XETV hops on The CW train

Fox affiliate XETV is becoming a former Fox affiliate on August 1, when it joins The CW. The station plans to re-brand itself as San Diego 6 effective on that date as well .

The moves after Tribune made a deal to switch the affiliation of its KSWB-TV from CW to Fox last March. Fox was looking for a new home in San Diego, apparently tired of having to deal with an affiliate based across the border in Tijuana, Mexico and the technical problems it usually brought. KSWB also plans to re-brand on August 1, renaming itself Fox 5 San Diego (the station is on Channel 5 on most cable systems.)

Televisa-owned XETV was looking to have the affiliation switch blocked on August 1, but by signing with CW, those plans are not likely to go forward. However, the station still plans to pursue legal action.

XETV’s schedule of news and syndicated programming will remain the same except for prime-time, when CW programming replaces Fox’s.

Meanwhile, KSWB is launching a major news expansion on August 1 with the debut of Fox 5 Morning News, a new morning show anchored by former Extra co-host Arthel Neville.

The last affiliation switch in San Diego took place in 1977, when Storer Broadcasting (then owner of KCST-TV Channel 39, now NBC-owned KNSD-TV) lost its ABC affiliation after the network signed with McGraw-Hill’s then-NBC affiliate KGTV. In retaliation, Storer dropped its ABC affiliation with WITI in Milwaukee and switched to CBS, while ABC simply moved across the street to Hearst’s WISN-TV.

Was a good move for WITI and Storer? Judge for yourself – in 1977, ABC was the most-watched broadcast network. The most-watched TV show in 1977? Happy Days – which was set in Milwaukee, along with the No. 2 show, Laverne & Shirley. In the 1980’s and early ’90’s, WITI regularly finished in third place behind the market’s two other network affiliates. After 17 lackluster years as a CBS affiliate, WITI hooked up with Fox in the Fox-New World affiliation swap of 1994. The station is now owned by Fox, with a sale pending to Local TV, LLC.

Updated 8:27 p.m. (added link from XETV and made correction regarding WITI’s current ownership status)