XETV-TDT, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 23), is a television station located in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, whose over-the-air signal also covers the San Diego, California area across the international border in the United States. The station is owned by Mexican media company Grupo Televisa; its San Diego-based English language programming, and sales rights are managed by Bay City Television, a California-based corporation owned by Televisa. XETV maintains production facilities on both sides of the border: its American operations (including the station's studio facilities, news department and advertising sales offices) are located on Ronson Road in the Kearny Mesa section of San Diego, while its technical operations and transmitter facilities are located on Mount San Antonio in Tijuana.
XETV broadcasts in English on its primary channel (6.1) under the brand "CW 6", which serves as an affiliate of The CW. XETV's secondary digital subchannel (6.2) carries programming from the Televisa-owned network Canal 5; Channel 6.1 is available on cable and satellite providers on the U.S. side of the market, and is also available on DirecTV to serve the few areas of the western United States where the CW's programming is not available through a local station.
XETV came into existence because of a technical quirk affecting stations in San Diego and Los Angeles. Even after the Federal Communications Commission's Sixth Report and Order lifted a four-year-long freeze on awarding television construction permits in 1952, signing on a third television station in the San Diego market proved difficult. While San Diego and Los Angeles are not close enough that one city's stations can be seen clearly over the air in the other, the unique geography of Southern California results in tropospheric propagation. This phenomenon makes co-channel interference a significant enough problem that the two cities must share the VHF band.
By 1952, San Diego (assigned channels 8 and 10) and Los Angeles (assigned channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13) already had all but three channels on the VHF band covered. Channel 3 initially had been deemed unusable as a signal because KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara would travel in a straight line across the Pacific Ocean (it would ultimately be allocated to Tijuana Once TV outlet XHTJB-TV). San Diego's first two television stations, KFMB-TV (channel 8) and KFSD-TV (channel 10, now KGTV), which were respectively affiliated with CBS and NBC, were among the last construction permits issued before the FCC's freeze on new television station licenses went into effect. The UHF band, introduced by the FCC after the freeze, was not seen as a viable option; television set makers were not required to include UHF tuners until 1964 as a result of the passage of the All-Channel Receiver Act. Additionally, several portions of San Diego County are very mountainous, and UHF signals do not carry very well across rugged terrain.
Complicating matters, the Mexican authorities had allocated two VHF channels to neighboring Tijuana – channels 6 and 12. Since these were the last two VHF channels left in the area, the FCC did not accept any new construction permits from San Diego as a courtesy to Mexican authorities. One of the frequencies, channel 6, had originally been assigned to San Diego before the freeze; it was reassigned to Mexico as a result of the Sixth Report and Order.
Although San Diego was large enough to support three television stations, it soon became obvious that the only way to get a third VHF station on the air would be to use one of Tijuana's allocations. The Azcárraga family, owners of Telesistema Mexicano (the forerunner of Televisa), quickly snapped up the concession for channel 6, and signed XETV on the air on April 29, 1953. It is the San Diego area's second-oldest television station after KFMB-TV, which began operations on May 16, 1949.
At its launch, XETV was an independent station, broadcasting programs in both English and Spanish from its studio facilities in Tijuana. Channel 6 also established a business office (and later, a studio) on Park Boulevard in the University Heights section of San Diego, which handled sales accounts from north of the border. The Azcárragas chose to focus XETV toward San Diego and its English-speaking audience because there were more households in that side of the market that had television sets at the time than there were in Tijuana, which did not get its own all-Spanish station until 1960 when the Azcárragas signed on sister station XEWT-TV (channel 12). Even though XETV is licensed to Tijuana and owned by Mexican interests, for all intents and purposes it has been a San Diego station from the beginning. Owing to its initial bilingual, bi-national audience, XETV billed itself as "The International Station" during its early years.
In April 1956, XETV received permission from the FCC to begin carrying programs from ABC. ABC was carried part-time by KFMB-TV and KFSD-TV at the time, but the network immediately made XETV its exclusive San Diego affiliate. Around this time (if not earlier), the Spanish language programs were dropped from the schedule, and XETV would broadcast almost exclusively in English from that point since. However, the FCC did not allow American networks to transmit their signals to stations located outside the United States. As a result, ABC programs were recorded (on film, kinescope, and later videotape) from a location north of the border and then physically transported to channel 6's facilities in Tijuana, a practice known in the television industry as "bicycling". While this arrangement legally circumvented the station's inability to acquire a direct network feed, it left XETV unable to carry live network programming, such as breaking news events and some sports coverage. The FCC held the option of renewing the authorization on an annual basis, as well as reviewing it if – and when – a third commercial television station signed on in the American side of the market.
In 1968, as it had every year since 1956, the FCC renewed its permit allowing ABC to provide programming to XETV. Only this time, Western Telecasters, which owned UHF independent station KCST-TV (channel 39, now KNSD) at the time, contested it and began a lengthy battle to take San Diego's ABC affiliation from XETV. KCST claimed that it was no longer appropriate for a Mexican-licensed station to be affiliated with an American television network when there now was a viable American station available, and also asserted that XETV had lacked local programming that effectively served the San Diego audience. In May 1972 the FCC, siding with KCST, revoked channel 6's permission to carry ABC programming, with the wording of the Commission's decision forcing ABC to move its affiliation to KCST. XETV and ABC appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which eventually upheld the FCC ruling; the station later sought relief at the U.S. Supreme Court, and was also denied.
XETV surrendered the ABC affiliation to KCST in two stages: daytime programming moved to KCST in June 1973, followed by primetime programs and all other shows (including children's programming and sports) by July 1, 1973. In spite of seeing ratings gains both nationally and locally, ABC was dissatisfied with having been forced onto a UHF station and stayed with KCST for only four years before moving to KGTV in 1977.
XETV once again became an independent station, with a standard program schedule composed of syndicated offerings, off-network programs, movies and children's shows. In addition, because Mexican broadcast regulations did not limit commercial time (as FCC regulations did at the time) – every Sunday, the station – in a forerunner to future changes in the U.S. – in effect, became the first station in North America to carry an infomercial, which consisted of a one-hour advertisement of listings of local houses for sale. As FCC regulations at that time limited television stations to 18 minutes of commercials in an hour, such a program could not have been run on U.S. television at that time.
In 1976, XETV moved its business operations to an office facility on Ronson Road in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego; the station's broadcast operations, meanwhile, remained in Tijuana. Channel 6's Tijuana-based production and technical operations eventually moved from Mexico into an expanded wing of this facility. In the early 1980s, XETV produced a popular comedy program, Disasterpiece Theatre, which parodied campy low-budget horror and science fiction films by making fun of them as they aired, similar to the format of Mystery Science Theater 3000 a decade later.
As a Fox affiliate
In 1986, XETV became one of the very first stations outside of the original group of six television stations formerly owned by Metromedia (which had been purchased by Fox's parent company affiliate, News Corporation, earlier that year) to sign deals to join the newly launched Fox Broadcasting Company, becoming a charter affiliate of the network when it launched on October 6. Similar to its earlier arrangement with ABC, channel 6 had to receive pre-recorded Fox programs on tape, which were transported physically across the U.S.–Mexico border to the station's Tijuana broadcast facilities. From 1993 to 1997, XETV also aired programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network (most notably Babylon 5) on weekend afternoons, instead of the weeknight primetime slots that were recommended by the programming service due to the Fox programs that aired during the evening hours on the station. When Fox acquired the broadcast rights to the NFL's National Football Conference in 1994, the FCC soon granted a waiver of the rules and allowed Fox to transmit a direct network feed to XETV.
In November 1995, McKinnon Broadcasting, owners of UPN affiliate KUSI-TV (channel 51, now an independent station), filed an appeal in an unsuccessful attempt to wrestle the Fox affiliation away from XETV. As cited in the U.S. Court of Appeals case Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc. vs. FCC and Fox Television Stations, Inc. 79 F.3d 1187, the appeal challenged the FCC's decision to grant the waiver based on the Commission's regulations that disallowed television stations licensed outside of the United States from airing live sporting events from a U.S. broadcast network without licensing approval. The permit was granted to Fox on behalf of XETV, and the case was settled on March 26, 1996. That same year, the station became a Grupo Televisa-owned property outright after the Azcárragas transferred the ownership of XETV to their family-run, Mexico City-based multimedia company.
In 1999, the station's constructed a new 25,000 square feet (0.57 acres), three-story facility at the Ronson Road studio grounds to house a newsroom and production studios for a planned news operation that launched in December of that year. The one-story building that was located adjacent to the new facility, where the station's offices were based (which continued to house sales and management offices after the new facility was completed) was not large enough to house a fully staffed news department; the offices for XETV's production, promotions and engineering departments were also relocated to the new building.
As a CW affiliate
During a seminar by Sam Zell on March 25, 2008, it was announced that Tribune Broadcasting (which Zell had acquired the previous year as part of his takeover of corporate parent Tribune Company) had signed an affiliation agreement with Fox for its San Diego CW affiliate KSWB-TV (channel 69). Fox cited concerns with having its programming airing on a Mexican-licensed station, even though XETV had been with the network since Fox's inception and had broadcast its programming almost entirely in English for over half a century. This caught XETV station management off guard as officials were unaware about the pending affiliation switch until the announcement was made public.
The fate of both XETV and the CW affiliation for the San Diego market remained unclear, with Bay City Television/Grupo Televisa even reportedly considering filing a lawsuit to prevent the switch on the grounds that it would violate XETV's affiliation contract with Fox, which was not set to expire until 2010. This uncertainty was resolved on July 2, 2008, when channel 6 announced that it had signed an affiliation agreement with The CW. The station began dropping on-air references to Fox just over two weeks later on July 19, 2008, rebranding itself as "San Diego 6". The affiliation swap officially took place two weeks afterward on August 1, ending XETV-TV's 22-year association with Fox – with channel 6 joining The CW, while the Fox affiliation moved over to KSWB. XETV, upon switching networks, replaced KSWB-TV on DirecTV as a default affiliate in the few areas of the western United States where a CW-affiliated station is not receivable over-the-air or through cable television (DirecTV identifies XETV as "CW-W" and carries its programs in standard definition only). The San Diego 6 logo incorporates a miniature CW logo in its top left corner for news programming, otherwise setting it off to the right of the station's logo in proportionate size; instead of being the standard green color, the CW logo is colored a bright blue in non-news advertising to match the station logo's blue, gold and white color scheme.
On March 5, 2012, XETV became the new Tijuana affiliate for Televisa's Canal 5, which the station carries on digital subchannel 6.2 (originally in standard definition, before the subchannel was upgraded to high definition in 2013), and prior to the Tijuana market's May 2013 transition to digital-only television broadcasts, was also carried on analog channel 6; Tijuana's previous Canal 5 station, XHBJ-TV (channel 45), switched its affiliation to Galavisión on that same date – Canal 5 replaced XETV's English-language programming on its analog signal, in order to serve Spanish-speaking viewers in Tijuana that did not have television sets with built-in digital tuners or digital converter boxes prior to the Tijuana market's 2013 transition to digital television. The affiliation switch coincided with the commencement of digital multicasting on Televisa's Tijuana stations.
On April 29, 2013, XETV celebrated its 60th anniversary of broadcasting. The station's morning newscast provided special coverage of the festivities, including separate proclamations of "XETV Channel 6 Day" by the San Diego City Council and San Diego County Board of Supervisors (the latter made on April 30 to general manager Chuck Dunning and chief financial officer Rodrigo Salazar). A special segment of the newscast that was dedicated to the anniversary was broadcast in black-and-white (the standard for broadcast television in 1953) with news anchors dressed in clothing and hairstyles from that period reporting on the major news and entertainment stories of 1953 and giving a contemporary weather forecast with paper graphics pasted on a hand-drawn weather map.
On January 1, 2016, XETV-TDT was rebranded as CW 6.
Because XETV-TDT is licensed to Tijuana by the Mexican government, it is not covered under the FCC's must carry rules. This means that local cable providers are not required to carry XETV-TDT, even if the television station requests to be carried under this provision. However, subchannel 6.1 is carried by Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse in San Diego and by Cablemás in Tijuana, while subchannel 6.2 is not carried by the pay television providers on the American side of the border. Subchannel 6.2 notwithstanding, XETV has broadcast almost entirely in English since 1956, if not earlier. The only exceptions are station identifications, the compulsory playing of the Mexican national anthem El Himno Nacional Mexicano, technical disclaimers and public service announcements.
XETV-TDT broadcasts 24 hours a day; however, for legal sign-on purposes and as required by Mexican regulations (specifically Article 41 of Mexico's Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem and Article 253 of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law), its broadcast day begins at 5:00 a.m. Pacific time Monday through Saturday and 6:00 a.m. on Sundays; this begins with the playing of El Himno Nacional Mexicano, followed by the customary operational information and disclaimer, read in both English and Spanish on its primary digital channel (6.1). For a period of time dating back to its days as a Fox affiliate, the station had also played the national anthem of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner", prior to the disclaimer (XETV has since dropped the American anthem and only airs the Mexican anthem).
Since the mid-1990s, XETV's production operations have been based in the United States. The station's production, news and sales operations are owned by Televisa subsidiary Bay City Television, while Televisa itself owns the master control and transmitter facility on Mount San Antonio in Tijuana. Local programming is fed from San Diego to Mount San Antonio by way of microwave link, and network and syndicated shows are disseminated via satellite. There are currently no locally produced programs on XETV which originate from Tijuana.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||XETV-HD||Main XETV-TDT programming / The CW|
In 2000, XETV-TV began transmitting a digital signal on UHF channel 23, becoming the first San Diego area station to begin digital television transmissions. It was also the first television station in Mexico to operate a digital signal because of its Tijuana transmitter; no other Mexican television station had begun digital operations at that time. It maps on digital tuners in both countries as virtual channel 6.1 through PSIP technology.
As the original American digital television transition date of February 17, 2009 approached, XETV had expressed intentions to follow other San Diego-area stations in ceasing transmission of its analog signal. While the U.S. switchover deadline of February 17 was later pushed back to June 12, 2009 and only applied to American-licensed stations in any case, plans were announced to voluntarily make the station's English-language programming digital-only, with the former analog signal being repurposed as a repeater of sister station XEQ-TV in Mexico City. Claims on XETV's website that the station was indeed going to transmit a digitally-exclusive signal were rescinded on February 17, 2009 as the station decided to delay cutting off its analog signal until after it secured approval from the Mexican government. XETV management later stated that it had decided to maintain its analog signal to benefit Mexican viewers. XETV's analog signal was eventually repurposed on March 5, 2012, when the station began multicasting on its digital signal with the addition of Televisa's youth-oriented Canal 5 network on subchannel 6.2. At the same time, its analog channel replaced the newscasts, CW network and syndicated programs in English (which were relegated exclusively to digital channel 6.1) with those of Spanish-language Canal 5.
Cofetel, Mexico's Federal Telecommunications Commission, chose Tijuana as the first city to switch over to digital as a pilot program for the rest of the nation. Unlike the U.S. digital switchover, which took place nationwide on June 12, 2009, Mexico is rolling out the switchover in stages by geographic area, with a planned completion by December 31, 2015. The original Tijuana switchover date of April 16, 2013 was delayed by Cofetel because the local population had not yet attained the required 90% readiness for free over-the-air digital service to trigger the transition. On May 28, 2013, XETV and all other Tijuana television stations ceased transmitting their analog signals, but switched them back on a few days later after complaints from residents and political leaders that more viewers were left without over-the-air television service than Cofetel reported, including many poor residents outside of Tijuana proper that were not included in Cofetel's outreach program to allow residents to receive free digital-to-analog converter boxes. The temporary reprieve was extended to July 18, 2013 when all analog television signals were shut down permanently. At this time, XETV added the "-TDT" suffix (a Spanish acronym for "Terrestrial Digital Television").
XETV operates two repeaters, at Tecate/La Nopalera and Colonia Playas de Tijuana. Both repeaters broadcast on channel 23 in areas where the main channel 23 signal from Mount San Antonio is insufficient.
As the San Diego affiliate of The CW, XETV-TDT clears the network's entire programming schedule on digital channel 6.1. However, due to its weekend morning newscasts, the station splits the network's One Magnificent Morning lineup aimed at children into two blocks on Saturday mornings: one from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. (two hours earlier than the recommended timeslot for the block's first three hours in all time zones) and the other following the newscast from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (the block's final two hours, which air in pattern with the rest of the country); though the station meets the educational programming guidelines of the United States with the One Magnificent Morning blocks, XETV, being a Mexican-licensed station, is not required to meet the United States' broadcasting regulations. XETV also produces an hour-long lifestyle program, San Diego Living, airing weekdays following the station's morning newscast. Syndicated programs broadcast by XETV include The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Rules of Engagement, We the People with Gloria Allred and White Collar.
As the Tijuana affiliate of Canal 5, XETV-TDT clears the entire network schedule on digital subchannel 6.2. Children's programming includes Spanish-dubbed versions of Nickelodeon's iCarly, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents and The Penguins of Madagascar, as well as original Televisa programs such as its animated version of El Chavo along with the Cartoon Network original series La CQ. Other programming includes a primetime program block called PM, as well as mostly Spanish-dubbed versions of current and recent American shows (such as Malcolm in the Middle and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and the boxing program Sabados de BOX.
XETV-TDT presently broadcasts 30 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and 2½ hours on weekends). Out of the six English-language television stations in the San Diego-Tijuana market with news departments, XETV is the only one that does not produce local newscasts that air in midday or early evening timeslots.
XETV had originally carried a local newscast from the station's sign-on in 1953 until its news department was shut down in 1967 (Lionel Van Deerlin, later a congressman representing San Diego in the U.S. House of Representatives, served as news director during XETV's early years). During its tenure as an independent station, XETV ran only local news updates throughout the day; these continued to air until the station affiliated with Fox in October 1986. The station established its current news department on December 27, 1999, with the debut of a 35-minute newscast at 10:00 p.m.; the program competed against an established primetime newscast on KUSI-TV and another newly launched 10:00 p.m. newscast on KSWB-TV that launched three months earlier in September 1999. In September 2000, the station expanded its news programming with the debut of a three-hour weekday morning newscast from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and a half-hour newscast at noon (which was cancelled in 2006). The flagship primetime newscast was expanded to one hour in 2002.
On September 5, 2006, XETV's news team gained national attention, when investigative reporter John Mattes was badly beaten by Sam Suleiman and Rosa Barraza, a husband-and-wife team accused of perpetrating a real estate scam who were being investigated by Mattes. The incident was captured on videotape and aired on many news programs throughout the nation. On January 20, 2007, XETV debuted a two-hour newscast on weekend mornings (the programs originally aired at 7:00 a.m., but were moved to 8:00 a.m. after the CW affiliation switch); the station is one of only four CW affiliates with a local newscast on weekend mornings (along with KTLA in Los Angeles, KMAX-TV in Sacramento and WGN-TV in Chicago).
Upon switching to The CW on August 1, 2008, XETV debuted the 11-minute 11@11 newscast on weeknights, becoming the only evening newscast in the traditional late news timeslot (11:00 p.m. Pacific time on the California side of the market) to air on a CW affiliate (until KMAX-TV launched its own 11:00 p.m. broadcast in 2013). The following year in 2009, the 10:00 p.m. newscast was reduced from one hour to 33 minutes, and was later reduced to a half-hour by 2011 (the length of the 11:00 p.m. newscast and the reduction of the 10:00 p.m. program resulted in an odd-numbered amount of news programming hours, making XETV the largest news-producing minor network station serving the United States whose evening newscast did not run for 30, 35 or 60 minutes, as well as having the only half-hour San Diego-targeted television newscast at 10:00 p.m., due to KUSI and KSWB having hour-long newscasts).
On March 9, 2009, XETV shut down its sports department; with the move, then-vice president and general manager Richard Doutre Jones (who left the station in June 2010 and was replaced by veteran sales manager Chuck Dunning) announced the firings of sports anchors C.S. Keys (who returned to XETV as a weather and traffic anchor from October 2011 to 2013) and Andrea Nakano and sports producer Mike Lamar. On April 23, 2011, XETV became the sixth television station in the San Diego market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The 11:00 p.m. newscast was discontinued on January 14, 2013; two days later on January 16, XETV expanded the 10:00 p.m. newscast back to one hour on weeknights.
Notable former on-air staff
- Brian Christie – anchor
- Elizabeth Espinosa – reporter (now at KTLA in Los Angeles)
- Ron Fortner – Channel 6 News Up to Date anchor; deceased
- John Mattes – investigative reporter
- Aloha Taylor – chief meteorologist (2006–2009; now at KSWB-TV)
Prior to the termination of the station's analog broadcasts, XETV's audio signal could be heard at 87.75 MHz on the FM band in San Diego, Tijuana and surrounding areas, though at a slightly lower volume than other FM radio stations. Unlike the digital ATSC standard, analogue NTSC carried its sound on an FM subcarrier and TV 6 (82-88 MHz) is adjacent to the standard broadcast FM band.
When XETV-TV shut down its analog signal on May 28, 2013, it shut down the station's 87.75 MHz audio subcarrier. An analogue FM broadcast receiver cannot tune and decode digital television on any frequency.