The rocky marriage between the Fox Broadcasting Co. and Utah independent station KSTU seemed headed for divorce Wednesday, as Ch. 13 indicated it planned to terminate its relationship with the struggling "fourth network."
"We have supported Fox for the past two years, and we cannot financially accept another year of Fox programming, considering Fox's level of performance in Salt Lake," said KSTU general manager Milt Jouflas. "We don't feel any animosity towards Fox. It's just that the shows just weren't working here."More to the point, with few exceptions the Fox shows died in Salt Lake City, and KSTU found it could make more money - as much as a half million dollars a year, according to Jouflas - with its own independent mix of movies, sports and syndicated series and specials. That's why they dropped Fox's "The Late Show" - two times, no less - and Fox's entire Saturday night line-up. And that's why they have now decided to drop the fledgling program service entirely even though a couple of Fox's Sunday night series - "21 Jump Street," "America's Most Wanted" and "Married . . . With Children," most notably - are drawing decent audiences.
However, a Fox spokeswoman indicated that efforts are still under way to patch things up. The affiliation was due to expire Aug. 31, but "We are currently in negotiations with the television station and expect a decision as to the renewal within the next couple of days, probably by Friday."
KSTU has offered to air individual programs, but Fox officials indicated during a news conference in Los Angeles last month that partial agreements with local stations are "unacceptable."
As of now, it looks like KSTU's last Fox telecast may be the annual Emmy Awards presentation on Aug. 28.