KTXH
ATSC 3.0 station
KTXH 2018 Logo.svg
Channels
BrandingMy 20 Vision
Programming
Affiliations
Ownership
OwnerFox Television Stations, LLC
KRIV
History
First air date
November 7, 1982 (40 years ago) (1982-11-07)
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 20 (UHF, 1982–2009)
Call sign meaning
Texas Houston
Technical information
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID51569
ERP421 kW
HAAT596 m (1,955 ft)
Transmitter coordinates29°33′45.1″N 95°30′35.8″W / 29.562528°N 95.509944°W / 29.562528; -95.509944Coordinates: 29°33′45.1″N 95°30′35.8″W / 29.562528°N 95.509944°W / 29.562528; -95.509944
Links
Public license information
Websitewww.fox26houston.com/my20-houston/

KTXH (channel 20), branded on-air as My 20 Vision, is a television station in Houston, Texas, United States, airing programming from MyNetworkTV. It is owned and operated by Fox Television Stations alongside Fox outlet KRIV (channel 26). Both stations share studios on Southwest Freeway in Houston, while KTXH's transmitter is located near Missouri City, Texas.

KTXH began broadcasting in November 1982 as Houston's third independent station. A month after going on air, its broadcast tower collapsed in a construction accident that killed five people. The station recovered and emerged as Houston's sports independent, beginning long associations with the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets that continued uninterrupted through the late 1990s and sporadically until the early 2010s. Not long after starting up, KTXH was sold twice in rapid succession for large amounts. However, when the independent station trade, advertising market, and regional economy cooled, it was sold again for less than half of its previous value. The Paramount Stations Group acquired KTXA and other stations in two parts between 1989 and 1991, bringing much-needed stability.

KTXH was one of several Paramount-owned stations to be charter outlets for the United Paramount Network (UPN) in 1995; in 2001, after UPN was acquired by CBS, Fox took possession of the station in a trade and merged its operations with KRIV in 2001. When UPN merged into The CW in 2006, bypassing all of Fox's UPN and independent stations in the process, the station became part of Fox's MyNetworkTV service. In 2021, the station became one of two ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) transmitters for the Houston area; its subchannels are now transmitted by other local stations on its behalf.

History

Construction, start-up, and tragedy

Interest in channel 20 in Houston began to emerge in 1976, as three groups filed applications for new television stations in light of the emerging technology of subscription television (STV). These were Channel 20 Houston, Inc., a group led by Robert S. Block of Milwaukee;[1] Channel 20, Inc., headed by Sidney Shlenker;[2] and CPI Subscription TV, subsidiary of cable television company Communications Properties, Inc.[3][4] CPI exited the running, and a settlement application between the Block and Shlenker consortia, Channel 20, Inc., was granted the construction permit on May 19, 1980.[5] It was the second joint settlement between Block and Shlenker for a Texas station; the Shlenker consortium, with Milt Grant as head of operations, had previously received the construction permit for KTXA in Fort Worth in March. That station began broadcasting in February 1981 as a hybrid operation, with commercial programming and ON TV, the STV service owned by Oak Industries. Oak was to own a majority stake in the local ON TV operation.[6] Channel 20's launch was delayed due to holdups in determining the local structure of the ON TV franchise and a dispute involving the mineral rights under the new Senior Road Tower, a 1,971-foot (601 m) mast in Fort Bend County that would be used to transmit KTXH and nine Houston FM radio stations.[7]

KTXH began broadcasting on November 7, 1982, branding on-air as "20-Vision" and broadcasting from studios at 8950 Kirby Drive. By that time, though, Oak had frozen its plans into eventual cancellation, with Grant telling Ann Hodges of the Houston Chronicle that their operation had shut down completely.[8] This was to the benefit of KTXH's ad-supported commercial offerings, giving it prime time hours to program (particularly with sports) and making reticent cable systems more willing to put the new station on their lineups.[8] On opening night, the station showed the film The Deer Hunter, and five nights later, the station aired its first Houston Rockets basketball game; Shlenker was a 10 percent stakeholder in the NBA team.[8] The 30 games the Rockets were slated to telecast in 1982–83 marked a record for the club.[9] Shortly before signing on, the Houston Sports Association, owner of the Houston Astros baseball club, became a new 38-percent stockholder in KTXH, bringing with them television rights to the Astros.[10]

In the first month on air, Houston's third independent station claimed eight percent of the viewing audience in the Houston metro, immediately moving into a tie for the lead, with its program lineup organized into thematic blocks.[11]

Further information: Senior Road Tower

KTXH was the first tenant to use the Senior Road Tower. A month later, work began to install the antenna that the FM radio stations would use on the mast. The first part was put into place on Monday, December 6. Despite winds, work proceeded the next morning, December 7. A failure in a clamping device on the hoisting mechanism caused a 75-foot (23 m) section of antenna to fall off, severing a guy wire and leading to the tower's collapse. Five people, all tower workers employed by a New Jersey company, died. KTXH suffered a $1.5 million loss in equipment, including the transmitter, on which the falling mast collapsed.[12][13] A man in the transmitter building saw the tower collapse and fled.[14]

In the wake of the tower collapse, KTXH was out of service for a total of 61 days.[15] While orders were placed for the reconstruction of the Senior Road Tower,[16] where KTXH would return upon its completion in October 1983,[17][18] and a new transmitter was on order the night of the accident,[17] the station filed a $42 million lawsuit, alleging negligent construction and claiming a $7 million loss in equipment and advertising.[18] Even while broadcasting from a temporary facility atop the Allied Bank Plaza, KTXH continued to post competitive numbers against KRIV.[19]

An ownership revolving door

The pairing of KTXA and KTXH had proven to be successful and highly lucrative. Grant's aggressive programming and promotions strategy, plus a favorable climate for independent stations nationally, made the two stations highly profitable and attracted major bidders. Outlet Communications, the broadcasting division of The Outlet Company of Rhode Island, was one of several parties negotiating to buy KTXA and KTXH. However, negotiations fell through, and Grant instead sold the pair to the Gulf Broadcast Group for $158 million in May 1984.[20] The sale was held up for several months at the FCC, which conditioned the purchase on Gulf divesting FM stations in both cities.[21] The sale price was considered unprecedented given the short period of operation of the stations.[22]

Gulf had scarcely owned the stations when it sold its entire stations group for $755 million to Taft Broadcasting in 1985.[23] Taft doubled the size of the KTXH facility to include a second studio and more office space.[24] Over the course of late 1985 and late 1986, Taft was fending off overtures from activist investor Robert Bass, who was amassing shares in the company.[25][26] Meanwhile, in addition to a worsening regional economy, the independent television market nationally was softening; the two Texas stations were believed to be the weakest in the Taft chain,[27] even as KTXH boasted the highest audience share of any independent station in a top-35 market built since 1981.[28] On Rockets telecasts during this time, a 23-year-old Hannah Storm hosted pregame and postgame shows.[29]

Taft put its broadcast group up for sale in August 1986 due to agitation by Bass, and while it asked $500 million for five independent stations, the winning bidder—TVX Broadcast Group—only paid $240 million, and Taft estimated its after-tax loss for the sale at $45 to $50 million.[30] TVX implemented budget cuts, laying off about 15 percent of the staff at the acquisitions, and renegotiated programming costs; KTXH's production unit was completely disbanded.[31]

The Taft stations purchase left TVX highly leveraged and highly vulnerable. TVX's bankers, Salomon Brothers, provided the financing for the acquisition and in return held more than 60 percent of the company.[31] The company was to pay Salomon Brothers $200 million on January 1, 1988, and missed the first payment deadline, having been unable to lure investors to its junk bonds even before Black Monday.[32] While TVX recapitalized by the end of 1988,[33] Salomon Brothers reached an agreement in principle in January 1989 for Paramount Pictures to acquire options to purchase the investment firm's majority stake.[34] This deal was replaced in September with an outright purchase of 79 percent of TVX for $110 million.[35]

Paramount ownership and UPN affiliation

In 1991, Paramount acquired the remainder of TVX.[36] The deal gave Paramount a strategic entrance into the television stations market; three years later, Paramount merged with Viacom, and the following year, KTXH became one of the charter outlets of the United Paramount Network (UPN).[37] In 1996, Viacom purchased a 50 percent ownership interest in UPN.[38]

KTXH's relationship with the Rockets continued until the 1997–1998 season, when KHTV (channel 39) outbid channel 20 for the rights to the team's road games.[39] The move was largely precipitated by what was believed to be a reluctance to commit to sports preemptions of UPN programming. KHTV, which became KHWB in 1999, cited its affiliation with The WB when it dropped the team after three years; after a disastrous start to the 2000–2001 season on new independent KTBU, plagued by low ratings and signal coverage issues in parts of the Houston metropolitan area, the Rockets moved their games back to KTXH, with some Houston Comets women's basketball telecasts appearing on the station.[40][41] At the same time, the Astros—which aired 64 games in the 1997 campaign on channel 20[42]—left for independent station KNWS-TV (channel 51), with KTXH's increasing obligations to UPN as a core factor.[43][44] In both cases, ratings fell after the teams moved their games off of KTXH.[45][46]

Sale to Fox; conversion to MyNetworkTV

Studios for KRIV and KTXH on Southwest Freeway in Houston
Studios for KRIV and KTXH on Southwest Freeway in Houston
KTXH's logo from 2006 to 2018
KTXH's logo from 2006 to 2018

In 2000, Viacom purchased CBS. On August 12 of that year, United Television—the United in UPN—sold its UPN stations to the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of News Corporation for $5.5 billion;[47] the deal was finalized on July 31, 2001. As part of its acquisition of the Chris-Craft stations, Fox had purchased KBHK-TV in San Francisco, a city in which Fox did not own its affiliate—but there was a CBS owned-and-operated station. Similarly, Viacom now owned UPN stations in Houston (KTXH) and Washington, D.C. (WDCA), markets where it did not own the CBS affiliate but where there was a Fox owned-and-operated station. As a result, Fox traded KBHK-TV to Viacom in exchange for KTXH and WDCA, resulting in three new duopolies. which gave Fox duopolies in those markets.[48] The FCC approved the deal in August 2001 on the condition that Viacom sell one of its San Francisco radio stations.[49] KTXH vacated the Kirby Drive facilities and consolidated with KRIV at its Southwest Freeway facility; the move led to some job losses.[50] The Rockets departed KTXH in 2002 for a new agreement with KNWS-TV and KHWB.[51]

On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation (which had been created as a result of the split of Viacom at the start of the year) announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW.[52][53] In unveiling the merged network, while WB and UPN affiliates owned by WB minority stakeholder Tribune Broadcasting (including KHWB in Houston) and by CBS Television Stations were announced as charter outlets, none of the Fox-owned UPN stations—many of which were competitors to these stations—were chosen. The next month, News Corporation then announced the creation of its own secondary network, MyNetworkTV, to serve its own outgoing UPN stations as well as those that had not been selected for The CW.[54][55]

Even past the MyNetworkTV switch, KTXH continued its association with local sports. In late 2007 and early 2008, the Rockets and Astros returned to KTXH with a reduced schedule of games, largely in a complementary role to Fox Sports Houston, the Fox-owned regional sports network.[56] The Astros aired all of their games on Fox Sports Houston in 2011, which was to be their last season on the RSN as the two teams prepared to launch Comcast SportsNet Houston in 2012.[57]

On September 24, 2018, KTXH adopted a new on-air branding as "My 20 Vision", paying homage to the station's "20 Vision" branding from the 1980s and 1990s.[58]

Technical information

In 1999, KTXH began broadcasting a digital signal, which was not broadcast from the Senior Road tower but at a new, purpose-built mast in the same area.[59] KTXH discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television; the station's digital signal continued on UHF channel 19, using virtual channel 20.[60]

On December 7, 2021, KTXH became one of two ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) transmitters for the Houston area as part of a deployment involving 10 stations in the market.[61]

Subchannels

The station's ATSC 1.0 subchannels are carried on the multiplexed signals of other Houston TV stations:

Subchannels provided by KTXH (ATSC 1.0)[62]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming ATSC 1.0 host
20.1 720p 16:9 KTXH-DT Main KTXH programming / MyNetworkTV KRIV
20.2 480i Movies! Movies! KXLN-DT
20.3 theGRIO TheGrio KFTH-DT
20.4 BUZZR Buzzr KTRK-TV

ATSC 3.0 lighthouse

Subchannels of KTXH (ATSC 3.0)[63]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
13.1 720p 16:9 KTRK ATSC 3.0 simulcast of KTRK-TV / ABC
20.1 KTXH Main KTXH programming / MyNetworkTV
26.1 KRIV ATSC 3.0 simulcast of KRIV / Fox
45.1 KXLN ATSC 3.0 simulcast of KXLN-DT / Univision
67.1 KFTH ATSC 3.0 simulcast of KFTH-DT / UniMás

See also

References

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