presently, KVOS provides grade B coverage of Seattle's northern suburbs (such as Everett, Edmonds, Bothell and Lynnwood), but just misses Seattle itself. This application was dismissed on July 16, 2009.
In January 2010, KVOS swapped channel positions (now on channel 30) with TSN on Shaw Cable in Metro Vancouver. In Vancouver, KVOS is not included on Shaw's "basic-cable" line-up, but is included as channel 30 on Shaw's "classic-cable" and "digital-cable" line-ups. In Victoria, KVOS is included only on Shaw's "digital-cable" line-up, on channel 69.
In October 2010, KVOS was added to Comcast's digital lineup on channel 72 in the Seattle-Tacoma area. This is the first time in 20 years that the station has been able to be seen in Seattle proper. This also marks the first time KVOS has been viewed in parts of Southwest Washington and Gray's Harbor coastal communities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
The station became an affiliate of the classic television network MeTV on April 25, 2011. Later, TheCoolTV was added as a subchannel of KVOS on August 18, 2011. Unlike the main 12.1 feed, the 12.2 feed is not carried on any Canadian cablesystem.
Newport agreed to sell KVOS to OTA Broadcasting, LLC, a company controlled by Michael Dell's MSD Capital, in December 2011. The deal created a duopoly in the Seattle market with KFFV. OTA Broadcasting assumed control of KVOS on March 6, 2012. As a result of this sale, most of KVOS' staff was laid off, and most of the operations staff were moved to Seattle.
In January 2014, KVOS dropped TheCoolTV in favor of Movies! on its 12.2 feed.
On March 12, 2015, the main feed of KVOS had adopted to KFFV's 44.6 feed, the branding itself had been switched from MeTV KVOS to MeTV Seattle while the ident shows MeTV KVOS-KFFV.
Currently, KVOS airs most of its programming from the MeTV schedule such as Cheers, M*A*S*H, Hawaii Five-O, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke plus locally acquired classic programming such as Matlock and The A-Team. Other features between shows include On Scene and Daily Planner and FMA Entertainment Weekly. KVOS also runs a variety of religious and paid programs.
KVOS has produced a variety of local shows over the years. The religious program Anchor first aired in 1968 with host, Pastor Leonard Ericksen. Anchor ran for 30 years, becoming one of the longest running shows of its kind on television. KVOS also produced many news, feature, public affairs, and informational programs as well. The 10:30 Report, Weeks End and Cana West helped launch the careers of well known names such as Andy Anderson and Al Swift, who both went on to successful careers in politics. Some other feature programs have included Kids Stuff, Pacific Style, Pacific Issues, Sports Probe and Red's Classic Theatre with famed BC radio personality Red Robinson from 1989 to 2001. Another famous B.C. radio personality, Jack Cullen, hosted Owl Prowl Television Theatre in the 1950s: two reels of footage from that show are held by the City of Vancouver Archives.
During the 1970s and 1980s KVOS ran a number of British comedy programs each evening, such as On the Buses, The Benny Hill Show, Dave Allen At Large and The Two Ronnies. It was also the only non-PBS station to air Doctor Who from 1983 to 1993.
Then on the morning of May 21, 1990, NewsView hit the air, originally starting as a half-hour show. NewsView featured a variety of local and regional news, sports, and weather for northwest Washington and the border communities of British Columbia. The first anchor was Cyndy Glenn, followed by Michele Higgins, Susan Cowden, Crystal King, Cara Buckingham, and Ty Ray. Reporters included Jeff Wyngaert, Amy Cloud, Dave Sienko and Joe Bates, while weather duties were covered (in the early years) by Jeff Kelly and Dave George, then Dan Leniczek, Dave Sienko, and Greg Otterholt. The newscast debuted at 6:30a, and eventually expanded to a 90-minute show from 6:30am to 8am. Due to low advertising revenues, however, KVOS ended NewsView on January 23, 2007, after 16½ years on the air. Various syndicated programming replaced NewsView in the 6:30-8 a.m. time slots. Alongside NewsView, KVOS also broadcast hourly weather updates and local forecasts at the top of every hour, under the title WeatherView; these updates were introduced in the 1980s.
KVOS began airing Northwest Notebook, hosted by Ty Ray, in February 2007. The show featured interviews with newsmakers from Northwest Washington and the Lower Mainland. Ray also hosted Daily Planner, a community calendar that aired six times a day.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||480i||4:3||MeTV||Main KVOS-TV programming / MeTV|
KVOS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 35, using PSIP to display KVOS-TV's virtual channel as 12 on digital television receivers.