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In , a (also known as a flagship station) is the broadcast station which a television network, or a particular or television program that plays a key role in the branding of and consumer loyalty to a network or station. This includes both direct network feeds and broadcast syndication, but generally not backhauls. Not all networks or shows have a flagship station, as some originate from a dedicated or television studio.

The term derives from the naval custom where the commanding officer of a group of naval ships would . In common parlance, "flagship" is now used to mean the most important or leading member of a group, hence its various uses in broadcasting. The term is primarily used in TV and radio in the and .


Examples
Lotteries
Shows
Networks
  • Midnight Radio Network from WBAP (AM) in Dallas/Fort Worth
Events
  • Masters Tournament from , as the affiliate since 1956.


Radio
A flagship radio station is the principal station from which a 's programs are fed to affiliates.


Network
In the United States, traditional currently operate without flagship stations as defined in this article. Network operations and those of the local owned-and-operated or affiliated stations in the same city are now separate and may come under different corporate entities.

In the U.S., CBS News Radio produces programming for distribution by Skyview Networks, but local stations WCBS and WINS in New York City and KNX (and formerly ) in Los Angeles are operated separately from the network radio news operation, under a separate company with common shareholders, . follows a similar model: flagship stations WOR/New York City (which it acquired in 2012) and /Los Angeles are both operated mostly separately from its syndication wing, Premiere Networks (Premiere does produce some limited programming, including The Jesus Christ Show, The Tech Guy and Handel on the Law, through KFI).

in New York City was an affiliate of the now-defunct Air America Radio and carries some of its programs (along with those from other distributors) but is separately owned and operated and does not produce any programs for the network. Originally, Air America Radio leased (also in New York City) as its flagship station; the station was completely automated and produced no local programming. The network would later lease in Washington, D.C. as its lone self-operated station.

Fox Sports Radio's flagship station is KLAC in Los Angeles, with which it merged operations in 2009. SB Nation Radio is flagshipped at in Houston; one of its predecessors, Sporting News Radio, was previously flagshipped at WIDB (now ) in Chicago. CBS Sports Radio is nominally flagshipped at (although that station does not produce programming for the network). has no true flagship station, as it operates out of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut; Windsor Locks-licensed (owned by iHeartMedia) serves as its de facto flagship, serving ESPN's home market of Hartford.

, a country music network, is nominally flagshipped at in Nashville, Tennessee; its classic-leaning counterpart Nash Icon is flagshipped at in the same city. , a classic / network, is flagshipped at in , the home base of its owner, television broadcaster Weigel Broadcasting. The Satellite Music Network networks were flagshipped at a cluster of stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex during their existence; , for example, served as the flagship for Unforgettable Favorites. CloudCast is flagshipped at in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with much of its programming voicetracked from in Little Valley, New York.

Former flagship stations for now-defunct networks in American radio's "Big Four" era of the 1940s–1980s were:

NBC Red Network
  • WNBC (660 AM; now ), New York City
  • WYNY (97.1 FM; now ), New York City
  • KNBR (680 AM), San Francisco
  • KYUU (99.7 FM; now ), San Francisco
Mutual Broadcasting System
  • WOR (710 AM), New York City
  • WGN (720 AM), Chicago
  • KHJ (930 AM), Los Angeles

In Canada, current CBC/ flagships are (99.1) in , which broadcasts in English, and (95.1) in Montréal, which broadcasts in French. Both are former AM clear channel operations which have moved to FM.

Former flagship stations for now-defunct networks were:

  • CJBC (860 AM) in Toronto (CBC , a secondary English-language AM service)
  • in Montréal (a national chain of big-city English-language all-news stations, controlled primarily from Toronto)
  • in St. John's, Dominion of Newfoundland (Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland – became CBN after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada, its rebroadcasters included in western Newfoundland and VORG radio in Gander)

While CJBC remains on-air on its original frequency, it is now an owned-and-operated station of the French-language Radio-Canada network.

The network's Toronto frequency was re-issued to (as CBLA-FM 99.1) but the namesake flagship in Montréal is silent; the frequency remains vacant.


Syndication
For syndicated radio programs, it refers to the originating station from which a program is fed by satellite or other means to stations nationwide, although the show may also originate elsewhere or from a home studio via an line. Some programs such as Imus in the Morning are simulcast on television (Fox Business Network in this case). Others are simulcasted on XM Satellite Radio and / or Sirius Satellite Radio. Flagship stations of prominent syndicated radio programs currently include:


Examples
  • WXRK (92.3 FM) in New York City was the flagship station of The Howard Stern Show from 1985 until 2005. The show is now on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 100 (a.k.a. Howard 100).
  • WOR (710 AM) in New York City was the flagship station of the syndicated programs of , , Bob Grant, and produced in-house with its own network; the network was shut down after Buckley Broadcasting sold the station.
  • WGN (720 AM) in Chicago was considered the originating station for 's News and Comment and The Rest of the Story for the ABC Radio Network.
  • KABC (790 AM) in Los Angeles was the home base of until the show ended its run in 2009. That show now originates from KRLA.
  • WABC had been the original flagship of The Rush Limbaugh Show before Limbaugh moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications began distributing the program.
  • KNEW was the flagship of The Savage Nation from 2003 to 2009.
  • WNBC and were the flagships of Imus in the Morning from 1971 to 2007. He was dropped after his controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team but picked up by WABC later that year; that station served as flagship until he retired in 2018.
  • (1090 AM) in Seattle was the flagship of 's syndicated show on Air America Media before the network went bankrupt. It was one of the few shows on the network that did not originate from the network's New York City studios.
  • WWVA (1170 AM) flagshipped the Wheeling Jamboree from 1933 until the late 2000s. It later moved to in 2009, then owned-and-operated station in 2014, before cutting back from a weekly show to three episodes per year in 2016.


Sports
In sports broadcasting, the flagship radio station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces game broadcasts and feeds them to affiliates. For example, is the radio flagship station of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, which feeds Orioles' games to 20 stations in and adjacent states.


Television
A flagship television station is the principal privately owned television station of a television network in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.

In the late 1920s, network owned-and-operated stations (or "O&O") for radio in New York City began producing live entertainment and news programs, fed by telephone lines to affiliates. These eventually were dubbed flagship stations.

When television networks were formed in the United States in the late 1940s and grew during the early 1950s, network-owned stations in New York City became the production centers for programs originating on the East Coast, feeding affiliates of ABC, , and in the eastern three-fourths of the country. Stations in Los Angeles similarly started producing programs on the West Coast, feeding affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, and . Consequently, the networks' New York City stations became known as the "East Coast flagships" of their respective networks and the networks' Los Angeles stations became known as the "West Coast flagships".

However, before the 1950s, San Francisco was also considered a West Coast flagship market for the networks, with much of the CBS and NBC network's West Coast news programming originating from that city. This is seen the calls of CBS's KCBS (AM) being based in their original city of San Francisco instead of Los Angeles (the use of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles only dates back to 1984), while KNBR (which was subsequently sold to another party by NBC in 1987) was formerly known as KNBC before the network moved those calls to in Los Angeles in 1962.

ABC, CBS and NBC are headquartered in New York City, which is the largest television market in the U.S., so their respective radio and television stations in that market are considered the overall network flagship stations. As programming schedules increased and modern technology improved transmission to affiliates, the networks set up operations centers in New York City (for the East Coast feed) and Los Angeles (for the West Coast feed). Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the U.S., and traditional home to the and its pool of popular talent, one of the reasons the radio networks set up operations there in the 1930s and 1940s (just as the medium of television was starting to take off).

This arrangement is reversed for the Fox Broadcasting Company. When Fox was launched in 1986, its was (and still is) based in Los Angeles. However, Fox's parent company, News Corporation (which spun off its broadcasting properties in July 2013 into the separate 21st Century Fox), is headquartered in New York City, along with its news division. Fox-owned in New York City is considered the network's overall flagship, while sister station in Los Angeles is considered a second flagship station.


Network

United States
4
2
7
11
KBCW 44 (San Francisco)1
13
50/ 58 (Los Angeles)
KQED 9/KQET 25/ 54 (San Francisco/Watsonville/San Jose)
30
52
34
57
68
69 (Miami)1
46
54
none
none
40


Notes
1 East Coast flagships are located in the New York City designated market area (DMA), while the West Coast flagships are located in the Los Angeles area. The CW's Philadelphia and San Francisco stations are considered as the network's flagship since they are directly owned by its parent despite the presence of E.W. Scripps Company's station 11 in New York and Nexstar Media Group's station 5 in Los Angeles, both of whom are holding CW affiliations in the latter two areas. Miami stations are also listed for Univision, Telemundo and UniMás (formerly TeleFutura) due to their operations being major production bases for those networks. The Miami area stations for Ion Television are also listed due to their parent company being based out of West Palm Beach; however none of the Ion stations listed originate programming for the national Ion network. MeTV and Heroes & Icons are owned by Weigel Broadcasting in ; Weigel-owned WCIU carries each full network feed as a digital subchannel and KAZA is owned by Weigel and carries MeTV, while WJLP is the network's New York area affiliate, with KVME 20 H&I's Los Angeles affiliate. Heartland, Retro TV and Rev'n are all based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the home base of WOOT-LD and common owner Reach High Media Group. NewsNet is based in Cadillac, Michigan.

2 While the Virginia-based in the United States does not have an official "flagship" television station, WNET in the New York City area held an official primary role with PBS predecessor, National Educational Television (NET). There cannot be any owned-and-operated stations within the Public Broadcasting Service; individual PBS stations are typically owned by local groups (such as ), universities (such as ) or state-level entities as part of a (such as KETA-TV and WGPB-TV). The system itself is owned collectively by the local PBS member stations. A station's importance to the system is built as much or more on the programming it produces for national distribution (a metric which places WNET as a strong third-place contender behind WGBH in Boston and WETA in Washington, D.C.) instead of local size. Why KCET never became a major player in the PBS network, Melissa Maerz and Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2010


Sports
In sports broadcasting, the flagship television station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces telecasts, along with in-season surrounding programming such as team, coach's, and pre-game/post-game shows and feeds them to affiliates. For example, in is the flagship station of the Detroit Lions Television Network, which feeds Detroit Lions pre-season football games to six stations in Michigan. However, the "sports flagship television station" is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, with the growing popularity of cable- and satellite-exclusive regional sports networks such as Fox Sports Networks and NBC Sports Regional Networks, which hold exclusive broadcast rights to several teams in their market for Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association.

The National Football League has a different structure, as all games require over-the-air broadcast and the league and teams are generally loathe to use only a local cable broadcaster to distribute preseason and team programming. An anti-siphoning policy is also used by the league in order for local stations to bid for Monday Night Football games for over-the-air distribution when local teams play.


Religious
  • 40 in Santa Ana, California – flagship of the Trinity Broadcasting Network
  • 2 in Denton/ – flagship of the Daystar Television Network
  • W15BU-D 15 in Johnston City, Illinois – flagship for the Three Angels Broadcasting Network
  • 27 in Marion, Illinois – flagship of Tri-State Christian Television
  • 53 in Tulsa, Oklahoma – flagship of Golden Eagle Broadcasting
  • 46 in South Bend, Indiana - flagship of


Canada
Canadian network flagship locations vary by language. Most English-language networks eastern flagships are located in , French-language eastern flagships are located in , and West Coast flagships (regardless of language) are located in . CTV 2, being a secondary system to the main CTV network, maintains its eastern flagship in (which is on the northwestern fringe of the Toronto market) and West Coast flagship in Victoria (which is on the southwestern fringe of the Vancouver market). CIII-DT-41 had always been considered the flagship station of Global in Toronto despite being a technical satellite station of CIII-DT, which is licensed to Paris, Ontario. However, since July 2009, the CRTC has considered CIII-DT-41 "the originating station" of Global Ontario.

The secondary French-language networks TVA and V are not carried terrestrially in Western Canada, although they are usually available on .

(Vancouver)
(Vancouver)
(Vancouver)
(Victoria)
(Vancouver)
(Vancouver)
(Vancouver)

Networks/systems with only one flagship station

CHTY-TV (Yellowknife)
CIVM-DT (Montreal)
(Montreal)
CICA-DT (Toronto)
(Montreal)
(Hamilton)


Mexico
As of 2017, Mexico's national networks hold a nationwide , thus all of the flagship stations mentioned below in most of the country are on the same channel on the rest of the stations in each network with some exceptions along the American, Guatemalan and Belizean border areas.

Grupo Multimedios
Mexico City
Instituto Politécnico Nacional
Instituto Politécnico Nacional
Secretaría de Cultura
Sistema Público de Radiodifusión del Estado Mexicano
Secretaría de Educación Pública
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Congreso de la Unión

  • Note - Multimedios launched XHTDMX-TDT on August 27, 2018 and features limited local news and sports discussion programming on that station for Mexico City, though it continues to receive the majority of its programming from XHAW-TDT in Monterrey, which remains the main flagship for the network.


Australia
2
3
7
72
9
10
11
1
  • Note: All flagship stations are located in and . All SBS stations use the "SBS" callsign. 10 Peach was formerly known as Eleven, with 10 Bold formerly known as One until being re-branded by their new ownership in late 2018.


Japan
30
26
28
28
6
Notes

1 The total number of stations is including the three stations listed in the table.

2 There are 13 independent stations in Japan.


Philippines
Quezon City
(Radio Philippines Network)
leased from Nation Broadcasting Corporation
Makati City
Quezon City
1
Note

1 Sonshine's main headquarters are in Davao City, but also has a fully owned broadcast building in Metro Manila, thus giving the Manila station equal flagship.


American syndication examples

Current
  • The popular nationally syndicated program Live! with Kelly and Michael is produced at in New York City.


Former
  • Although later produced by , The Oprah Winfrey Show considered its flagship as the program concept as hosted by Winfrey originated in 1983 as part of WLS's mid-morning show AM Chicago; Oprah was always aired first in the nation at 9 a.m. local time on WLS.
  • The popular nationally syndicated show At The Movies was also produced at WLS-TV in Chicago. Successor program Roger Ebert presents At the Movies originated from in Chicago.
  • Until the consolidation of the ITV franchises during the 1990s, the majority of primetime programming on the ITV network originated from a group of franchises known as "The Big Five" (Thames Television, LWT, ATV/Central, Yorkshire, and Granada).
  • Starting in 2011, had as its flagship station, as the show was produced at the Atlanta Civic Center; the program would relocate to Los Angeles in 2017 to accommodate Steve.
  • The show View from the Bay was produced at in San Francisco and syndicated to ABC owned-and-operated stations and Live Well Network nationwide.


Station groups
In the United States, the term "flagship station" may also be used in the broadcasting industry to refer to a station which is co-located with the headquarters of its station group and considered the company's most important station (such a station may or may not be affiliated with one of the major networks). For example, in Detroit, affiliated with NBC, is the flagship station of Graham Media Group; and in Chicago was the flagship station of Tribune Broadcasting until it was purchased by Nexstar Media Group in 2019.

In essence, a flagship can be located in the market where the station's owner is headquartered, or in the largest market where that owner operates. For example, in Atlanta is the flagship of Cox Media Group, because Cox's headquarters is located in a suburb of that city. However, Cox owns in Boston, which is larger than Atlanta. The same can be said for TEGNA who lists three of its properties as its flagship stations ( in Atlanta, WUSA in Washington, D.C. and KUSA in Denver), but also owns in , which is larger than Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Denver in terms of Media market. Likewise, prior to merging with Gannett in 2013, WFAA served as the flagship station for , as its headquarters were located in Dallas.

The term is also used for in other cities. For example, in Wichita, Kansas is the flagship station of the Kansas State Network, a chain of affiliates serving western and central Kansas as well as border areas of Nebraska.


See also
  • Television and radio flagship stations – Japan
  • List of analog television stations in the Philippines

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