In the broadcasting industry, an owned-and-operated station (frequently abbreviated as O&O) usually refers to a television or radio station that is owned by the network with which it is associated. This distinguishes such a station from an affiliate, which is independently owned and carries network program by contract.
- Usage of the term
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Ties to the networks
- Ownership and network changes
The concept of an O&O is clearly defined in the United States and Canada (and to some extent, several other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and Japan), where network-owned stations had historically been the exception rather than the rule. In such places, broadcasting licenses are generally issued on a local (rather than national) basis, and there is (or was) some sort of regulatory mechanism in place to prevent any company (including a broadcasting network) from owning stations in every market in the country. In other parts of the world, many television networks were given national broadcasting licenses at launch; as such, they have traditionally been mostly (or entirely) composed of O&Os, rendering a separate notion for such a concept redundant.
Usage of the term
In the broadcasting industry, the term "owned-and-operated station" refers exclusively to stations that are owned by television and radio networks. On the other hand, the term affiliate only applies to stations that are not owned by networks, but instead are contracted to air programming from one of the major networks. While in fact there may be an affiliation agreement between a network and an owned-and-operated station (as suggested under "Ownership Info" on the FCC TV Query search for WABC-TV), this is not necessarily required, and may simply be a legal technicality formalizing the relationship of separate entities under the same parent company. In any event, this does not prevent a network from effectively dictating an O&O's practices outside the scope of a normal affiliation agreement; for instance, network programming is very rarely preempted by O&Os, despite individual affiliates' rights to do so.
The term "station" correctly applies to the ownership of the station. For example, a station that is owned and operated by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is referred to as an "ABC station" or an "ABC O&O," but normally should not be referred to as an affiliate. Likewise, a station not owned by ABC but contracted to air the network's programming is correctly referred to as an "ABC affiliate"; that is, the station is affiliated with ABC.
However, informally or for promotional purposes, affiliated stations (or non-O&Os) are sometimes referred to as a network station, as in "WFAA is an ABC station" even though that ABC affiliate, in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, is owned by the Gannett Company. A correct formal phrasing could be, "ABC affiliate WFAA is a Gannett station." Similarly, one may informally refer to "ABC affiliates" in regards to all stations (including O&Os) that air ABC programming, or to "the ABC affiliation" in regards to the transfer of rights to ABC programming from an affiliate to an O&O.
Some stations that are owned by companies that operate a network, but air another network's programming are referred to as an affiliate of the network that they carry. For example, WBFS-TV in Miami is owned by the CBS network's parent company CBS Corporation, but airs programming from MyNetworkTV; it is a MyNetworkTV affiliate. Prior to the September 2006 shutdown of the CBS-owned UPN television network, WBFS aired that network's programming; therefore, WBFS was a UPN O&O.
The stations carrying The WB Television Network were another exception. The controlling shares in the network were held by Time Warner, with minority interests from the Tribune Company and, for a portion of network's existence, the now-defunct ACME Communications. While Tribune-owned stations such as WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York City and KTLA in Los Angeles (along with most of the ACME stations) aired programming from The WB, they did not fit the standard definition of an O&O. A similar exception existed when UPN launched in January 1995 by co-owners Chris-Craft and Viacom. Each of the companies owned a number of stations that aired the network. However, the stations were also not considered O&Os under the initial standard definition. This ambiguity ended with Viacom's buyout of Chris-Craft's share of the network in 2000, which came not long after its merger with the previous CBS Corporation. The stations were referred to informally as UPN O&Os (Chris-Craft later sold its stations to Fox Television Stations, the subsidiary of the then News Corporation that primarily operates Fox's O&Os, in 2000).
Following the shutdowns of UPN and The WB, CBS Corporation (former owner of UPN) and Warner Bros. Entertainment became co-owners of the new CW Television Network, which largely merged the programming from both networks onto the scheduling model used by The WB. The network launched in September 2006 on 11 UPN stations owned by CBS Corporation, and 15 WB affiliates owned by Tribune (which exchanged its ownership stake in The WB for affiliation agreements on most of its stations with the new CW network). Certain UPN and WB affiliates in markets where Tribune and CBS both owned stations carrying those networks either picked up a MyNetworkTV affiliation or became independent stations. The standard definition of an O&O again does not apply to The CW (in this case, CBS Corporation owns some of the core CW outlets, while Time Warner does not own a CW station or any station beyond one), but the CBS-owned stations that carry the network may be referred to as "CW O&Os".
Some O&Os choose to refer to themselves as "network-owned stations" instead, reflecting the fact that while they may be owned by a national network, much of the actual operation is usually left to the discretion of the local station.
In Australia, Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten each own and operate stations in the five largest metropolitan areas (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide). These television markets together account for two thirds of the country's population. In addition, Seven also owns and operates its local station in regional Queensland, and Nine owns and operates its station in Darwin. Nine also owns and operates NBN Television, based in Newcastle.
The two national public broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), own and operate all of their local stations.
In Japan, commercial terrestrial television is focused on five organizations, known alternatively by either the name of their flagship Tokyo station or a network name (usually branded as a "news network" although all of these organizations provide more than just news programming).
The four largest of these – Nippon TV (NNN), Tokyo Broadcasting System (JNN), Fuji Television (FNN), and TV Asahi (ANN) – each own and operate stations in the Tokyo, Keihanshin, Chukyo and Fukuoka metropolitan areas. These four television markets together account for more than half of the country's population. In addition, these four networks also own and operate some stations in other television markets. Most of the Japanese television stations outside of the four flagship media markets have affiliations with one of those networks, therefore, they are not owned-and-operated stations. The smaller TV Tokyo (TXN) owns and operates all of its local stations.
The public broadcaster NHK operates two terrestrial channels, NHK General TV and NHK Educational TV. Both of these channels have some regional stations, all of which are owned and operated by NHK.
In the Philippines, networks such as ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5 own and operate almost all of their local television stations, although a few affiliates also exist. As regional stations mostly rebroadcast/relay programmes from their parent network's flagship station (usually based in Metro Manila), the terms "network", "station" and "channel" can in practice be used interchangeably to refer to either one. In addition, networks are often informally referred to by their flagship stations' broadcast channel numbers; for example, ABS-CBN is referred to as "Channel 2" or "Dos" for its Manila O&O DWWX-TV.
The ITV network is jointly owned by the owners of the local "Channel 3" stations throughout the United Kingdom, which since 2016 have been consolidated into two companies: ITV plc and STV Group plc. This means that officially, the stations own the network, rather than the network owning stations as is the case in most of the other countries listed here. However, since the 2004 creation of ITV plc, which since 2016 has owned and operated all of the Channel 3 licences serving England, Wales, southern Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, most of the operations of the network have been absorbed into that entity. Moreover, the separately owned station serving northern and central Scotland (STV) and the ITV plc-owned UTV often deviate significantly from the schedule of the ITV channel as programmed by ITV plc. As a result of this restructuring and other changes in the relationship between ITV and STV, the Channel 3 franchises owned by ITV plc could now be considered ITV O&Os, with STV being comparable to an affiliate.
From 1982 to 2010, a somewhat comparable situation existed for the fourth channel allocation, with Channel 4 broadcasting in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and S4C, operated by a separate public authority, broadcasting in Wales. Until the digital switchover in Wales in 2010, S4C's analogue service broadcast primarily Welsh-language programming, along with English-language programming from Channel 4, often on delay. In this sense, S4C could be considered a Channel 4 affiliate, with Channel 4's operations in the rest of the UK being similar to an O&O. Since the digital switchover, S4C has been a fully Welsh-language service, with Channel 4 available in Wales at all times on a separate digital channel.
While both BBC One and BBC Two have regional output, the BBC produces all such regional programmes itself, and in this sense all BBC "stations" are O&Os; however, as with the ITV network, there are regional variations in scheduling on these channels between the component countries of the UK. Channel 4 offers regional advertising (as did Channel 5 until 2015), but otherwise there are currently no regional programming variations on those channels or on any other UK-wide television channels.
Argentina's public broadcaster Canal 7 owns and operates all of its stations. However, commercial broadcasters like Telefe and Canal 13 have private affiliates outside of Buenos Aires.
In Brazil, the major television networks (Rede Globo, Rede Record, SBT, Rede Bandeirantes and RedeTV!) own and operate their local stations in the country's two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Other markets (such as Brasilia and Belo Horizonte) also have O&Os from one or more networks.
The major Chilean television networks currently own and operate all of their stations. Canal 13 had an affiliate in northern Chile, Telenorte, until it disaffiliated from the network in 1989.
Due to the lack of an ownership cap in Mexico, some Mexican television networks own and operate all of their stations; a few media companies (such as Grupo Televisa and Azteca own multiple stations in several markets that each carry programming from the various networks that it also owns (or in the case of Televisa, shoehorn programs cherrypicked from its various networks onto one station). However, there are privately owned local stations that still exist, which broadcast programming originating from the stations located in Mexico City.
In 1974, Telecentro was created as a division of ENRAD (Empresa Nacional de Radiodifusión), a state controlled company used to operate all of the country's radio and television stations. However, private broadcasters still owned the broadcast stations. When satellite transmission links were introduced in Peru in 1989, many affiliates had become repeaters of the main stations based in Lima.
In Canada, due to the population being concentrated to fewer urban centres (compared to the United States), as well as more lenient policies regarding media ownership (for example, an ownership cap on television stations does not exist, except for within one media market), many television stations have become (or began operation as) O&Os. For instance, CTV and Global currently own and operate an overwhelming majority of their local stations (most of which are located in major urban centres); the few affiliates are located in smaller regional markets like Lloydminster and Thunder Bay.
CBC Television, with its role as the publicly funded broadcaster, has at least one O&O in every single province, as well as CBC North serving the three territories as well as northern Quebec. While the majority of Canadians are served by CBC owned-and-operated stations, the CBC also has some privately owned affiliates, though the number has decreased over the years, particularly since the early 2000s. As of June 2016, only one private CBC affiliate remains (and that station plans to disaffiliate in September 2016), and stations that have left the network since the mid-2000s have generally not been replaced. Indeed, the public broadcaster shut down most of its own TV rebroadcast transmitters in 2012, and now relies instead on cable and satellite carriage of its O&Os in regions outside the largest markets.
The CBC's main French-language network, Ici Radio-Canada Télé, is the only French-language network in Canada that has O&Os located outside of Quebec. The network maintains an O&O in each province except in Atlantic Canada, where CBAFT (based in Moncton, New Brunswick) previously served the entire region via relay transmitters (and remains available on cable/satellite). The territories likewise now receive programming through cable/satellite carriage of out-of-province O&Os, usually CBFT Montreal.
The other two French-language networks – V and TVA – only have O&Os (and, for that matter, affiliates) within Quebec (privately owned Radio-Canada affiliates are only found within Quebec as well).
Along with the major networks, some media conglomerates also run second-tier television systems (e.g., Rogers Media's Omni Television and Bell Media's CTV Two). These systems share the same parent companies as most of their local stations, and such stations can be considered O&Os as well. For example, all of CTV Two's local stations are owned by Bell Media. On the other hand, Canwest's E! added a few private affiliates not owned by Canwest in Western Canada prior to its demise in 2009; those affiliates have since joined Rogers' City network.
In the United States, unlike Canada's O&O-heavy geography, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently mandates that the total number of television stations owned by any company (including a television network) can only reach a maximum market coverage of 39% of the country. Given this restriction, television networks only have O&Os in a fraction of the 210 designated market areas around the country (the remainder of the markets are served by affiliates that are owned by other media companies). Periodically, networks may sell O&Os to comply with this FCC restriction.
O&Os tend to be found in large urban centers such as New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, and other markets that are typically among the 10 largest in the U.S. (such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas–Fort Worth and Philadelphia), although they have also been found in markets as small as Green Bay, Wisconsin (DMA #69, 2006–07) and Toledo, Ohio (DMA #76, 1995–2011) in the past. Some networks (such as Ion Television) and non-commercial religious television networks (such as the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar) own the vast majority of their stations, with only a few privately owned outlets carrying their programming (in the case of TBN and Daystar, both networks own their stations directly and through subsidiary licensees, such as Community Educational Television for TBN and Word of God Fellowship for Daystar).
Owned-and-operated stations used to be common in the days of network radio, however beginning in the 1980s, these radio networks began to be broken up. For all intents and purposes, NBC no longer exists as a radio network, beyond brand licensing and distribution agreements with Dial Global for NBC Sports Radio content. ABC was previously non-existent as well, until 2015 when it relaunched an in-house radio network after Cumulus Media Networks, the then-owners and distributors of the ABC News Radio brand, replaced the ABC News brand with Westwood One News (via CNN). CBS's radio stations are now a separate company (CBS Radio) from its broadcast service. In the late 1990s, the original CBS Radio Network was reassigned to then-corporate sibling Westwood One via a series of complicated transactions, absorbing the former Mutual and the original NBC Radio (which General Electric spun off in 1987 after its merger with RCA) in the process. Westwood One was spun off in 2007 and merged into Dial Global in 2011, with the new company taking on the Westwood One name. Today, CBS maintains separate distribution agreements between Westwood One (for CBS Radio News and its sports play-by-play packages, most notably the NFL and the NCAA) and Cumulus Media (for CBS Sports Radio).
However, new radio networks have cropped up with their own owned-and-operated networks. iHeartMedia owns many stations in the top 100 U.S. markets, and in turn feeds them with programming, either from corporate subsidiary Premiere Radio Networks or via internal distribution; in particular, this is done with their talk radio station portfolio. Voicetracking purposes are handled either by internal methods or through their Premium Choice format menus, the latter of which is geared towards small and medium-market stations with air talent selected from stations in larger markets.
Cumulus Media often does the same with its own stations and broadcast service known as Cumulus Media Networks. The Walt Disney Company, which sold off ABC Radio in 2007 to Citadel Broadcasting (which was merged into Cumulus in 2011) still owns two networks, ESPN Radio and Radio Disney. ESPN has only a few owned-and-operated stations in mostly major markets, but almost all of Radio Disney's outlets were owned by Disney itself prior to its transition to a mainly digitally distributed service in 2014 (leaving Los Angeles flagship KDIS as the network's only remaining O&O).
Most religious radio networks, such as Salem Communications, Moody Radio, the Bible Broadcasting Network, and Air 1/K-Love, own and operate all of their stations. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) does not own or operate any of its stations by way of its ownership model, as its individual member stations own the network instead.
A network's O&Os often share similar branding elements among themselves, reinforcing their common identity as stations owned by the same network; for example, a common shared element among O&O stations involves identifying themselves by combining the name of their parent network with the station's channel number (such as "CBS 2," which is uniformally used by CBS O&Os KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, WCBS-TV in New York City and WBBM-TV in Chicago), which started to become a normal mode of branding in the mid-1990s (beforehand, O&Os of certain networks – such as CBS and NBC – incorporated the network's logo into their own while verbally being referred under a more genericized channel branding). This kind of sharing may also present some savings to the parent network (i.e., the owner), as its O&Os can use the same graphics and music rather than to have each station commission their own individual branding package. Examples include the circle 7 logo (originally designed in 1962 for ABC's aforementioned O&Os, all of which at the time had broadcast on VHF channel 7), the "I Love Chicago (Chicago My Home)" musical signature for local newscasts (originally used by WBBM-TV, and later spread to other CBS O&Os), and the "CBS Mandate" (a set of branding guidelines currently used at several CBS O&Os). Fox also has a set of branding guidelines for both its O&Os and affiliates. Supposedly, NBC and ABC also have branding guidelines for its affiliates, but not as extreme as CBS or Fox; since the 2013–14 season, however, when ABC unveiled an updated version of its logo, all of the network's affiliates are now required to use the ABC circle logo as a part of the station's own logo, which must additionally be approved by the network for use.
Networks in Canada took corporate branding to its logical conclusion; references to local call signs and channel numbers have almost completely been eliminated from the O&Os except during station sign-on and sign-off sequences (although some O&Os may occasionally refer to their channel numbers in passing).
Currently, other television station groups (such as Hearst Television) also implement common branding practices among its stations (even when affiliated with different networks). Some of the branding elements are now used by stations that are not O&Os or even affiliates of a certain network (such as Sunbeam Television's WHDH in Boston and WSVN in Miami using a variation of the circle 7 logo, and ABC affiliate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa using CBS' "I Love Chicago" motif). Likewise, network affiliates may also license graphics packages for use on their newscasts and imaging from their networks to reduce the costs of licensing imaging from other parties; though it has been reduced in usage than in the past, many affiliate stations also license the network's imaging for their entertainment program and news promotions. Nonetheless, such practices and elements can still be traced back to the O&Os, which represented the earliest television station groups under common ownership, before the emergence and proliferation of national station ownership groups in the subsequent decades.
Ties to the networks
Positions at network O&Os are frequently sought after by those who wish to eventually work for a television network. Indeed, many O&Os have served as a stepping stone for television personalities at their parent networks. For example, Matt Lauer and Al Roker worked for NBC's flagship O&O in New York City, WNBC-TV, before becoming hosts on Today; Roker had begun his career with NBC at former O&O WKYC-TV in Cleveland, known as a "farm station" which developed talent for the larger O&O stations and network (although, until after it ended following Multimedia's purchase of controlling interest in the station in 1990, this strategy left WKYC as a longtime also-ran in the Cleveland market due to heavy staff turnover). Whether or not one gets a job at a network obviously depends on one's abilities, and working at an O&O does not guarantee a network job down the line; however, the presenter does potentially receive additional exposure to the network.
Presenters at the O&Os also occasionally take on duties at the network level, alongside their existing capacities at the local level. For example, several local anchors at CTV's O&Os have filled in for Lloyd Robertson in the past on the network's national newscast CTV National News; and weathercasters from CTV's Toronto and Vancouver O&Os (CFTO-DT and CIVT-DT, respectively) present the weather segments on CTV News Channel. A number of personalities at New York City radio and television stations have also done assignments for both a station and a parent network at the same time, due to their proximity to network studios and offices.
Parts of a network's operations may also be co-located with one or more of its O&Os. For example, production of Global's national newscast Global National is controlled from its Vancouver O&O CHAN-DT, while CTV's network headquarters are co-located with CFTO at 9 Channel Nine Court in Scarborough, Ontario (the address refers to CFTO's over-the-air channel number). NBC's national network operations in both New York City and Los Angeles are housed in the same facilities as their local stations in the respective cities, WNBC and KNBC, and both of these O&Os are considered flagship stations of the network (conversely, NBC's affiliate news service NBC News Channel is based out of the studios of WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, which the network maintains an affiliation with but has never owned).
Ownership and network changes
In general, an O&O is very unlikely to experience changes in its ownership, since it is often a significant source of revenue for its owner; and since its owner is also its parent network, the chances for an O&O to ever switch networks are also rather low – unless the station is, on the rare chance, sold to another network.
However, in instances where the network finds an O&O to be no longer financially viable, it may choose to sell the station to a new owner or, in severe cases, simply close the station. Even profitable O&Os might be sold off, often as a result (or in anticipation) of mergers and corporate deals, especially ones which put the network over the ownership limit in its local jurisdiction (e.g., the aforementioned 39% ownership cap in the United States imposed by the FCC). In addition, a network might decide to sell some of its O&Os and use the money raised to (at least temporarily) alleviate financial problems. Depending on the new owner, the station might continue to carry programming from the same network, affiliate with another network, or even become another network's O&O.
The following are examples of transactions involving O&Os: