THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Thursday, November 30, 1995 TAG: 9511300414 SECTION: BUSINESS PAGE: D1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY LARRY BONKO, TELEVISION WRITER LENGTH: Medium: 60 lines
Fox Broadcasting Co., which in recent months has figured in affiliate changes in 17 TV markets, including Dallas, Detroit and Atlanta, this week added Hampton Roads to the list.
Fox said it will shift from WTVZ (Channel 33) in Norfolk to WVBT (Channel 43) in Virginia Beach in September 1998.
It means a new home in America's 40th largest market for such popular Fox programs as ``Melrose Place,'' ``Beverly Hills 90210'' and ``The Simpsons'' - provided those shows are still on the air.
The Fox move was engineered by Providence, R.I.-based LIN Television Corp., owner and operator of NBC affiliate WAVY in Portsmouth. A year ago, WAVY and WVBT entered into an agreement in which WAVY supplies programming to WVBT, which is now affiliated with the Warner Brothers network. LIN and WVBT's California-based parent company share revenues from the station.
Ed Munson, general manager of WAVY, said Wednesday that WVBT's affiliation with Fox will be for 10 years. Munson also announced that starting in 1998, WAVY will produce a 10 p.m. local weeknight newscast for WVBT. That will be the third 10 p.m. newscast in a market where a year ago, there were none.
And Munson said WVBT will soon be sending out its signal from a new 1,000-foot-tall tower in Driver.
It's not clear what Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., which bought WTVZ earlier this year for almost $50 million, will do with that station once it loses the Fox affiliation. Steve Marx, a Sinclair spokesman, said the company may seek the Warner Brothers affiliation that WVBT will surrender.
There is also the possibility WTVZ will bid for the United Paramount Network, now carried locally by WGNT in Portsmouth. And an affiliation may be possible with a sixth commercial network that Barry Diller, who helped launch Fox, has said he is planning. Diller now heads Silver King Communications Inc., which has been aggressively acquiring stations.
``This is not the end of the world for us,'' Marx said. ``We intend to stay in the Norfolk market to make an impact, to compete for and win viewers.'' Marx said he expects Fox to continue its affiliation with Sinclair in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and Raleigh-Durham.
Broadcasting has never seen anything like the aggressive moves made by Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox's Australian parent company, News Corp.
In markets from Dallas (the eighth largest) to Green Bay (No. 70) Fox changed affiliations from weaker UHF channels to stronger, well-established VHF outlets. Fox's appeal grew after it landed a contract to air National Football League games.
None of the parties involved in the Hampton Roads switch would say what prompted it. ILLUSTRATION: Hampton Roads is the 40th largest U.S. market. Fox has recently
figured in affiliation changes in 17 other markets.