FOX Sticks With Sunbeam For Multi-Year WSVN Deal


MIAMI — In May 2018, there was much chatter in South Florida that Ed Ansin-owned Sunbeam Television would lose its 30-year FOX affiliation.

This was fueled by proposed spinoffs tied to a merger that never happened.

As such, FOX isn’t getting a Miami O&O. And Sunbeam’s WSVN-7 isn’t following the lead of its sister station, also on Channel 7, in Boston.

Sunbeam on Thursday signed a multi-year affiliation agreement with FOX, keeping the network on what was previously an NBC station. WSVN took on FOX affiliation on Jan. 1, 1989 as part of a “great affiliation switch” that saw NBC programming shift to Channel 4, then the home of WTVJ-TV. Concurrently, FOX programming moved from WCIX-6 to WSVN. WCIX then became a CBS affiliate, grabbing the network from WTVJ.

“We have enjoyed a 30-year partnership with the Fox network,” Ansin said in a statement. “Our strong news brand, viewer loyalty and Fox’s programming, which targets viewers 25-54, make us perfect partners.”

Fox Corporation President of Operations and Distribution Mike Biard added, “Our relationship with Ed and the Sunbeam team is one of the longest and strongest affiliate partnerships. We are pleased to extend our affiliation with this station, which delivers high-quality local news that complements Fox’s leading sports and entertainment content.”

Sixteen months ago, there was much industry chatter and market uncertainty that a FOX renewal for WSVN would transpire.

Thanks to the influence of Joel Cheatwood, WSVN revolutionized local TV news by offering a flashy take on its newscasts. This propelled WSVN to No. 1 in the ratings — a feat many saw as surprising, given the dominance of WTVJ and WPLG-10, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Today, WSVN’s newscasts retain that sensational presentation; anchors Craig Stevens and Belkys Nerey have been together since 2003.

There’s also local programming in the lifestyle and entertainment newsmagazine Deco Drive.

Given the heavy local news content, speculation in May 2018 had FOX shifting its affiliation in Miami to what was proposed to be its first O&O in South Florida — WSFL-39.

That’s because 21st Century FOX announced it was acquiring seven stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group by way of Tribune Media — a spin-off designed to help Sinclair and Tribune complete their merger.

In a brief statement, Sunbeam owner and WSVN President Ed Ansin told RBR+TVBR at the time that “uncertainties remain” regarding WSFL’s sale to FOX.

Little did we know that those “uncertainties” would be a complete implosion of Tribune’s merger with Sinclair, instead merging with Nexstar Media Group. The merger’s meltdown resulted in a cancellation of 21st Century FOX purchase of the seven stations including WSFL.

Still, Ansin acknowledged that the FOX affiliation, which initially ended June 30, 2019 and was extended to allow for negotiations, would have been very much up in the air had Nexstar merged with Tribune and FOX grab WSFL.

“If WSVN ceases in 2019 or later to be a Fox affiliate, it will continue to be the news leader in South Florida, functioning as a news intensive independent similar to WHDH, its highly successful sister station in Boston,” Ansin said in May 2018.

Co-owned WHDH-7 in Boston‘s loss of NBC affiliation at the start of 2018 did little to impact ratings, as the station is either first or second in the ratings in key time slots.

Now, there’s no worry of any FOX loss for WSVN, with a winning recipe in place for years to come for a station full of viewers from Deerfield Beach to Key West.