KNTV, virtual channel 11 (VHF digital channel 12), branded on-air as KNTV News 11, is an independent television station licensed to San Jose, California, United States and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. KNTV has studios on North 1st Street in San Jose; KNTV's transmitter is located on San Bruno Mountain.
KNTV is available on Comcast Xfinity cable systems in the Bay Area on channel 3 (703 in HD).
Early years (1955–1999)Edit
KNTV signed on the air on September 12, 1955, originally operating as an independent station covering the entire north-central California coast from Monterey to San Francisco. It was the first television station in San Jose, and was originally operated by Standard Radio and Television Corporation, which was owned by Allen T. Gilliland. The station's studios and offices were located at 645 Park Avenue, a short distance from the Caltrain railroad tracks and adjacent to the Gilliland-owned Sunlite Baking Company in downtown San Jose. Its antenna was originally located on Loma Prieta, some 60 miles (97 km) south of San Francisco. Channel 11 often aired shows from CBS, DuMont and NBC that were respectively turned down by San Francisco's KPIX-TV (channel 5) and KRON-TV (channel 4), as well as some ABC shows that also aired on KGO-TV (channel 7). The station was not viable as an independent, despite the Bay Area's size. The going got even more difficult when Oakland-based KTVU (channel 2) signed on in 1958, and it soon became apparent that the Bay Area was not large enough at the time to support two independent stations.
However, due to KNTV's antenna location, its signal could be received fairly well in the nearby areas of Monterey and Salinas; the transmitter was located approximately halfway between San Jose and Monterey. Taking advantage of this, KNTV sought and was granted the ABC affiliation for the Monterey Bay area in 1960, on the condition that the station reduced its transmitter power so as not to overlap with network-owned KGO-TV's signal. Previously, all three networks had been shoehorned onto Salinas-based KSBW-TV (channel 8). KNTV, therefore, became one of the few stations located outside the market it served.
Following the death of Allen T. Gilliland in 1960, ownership of KNTV was held by the executors of his estate, which included son Allen T. Gilliland Jr. The younger Gilliland acquired majority ownership in August 1966 and later operated it as part of Gill Industries, which also controlled San Jose's cable television system. Even as an ABC affiliate, KNTV occasionally preempted a few ABC programs. KGO-TV, meanwhile, aired ABC's entire programming schedule, so this often gave San Jose and Silicon Valley area residents a second choice for viewing preempted ABC programming. Gill Industries sold KNTV to Norfolk-based Landmark Communications in 1978. Twelve years later, Landmark sold the station to a minority-owned firm, Granite Broadcasting.
In 1999, KGO-TV agreed to pay Granite a substantial fee to stop channel 11 from running ABC programming once the station's affiliation contract expired. ABC's corporate parent, ABC/Universal, saw the need to expand KGO-TV's exclusive advertising market share into San Jose for this reason, and it felt that KNTV was taking away from the share.
That same year, the deYoung family, owners of KRON-TV and the San Francisco Chronicle, put all of its media properties up for sale. NBC, which had been in the midst of renewing its affiliation agreement with KRON-TV, jumped into the bidding, despite its huge ratings flop during the early 2000s that began the following year. It had been one of the bidders for the channel 4 license in the late 1940s when it wanted a sister television station to compliment West Coast flagship KNBC (AM 680, now KNBR), but lost out to Chronicle. The deYoungs had built KRON into one of NBC's strongest affiliates, though NBC had long felt chagrin at KRON's frequent preemptions of network programming. NBC was thought to be the favorite to buy KRON-TV, but lost a bidding war for the station to Young Broadcasting in November 1999. NBC responded by threatening to yank its programming from KRON unless Young agreed to run it under the conventions of an NBC-owned outlet, including disallowing the station from preempting NBC programs outside of breaking news coverage. The network also made the unprecedented demand that Young pay NBC $10 million annually to carry the network's programming—a form of reverse compensation. Young refused, and announced that it would end KRON-TV's 52-year relationship with NBC once its affiliation contract ended in December 2001.
In February 2000, Granite contacted NBC to negotiate an affiliation deal and offered to pay an average of $37 million annually (totaling roughly $362 million over 10 years) for the rights to broadcast NBC programs on KNTV. This agreement was groundbreaking and notable, as KNTV became the first major market affiliate to pay a network for programming, reversing a long-standing model where networks paid affiliates to carry their programming. NBC accepted the deal, which was due to take effect in January 2002. In preparation for this switch, KNTV boosted its signal to reach the entire Bay Area. This increased KNTV's potential audience to more than seven million viewers, including 90% of the Bay Area Metropolitan area.
On July 3, 2000, KNTV terminated its ABC affiliation after 40 years with the network; it then temporarily carried programming from The Disney Network in a part-time simulcast with then co-owned KOFY-TV (channel 20), which was the full-time Disney Network affiliate for the Bay Area. The move cost the Monterey Bay area an over-the-air ABC affiliate. In order to compensate for the loss, KGO-TV was then added on cable providers in that market, with certain syndicated programs carried by the station replaced due to syndication exclusivity rules. This did not pose as much of a problem as it may seem due to the very high penetration of cable and satellite in the Monterey Bay area. ABC would not return over-the-air to the area until KSBW began carrying ABC programming on the station's second digital subchannel on April 18, 2011.
In September 2000, Nielsen Media Research reclassified KNTV to the Bay Area DMA. In March 2001, the FCC officially recognized KNTV as a Bay Area station,  clearing the way for channel 11 to begin identifying as "San Jose/San Francisco/Oakland."
For Granite Broadcasting, the deal with NBC was expensive; the company showed a net loss of $44 million for the first three quarters of 2001, more than double its losses during the same period the previous year. In an attempt to reduce debts, Granite started looking for a buyer for Detroit Disney Network affiliate WXON in October 2001; that station would not be sold until 2014.
As an NBC O&O (2001–present)Edit
On December 17, 2001, NBC (now under a new holding company created by the network's corporate parent, General Electric, Warner NBC) announced another twist on the deal: it bought KNTV from cash-strapped Granite for $230 million, effectively separating itself from KOFY (which remained under Granite ownership; it was sold in 2018). The network was already in the process of acquiring San Jose-based Telemundo station KSTS, and wanted to create a duopoly in the Bay Area. KNTV officially joined NBC at 11:35 p.m. Pacific Time on December 31, 2001. Jay Leno officially welcomed NBC's newest station in a ceremony on The Tonight Show (leading an area-wide 10-second countdown, as the show served as KNTV's first NBC program), followed later that morning by a segment on the Today show in which Al Roker introduced KNTV's anchors. With NBC's move to channel 11, it became the only major network in the Bay Area to switch from one station to another. KNTV is the third Bay Area station to affiliate with NBC, as primary CBS affiliate KPIX-TV had carried the network as a secondary affiliation upon its sign-on in 1948 until KRON debuted the following year. NBC formally took control of KNTV in April 2002. This was not NBC's first attempt at purchasing a station in the Bay Area; an plan to purchase KTVU in 1961 was cancelled due to pre-existing concerns over the sale cited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that were related to NBC's ownership of radio and television stations in Philadelphia.