KOCB, virtual channel 34 (UHF digital channel 33), is a CW-affiliated television station located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Fox affiliate KOKH-TV (channel 25). The two stations share studio and transmitter facilities located on East Wilshire Boulevard on the city's northeast side (situated to the adjacent east of the respective studio facilities of CBS affiliate KWTV-DT (channel 9) and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority PBS member network).
As an independent station
The station first signed on the air on November 28, 1979 as KGMC-TV; originally operating as an independent station, it was founded by General Media Corporation. Channel 34 was the first television station to sign on in the Oklahoma City market in 25 years – but missed being the first commercial station to sign on since that timeframe as KOKH-TV (channel 25, now a Fox affiliate) had converted from an educational to a commercial independent seven weeks before – and the second independent station in both Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma. Its programming format featured a mix of cartoons, classic sitcoms, westerns, dramas, religious programs and some older movies. The station's original studio facilities were located at 1501 Northeast 85th Street, south of Oklahoma City's Britton section. KGMC was purchased by Seraphim Media in 1983.
In 1987, Pappas Telecasting Companies proposed a deal to buy KOKH, and acquire the programming inventories of KGMC and then-Fox affiliate KAUT (channel 43, now an independent station) and migrate their syndicated programs and the Fox affiliation to KOKH. The proposal called for channel 34 to run 15 to 18 hours of programming from the Home Shopping Network and six hours of religious programs each day, along with some children's programming and barter entertainment shows. Heritage Media would then sell KAUT to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, which would convert it into a PBS member station. This deal eventually fell apart and the potential purchase by Pappas was canceled in 1988. General Media subsequently sold KGMC to Maddox Broadcasting in 1989. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, KGMC adopted a very sophisticated on-air look for an independent station in a mid-sized market, using CGI graphics of near network-quality. On February 9, 1989, KGMC licensee Oklahoma City Broadcasting, Inc., controlled by the family of stock speculator Ivan Boesky (who was sentenced to a three-year prison term in December 1987 for his involvement in an insider trading scandal), filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That May, KGMC co-founder and then-general manager Ted Baze attempted to gain full ownership of Oklahoma City Broadcasting.
In September 1990, the station changed its call letters to KOCB, named after the licensee (the KGMC call letters are now used by a MundoFox affiliate on channel 43 in Clovis, California). In 1991, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma approved a reorganization plan in which Oklahoma City Broadcasting, Inc. would pay most of its creditors in full with interest within 21 months. In 1993, KOCB was acquired by Superior Broadcasting. That year, the station began airing programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network syndication service, remaining with PTEN until 1995.
Transitioning to network affiliation
KOCB became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network when the network launched on January 16, 1995. Outside of UPN primetime programming, the station otherwise continued with a general entertainment programming format and continued to run films in primetime as UPN initially broadcast only on Monday and Tuesday evenings at launch (the network would later expand its primetime programming to five nights a week in 1999); it also retained the "TV-34" branding that the station used as an independent. Channel 34 was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1996.
On July 21, 1997, Sinclair signed an affiliation agreement with The WB to switch the affiliations of KOCB and its four other UPN affiliates to the network. Prior to the agreement, Oklahoma City residents were only able to receive The WB's programming through cable and satellite from the national superstation feed of the network's Chicago affiliate WGN-TV. KOCB affiliated with The WB on January 25, 1998, rebranding as "WB 34". The switch left the Oklahoma City market without a UPN affiliate for nearly six months; two weeks earlier on January 8, the Paramount Stations Group (owned by UPN's part-owner at the time, Viacom) purchased channel 43, which was operating as OETA-owned PBS member station KTLC as a result of a 1990 trade deal involving it and KOKH by Heritage Broadcasting that was separate from the earlier Pappas proposal; it became a UPN owned-and-operated station as KPSG on June 19, 1998 (the station reverted to its original KAUT call letters that November).
In 1998, Sinclair began managing KOKH under a local marketing agreement with that station's then-owner Sullivan Broadcasting; Sinclair purchased channel 25 outright in late 2003, creating a duopoly with KOCB. Channel 34 subsequently vacated its Northeast 85th Street studios and relocated its operations 1 mile (1.6 km) south-southwest to KOKH's studio facility at 1228 East Wilshire Boulevard. In September 2002, KOCB discontinued the "WB 34" branding, changing it to "The WB Oklahoma City", due in part to the fact that many central Oklahoma residents view KOCB on cable television (available to most area cable providers on channel 11).
Affiliation with The CW
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced that the company would shut down The WB and UPN (the latter of which became owned by CBS one month earlier following the split of CBS and Viacom) and incorporate some of their programs on a newly created joint venture network The CW. On May 2, 2006, Sinclair Broadcast Group confirmed that KOCB would become the Oklahoma City affiliate of The CW, likely due to its status at the time as one of The WB's highest-rated affiliates (ranking as the network's most-watched station overall during the 2004-05 season). The station became a CW affiliate upon the network's September 18, 2006 debut, the day after The WB ended operations; KAUT ended up affiliating with MyNetworkTV, another new network developed by the Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television subsidiaries of News Corporation. With the switch, KOCB rebranded as "The CW Oklahoma City", before rebranding again as "CW34" in August 2007.
On August 28, 2007, a transmission line at KOCB's transmitter facility failed while the station was airing a Dallas Cowboys preseason game, leaving the station off the air for the better part of two weeks. KOCB's analog and digital signals remained dark until 3:00 p.m. on August 29, only for the transmitter to fail again that night around 12:00 a.m. The station's direct fiber optic studio feed that was fed to headends operated by Cox Communications was only interrupted for a short time. KOCB's over-the-air signal returned to the air about two weeks later in time for the start of The CW's Fall 2007 primetime schedule.
The CW extended its affiliation agreement with KOCB and Sinclair's 10 other CW-affiliated stations at the time for five years on July 19, 2011, which will keep KOCB affiliated with the network until at least August 2016. On March 5, 2012, KOCB and KOKH became the last stations in the Oklahoma City market to carry syndicated programs, station promos and commercials in high definition (rebroadcasts of KOKH's newscasts continued to be broadcast in 4:3 standard definition until August 2013, when that station upgraded its newscast production to HD).
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|34.1||720p||16:9||KOCB-HD||Main KOCB-TV programming / The CW|
|34.2||480i||4:3||GetTV||Pre-1980s Sony classic films|
|34.3||480i||4:3||Comet||Sci-fi, fantasy, adventure|
The Tube Music Network was carried on digital subchannel 34.2 starting in 2005; it was dropped in December 2006 (eleven months before the network ceased operations on October 1, 2007). KOCB relaunched the subchannel on October 4, 2010 as an affiliate of TheCoolTV; it was pulled on August 31, 2012 after Sinclair dropped the music video network on 32 of its then-approximately 70 stations nationwide. On July 1, 2014, KOCB restored its second digital subchannel when it began carrying the classic movie network GetTV, as a result of a channel lease agreement with Sinclair, involving 33 of the company's stations. GetTV on Cox digital Channel 216 and Comet on Cox digital Channel 217.
KOCB discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 34, 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 33, using PSIP to display KOCB's virtual channel as 34 on digital television receivers.
In addition to carrying the entire CW network schedule, syndicated programs featured on KOCB (as of September 2015) include The Jerry Springer Show, The Steve Wilkos Show, Celebrity Name Game, Family Feud and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. In November 2005, KOCB began simulcasting the Oklahoma Lottery's nightly Pick 3 and Cash 5 drawings, which were carried by KOKH through an agreement with the Oklahoma Lottery Commission; these were discontinued when the lottery ceased the live broadcasts and switched to drawing the numbers via a random number generator in July 2009 (Powerball drawings continued to air on both station until 2013, although neither carried Mega Millions after Oklahoma became a participant in that multi-state lottery in 2011; both drawings were carried in the market on cable and satellite through Chicago-based superstation WGN America until February 2014).
KOCB holds the local broadcast rights to NFL preseason games from the Dallas Cowboys, with three to five primetime game telecasts airing annually. The station also runs college basketball games from the Big 12 Conference through ESPN Plus, airing between ten and twelve regular season games each year as well as games from the first three rounds of the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament. Most college basketball telecasts on the station air on Saturday afternoons, with occasional primetime games on weeknights (the station will reschedule CW primetime shows to air on weekend evenings if a primetime game is scheduled, preempting movies usually aired on Saturday and Sunday evenings between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., as The CW itself does not run network programming on those nights, and occasionally those usually aired in weekend afternoon timeslots).
KOCB did not broadcast its any local news programming for much of its history, and was the only general entertainment commercial station in the Oklahoma City market to have never regularly run local newscasts exclusive to the station. In 2005, Fox-affiliated sister station KOKH began to broadcast live half-hour editions of that station's 9:00 p.m. newscast on KOCB on certain weeknights in which a Fox Sports telecast (usually Major League Baseball All-Star, playoff and World Series games) is scheduled to air past 9:00 p.m. on channel 25. On August 9, 2010, KOCB began to air rebroadcasts of KOKH-TV's 9:00 p.m. newscast at 12:00 a.m. weeknights.