KTVI, virtual channel 2 (UHF digital channel 43), is a Fox–affiliated television station licensed to St. Louis, Missouri, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KPLR-TV (channel 11). The two stations share studio facilities located on Ball Drive in the northwestern St. Louis County community of Maryland Heights (though with a St. Louis city address); KTVI's transmitter is located in the unincorporated community of Sappington. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channels 2 (standard definition) and 702 (high definition), and on AT&T U-verse channels 2 (SD) and 1002 (HD).
The station first signed on the air by Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation on August 10, 1953 as WTVI, broadcasting on UHF channel 54. It was originally licensed to Belleville, Illinois (across the Mississippi River from St. Louis) and was the second television station in the St. Louis market. The station's first broadcast was a baseball game between the St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds, announced by Buddy Blattner, Bill Durney and Milo Hamilton. It operated as a primary CBS affiliate, and held secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont. DuMont affiliation was agreed to in February 1953 to replace KSD-TV. The station was project to sign on May 15, 1953. The station originally operated from studios located in Alton, Illinois. The CBS affiliation moved to KWK-TV (channel 4, now KMOV) when it debuted on July 8, 1954; more or less by default, WTVI became a primary ABC affiliate.
The station moved to UHF channel 36, and relocated its city of license to St. Louis on April 9, 1955, keeping the base "TVI" letters as part of its callsign while flipping the first assigned letter from "W" to "K", thus changing to the current KTVI. It moved its operations to facilities located in the Clayton-Tamm/Dogtown neighborhood in west St. Louis (off present-day I-64/US 40 at the intersection of Berthold, Oakland and Hampton Avenues). However, the Federal Communications Commission had recently changed its regulations so that the station could have kept its license in Belleville even while moving its main studio to St. Louis. The WTVI calls are currently used by a PBS member station in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The station lost DuMont programming when the network ceased operations in 1956, making KTVI an exclusive ABC affiliate. As the FCC would not require television sets to include UHF tuners until 1961, on April 15, 1957, KTVI moved to VHF channel 2, something it had attempted to do soon after moving to St. Louis–the channel 2 allocation had been reassigned from Springfield, Illinois under pressure from the Truman Administration, originally done so as not to interfere with CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago.
For many years, the station was owned by the Newhouse newspaper chain, owners of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. In 1980, Newhouse exited from broadcasting, and sold KTVI to the Times Mirror Company. In 1993, KTVI was sold to Argyle Television in a group deal with WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, KTBC in Austin, Texas and KDFW in Dallas.
As a Fox station
On December 18, 1993, Fox was awarded the broadcast rights to the NFL's National Football Conference television package over CBS. New World Communications entered into a $500 million deal on May 23, 1994 to switch most of its major network affiliates to Fox, starting that fall at the earliest. New World subsequently bought Argyle Television, and cut another deal to switch the affiliations of KTVI, KDFW and KTBC to Fox (WVTM did not switch as WBRC, which was placed a blind trust, was later sold to Fox outright as New World could not keep both due to FCC rules at the time that forbade duopolies).
KTVI affiliated with Fox on August 7, 1995, ending its 42-year affiliation with ABC, which moved to St. Louis' original Fox affiliate, KDNL-TV (channel 30). Starting that September, KTVI became the official "home" station of the St. Louis Rams—which had recently relocated to the city from Los Angeles (with the exception of select primetime telecasts on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights, KTVI broadcast most of the NFL franchise's road games as well as most sold out home games against other NFC teams). The station chose not to carry children's programming from Fox Kids; the block instead aired on religious independent KNLC (channel 24). However, due to a controversial decision by Reverend Larry Rice (of KNLC owner New Life Evangelistic Center) to run ministry messages instead of commercials during the block, Fox Kids moved to KTVI in the fall of 1996 (becoming the only New World-owned Fox station to carry the block). Fox Television Stations acquired New World Communications in July 1996; upon the completion of the merger on January 22, 1997, KTVI became the first network-owned station in the market since CBS sold KMOX-TV (now KMOV) to Viacom in 1986. Shortly thereafter, programming changed very slightly as Fox Television Stations began acquiring more expensive syndicated programs for KTVI.
KTVI stopped carrying the Fox Kids weekday block in 2000, although the station retained its Saturday morning lineup (this was despite the fact that Fox gave its affiliates the option to push the weekday block to an earlier afternoon timeslot at that period). Fox discontinued its weekday block nationwide on December 31, 2001, while the Saturday lineup was contracted out to 4Kids Entertainment and relaunched as FoxBox on September 14, 2002. From September 2006 until the block (by then, renamed 4Kids TV) ended on December 27, 2008, KTVI aired 4Kids TV two hours earlier than most stations to accommodate the station's Saturday morning newscast (KTVI now airs Fox's Weekend Marketplace infomercial block in its place). KTVI first launched its website on November 1, 1999, which featured a design similar to other sites belonging to Fox's owned-and-operated stations at the time and focused on promotional and programming content initially, but eventually incorporated news content. The website was migrated to the MyFox platform on September 14, 2006. On October 15, 2007, KTVI launched STLMoms.com, a website aimed at St. Louis area moms, whose concept spun off from a popular blog featured on the station's main website.
On December 22, 2007, Fox Television Stations announced that it had agreed to sell KTVI and seven other Fox owned-and-operated stations (WDAF-TV in Kansas City, KDVR in Denver, WJW in Cleveland, WGHP in High Point, KSTU in Salt Lake City, WITI in Milwaukee and WBRC in Birmingham) to Local TV, a television station group formed by Oak Hill Capital Partners that year to acquire nine stations owned by The New York Times Company; the sale officially closed on July 14, 2008. On June 2, 2008, KTVI launched GarageSaleSTL.com, a free website that primarily features a Google-based map of viewer-submitted garage sales (the site has since been discontinued).
On October 1, 2008, Local TV began managing CW affiliate KPLR-TV (channel 11) under a local marketing agreement with its owner Tribune Broadcasting through a "broadcast management company" that was created to provide services to stations owned by both Tribune and Local TV. Though it is the senior partner in the agreement, KTVI relocated from its longtime Clayton-Tamm/Dogtown studios to KPLR's facility in Maryland Heights (KPLR moved to that building, the larger of the two facilities, in 2003; whereas KTVI had been operating from the Berthold studios for nearly 50 years). Both stations combined their news departments and began sharing certain syndicated programs. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company acquired the Local TV stations outright for $2.75 billion; the sale was completed on December 27 (as the FCC bars duopolies between two of a market's four highest-rated stations, the resulting common ownership between KTVI and KPLR-TV was only permissible as historically fifth-rated KDNL-TV had surpassed KPLR for fourth place in the ratings at the time the deal was struck; St. Louis also has only nine full-power television stations, seven of which are commercial outlets, making this the only legal duopoly allowable in the market under FCC rules).
On January 12, 2016, NFL owners voted 30-2 to approve the move of the Rams back to Los Angeles for the 2016 NFL season; as such, KTVI's status as the team's primary station ended after the 2015 season.
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group—which has owned KDNL-TV since 1996, when it acquired that station's previous corporate parent, River City Broadcasting—entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune, pending regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. While sister station KPLR is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules and would be acquired by Sinclair in any event, the group is precluded from acquiring KTVI directly as broadcasters are not currently allowed to legally own more than two full-power television stations in a single market, and both KTVI and KDNL rank among the four highest-rated stations in the St. Louis market in total day viewership. As such, the companies may be required to sell either KTVI or KDNL to another station group in order to comply with FCC ownership rules and alleviate potential antitrust issues preceding approval of the acquisition (Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley cited St. Louis as one of three markets, out of fourteen where ownership conflicts exist between the two groups, where the proposed acquisition would likely result in divestitures); however, a sale of either duopoly to an independent buyer is dependent on later decisions by the FCC regarding local ownership of broadcast television stations and future acts by Congress. Alternatively, Sinclair may opt to either take over the operations of KTVI or transfer ownership of and retain operational responsibilities for KDNL-TV through a local marketing agreement with one of its partner companies.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||720p||16:9||KTVI-DT||Main KTVI programming / Fox|
KTVI began carrying Antenna TV upon its launch on January 1, 2011 on digital subchannel 2.2. As of January 2016, digital subchannel 2.3 started showing colored bars with a pending affiliation to Escape.
KTVI shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 43. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2.
KTVI presently broadcasts a combined 63½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (10½ hours on weekdays and 5½ hours on weekends); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among St. Louis's broadcast television stations. KTVI's Sunday 5:00 p.m. newscast is subject to preemption due to network sports coverage, as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts (though the Saturday 5:00 p.m. newscast is usually delayed to 6:00 p.m. due to baseball or college football coverage).
As an ABC affiliate, KTVI's newscasts usually placed third in the ratings, behind longtime leader KSDK (channel 5) and KMOV. However, for most of the 1980s and early 1990s, the station fought a spirited battle with KMOX-TV/KMOV for second place. Since 1998, the station's weekday morning newscast has placed first among the newscasts in the St. Louis market during that time period. Segments regularly featured on its newscasts include The Jaco Report (featuring an editorial or investigative story presented by Charles Jaco) and You Paid For It (an investigative segment reported by Elliott Davis that uncovers city government tax abuse; the segment ends by giving the phone number of the office of that municipality's mayor, followed by the signoff "Call and speak your mind: after all, you paid for it").
After joining Fox in August 1995, KTVI increased its news programming output from roughly 30 hours a week to nearly 45 hours. All of its existing newscasts were retained, but it expanded its weekday morning newscast from one to three hours (with two hours added from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.), and bridged the weeknight 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts into a 90-minute early evening news block (by adding a half-hour newscast at 5:30 to compensate for Fox's lack of a national news program). However, like its Austin sister station KTBC did during its first four years as a Fox station, KTVI did not initially add a prime time newscast at 9:00 p.m. upon switching to the network to compensate for Fox's lack of prime time network programming during that hour; instead, it filled the slot with syndicated programming from the August 1995 switch until September 1996, when it debuted a half-hour 9:00 p.m. newscast; it continued to air syndicated shows during the 9:30 half-hour until the prime time newscast expanded to one hour in September 1999, now leading directly into the 10:00 p.m. newscast (KTVI is one of several Fox stations that offer newscasts in both the final hour of primetime and the traditional late news timeslot, one of the few affiliated with the network that runs a nightly 10:00 p.m. (or 11:00 p.m.) newscast and one of the few to continue its Big Three-era 10:00 p.m. newscast after switching to Fox).
In addition to compensating for the absence of daily national newscasts on Fox's schedule, the expansion of KTVI's news schedule also served to fill timeslots vacated by the departures of Good Morning America and World News Tonight through its discontinuance of the ABC affiliation. KTVI is able to emphasize a broad array of stories from national and local reports, to investigative stories because of its large news programming output. The station also devotes a sizeable portion of its sports coverage to local high school sports (once partnering with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to produce the now-canceled Prep Sports Show on Saturdays) and was the home of Jeff Fisher's weekly St. Louis Rams review show on Mondays.
For much of the time since it affiliated with Fox until the LMA began, KTVI's 9:00 p.m. newscast had beaten KPLR-TV's own prime time news program in that timeslot. Before Dick Ford retired from the station in December 2005, all four of KTVI's main male anchors (Ford, Tom O'Neal, Dan Gray and John Pertzborn) formerly served as anchors at KSDK. On April 10, 2006, KTVI debuted a new standardized graphics package, logo and news theme (Fox Affiliate News Theme by OSI Music) that was used by Fox's other owned-and-operated stations and select affiliates, during that evening's 9:00 p.m. newscast. A new set and weather center (replacing one built in 1998) was also introduced (the old news desk was donated to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, with the old weather center donated to the University of Missouri–St. Louis). In December 2008, KPLR temporarily relocated its newscasts to KTVI's now-former Clayton-Tamm/Dogtown studios as KPLR's facility was being remodeled to accommodate both KPLR and KTVI's newscasts; KTVI moved production of its newscasts to a temporary set in January 2009, in order for crews dismantle and move the station's existing news set to KPLR's Maryland Heights facility.
On February 15, 2009, KTVI began broadcasting local newscasts in high definition from its new Maryland Heights studio, accompanied by a new graphics package. The set was updated with several elements added to better fit the new graphics and due to the conversion to HD, while removing the city skyline backdrop in favor of a blue background. In January 2010, KTVI expanded its weekday morning newscast to six hours from 4:00 to 10:00 a.m. (despite the expansion, the station retained its 11:00 a.m. newscast). On December 23, 2011, KTVI/KPLR opened a news bureau in the newly renovated Peabody Opera House in downtown St. Louis, to better serve the downtown and eastern portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area.
On January 28, 2015, KTVI/KPLR introduced a new combined set with LED lighting, two video walls (one replacing the weather green screen), and a new anchor desk. Both stations now share the set (but KPLR uses a separate Weather center). They also introduced new graphics and music package for both stations the same day. On January 18, 2016, KTVI became the first station in the Central time zone to launch a 11:00 pm weeknight newscast hosted by Shirley Washington and Jasmine Huda (formerly of KMOV).