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Field Communications was an American broadcast media company and a wholly owned division of Field Enterprises, which owned the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the company owned UHF independent television stations in the United States, with WFLD-TV in Chicago as its flagship and largest-market station.
The broadcasting arm of Field Enterprises began in January 1966 with the initial sign-on of WFLD. In 1972, Field sold a majority ownership (about 77.5 percent) of WFLD to Kaiser Broadcasting, owners of KBSC-TV in the Los Angeles area; WKBG-TV (now WLVI) in Boston (owned by Kaiser in a joint venture with the Boston Globe); WKBS-TV in the Philadelphia market; WKBF-TV in Cleveland; WKBD-TV in Detroit; and KBHK-TV (now KBCW) in San Francisco. Field retained the remainder of WFLD's ownership shares (about 22.5 percent), and in return, received a minority stake (also about 22.5 percent) in Kaiser's operations.
In 1975 Kaiser shut down WKBF-TV, returning its broadcast license to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and merging most of its programming with the Cleveland market's remaining independent station WUAB, of which Kaiser purchased minority ownership from United Artists Broadcasting.
In 1977, Kaiser sold its majority stake of their stations to Field with the exception of KBSC-TV (now KVEA), which was spun-off to Oak Television; this gave Field one-hundred percent ownership of WFLD again. Field did not acquire Kaiser's share of WUAB, which United Artists then sold in whole to Gaylord Broadcasting that same year. The new owners also updated the look of all of the former Kaiser stations and also created a distinctive jingle and slogan used across all stations, "The Choice is Yours", an early example of corporate branding.
Beginning of the end
In 1982, half-brothers Marshall Field V and Frederick W. (Ted) Field, who each controlled half of Field Enterprises, were at odds on how the company should operate which left them unable to work together. As a result of the dispute, Field Field opted to dissolve the company and the broadcast holdings were put up for sale as a group; when no prospective buyers emerged, the stations were individually put up for sale.
By the end of 1982 Field had deals in place for three of the stations: WFLD to Metromedia, WLVI to the Gannett Company, and KBHK to Chris-Craft Industries/United Television. The search for buyers for the Detroit and Philadelphia outlets would continue well into 1983. While WKBD was eventually sold to Cox Enterprises, finding an entity to purchase WKBS proved to be difficult. Faced with a deadline to complete the liquidation of Field Enterprises, and with no purchasers having been found, Field took WKBS dark on August 30, 1983, and returned the station's license to the FCC. Field did achieve some financial recoupment by selling most of WKBS's non-license assets to rival Philadelphia independent station WPHL-TV.
What became of the stations
|Market||Station||Sold To||Current Owners||Current Network Affiliation|
|San Francisco - Oakland - San Jose||KBHK-TV 44
|Chris-Craft Industries - 1983||ViacomCBS 1 - 2002||CW - 2006|
|Chicago||WFLD-TV 32||Metromedia - 1983||Fox Television Stations - 1986||Fox (O&O) - 1986|
|Cambridge - Boston||WLVI-TV 56||Gannett Company - 1983||Sunbeam Television - 2006||CW – 2006|
|Detroit – Windsor||WKBD-TV 50||Cox Broadcasting - 1984||ViacomCBS 2 - 1993||CW - 2006|
|Burlington - Philadelphia||WKBS-TV 48||taken off the air - 1983||defunct 3||defunct 3|
- 1 Originally sold to Viacom Television Stations Group, now part of ViacomCBS as the CBS Television Stations Group.
- 2 Originally sold to Paramount Stations Group (later Viacom Television Stations Group following several mergers, now part of ViacomCBS as the CBS Television Stations Group).
- 3 Frequency returned to the air in 1992 under new license/construction permit as WGTW-TV, purchased by/affiliated with TBN in 2004; license moved to Millville, New Jersey in 2017
- It Sounded Like Dallas, Not Chicago, as Two Half Brothers Broke Up the Field Family Empire, by Barbara Kleban Mills and Susan Deutsch. People Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 24, 12 December 1983. Retrieved on 1 November 2010.