WFXT, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 34), is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of News Corporation. WFXT's studios are located on Fox Drive (near the Boston-Providence Turnpike) in Dedham, and its transmitter is located on Cabot Street in Needham. It is one of six Boston television stations that are available in Canada through satellite provider Bell TV and cable provider EastLink.
The station first signed on the air on October 10, 1977 as WXNE-TV (standing for "Christ (X) in New England"); originally operating as an independent station, it was founded by the then-Portsmouth, Virginia-based Christian Broadcasting Network. After being awarded a construction permit to build the station from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June 1972, CBN targeted the new channel 25 to begin operations within one year. However, various delays in obtaining both a studio and transmitter location resulted in a wait of over five years for the station to finally sign-on. WXNE-TV's early programming format was targeted at a family audience, consisting of older syndicated reruns and a decent amount of religious programming–including CBN's flagship show, The 700 Club, hosted by the ministry's founder Pat Robertson. Religious programs ran for about six hours a day during the week, and throughout the day on Sundays. The station also carried the daily and Sunday Mass from the Boston Catholic Television Center. Secular programming consisted of westerns, older movies, family-oriented drama series, old film shorts, and classic television series. For several years under CBN ownership, Tim Robertson served as the station's program director, appointed by his father, Pat Robertson.
The station began adding more cartoons, made-for-TV movies, and off-network sitcoms and family dramas during the early 1980s. Most notably, in 1980, WXNE took over production of the weekday bowling program Candlepins for Cash, which had just been canceled by CBS affiliate WNAC-TV (channel 7, now WHDH) after seven seasons. With new host Rico Petrocelli, the show moved production from WNAC-TV's studios, in bowling lanes that were built in the basement of the facility, to the now-defunct Wal-Lex Lanes in Waltham. After only a few months as host, Petrocelli was ousted in favor of the program's original host when it aired on WNAC-TV, Bob Gamere, who remained on Candlepins until it ended its run on channel 25 in 1983. During this time, the station rebranded itself as "Boston 25", as it converted into a true independent. While the station was carried only on cable providers in the Greater Boston market, WXNE-TV held a solid third place among the area's independent stations, behind the longer-established WSBK-TV (channel 38) and WLVI-TV (channel 56), and sixth in the ratings among the market's commercial television stations.
In April 1986, WXNE and the other two CBN-owned stations — KXTX-TV in Dallas and WYAH-TV (now WGNT) in Portsmouth — were put up for sale. That August, News Corporation announced that it would purchase channel 25, with plans to make it an owned-and-operated station of its Fox Broadcasting Company. Fox had been in preliminary negotiations to secure an affiliation with either WSBK or WLVI, but ended its pursuit of both outlets. Until the sale was completed, channel 25, upon the Fox network's startup on October 9, 1986, did not air the network's inaugural program and what was then its lone offering, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, a late-night talk show that aired opposite The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on NBC. The outgoing CBN ownership believed that the program did not fit its strict content guidelines. Fox instead contracted Boston radio station WMRE (1510 AM, now WMEX) to carry the audio portion of The Late Show in the interim.