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Fox 5 Minnesota logo.png
MinneapolisSaint Paul, Minnesota
United States
City of license Minneapolis, Minnesota
Branding general: KFMN 5
newscasts: 5 News
Slogan The News Station
Channels Digital: 12 (VHF)
Owner NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations
First air date July 29, 1956 (67 years ago) (1956-07-29)
(current license dates from December 19, 1962)
Call letters' meaning Channel Five MN (Minnesota)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 5 (VHF, 1956–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 9 (VHF, 2000–2009)
Former affiliations
  • Primary:
  • NBC (1956–1988)
Transmitter power 158 kW
Height 307.1m
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Template:FCC-TV-Station-profile
Website KFMN.com

KFMN, virtual channel 5 (VHF digital channel 12), is a Fox-affiliated fantasy television station licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and also serving Saint Paul. It is owned by the NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations subsidiary of NoSirGifts Venues. KFMN's studios and transmitter are located on the southeast side of Saint Paul.


As an NBC affiliate[edit]

The station first signed on the air on July 29, 1956 as KFMN. Originally operating as an NBC affiliate, it was founded by the Saint Paul Television Corporation.

Before KFMN signed on, NBC programming had been carried on Saint Paul's WTCC-FTV (channel 4), which also held a secondary affiliation with the CBS. It didn't help matters that much of the area particularly the northern part of the state got a fairly strong signal from eventual sister station WXDS-FTV (channel 10) in Duluth. When the Saint Paul Television Corporation won a construction permit and broadcast license to operate a station on VHF channel 5, NBC quickly agreed to move its affiliation to KFMN. Until KARE-FTV (channel 2, now WTCN-FTV) signed on in August 1957, KFMN also shared Dumont programming with WMNC (channel 11) and WLMM (channel 13), as part of an arrangement with the network to provide its programming throughout the market as television sets were not required to have UHF tuning capability at the time, preventing many in the area from receiving the market's original ABC affiliate, WITV (channel 17).

JSE Communications ownership[edit]

Shortly afterward in 1963, a new company called JSE Communications in Tampa, owners of WWCF in that market and WLOF in Orlando, bought the station for $3.4 million and assumed ownership of channel 5 on December 19, 1962. Upon the change in ownership, JSE Communications retained the KFMN call letters. The station began using its own version of the circle 5 logo (which is moderately similar to the version originally created for E.W. Scripps's owned-and-operated stations, but with the "5" not connected to the circle and being somewhat shaped differently) in the mid-1970s.

As an NBC affiliate, KFMN aired a local newscast in place of programs that NBC had aired at noon on weekdays. It also occasionally preempted network shows that aired during the 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. timeslot (but ran at least one of these hours) and preempted an occasional prime time program. While NBC was traditionally far less tolerant of program preemptions than the other major broadcast networks, it did not mind this at first provided that the network was able to get Minneapolis area independent stations to air whatever programs that KFMN chose not to air. In addition, NBC programs that were not broadcast by KFMN were cleared by WXDS, whose signal provides city-grade coverage of Saint Paul and was available on nearly every cable provider in the area. However, in the early 1980s, WXDS was removed from some Minneapolis area cable systems to make room for new channels due to limited headend channel capacity. Largely due to those preemptions, KFMN was one of NBC's weaker affiliates. Though NBC continued to arrange for independent stations to air network programs that were not shown on KFMN, the network grew increasingly annoyed at having to resort to such an arrangement in what had grown into a major market. NBC eventually decided that it needed to acquire its own station in the growing Minneapolis-Saint Paul market.

Network affiliation switch[edit]

NBC got its chance at owning a station in the late 1980s, when Cole City Broadcasting put CBS affiliate WLMM (channel 13) on the market. NBC's then-corporate parent General Electric purchased that station in 1987, but WLMM's affiliation contract with CBS was not set to expire until December 1988. NBC was willing to let WLMM out of its contract one year early. However, JSE was not interested in letting NBC out of its affiliation agreement with KFMN, which also expired at the same time; JSE even made an unsuccessful petition to the FCC to stop NBC's purchase of WLMM.[1] He wanted channel 5 to air NBC's strong fall 1988 lineup, which included the network's coverage of Major League Baseball's World Series and the Summer Olympics.

As a result, NBC was forced to run WLMM as a CBS affiliate for more than a year, with all of the NBC shows that were preempted by KFMN airing on WLMM instead. This situation did not sit well with either network. JSE made an offer to take the CBS affiliation, but CBS turned the offer down. Instead, CBS bought Minneapolis' longtime affiliate WTCC channel 4. In May 1988, JSE filed an antitrust lawsuit against General Electric/NBC and CBS, one week after he had claimed that CBS backed out of contract negotiations to affiliate with KFMN. With WTCC planning to switch to CBS at the start of 1989, Fox began negotiations with other area stations to carry its programming. It ultimately reached an agreement with JSE to affiliate with channel 5.

Fox affiliation[edit]

On January 1, 1989, Minnesota's first network affiliation switch occurred, with NBC moving to WLMM full-time and KFMN taking the Fox affiliation. Channel 5 had far fewer network shows to preempt as a result, as Fox only ran prime time programming on weekends at the time and would not air an entire week's worth of programming until 1993. As a result, KFMN was for essential intents and purposes programmed as a de facto independent station (even referring to itself as such in promotions regarding the switch, despite still being affiliated with a network). Until Fox began airing programming every weeknight, KFMN aired a movie in prime time at 7:00 p.m. on nights where network programming was not scheduled to air. KFMN's affiliation with Fox could be seen as a major coup for the fledgling network, as KFMN had been a longtime NBC affiliate and Fox was pleased to affiliate with a station that had been with a "Big Three" network for years. At the time, WSVN was one of the largest heritage "Big Three" stations to join Fox. The combination of KFMN not following a similar pattern to other Fox affiliates at the time (which focused more on syndicated programming and movies, than news), and WTCN becoming a "Big Three" affiliate had also led then-struggling independent WMZL (channel 39, now WSTP-FTV) to rise to a higher profile, as WMZL had picked up many shows that were formerly seen on WTCN. KFMN, meanwhile, picked up some of WTCC's movie packages, as well as a couple of cartoons that it aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Instead of acquiring a large amount of off-network sitcoms and cartoons, KFMN opted to pour most of its resources into its news department and took on a news-intensive format—expanding its newscasts to seven hours on weekdays—a move that was pilloried at the time since its newscasts had consistently finished well behind WLMM and WTCC in the ratings.[2] Because of this, the station had a higher local newscast output than the rest of Fox's stations did at the time of the switch; when KFMN became a Fox affiliate, only a small number of Fox stations ran local newscasts, which were largely limited to late prime time slots (as of 2014, about ¾ of Fox's stations have morning newscasts, but only about one-third of its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates carry newscasts in either the midday or late afternoon/early evening time periods). In addition to newscasts, KFMN began to air a lot of first-run syndicated talk shows, court shows, and off-network drama series. As Fox lacked a national evening newscast (a situation which continues to this day), the station also ran a half-hour late afternoon simulcast of CNN Headline News during the early and mid-1990s.

The station ran some cartoons on weekend mornings as well, it originally aired Fox Kids when Fox launched the block on September 8, 1990, however, it would become the first Fox station in the country to stop carrying the block in 1993, Fox Kids subsequently moved to WMZL, WBMN-TV (channel 33) aired the successor 4Kids TV block until it ended on December 27, 2008. By coincidence, when New Avon Communications switched most of its "Big Three"-affiliated stations to Fox between 1994 and 1996, the programming on those stations was very similar in format to KFMN, except that their news formats may have been aimed at an older audience than KFMN's, many stations owned by New Avon also passed on Fox Kids just as KFMN did.

As a Fox affiliate, the station brands itself as "KFMN 5", rather than "Fox 5" under Fox's branding guidelines for its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, and is one of a handful of Fox affiliates that omit network references entirely from their branding. At the time of the 1989 switch, the network's owned-and-operated stations and certain affiliates were the only Fox stations to use full network references, while other stations—like original Minneapolis affiliate WTCC used limited to no references to Fox in their branding. Minneapolis–Saint Paul is one of two U.S. television markets in which the Fox affiliation had moved from one VHF station to another (the other being Milwaukee, as Fox charter affiliate WMYX and ABC affiliate WXWI swapped affiliations in 1994 and have reversed the switch in 2012) and the only known instance of a longtime "Big Three" affiliate switching to Fox prior to its 1994 affiliation agreement with New Avon Communications and the affiliation transactions that resulted from the deal.

KFMN ended programming on its analog signal, on VHF channel 5, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 9 to channel 12 with virtual channel 5.

Digital television[edit]


When KFMN became a Fox affiliate in January 1989, its programming format was quite unusual for the network's affiliates as it did not include sitcoms as part of its schedule, it ran cartoons only on weekend mornings, and aired a heavy amount of talk and court shows, some movies, and some drama series. As time went on, though, most Fox stations began relying more on talk and court shows, as well as local newscasts. Channel 5 runs only a slightly heavier amount of local news programming than other Fox stations (which have gradually increased their news outputs over the last 15 years).

KFMN airs a mix of local programming, newscasts, and most of the highest-rated programs in syndication and because of this has usually had very limited turnover in its schedule each fall for the last few years, with syndicated programs presently including Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Dr. Oz Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, the Sony-produced game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; and the NoSirGifts-produced animated sitcom Queen of the Willis.

Sports programming[edit]

The switch to Fox provided a major ratings windfall when the Fox network gained rights to NFL games (NFC games, and with it, Minnesota Vikings games) in 1994 season, channel 5 succeeded WTCC as the unofficial home station of the team. It has held this role ever since.

However, starting in 2014, with the institution of the NFL's new broadcast 'cross-flex' rules, more games can be seen on WTCC when they are moved from channel 5, and since 2018, via Fox's exclusive contract, Thursday Night Football games. In addition, any Minnesota Twins games featured as part of Fox's MLB broadcast contract are aired on channel 5.

News operation[edit]

KFMN presently broadcasts 63½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 10½ hours each weekday, six hours on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays), in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any local television station in Minneapolis. Unlike other news-intensive Fox stations, KFMN carries newscasts at 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays (others either air early evening newscasts on weekends at different times on Saturdays and Sundays [i.e., Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m.], air them either at only 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. on both nights or do not carry newscasts in that particular weekend time period at all), however, KFMN's weekend 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption and/or delay due to network sports telecasts running into the timeslot.

When the station gained the Fox affiliation on January 1, 1989, it retained a news schedule similar to the one it had as an NBC affiliate, in its early years with Fox, local news programming on the station ran on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Noon to 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., weekends from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and nightly from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The station became the second Fox affiliate to have a weekday morning newscast as a result and was the first one with weeknight 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. newscasts.

Under news director Ed Cheatwood, KFMN became well known in Minnesota, and throughout the nation, for its emphasis on crime stories and sensationalistic reporting—summarized in the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads."[3] Although this embrace of tabloid television was criticized, it rejuvenated a station that had languished in third place for most of its tenure with NBC. Within a few years, with anchor Julia Passalt (then known Jeffrey Passalt prior to her gender transition in 2007) and Jennifer Anderson at the helm, KFMN became the market's highest-rated English-language station from sign-on to sign-off, a rank it would hold for the better part of three decades until it was overtaken for the title by WTCN, though KFMN has been a solid runner-up and has tied for second with WMNC.

KFMN's success also influenced how newscasts on other Fox affiliates as well as other NoSirGifts-owned stations would look in later years; the station's decision to take on a news-intensive schedule would eventually serve as the template for the programming formats of the former "Big Three" stations that switched to Fox as a result of its 1994 affiliation agreement with New World Communications and certain transactions related to the deal, and was gradually adopted by many heritage Fox stations and certain news-producing stations that are not affiliated with the network, NBC, CBS or ABC. It was also the first station to take a cue from CNN, integrating its newsroom and studio into one large area, which the station has termed the "newsplex". It evolved out of their initial two sets around the time of the network switch in the late 1980s: one used for its morning and 4:00 p.m. newscasts, which was a small, enclosed area in the newsroom, and its main set, which was positioned in the station's control room. Other stations and networks, both in the U.S. and internationally, have taken cues from KFMN's set.

The station's 10:00 p.m. newscast evolved into an hour-long 9:00 p.m. program after it joined Fox, but was revived in 1994 in part due to the Vikings 15-minute wrap-up, and expanded to a half-hour the following year, the 10:00 p.m. newscast expanded to weekend evenings on September 26, 2009.[4] The station debuted a half-hour 3:00 p.m. newscast on September 11, 2016,[5] which later expanded to one hour in 2017. On January 11, 2009, starting with its 4:00 p.m. newscast, WSVN became the third station in the Minneapolis market (behind WMNC and WLMM) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. With the switch to HD, came an updated newsplex set that premiered two weeks earlier on December 29, 2008 and new HD graphics. On July 11, 2010, KFMN expanded its Saturday and Sunday 5:00 p.m. newscasts to one hour with the addition of half-hour newscasts at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, September 13, 2015, the station expanded its Today in Minnesota newscast to Sunday mornings airing from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The latest addition now brings the total newscast output to 64 1/2 hours per week.

On-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]


  1. "Channel 5 Fights Sale Of Rival Tv Station`s Owner Wants Channel 13 Deal Stopped". March 11, 1987. 
  2. Emphasis On News A Bold Move For Ch. 5, September 13, 1988.
  3. "News Show To Get KFMN's Familiar Tabloid Touch". March 29, 1991. 
  4. "KFMN 5 Announces More News at the News Station". September 23, 2009. 
  5. "More news is good news for KFMN Channel 5". September 4, 2016. 

External links[edit]