WPTV and WSM to become ABC affiliation in the 80s

Part 1: WPTV and WSM goes to ABC
This is an alternate history if ABC decided to affiliate with two popular market-leading stations NBC is affiliating in Nashville and West Palm Beach. Although most of the market-leading NBC stations (WSB-TV in Atlanta) were wooed by ABC, how they have worked if two of the market-leading stations switched to ABC instead?

June 6, 1980

ABC agreed to a two-station agreement with two of the market-leading stations NLT's WSM-TV in Nashville, and Scripps-Howard Broadcasting's WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, abandoning NBC, which is dead last in the ratings. ABC wanted to upgrade two outlets in the Nashville and West Palm Beach markets

Although WNGE-TV, the previous ABC affiliate, has plans to go for an independent, or sign a group deal with General Electric Broadcasting, to convert all three of GE's television stations (WNGE-TV in Nashville, KOA-TV in Denver, WRGB-TV in the Capital District) to NBC, butterflying WRGB's move to CBS away. The General Electric-NBC relationship dates back to the 1920s, when General Electric is one of the founding members of RCA, who was owner of NBC.

WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach has talks to go to an independent station, or sign a deal with NBC.

Scripps-Howard executives say that ABC and WEWS had a working relationship, which dates back to the late 1940s, and this would mean WPTV-TV (channel 5) to became the second Scripps-Howard station to be affiliated with ABC.

(This is the POD, IOTL WPTV and WSM kept their NBC affiliations).
Part 2: General Electric and NBC sign deal
June 25, 1980

General Electric Broadcasting, a radio and television broadcasting company and subsidiary of General Electric, announced a group affiliation agreement to convert the three-station GE television unit (longtime ABC affiliate WNGE-TV in Nashville, and two NBC stations GE is owning, KOA-TV in Denver, and WRGB-TV in Schenectady) with NBC.

Our relationship with NBC dates back to the 1920s, when General Electric was a founding member of the Radio Corporation of America, which owns the current broadcasting facility NBC, which owns five television stations in five markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland and Washington.

WNGE-TV, the General Electric affiliate, will lose its ABC affiliation to National Life and Accident Insurance's WSM-TV in Nashville.

NBC saw promotion to the new Nashville affiliate on channel 2, which is owned and operated by General Electric.

Thus, WRGB-TV's switch to CBS was ultimately butterflied away.
Part 3: GE to buy Metromedia station
July 3, 1980

Metromedia announced negotiations to sell channel 11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul to General Electric Broadcasting of Albany. WRGB's general manager said WTCN-TV had a working relationship with NBC recently.

General Electric's officials said that they would add WTCN-TV to General Electric's TV roster KOA-TV in Denver, WRGB in Schenectady, and WNGE-TV in Nashville, thus creating a four-station group.

WTCN-TV is currently affiliated with NBC, since March 1979, when former NBC affiliate KSTP-TV goes to ABC, while the former ABC station KMSP-TV to go independent.

All four are soon to be NBC affiliates. The purchase price is cost $750 million, which is higher than Metromedia's asking price.
Part 4: WPEC and NBC sign deal
July 21, 1980

WPEC-TV, a unit of Photo Electronics Corporation announced an affiliation agreement with NBC. This would mean that shows like Diff'rent Strokes and Saturday Night Live would move to channel 12. The market-leading WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, on channel 5 would lose its NBC affiliation to the top-rated ABC.

Metromedia announced a $650 million investor to swap KMBC-TV in Kansas City (an ABC affiliate) to Fox's United Television in exchange for KMSP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, an independent station that was operating on channel 9, just as the previous Metromedia station in the market WTCN-TV was sold off to General Electric.

The tradeoff is yet to receive FCC approval for the station. WPTV-TV said that they would became the new home for Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Happy Days and Three's Company.

The switch was expected to happen on September 7, 1980 in the West Palm Beach area.
Part 5: ABC to court Memphis station
August 14, 1980

ABC was in talks with Scripps-Howard Broadcasting in order to court the stronger NBC affiliate in Memphis, WMC-TV, running on channel 5. NBC was dead last in the ratings, while ABC was approached for a stronger outlet in Memphis.

This situation left current ABC affiliate WHBQ-TV without an affiliate, and it would likely go either as an independent station, or going to affiliate with NBC.

RKO General has been dismantled. Viacom was considered to bid for the four RKO stations, which covered Memphis, Boston, New York and Los Angeles. The Boston station is currently a CBS affiliate.

CBS was in talks with Storer to court down the Toledo and San Diego stations, WTVG and KCST. CBS was currently on WTOL and KFMB-TV in both outlets. CBS found good relations with Storer.

Storer received negotiations to swap out WSBK-TV to Viacom in exchange for the Albany station WAST-TV, which is currently a CBS affiliate.
Part 6: WPTV and WPEC swap affiliations
September 7, 1980

The Treasure Coast's market-leading WPTV in West Palm Beach switches to the top-rated ABC, while the outgoing ABC affiliate WPEC to switch to NBC. Promotional campaigns involving the switch said it was to be the new home for Charlie's Angels.

The news theme for WPTV was replaced by a synthesized version of the ABC World News Tonight theme by Score Productions for its news opens (ITTL POD, IOTL it has "Tuesday3" by Tuesday Productions) as its news theme.

WPTV became the second station at that time owned by Scripps-Howard Broadcasting to be affiliated with ABC, the first one was WEWS-TV in Cleveland.

WPTV became the number one news station, and it was all a ratings winner. The combination of WPTV and ABC made them a strong winner for it.
Part 7: Multimedia to buy WHBQ
September 20, 1980

Multimedia, Inc., a Greenville-based publisher announced negotiations to buy WHBQ-AM-FM-TV from RKO General. The purchase price cost $975 million, which is higher than RKO General's asking price.

Multimedia found good relations with NBC, as WHBQ joined NBC's WXII-TV and WFBC-TV, serving the Carolina markets, WLWT in Cincinnati, the CBS stations WMAZ-TV in Macon and WBIR-TV in Knoxville and independent station WZTV in Nashville, giving Multimedia the FCC-mandated seven station total.

Multimedia said that WHBQ-TV in Memphis would join NBC, as outgoing Memphis station, the market-leading WMC-TV, channel 5 in Memphis would join ABC.

Multimedia's purchase of WHBQ made the third Tennessee television station holding, the other two were WBIR-TV, and WZTV, both in Knoxville and Nashville.

Multimedia owns a program production division that distributes The Phil Donahue Show and various other shows.
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Part 8: Nashville stations swapped
October 5, 1980

The longtime ABC affiliate owned by General Electric, WNGE and National Life and Accident Insurance Company's WSM-TV swapped television affiliations. WNGE will became a NBC affiliate, and WSM-TV will became an affiliate of the popular ABC television network.

Times Mirror Company was in negotiations to purchase the Chronicle Publishing Company, but exclude the television stations which met FCC's seven-station limit, which KRON-TV was sold off to General Electric Broadcasting, WOWT-TV will be sold to Pulitzer, Inc. and KAKE-TV, which would be sold off to Hearst Broadcasting. GE's acquisition of KRON marked General Electric's return to the Bay Area market since the original KGO radio was sold several years ago.

Hearst's purchase of KAKE-TV would join WBAL-TV in Baltimore, WISN-TV in Milwaukee and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. ABC announced a group affiliation deal to convert the four-station Hearst group to ABC, which would displace WJZ-TV in Baltimore (ITTL, IOTL ABC's removal from WJZ didn't happen until 14 years later when ABC and Scripps signed a deal). It is in the process of buying WDTN-TV in Dayton.

WSM-TV was number one in all newscasts, and ABC would be the most popular network. NBC was dead last in the ratings, but its boost for WNGE-TV would help them. WNGE's news theme would be "Tuesday3" by Tuesday Productions as its news theme when it switched to NBC (ITTL POD, IOTL it used ABC World News Tonight's synthesized version theme by Score Productions)
Part 9: RKO sells Boston station
October 21, 1980

RKO General announced that they would sell WNAC-TV, WRKO-AM and WROR-FM to Meredith Corporation for $1 billion, higher than RKO's asking price. Meredith owns independent KPHO-TV in Phoenix, CBS affiliates WTVH in Syracuse, KCTV in Kansas City and WNEM-TV in Flint, and will be the fifth Meredith television property to be owned.

Tribune was in talks with RKO to buy KHJ-TV-AM-FM for $950 million, which is far above RKO's asking price. This gave them Tribune an outlet for the Los Angeles area.

Boston Broadcasters, owners of WCVB-TV in Boston announced plans to merge with Capital Cities Communications for $850 million, joining the existing six stations WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KTRK-TV in Houston, KFSN-TV in Fresno, WTNH-TV in New Haven and WKBW-TV in Buffalo, this needed Capital Cities to the required seven-station limit.

General Electric was in talks with Time-Life to buy WOTV-TV in Grand Rapids for $2 billion, which is far above Time-Life's asking price for the station.
Part 10: Memphis stations swapped
November 9, 1980

WHBQ-TV, the longtime ABC affiliate owned by RKO General (which was in the process of selling WHBQ-TV-AM-FM to Multimedia, Inc.) and WMC-TV, the NBC affiliate owned by Scripps-Howard Broadcasting swapped network affiliations. WMC-TV switches to ABC, after 32 years with NBC, while WHBQ-TV switches to NBC after 27 years with ABC.

For the switch, the cast of Charlie's Angels (Tanya Roberts, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd), the Happy Days gang, and the cast of The Love Boat, had to trumpet WMC-TV's move to ABC, as the network was highest-rated, while Johnny Carson had to trumpet WHBQ-TV's move to NBC.

WMC-TV was the number one television station in Memphis, while WHBQ-TV was the distant second in the television ratings. WREG-TV was however not changed.

RKO General announced negotiations to sell off its New York City broadcasting holdings WOR-AM-FM-TV to Chris-Craft, joining KPTV in Portland and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, the longtime independent stations.
Part 11: Sale of Minnesota station finalized
November 25, 1980

The sale of WTCN-TV from Metromedia Inc. to General Electric Broadcasting has been completed, costing $750 million, which is far above Metromedia's asking price. This means General Electric now has four television stations, affiliated with NBC.

General Electric announced negotiations to offer a $2 billion purchase of Sunbeam Television, owners of WCKT-TV in Miami. If the sale was finalized then, Edmund Ansin would join the company as president of the television unit.

GE was in the process of acquiring KRON-TV, as well as Time-Life's WOTV. All of them will be NBC affiliates, as General Electric and NBC found good relationships.

Our relationship with NBC dates back to the 1920s when General Electric is a founding member of the Radio Corporation of America. General Electric was so pleased that we now have four TV stations which are its flagship WRGB-TV in the Capital District, as well as KOA-TV in Denver and WNGE-TV in Nashville. WTCN-TV will became General Electric's fourth television station.
Chapter 12: WTOL signs with NBC
December 4, 1980

As CBS is courting Toledo's WTVG-TV, the NBC affiliate owned by Storer Broadcasting, CBS and Storer found good relations. NBC and the Liberty Life Insurance Company signed a group affiliation deal that renewed its agreements with WDSU in New Orleans and WIS-TV in Columbia and forced to sign an agreement with outgoing CBS station WTOL-TV, channel 11 in Toledo.

WTVG-TV said they had plans to trumpet 60 Minutes' click-clock sound, and that WTVG-TV finished first in its newscasts. Storer owns and operates CBS affiliates, and also had time to court the CBS affiliate KCST (the ITTL version of CBS' switch of WBAL).

Both KCST and WTVG are owned by Storer Broadcasting, who also owns CBS stations WJBK-TV in Detroit, WAGA-TV in Atlanta, WJW-TV in Cleveland and WITI-TV in Milwaukee, and also owns independent WSBK-TV in Boston, which will soon be traded to Viacom for CBS' Albany station WAST-TV, operating on channel 13.

If the WAST deal is closed, then Storer would go all-CBS, owning seven stations in total as required by FCC's complaints.
Chapter 13: Storer swap stations for FCC approval
January 3, 1981

Storer Broadcasting Company formally sent the FCC approval for the swap of KCST-TV in San Diego and WSBK-TV in Boston to Viacom in return for WAST-TV in Albany/Schenectady/Troy, effectively butterflying WRGB's switch to CBS away.

Storer found good relations with CBS and decided that the tradeoff blocked CBS' defection in San Diego. KFMB-TV and the two other Midwest Television outlets renewed its agreement with the CBS television network.

Storer's stations:

Viacom's stations:

To make up for the loss of its San Diego station, Storer announced negotiations to purchase Capitol Broadcasting Company, owners of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, this made the seventh station to be owned by Storer. ABC will going to court two Capital Cities stations WTVD-TV in Durham, and KFSN-TV in Fresno (both of them were CBS affiliates) (ITTL, IOTL this did not happen until 1985 when Capitol Cities purchased ABC)
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Part 14: Times-Mirror/Chronicle buyout approved by the FCC
January 25, 1981

Times-Mirror Company has sent the FCC approval for the purchase of Chronicle Publishing Company. Times Mirror executives said that they would only cover the publishing assets, but not the broadcasting limits, as Times Mirror has the only seven station limit mandated by the FCC.

Among the holdings to be sold off:
  • KRON-TV in San Francisco was sold off to General Electric Broadcasting, became the largest GE-owned television property.
  • WOWT-TV in Omaha was sold off to Pulitzer, Inc.
  • KAKE-TV in Wichita was sold off to Hearst Broadcasting, who also owns several TV stations associated with ABC.
General Electric's station group:

Times-Mirror's station group:

GE is in the process of acquiring WOTV-TV (NBC) and WCKT-TV (NBC), which made them the maximum limit of seven stations.

KRON-TV in San Francisco, is the station's fifth largest market, and its buyout by General Electric became GE's largest TV station by market size.
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Part 15: KRON to become KFOG
February 3, 1981

The buyout of Chronicle Publishing Company by Times-Mirror Company has been completed. The buyout by Times-Mirror will only consist of the newspapers including the Chronicle, but exclude the broadcast stations due to the FCC's maximum limit of seven stations. KRON-TV, Chronicle's flagship station was instead transferred to General Electric Broadcasting, who also owns another SF Bay Area property KFOG-FM.

General Electric started negotiations to offer a $1 billion buyout to buy WOOD-AM-FM from a locally owned group, in order to make the Grand Rapids market an AM station, and became the TV sister of WOTV-TV in Grand Rapids, which GE is in the process of buying from Time-Life.

Under General Electric's ownership, KRON would reduce the number of preemptions, and began carrying the NBC shows in pattern. Two other Chronicle properties, WOWT-TV was sold to Pulitzer, Inc., owners of KSDK-TV, and KAKE-TV, which was sold to Hearst Broadcasting, owners of WBAL-TV in Baltimore.

Two weeks later...

February 16, 1981

General Electric officially changed its KRON-TV call sign to KFOG-TV to match its FM radio sister. General Electric's management thought that the KRON-TV calls didn't work out, and decided that KFOG-TV would be a more appropriate name for a TV station.

General Electric and NBC reached a deal to carry the six other GE stations to run the whole NBC schedule in pattern with no preemptions. This existence dates back to the 1920s when a radio station in Schenectady, carrying NBC programs to air, and in 1941, GE's flagship station in Schenectady airs the NBC programs. WRGB's CBS affiliation was however butterflied away.

GE was in the process of acquiring WCKT-TV in Miami, and WOTV-TV in Grand Rapids.
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Part 16: Storer and Viacom swap stations
March 4, 1981

Storer Broadcasting Company and Viacom Inc. officially completed its swap of its television stations. WAST-TV, the CBS affiliate in Albany, would be sold to Storer Broadcasting Company, while Storer's WSBK-TV and KCST-TV, in respective cities Boston and San Diego, will be sold to Viacom Inc. Here's our list for the new Storer stations and two new Viacom stations.

Storer's stations:

Viacom's stations:

This make the Albany market more understandable for Storer. NBC is in the process of moving the station from market-leading Storer station WTVG-TV in Toledo to Liberty's WTOL-TV, channel 11.

WRGB's CBS affiliation was butterflied away, opting to keep with NBC.
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Part 17: Toledo stations swapped
March 15, 1981

WTVG, the longtime NBC affiliate, and WTOL-TV, the longtime CBS affiliate swapped their network affiliations. That came because CBS found good relations with Storer Broadcasting Company, who persuaded that WTVG would be number one in all newscast ratings.

CBS was considered signing with outgoing ABC affiliate WJZ-TV (ITTL, IOTL this didn't happen until Westinghouse was signed with CBS in 1994), with possible NBC affiliation for WMAR-TV, after Hearst signing a groupwide affiliation deal to convert the entire station group, including WBAL-TV in Baltimore to ABC.

General Electric's purchase of WOTV-TV and WOOD-AM-FM in Grand Rapids, and WCKT-TV in Miami was subjected for FCC approval, which met the maximum seven station total. Both WOTV-TV and WCKT-TV were currently NBC affiliates.

As ABC was wooed by two CBS affiliates owned by Capital Cities, WTVD and KFSN, CBS was considered signing with KGPE (ITTL, IOTL this didn't happen until Capital Cities bought out ABC in 1985).
Chapter 18: ABC to court Kansas City and Salt Lake stations
April 12, 1981

ABC announced that they would start courting KUTV-TV (channel 2) in Salt Lake City and WDAF-TV (channel 4) in Kansas City, both of them were affiliates of NBC, which was dead last in the ratings. WDAF-TV is one of the stations that was owned by Taft Broadcasting.

This left the current ABC affiliates KTVX (channel 4) and KMBC (channel 9), both owned by United Television, without an affiliation, and intended to go either independent or sign with NBC.

Two of these, KTVX and KMBC are the poorest performing stations that are affiliated with the top ABC. WDAF-TV and KUTV-TV were the market leaders in both the Kansas City and Salt Lake markets.

Taft Broadcasting also owns ABC affiliates WBRC-TV in Birmingham, WTVN-TV in Columbus and WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, and NBC affiliate WGR-TV in Buffalo.
Part 19: General Electric's offer sent FCC approval
April 27, 1981

The Federal Communications Commission has sent that General Electric's combined offers for WOTV-TV and WOOD-AM-FM in Grand Rapids and WCKT-TV in Miami would be approved by the FCC. Both WOTV-TV and WCKT-TV are NBC affiliates.

Sunbeam Television, a locally owned television company formed by Edmund Ansin, whose station was WCKT-TV, will be folded into General Electric Broadcasting, placing Ed Ansin as the company's president.

WRGB-TV, the NBC station is General Electric's flagship, serving the Capital District in the New York. The Capital District had just surpassed Boston as the nation's sixth-largest television market, to increase households.

WTEN-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Capital District will top WRGB-TV as the Capital District's market-leading television station, causing viewer increase. The GE acquisition of WOTV-TV would put Time-Life to end the broadcasting business completely.
Part 20: Post-Newsweek to buy United Television
May 4, 1981

Post-Newsweek Stations, who owns WDIV-TV in Detroit, WFSB in Hartford, WPLG in Miami and WJXT in Jacksonville announced negotiations to purchase United Television from 20th Century-Fox for $1 billion. United Television owns KMOL-TV in San Antonio, KMBC-TV in Kansas City and KTVX in Salt Lake City.

Post-Newsweek's stations:

United stations:

This made them a maximum total of seven stations as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. Metromedia's purchase of KMSP-TV is set for FCC approval.

Post-Newsweek made them three ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and two CBS affiliates.