U.S. Television Network Affiliate Switches of 1994 - Repercussions - Programming Repercussions

Programming Repercussions

Because Fox programmed far fewer hours than CBS, NBC and ABC, this left open a considerable amount of time for the new Fox affiliates to fill via syndication. Despite this, some of the more notable first-run syndicated programs of the time, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Donahue, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight and Siskel & Ebert (among others), were dropped by many of the New World stations that carried such programming. These shows were replaced by lower-budget syndicated programs as well as newer programs including Access Hollywood and Judge Judy. Judge Judy has since become a cultural icon and staple of Fox owned-and-operated stations in addition to being one of the highest rated syndicated programs, often finishing ahead of the above-mentioned shows in national Nielsen ratings, and its success fueled a resurgence of the reality courtroom show genre.

In regards to Fox's NFL coverage itself, there were still implications despite the new affiliations. San Diego's UPN affiliate KUSI-TV tried unsuccessfully to take the Fox affiliation away from XETV, citing FCC regulations preventing any foreign station outside of the United States (XETV is licensed to Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico) from airing live American sporting events without an FCC-approved license, but Fox was eventually granted the permit allowing XETV to carry games (even though San Diego is an AFC market that is home to the Chargers). KUSI eventually became an independent station in 1998, long before UPN dissolved in 2006, while XETV switched to the CW in August 2008 after losing its Fox affiliation to KSWB-TV.

In smaller markets with a strong NFL fanbase, Fox did not even have a local affiliate, let alone a station to affiliate with, forcing the network to strike deals with other networks' affiliates. In Wausau, Wisconsin, Quincy Newspapers' ABC affiliate WAOW-TV aired the NFL on Fox package for five years (in addition to already airing Monday Night Football games as an ABC affiliate) to assuage its Packers fanbase until Wittenberg-licensed WFXS launched to allow the network an affiliate in the area (the net effect being that WAOW carried up to 13 Packers games a year from 1994-98 from both Fox and ABC). Also, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, KOCR-TV, a Fox affiliate with its own problems (it would go out of business in 1994 due to non-payment of power bills and eviction from its facilities ), gave the rights to the NFL on Fox package to CBS affiliate KGAN-TV. In Youngstown, Ohio ABC affiliate WYTV aired the NFL on Fox from 1994 to 1998 to help fill the void in areas that didn't receive WJW nor WPGH-TV until CBS affiliate WKBN-TV launched WYFX-LP as a full-time Fox affiliate. (Coincidentally, all three are now sister stations due to a shared services agreement for WKBN-TV to operate WYTV.) Despite being fertile battleground territory for the Browns–Steelers rivalry, as both teams were in the AFC having the NFL on Fox had minimal impact for both teams in the area, then no impact at all for Browns fans after the team "suspended operations" for three years. It did, however, give access to San Francisco 49ers games, since the DeBartolo family that has long owned the team were from the area and continue to reside in the Youngstown suburb of Canfield, Ohio.

Meanwhile, other stations whose affiliations were impacted began turning down weaker programs of their departing network. In Phoenix, KTVK, which lost its affiliation with ABC in the Scripps deal after having previously turned down CBS in anticipation of a renewed agreement with ABC, began to turn down most of the latter network's programming. On its final day as a lame-duck ABC affiliate, KTVK only had ABC's prime-time lineup, major soaps, and sports programming remaining. In Atlanta, before its switch on December 11, 1994, WAGA began turning down some weaker CBS programs on a week-by-week basis. Additionally, Fox's two former owned-and-operated stations in Atlanta (WATL) and Dallas (KDAF) had been in the process of launching primetime newscasts, with WATL having even hired a news director. After the New World deal resulted in Fox affiliating with the markets' CBS affiliates, these plans were shelved. KDAF eventually re-launched its newscasts (after a nearly decade-long hiatus) in 1999 under its new owners, while WATL would not air news until 2006, when Gannett purchased WATL and launched a 10 p.m. newscast produced by sister station WXIA. WXIA eventually relocated its operations to WATL's One Monroe Place studios in Midtown Atlanta.

In some instances, the networks had to continue running their newly acquired stations as affiliates of rival networks temporarily while new affiliation deals were finalized. In Toledo, ABC had to run WTVG (a former ABC affiliate from 1958 to 1970 as WSPD-TV) as an NBC affiliate for the two-month period between its purchase of WTVG and NBC's eventual affiliation with WNWO. And in Birmingham, Fox had to run WBRC as an ABC affiliate until that station's affiliation expired after the 1995–1996 television season. This practice was not new at the time; in 1988, NBC was forced to run WTVJ in Miami as a CBS affiliate for one year after Sunbeam Television, owner of rival outlet WSVN (currently Miami's Fox affiliate), refused to end that station's contract with NBC until it expired at the beginning of 1989.

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