Tribune’s San Diego The CW Affiliate to Switch to Fox

Broadcasting veteran Ray Schonbak will head up KSWB San Diego when The CW outlet switches to a Fox affiliate Aug. 1.

KSWB is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. Schonbak was most recently president of Emmis Communications’ TV unit, overseeing 16 stations across the country. Previously, he was instrumental in building the Fox-owned station group.

Schonbak seems to have learned the local dialect quickly. “This is like being handed the keys to a cool new car and told to go break the speed limit,” he said. “The No. 1 television network, the chance to build a news department from the ground up and on top of all that, I get to live in a city that’s totally awesome -- 80 degrees, sunny all the time and right by the ocean.”

As KSWB grabs the Fox affiliation this summer, it looks as though that leaves current Fox affiliate XETV, owned by Grupo Televisa, without an affiliation. XETV vice president and general manager Richard Doutré Jones said he still hasn’t been officially notified by Fox, and he believes his affiliation contract exists through July 2010. (Fox countered that it expires in July 2008.)

Doutré Jones said XETV -- which has its transmitter across the border in Mexico but broadcasts in English -- has been an upstanding Fox affiliate over the course of their 21-and-one-half-year relationship.

Tribune Broadcasting president Ed Wilson called the affiliation switch “a huge development” for Tribune. “This makes it clear that the new Tribune is aggressive and willing to move quickly to upgrade our position in a market, especially when we can improve our financial results almost immediately,” he said. “We’re not sitting around waiting.”

XETV pulled in $35 million in 2006, according to BIA Financial Network, good for fourth in the San Diego market. KSWB grabbed $25.7 million.

Doutré Jones said the station may continue as an independent when KSWB grabs the Fox affiliation. “We have very strong news and local product,” he added. “We’re prepared to be an independent station.”

He did not rule out taking over The CW affiliation, although those conversations have not yet occurred. “We tried to be the best Fox affiliate we could be,” he said. “Now we’ll be the best independent or CW we can be.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.