XHRIO-TDT, virtual channel 2 (RF channel 26), branded as MundoMax Valle, is the local MundoMax affiliate for the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is licensed to Matamoros, Mexico, but serves American audiences across the Rio Grande Valley area from studios in McAllen, Texas. Previously, XHRIO had served as the primary affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company from 2005 to 2012.
The concession for channel 2 was awarded in 1964, receiving the callsign of XHCR-TV and owned by Cadena Radiotelevisora del Norte, S.A. de C.V., a company owned by respected broadcaster Clemente Serna Alvear of Mexico City. In 1973, the name of the concessionaire was changed to Televisoras del Bajo Bravo, S.A.
In 1977, a joint venture was formed between the owners of KRIO (910 AM) in McAllen and KRIX (99.5 FM; now KKPS) in Brownsville and Serna Alvear. The venture brought channel 2 to the air on January 12, 1979 as XHRIO-TV, an English language independent station. It branded as XRIO-TV-2, running primarily reruns of older US shows and recent feature films. The studios were co-located in McAllen with KRIO. The transmitter was eight miles south of the Rio Grande and the Harlingen antenna farm. Since XHRIO-TV was perceived by its American competitors (KRGV-TV and KGBT-TV) as a "border blaster" or pirate station, both being unfounded, they set about to block live delivery of programming across the US border.
Although XHRIO-TV had a broadcast signal superior to its US counterparts, it suffered from serious underfunding and mismanagement by the ownership of the studio facility. During its first year, the technical staff which had created the facility against incredible odds slowly departed. Power to the transmitter site was sporadic and replacement technical people were not up to the task. Thus, XHRIO-TV was never able to establish an advertising base in the English market, despite extremely successful initial ratings. In 1981, the owners of the Mexican concession ended the delivery of programming tapes across the border to the channel 2 transmitter, and converted XHRIO to a Spanish language independent station aimed at Matamoros viewers.
In November 1988, the station became the Lower Rio Grande Valley's Telemundo affiliate. The concessionaire became known as Telegrande, S.A. XHRIO's Telemundo affiliation ended on May 1, 1999 due to low ratings (in part because TCI had dropped the station from its lineup in 1997); as a result, the station reverted to English language programming by becoming a UPN affiliate. Prior to XHRIO joining UPN, the network's programming was seen in the area through secondary affiliations with KRGV-TV (channel 5) and KVEO (channel 23). Telemundo programming returned to the market that June, when KTLM (channel 40) went on the air. To reflect its affiliation, the station changed its callsign to XHHUPN-TV in 2001. In 2005, the station reverted to the XHRIO-TV calls and dropped UPN for Fox.
Fox programming had previously been seen on XHFOX-TV (channel 17) from 1994 until 2002, when station owner Televisa dumped the Fox affiliation and flipped that channel to a XEW-TV repeater as XHTAM-TV. Prior to XHFOX's arrival and before XHRIO took Fox, Lower Rio Grande viewers on the American side received the network from the nationwide Foxnet channel.
In 2007, XHRIO began broadcasting digitally on sister station KNVO's subchannel 48.3, but three years later, after KNVO began airing Univision in HD, XHRIO moved to its own digital channel 2.1.
In 2011, low-powered sister station KSFE-LD began airing a simulcast of XHRIO on its main channel 67.1, with KSFE's previous CW programming being moved to 67.2. In early 2012, KSFE's calls were changed to KFXV-LD and on-air identification heavily emphasized the new call letters as well as channel 67.1. This could potentially lead to confusion as the station was branding itself as channel 2 while identifying itself as channel 67. Although the station was available on both channels, the XHRIO calls were reduced to small print beneath the KFXV calls on station identifications.
In 2012, it was announced a full power Entravision-owned station in the Rio Grande Valley would become a charter affiliate of the new Spanish language MundoFox station. This caused speculation that the Fox network would be removed from XHRIO in favor of MundoFox, although there was no confirmation. On August 7, 2012, Fox programming was interrupted so that XHRIO could air what they labeled a "señal de prueba" or "test signal" feed of MundoFox on 2.1. After numerous unconfirmed rumors that MundoFox would be on 2.1, Valley residents were finally given confirmation on August 8, 2012, when the station's official Twitter feed announced that XHRIO would join MundoFox and Fox would remain on KFXV-LD, effectively splitting them off into two separate and distinctive channels. On August 13, 2012, MundoFox was launched on XHRIO, effectively ending their affiliation with the Fox network. Less than a week after dropping the Fox affiliation from channel 2 altogether, KFXV's standard definition feed was re-added to XHRIO on channel 2.2.
Because it is licensed in Mexico, XHRIO was not subject to the United States' discontinuation of analog television and instead shut off its analog signal on January 14, 2015, along with other television stations in the Matamoros-Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo markets. In June 2010, KNVO began broadcasting Univision HD and XHRIO began broadcasting on digital channel 26 and is displayed as 2.1 as a full power station.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|2.1||26.1||720p||16:9||main XHRIO HD programming|
Because XHRIO is licensed and broadcasting from Mexico, it is not covered under US "must-carry" regulations from the FCC. This means that, apart from low-powered affiliates in the US, XHRIO was the only Fox affiliate that local cable systems were not required to carry. However, US cable systems were effectively required to carry XHRIO anyway, since it is operated by Entravision, which owns stations on the American side of the border. The same must-carry rules give full-powered American stations the option of "retransmission consent", or requesting compensation from cable systems to carry their station. In this case, Entravision has the right to require cable systems to offer XHRIO as part of the compensation for carrying KNVO.
On September 27, 2006, DirecTV added XHRIO to its lineup in the Rio Grande Valley market on channel 2; prior to that date, DirecTV viewers in that market received Fox programming from Corpus Christi's K47DF. On November 6, 2008, DirecTV added XHRIO's HD channel to its local HD line-up in the Valley.
In spring 2009, Dish Network added XHRIO's HD feed to its local channel line-up in the Valley on channel 2.
After XHRIO and KFXV were split into 2 separate channels, all 3 feeds mentioned above remained KFXV feeds and will continue to air FOX programming. It is unclear if and when XHRIO in its current form will be added to these systems.
When XHRIO debuted in 1979, the station produced hourly bilingual news briefs with KRIO newscasters Fred Cantu and Rod Santa Ana during evening programming.
A full local newscast would not air on the station until March 12, 2007, when XHRIO debuted Fox 2 News at Nine. The 30 minute newscast airs Monday through Friday at 9 p.m. It was not the first 9 p.m. newscast in the area, as XHFOX produced one while it was a Fox affiliate. Like many other Fox affiliates, XHRIO takes advantage of the network's shorter primetime schedule by scheduling their newscasts an hour before the other local affiliates in the region. In addition to local/national news, weather and sports, Fox 2 News also includes "Around The World In 80 Seconds", an 80-second segment dedicated to international, health, and entertainment news. XHRIO's newscast line-up is somewhat similar to that of sister station KNVO's Spanish language newscasts since both stations share the same facility.
On September 27, 2010, XHRIO began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
XHRIO's newscast migrated to KFXV in 2012 and there is currently no local newscast on MundoFox Valle.