Owned-and-operated station

Owned-and-operated station

In the broadcasting industry (especially in North America), an owned-and-operated station (frequently abbreviated as O&O) usually refers to a television station or radio station that is owned by the network with which it is associated. This distinguishes such a station from an affiliate, whose ownership lies elsewhere other than the network it is linked to.

For example: in the Boston television market, CBS Corporation-owned WBZ-TV carries CBS programming, while News Corporation-owned WFXT-TV carries programming from Fox, another News Corporation subsidiary. Therefore, both WBZ and WFXT are considered owned-and-operated stations. On the other hand, WCVB-TV and WHDH-TV carry ABC and NBC programming respectively, but neither shares ownership ties with its parent network. As such, these two stations are considered affiliates.

The concept of O&O is more clearly defined in North America (and to some extent, several other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil), 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 owned and operated by the ABC network 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 ABC’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 “WJLA is an ABC station” even though that ABC affiliate is owned by Allbritton Communications Company. Correct formal phrasing could be, "ABC affiliate WJLA is an Allbritton 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 networks but air another network’s programming are referred to as an affiliate of the network they air. For example, WBFS in Miami is owned by the CBS network's parent company but airs programming from MyNetworkTV; it is a MyNetworkTV affiliate. Prior to the Fall 2006 shutdown of the CBS-owned UPN television network, WBFS aired that network's programming; therefore, WBFS was a UPN O&O.

The stations airing The WB television network were another exception. The ownership of The WB was shared between Warner Bros. (a subsidiary of Time Warner), the Tribune Company and, for a portion of The WB's existence, ACME Communications. While Tribune-owned stations such as WGN-TV Chicago, WPIX-TV New York and KTLA-TV Los Angeles aired programming from The WB, they did not fit the standard definition of an O&O; they were nonetheless often referred to as WB O&Os. A similar exception existed when the UPN network launched in 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.)

Following the merger of the UPN and The WB networks, CBS Corporation (former owner of UPN) and Warner Bros. Entertainment became co-owners of the new CW Television Network. The network launched in September 2006 on most UPN stations owned by CBS Corporation, and most WB affiliates owned by Tribune (which exchanged its ownership of The WB for affiliation on most of its stations with the new CW network). Certain UPN/WB affiliates in markets with both Tribune and CBS ownership either picked up a MyNetworkTV affiliation or became independent stations. The standard definition of an O&O again does not apply to The CW, 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.

Distribution of O&Os


Seven's O&Os have their master control operations centralised at the network's facilities in Melbourne.


In Australia, Seven Network and Network Ten own and operate their 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.[1] In addition, Seven also owns and operates its local station in regional Queensland.

Nine Network, on the other hand, has O&Os in three of the five metropolitan markets (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), and two regional markets (Darwin and Newcastle). Other than the affiliate in central Australia (Imparja Television), the rest of Nine's affiliates (including the stations in Perth and Adelaide) are owned by WIN Television.

The two national public broadcasters, ABC and SBS, own and operate all of their local stations.


In the Philippines, networks such as ABS-CBN, GMA, NBN and RPN 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.

Latin America


Argentina's public broadcaster Canal 7 owns and operates all of its stations. However, commercial broadcasters like Telefe and Canal 13 has private affiliates outside Buenos Aires.


In Brazil, the major television networks (Globo, Record, SBT, Band and RedeTV!) own and operate their local stations in the two major 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 Canal 13 in 1989.


Due to the lack of an ownership cap in Mexico, some Mexican television networks own and operate all of their stations. However, there still exist privately-owned local stations which broadcast programming originating from the Mexico City stations.


In 1974, Telecentro was created as a division of ENRAD (Empresa Nacional de Radiodifusión), a state controlled company to operate all radio and TV stations. However, private broadcasters still owned the broadcast stations. When satellite link was introduced in Peru in 1989, many affiliates had become repeaters of the main stations based in Lima.

North America


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 TV stations does not exist, except for within one media market), many television stations have become (or gone on air 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.

The CBC, with its role as the publicly-funded broadcaster, has at least one O&O in every single province and territory, although the three O&Os in the territories are operated collectively as CBC North. While the majority of Canadians are served by CBC O&Os, the CBC also has by far the most private affiliates of Canada's three main English television networks.

The French arm of the CBC, Télévision de Radio-Canada, is the only French-language network in Canada to have O&Os outside Quebec. It has an O&O in each province except the Atlantic provinces, where CBAFT (based in Moncton, New Brunswick) serves the entire region via relay transmitters. The territories receive programming from Radio-Canada via translators relaying Montreal-based CBFT.

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. Canwest's E! 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, 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' Citytv system.

United States

In the United States, 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 of 39% of the country.[1] 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 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 like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, although they have also been found in markets as small as Green Bay, Wisconsin (DMA #69, 2006–07) in the past.

Owned and operated stations used to be common in the days of network radio, but beginning in the 1980s, those radio networks began to be broken up. For all intents and purposes NBC and ABC no longer exist as radio networks, beyond a brand licensing agreement with later ABC Radio owner Citadel Media for ABC News Radio content. CBS's radio stations are now a separately company (CBS Radio) from its broadcast service (Westwood One, which has now affiliated most of its programs with Cumulus Media). However, new radio networks have cropped up with their own owned-and-operated networks. Clear Channel Communications owns many stations in the top 100 markets of the United States and in turn feeds them with programming from its own Premiere Radio Networks, particularly on its talk radio stations and for voicetracking purposes. Citadel Broadcasting often does the same with its own stations and broadcast service known as Citadel Media. The Walt Disney Company owns two networks, ESPN Radio and Radio Disney; ESPN has only a few owned and operated stations in mostly major markets, but almost all Radio Disney outlets are owned by Disney itself. Most religious networks own and operate all of their stations.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the ITV Network owns and operates all its local stations in England, Wales and Southern Scotland. ITV's local stations in Northern and Central Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands are not owned-and-operated by ITV.

Both the BBC and Sky own and operate all stations across their networks


WABC-TV's news vehicle. The circle 7 logo seen here is also used on other ABC O&Os broadcasting on channel 7.

A network’s O&Os often share similar branding elements among themselves, reinforcing their common identity as stations owned by the same network. 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 each commission its own branding package. Examples include the circle 7 logo (originally designed in the early 1960s for ABC’s aforementioned O&Os, all of which broadcast on channel 7 at the time), the I Love Chicago (Chicago My Home) musical signature for local newscasts (originally used by WBBM-TV, 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.

Networks in Canada took corporate branding to its logical conclusion; references to local callsigns 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 (e.g. Hearst Television) also implement common branding packages among its stations (even when affiliated with different networks). Some of the branding elements originally found only at the O&Os are now used by regular affiliates as well (e.g. the aforementioned circle 7 logo, and use of the I Love Chicago theme music by some CBS affiliates that are not O&Os, such as KPHO). 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 nationwide station ownership groups in the subsequent decades.

One of the music packages that uses the CBS signature, Enforcer, has been used on non-CBS affiliated stations, as ABC and FOX affiliates have used them without consequence (a FOX station, KRIV in Houston, Texas, even commissioned a new series of it, Series 3). This is because Gari Communications, the music company behind the packages, renamed it to attempt to sell it to non-CBS affiliates. In fact, the only branding that has seemed to be trademarked is that used on themes from NBC affiliates, since the branding on those themes are the well-recognizable NBC chimes, which even non O&O NBC affiliates have widely used.

Ties to the networks

9 Channel Nine Court, home to both CTV's network operations and Toronto O&O CFTO-TV.

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 The Today Show[2][3]; 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 this strategy left WKYC as a long-time 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; and weathercasters from CTV's Toronto and Vancouver O&Os (CFTO and CIVT, respectively) present the weather segments on CTV News Channel. A number of personalities at New York City radio and TV 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 is controlled from its Vancouver O&O, 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 and Los Angeles are housed in the same facilities as their local stations WNBC-TV and KNBC-TV, respectively, and both of these O&Os are considered flagship stations of the network.

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.

However, in instances where the network finds an O&O no longer financially viable, it may choose to sell the station to a new owner or 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:


  • Perth's STW-9 and Brisbane's QTQ-9 became Nine Network O&Os in 1987 when the stations' parent company, Bond Media (headed by Alan Bond), purchased the network.[4] After the collapse of Bond Media, STW-9 was sold to Sunraysia Television[5] (and remains as the Nine Network affiliate in Perth, currently under the ownership of WIN Television) while QTQ-9 remained a Nine O&O to this day.
  • Perth's NEW-10 went on the air in 1988 as a Network Ten O&O. However, the station was sold off the next year as the network faced financial problems.[6] The network (under CanWest Global) re-acquired the station in 1995, and NEW-10 has remained a Ten O&O ever since.


"We can get rid of this baby!" CKVU-TV's Joe Leary takes the Global mike flag off his microphone on the station's last day as a Global O&O.
  • Vancouver’s CKVU-TV was purchased by CanWest Global 1988, subsequently becoming part of that company's CanWest Global System (renamed the Global Television Network in 1997). However, in 2000, CanWest purchased the television stations of the WIC group, which included CHAN-TV in Vancouver and CHEK-TV in Victoria. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not allow any single company to own more than two stations in the same language serving the same Canadian television market, so Global had to sell one of the stations. It opted to keep CHAN due to its higher ratings and network of rebroadcasters that reaches 97% of British Columbia. CKVU was eventually sold to CHUM Limited, and has since been re-branded as a Citytv station. (See 2001 Vancouver TV realignment.)
  • After purchasing the WIC stations, Canwest started a parallel system, first known as CH, and later as E!, for the WIC stations in areas overlapping existing Global stations (such as the aforementioned CHEK). However, facing financial difficulties, Canwest stated in 2009 that "a second conventional TV network [was] no longer key to the long-term success" of the company,[7][8] and the five E! O&Os subsequently faced various outcomes: CHCH-TV Hamilton and CJNT-TV Montreal were sold to Channel Zero to be operated as independent stations;[9] CHBC-TV Kelowna became a Global O&O; CHCA-TV Red Deer closed down on August 31, 2009;[10] and CHEK-TV Victoria was sold to a consortium of station employees and local investors for $2,[11] and has since been operated as an independent station.

United States

See also


External links

United States

United Kingdom

  • ITV – Home of ITV and the ITV O&Os


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