KDVR, virtual channel 31 (UHF digital channel 32), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Denver, Colorado, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KWGN-TV (channel 2). The two stations share studio facilities located on East 6th Avenue and Speer Boulevard in Denver's Speer neighborhood (to the immediate south of the studios of KMGH-TV (channel 7)); KDVR maintains transmitter facilities located atop Lookout Mountain, near Golden. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 13, and in high definition on digital channel 655.
The station operates a full-time satellite station KFCT (UHF digital channel 21, virtual channel 22.1 via PSIP) in Fort Collins, which maintains transmitter facilities atop Horsetooth Mountain, just outside Fort Collins. KFCT covers areas of northern Colorado, being that area's only full-power television station, that receive a marginal to non-existent signal from KDVR, though there is significant overlap between the coverage areas of both KDVR and KFCT's signals otherwise (including in Fort Collins proper and the nearby cities of Greeley, Windsor and Longmont). On-air references to KFCT are limited to FCC-mandated hourly station identifications during newscasts and other programming.
The station first signed on the air on August 10, 1983. Founded by a local ownership group, KDVR was the first commercial television station to sign on in the Denver market since KCNC-TV (channel 4) debuted in December 1953, and was the first full-service UHF television station in the state of Colorado. Denver had a fairly long wait to receive a second independent station to compete with the longer-established KWGN-TV (channel 2, now a CW affiliate), even though on paper, the market had a large enough population to support two independents since the early 1970s. However, the Denver market is a very large one geographically, stretching across large swaths of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. The major stations all operate massive translator networks to cover the vast area, and the expense of building so many translators to extend a new station's signal to these areas scared off potential owners. By the late 1970s, however, cable television – then as now, a must for acceptable television reception in some parts of the market due to the region's mountainous terrain – had gained enough penetration to make a second independent viable.
The station originally operated from studio facilities located near 6th Avenue and Speer Boulevard. TV Guide had listed a channel 31 in its Denver edition earlier in 1983 (as KX2AEG), however this was a translator station rebroadcasting the Spanish International Network (now Univision). KDVR has never considered KX2AEG as part of its history. It was only in October 1990 that Univision finally gained a full-power affiliate of its own in Denver in KCEC (channel 50).
KDVR originally operated as a typical general entertainment independent station, running a lineup of cartoons, classic sitcoms, drama series, movies and religious programming. After KWGN declined an offer by Fox to affiliate with the new network prior to its launch in 1986, KDVR stepped in, and signed a deal to join the network. Channel 31 became a charter affiliate of Fox when it launched on October 6 of that year; KDVR eventually changed its on-air branding to "Fox 31" in the late 1980s. The station's original local owners sold KDVR to Chase Broadcasting in 1990; Chase subsequently merged with Renaissance Broadcasting in 1992.
On September 1, 1994, Renaissance signed on KFCT (channel 22) in Fort Collins (located 63.5 miles (102.2 km) north of Denver) to serve as a full-time satellite to improve KDVR's over-the-air coverage in northern portions of the market (expanding its coverage area north to the Wyoming border) that could not receive its signal. Prior to KFCT's sign-on, the UHF channel 22 allocation in Fort Collins had been occupied by DuMont affiliate KNCO, which signed on in 1954. That station was hampered by low viewership as only a small percentage of television sets in the area were even capable of receiving UHF stations since set manufacturers were not required to equip televisions with UHF tuners until the Federal Communications Commission passed the All-Channel Receiver Act in 1961, although UHF tuners were not included on all newer sets until 1964. In addition, the terrain of the area made matters even more difficult, as UHF station signals had poorer reception in very mountainous areas. As a result, KNCO shut down in 1956.
Renaissance sold KDVR and KFCT to Fox Television Stations for $70 million on November 15, 1994, in exchange for acquiring that network's owned-and-operated station in Dallas-Fort Worth, KDAF (which was set to lose Fox programming to that market's longtime CBS affiliate, KDFW, as a result of a ten-station affiliation deal with New World Communications); As part of a series of attempts to prevent News Corporation (the parent company of Fox at the time) from acquiring additional stations, NBC filed a request to the Federal Communications Commission to reject the trade, on the grounds that the company was in violation of foreign ownership rules (which prohibit a foreign-owned company from maintaining more than a 25% interest in a U.S. television station). However, the deal was approved by the FCC and subsequently finalized on July 3, 1995, effectively making channel 31 a Fox owned-and-operated station and the second O&O of a major English language network in the Denver market (KCNC had been owned by NBC from 1986 to 1995, when it was traded to CBS as part of a multi-station trade deal that also involved WCAU and KYW-TV in Philadelphia and the transmitter facilities of WCIX (now WFOR-TV) and WTVJ in Miami).
The deal with New World that spurred Fox's trade of KDAF with KDVR would play a factor in the Denver market on September 10, 1995, when CBS affiliate KMGH-TV (channel 7) switched to ABC, NBC affiliate KCNC-TV took over the CBS affiliation, and ABC affiliate KUSA-TV (channel 9) switched to NBC; with the sale to Fox being finalized on July 3, 1995, KDVR was not affected by the switches (it is currently the only television station in the Denver market to have never changed its network affiliation). However, Fox did not intend to hold on to KDVR for long; Fox Television Stations intended to divest the station to Qwest Broadcasting (a company backed by Quincy Jones and Tribune Broadcasting) and move its affiliation to KWGN. In turn, KDVR would have inherited KWGN's WB affiliation. However, this deal never came to fruition.
After becoming a Fox-owned station, KDVR added first-run talk and reality shows to its daytime schedule, while continuing to carry sitcoms during the evening and late night hours. In September 2006, KDVR, along with other Fox-owned stations, had their websites migrated to the MyFox web platform created by Fox Interactive Media, featuring expanded multimedia and social networking features.
On December 22, 2007, Fox Television Stations entered into an agreement to sell KDVR and seven other Fox owned-and-operated stations to Local TV (a holding company operated by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners), adding to the nine stations that the group had acquired in May of that same year when it bought the broadcasting division of The New York Times Company. The sale was finalized on July 14, 2008. On September 17, 2008, Tribune Broadcasting announced that Local TV would begin managing KWGN under a local marketing agreement and consolidate its operations with KDVR effective October 1, as a result of the formation of a "broadcast management company" that was created to provide management services to stations owned by both Tribune and Local TV. KWGN vacated its longtime studios in Greenwood Village and consolidated its operations with KDVR at its Speer Boulevard facility. As part of the Local TV-Tribune partnership, on January 22, 2009, KDVR's website switched from the MyFox platform to a website platform managed by Tribune Interactive. Tribune bought KDVR outright on July 1, 2013, as part of its $2.75 billion acquisition of Local TV; the sale was finalized on December 27, forming a legal duopoly between KDVR and KWGN.
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