The Fox Broadcasting Company, usually referred to as just Fox (the company itself prefers the capitalized version, FOX) is an American television network. It is owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Since its launch on October 9, 1986, Fox has grown from an upstart "netlet" to the status of the highest-rated broadcast network in the coveted 18–49 demographic from 2004 to 2007. In the 2007–08 season, Fox became the most popular network in America in general household ratings, dethroning CBS.
The Fox name has been used on other entertainment channels internationally that are affiliated with News Corp., including in Australia (FOX8), Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Italy, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Portugal (FOX, FOX Crime, FOX Life, FOX Next), Mexico, South America, and Turkey, although these do not necessarily air the same programming as the U.S. network. Most viewers in Canada have access to at least one affiliate of the U.S. network.
Groundwork for the Fox network began in March 1985 with News Corporation's $250-million purchase of 50 percent of TCF Holdings, the parent company of the 20th Century Fox movie studio. In May 1985, News Corporation agreed to pay $1.55 billion to acquire independent television stations in six major U.S. cities from John Kluge's company, Metromedia. These stations were WNEW-TV in New York City, WTTG in Washington, D.C., KTTV in Los Angeles, KRIV-TV in Houston, WFLD-TV in Chicago, and KRLD-TV in Dallas. A seventh station, ABC-affiliated WCVB-TV in Boston, was part of the original transaction but was spun-off in a separate, concurrent deal to the Hearst Corporation as part of a right of first refusal related to that station's 1982 sale to Metromedia.
In October 1985, 20th Century Fox announced its intentions to form an independent television system which would compete with the three major U.S. television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). The plans were to use the combination of the Fox studios and the former Metromedia stations to both produce and distribute programming. Organizational plans for the network were held off until the Metromedia acquisitions cleared regulatory hurdles. Then, in December 1985, Rupert Murdoch agreed to pay $325 million to acquire the rest of the studio from his original partner, Marvin Davis. The purchase of the Metromedia stations was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in March 1986; the New York and Dallas outlets were subsequently renamed WNYW and KDAF respectively. These first six stations, then broadcasting to 22 percent of the nation's households, became known as the Fox Television Stations group.
Except for KDAF (which was sold to Renaissance Broadcasting in 1995 and became a WB affiliate at the same time), all of the original stations are still part of the Fox network today. Clarke Ingram, who maintains a memorial website to the failed DuMont Television Network, has suggested that Fox is a revival of DuMont, since Metromedia was a successor to the DuMont corporation and the Metromedia television stations formed the nucleus of the Fox network. WNYW (originally known as WABD) and WTTG were two of the three original owned and operated stations of the DuMont network.
Fox is a full member of the North American Broadcasters Association.
In January 1986, Murdoch said of his planned network: "We at Fox at the moment are deeply involved in working to put shape and form on original programs. These will be shows with no outer limits. The only rules that we will enforce on these programs is they must have taste, they must be engaging, they must be entertaining and they must be original."
On May 6, 1986, Murdoch, along with newly hired Fox chief operating officer and chairman Barry Diller and comedian Joan Rivers, announced plans for "FBC" or the "Fox Broadcasting Company", to be launched with a daily late-night talk show program, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. When Fox was launched on October 9, 1986, it was broadcast to 96 stations reaching more than 80 percent of the nation's households. Starting with the former Metromedia outlets, Fox had lined up 90 independent stations as affiliates, including notables such as KTVU in Oakland, California, WTAF-TV in Philadelphia, WKBD-TV in Detroit, WTOG-TV in St. Petersburg, Florida, and KPTV in Portland, Oregon. By contrast, ABC, CBS and NBC each had between 210 and 215 affiliates reaching more than 97 percent of the nation's households. Despite broadcasting only one show, the network was busy producing new programs with plans to gradually add prime-time programming one night at a time.
Rivers would be gone from the show in 1987, with various guest hosts taking over for a few years afterward; one notable face was Arsenio Hall, who would later front his own late-night talk show to great success, albeit in syndication and not for Fox (because Fox did not program late nights following the failure of The Late Show, Hall's syndicated show aired on many Fox affiliates).
From the beginning, Fox portrayed itself as a somewhat edgy, irreverent, youth-oriented network compared to its rivals. Its first prime-time shows, which debuted on Sunday nights beginning on April 5, 1987, were a comedy about a dysfunctional family (Married... with Children) and a variety series (The Tracey Ullman Show). The former would become a major hit for the network, airing for 11 seasons, while the latter would spawn the longest-running sitcom and animated series in U.S. history: The Simpsons, spun off in 1989. Another early success was 21 Jump Street, an hour-long police drama. The original Sunday lineup also included the sitcoms Duet and Mr. President.
Fox debuted its Saturday night programming over four weeks beginning on July 11, 1987, with several shows now long forgotten: Werewolf, Women in Prison, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, and Second Chance.
The next two years saw the introduction of America's Most Wanted, profiling true crimes in hopes of capturing the criminals, and COPS, a reality show documenting the day-to-day activities of police officers. The two shows are among the network's longest-running and are credited with bringing reality television to the mainstream. In August 1988, America's Most Wanted was Fox's first show to break into the top 50 shows of the week according to the Nielsen ratings. As of 2007, both AMW and COPS were still in active production and are among prime-time TV's longest-running television shows.
Despite a few successful shows, the network did not have a significant market share until the mid-1990s, when News Corp. bought more TV station groups. The first was New World Communications, which had signed an affiliation deal with Fox in 1994 (see below). Later, in 2001, Fox bought several stations owned by Chris-Craft Industries and its subsidiaries BHC Communications and United Television (most of these were UPN affiliates, although one later became a Fox O&O). This made Fox one of the largest owners of television stations in the United States. Although Fox was growing rapidly as a network and had established itself as a presence, it was still not considered a major competitor to the big three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC).
This all changed when Fox lured the National Football League away from CBS in 1993. They signed a huge contract to broadcast the NFC, which included luring Pat Summerall, John Madden, Dick Stockton, Matt Millen, James Brown, and Terry Bradshaw from CBS as well. At first many were skeptical of this whole move, but the first year was a rousing success, and Fox was officially on the map for good.
The early and mid-1990s saw the launch of several soap-opera dramas aimed at younger audiences that became quick hits: Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, New York Undercover and Party of Five. September 1993 saw the heavy promotion and debut of a short-lived Western with science-fiction elements, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. However, it was the Friday night show that debuted immediately following it, The X-Files, which would find long-lasting success, and would be Fox's first series to crack Nielsen's year-end Top 25.
The sketch-comedy series In Living Color created many memorable characters (and launched the careers of future movie superstars Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jamie Foxx, and "Fly Girl" dancer Jennifer Lopez). MADtv, another sketch-comedy series, became a solid competitor to NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Fox would expand to seven nights of programming a week by 1993, which included scheduling the breakout hit The Simpsons opposite NBC's The Cosby Show as one of Fox's initial Thursday night offerings in the fall of 1990 (along with future hit Beverly Hills, 90210) after only a half-season of success on Sunday nights. The show thrived in its new timeslot, helping to launch Martin, another Fox hit in 1992; The Simpsons returned to Sunday nights in the fall of 1994.
Notable shows that debuted in the late 1990s include the quirky dramedy Ally McBeal and traditional sitcom That '70s Show, Fox's second-longest-running live-action sitcom behind Married... with Children.
Building around its flagship The Simpsons, Fox has been relatively successful with animated shows. King of the Hill began in 1997; Family Guy began in 1999 and was cancelled in 2002, but the network commissioned new episodes that began in 2005 due to strong DVD sales and highly rated cable reruns on Adult Swim of Cartoon Network; and American Dad, which began in 2005. Less successful efforts included The Critic, which starred Jon Lovitz from Saturday Night Live, originally aired on ABC then moved to Fox before being cancelled, and The PJ's, which later aired on The WB.
Fox arguably hit a few bumps in its programming during 1999 and the early 2000s. Many staple shows of the 1990s had ended or were on the decline. During this time, Fox put much of its efforts into producing reality fare with subjects often seen as extravagant, shocking, and/or distasteful. These included shows such as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, Temptation Island, and Married by America. The most successful of these shows was Joe Millionaire, whose season-one finale was watched by over 40 million people, although its second season was a ratings disappointment. During this time, Fox also featured weekly shows such as World's Wildest Police Videos and When Animals Attack!.
After shedding most of these shows, Fox regained a ratings foothold with acclaimed dramas such as 24, The O.C., House and Bones, and comedies such as The Bernie Mac Show and Malcolm in the Middle. By 2005, Fox's most popular show by far was the talent search American Idol, peaking at up to 37 million viewers on certain episodes and finishing the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons as the nation's highest-rated program. House, airing after Idol on Tuesday nights and having had a successful run of summer repeats in 2005, positioned itself as a top-ten hit in the 2005–06 season.
Fox hit a milestone in February 2005 by scoring its first-ever sweeps-month victory among all viewers. This was largely due to the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX, but also on the strength of American Idol, 24, House, and The O.C. By the end of the 2004–05 television season, Fox ranked No. 1 for the first time in its history among the 18–49 demographic most appealing to advertisers. On May 21, 2008, Fox took the #1 general households rating crown for the first time, over CBS, based on the strength of Super Bowl XLII and American Idol.
It was estimated in 2003 that Fox is viewable by 96.18% of all U.S. households, reaching 102,565,710 houses in the United States. Fox has 180 VHF and UHF owned-and-operated or affiliate stations in the United States and U.S. possessions.
Fox began broadcasting in HDTV in 720p on September 12, 2004 with a series of NFL football games. The network has no digital on-screen graphic logo in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen on the HD feed, except to identify programs presented in HD (although the SD feed does, and the only exception to where the Fox logo bug does appear on the HD feed is during live programming), allowing their local stations to use their own logo instead. In some cases the logo is placed outside the 4:3 safe area when displayed during network programs, out of view for those with 4:3 sets with digital receivers set in fullscreen mode.
Fox is the only commercial television network (broadcast, cable or satellite) to air programs in widescreen on its digital feed that are not available in HD; programs produced in this format were identified as being presented in "Fox High Resolution Widescreen" from 2001 to 2006, but these enhanced definition programs are currently not advertised by any name. Prior to the launch of its HD feed in 2004, some sitcoms and drama series were presented in this format, but now reality, talk, and game shows (American Idol being the lone exception, as it is presented in High Definition) are only presented in the enhanced definition widescreen mode. As of September 2008, only 4KidsTV and children's sports shows This Week in Baseball, and NFL Under the Helmet are not seen in widescreen, along with the Sunday political talk program Fox News Sunday and Sunday primetime animated programs; however the animated programs are animated in 16:9, although the network has decided to present the programs using only the 4:3 safe area. MadTV was produced to air only in 4:3 until September 2008, likely due to a mix of stations airing the show at differing times than the mandated 11pm timeslot and unable to offer it on the live air in 16:9, and the show's producers not making the switch to the format.
Unlike the Big Three, Fox does not air national morning or evening news programs. However, Fox does air live coverage of the State of the Union Address, as well as live breaking news alerts (also known as Fox News Alerts), and produces national news segments to air on the local Fox affiliates' news programs. Fox News Sunday airs on the local Fox network affiliates. In prime time, Fox first tried its hand at a news show in 1988 with an hour-long weekly newsmagazine called The Reporters, which was produced by the same team behind the FTSG-distributed syndicated tabloid program A Current Affair. After two years with low ratings, this program was cancelled.
After Murdoch and Roger Ailes launched FNC in 1996, the network tried again in 1998 with Fox Files, hosted by Fox News anchors Catherine Crier and Jon Scott, as well as a team of correspondents. It lasted a little over a year before being cancelled. During the sweeps of the 2002–03 TV season, Fox tried another attempt with The Pulse, hosted by Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith.
Many Fox stations have a local morning newscast that airs on average three to four hours, including an extra two hours from 7 to 9 a.m. as a local alternative to nationwide morning programming. Fox, however, did air a nationally based morning show called Fox After Breakfast (which was formerly Breakfast Time on Fox's FX cable channel) between 1996 and 1998, which aired on all affiliates from 9 to 10 a.m. as opposed to the other major networks airing theirs from 7 to 9 a.m. Fox tried its hand again in 2001, at a morning show called Good Day Live, inspired by KTTV's Good Day L.A.—this time in syndication mode. The show did not fare well in ratings and was canceled in 2005. On January 22, 2007, Fox premiered The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet for its O&O stations, hosted by Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy of the Fox News Channel's DaySide program. The show is a lighter, more entertainment-oriented show, though that can change when there is big news. In February 2007, the show was syndicated to many ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates where a MyNetworkTV or Fox station does not carry it.
Management, having seen the critical role that sports programming (soccer programming in particular) had played in the growth of the British satellite service BSkyB, believed that sports, and specifically professional football, would be the engine that would make Fox a major network the quickest. To this end, Fox bid aggressively for football from the start. In 1987, after ABC initially hedged on renewing its contract to carry Monday Night Football, Fox offered the NFL to pick up the contract for the same amount ABC had been paying, about $13 million per game at the time. However, the NFL, in part because Fox had not established itself as a major network, chose to renew its contract with ABC.
Six years later, when the football contract was up for renewal again, Fox made what at the time was a bold and aggressive move to acquire the rights. Knowing that it would likely need to bid considerably more than the incumbent networks to acquire a piece of the package, Fox bid $1.58 billion for 4 years of rights to the NFC, considered the more desirable conference due to its presence in most of the largest U.S. markets, such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. To the surprise and shock of many, the NFL selected the Fox bid, in the process stripping CBS of football for the first time since 1955.
Fox's acquisition of football was a watershed event not only for the network but for the NFL as well. The event placed Fox on a par with the "big three" broadcast networks and ushered in an era of growth for the NFL which continues on largely to this day. Fox's acquisition of the NFL rights also quickly led toward Fox reaching a deal with New World Communications to change the affiliation of 10 of their stations to Fox.
The rights gave Fox many new viewers (and affiliates) and a platform for advertising its other shows. With a sports division now established with the arrival of the NFL, Fox would later acquire over-air broadcast rights to the National Hockey League (1994–99), Major League Baseball (since 1996), and NASCAR auto racing (since 2001 season).
Beginning in 2007, Fox now airs the Bowl Championship Series college football games, with the exception of the Rose Bowl, which will remain on ABC. This package also includes the new BCS Championship Game, except once every four years, when the game is played at the Rose Bowl, which will be on ABC.
In the past few years, when Fox aired new episodes of original programing at 7 p.m. on Sundays during football season, some of the markets, especially on the East Coast, have been unable to see all or part of the new episode of the scheduled show due to NFL overrun. Futurama was especially victim to this network decision. Beginning with the 2005 season, Fox has extended its football postgame show to 8 p.m. (the weeks Fox has a doubleheader) or it airs reruns of sitcoms (mostly The Simpsons and King of the Hill).
During the early 1990s, Fox began having stations branded as "Fox", then the channel number, with the call signs nearby. By the mid-to-late 1990s, the call signs were minimized to be just barely readable to FCC requirements, and the stations were simply known as "Fox", followed by the channel number. (For instance, WNYW in New York City, WTTG in Washington, D.C., and WAGA in Atlanta, Georgia, are referred to as Fox 5.) This marked the start of the trend for other networks to apply such naming schemes, especially at CBS, which uses the CBS Mandate on most of its owned and operated ("O&O") stations.
However, while the traditional "Big Three" do not require their affiliates to have such naming schemes, Fox recommends that all stations use it. (However, there are some exceptions; see below.) All Fox affiliates must have a Fox-approved logo, and most refer to themselves on-air as, for example, "Fox 11". Some affiliates do not include the channel number in the name, and opt instead to use a city/regional descriptor in place of the channel number (e.g. Parkersburg, West Virginia, affiliate WTAP employs the moniker Fox Parkersburg rather than Fox 14). This is because many cable companies assign Fox networks to different channels, often a different channel than it is broadcast over the air, which is especially true for Fox affiliates with a channel over 30; Fox O&O WFLD in Chicago goes by Fox Chicago rather than their channel number of 32.
Some affiliates, such as KTVU in Oakland – San Francisco mix between using Fox (channel number) to promote entertainment programming and another brand for news (like their Channel 2 News). A handful of others, like WSVN in the South Florida area and KHON in Honolulu, Hawaii, do not use the Fox brand at all.
Starting in 2006, more standardization of the O&Os began to take place both on the air and online. All the O&Os began adopting an on-air look more closely aligned with the Fox News Channel. This includes changing the logos of almost all of these stations to have the same red, white and blue rotating box logo. The news music and graphics will eventually be the same on all the O&Os as well. However, WITI in Milwaukee chose to take on the new graphical coloring, but keep their horizontal FOX6 logo relatively similar to their previous version, due to the heavy integration of the former logo into the station's news set.
Taking a cue from News Corporation's recent acquisition of MySpace, many of the Fox O&Os launched new websites that look the same and have similar addresses. For example, MyFoxDC.com takes visitors to the web site of the Fox owned-and-operated station in Washington D.C.
Fox adopted a 19-hour programming schedule in September 1993, which was expanded to 20 hours in 1996. It provides 15 hours of prime-time programming to owned-and-operated and affiliated stations: 8-10 p.m. Monday to Friday (all times ET/PT), 8–10 p.m. and 11 p.m. - 12:30 a.m on Saturday, and 7–10 p.m. on Sundays. Programming will also be provided on Saturday mornings as part of a four-hour animation block under the banner 4Kids TV (which in some markets, especially where Fox Television Stations Group owns both the Fox and MyNetworkTV affiliates and the Fox affiliate was formerly owned by New World Communications, will air on the MyNetworkTV affiliate, while the Fox station airs local news) and the hour-long political news program Fox News Sunday (time slot may vary).
Sports programming is also provided (albeit not every weekend year-round) at 12–4 or 8 p.m. on Sundays (during football season, slightly less during NASCAR season) and 3:30–7 p.m. on Saturday afternoons (during baseball season).
Analog broadcasting on FOX ends on February 17, 2009 as part of the transition to digital television.
Returning comedies are in red; new comedies are in pink; returning dramas are in green; new dramas are in blue; returning reality shows are in yellow; returning game shows are in orange; new game shows are in beige; sports programming is in purple.
|7:00 p.m.||7:30 p.m.||8:00 p.m.||8:30 p.m.||9:00 p.m.||9:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||The OT||The Simpsons||King of the Hill||Family Guy||American Dad!|
|Monday||Local Programming||Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles||Prison Break|
|Wednesday||Bones||'Til Death||'Til Death|
|Thursday||Hole in the Wall||Kitchen Nightmares|
|Friday||Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?||Don't Forget the Lyrics!|
|Saturday||COPS||COPS||America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back|
Fox began airing children's programming in 1990 when it launched the Fox Kids Network. Fox's children's programing featured many cartoons and some live-action series (particularly fantasy action programs) including Power Rangers (currently airing on various Disney-owned networks: ABC, Toon Disney, and Jetix channels around the world), Bobby's World, The Tick, Eerie, Indiana and Goosebumps. When The WB added the Kids' WB programming block in 1995, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and later Batman: The Animated Series, (all of which originated either on Fox Kids or in syndication) moved to Kids' WB with new productions and original shows included.
Fox would abandon Fox Kids after selling the children's division and the former Fox Family Channel (now ABC Family) to The Walt Disney Company in 2002 and then sell the four hours of Saturday morning time to 4Kids Entertainment.
Fox only airs two hours of network programming during the prime time hours (three hours on Sundays), compared to the three hours (four on Sundays) by the other major networks (except for The CW and ION Television). This allows for many of its stations to air local news during the 10 p.m. time slot. Fox's original reason for the reduced number of prime time hours was to avoid fulfilling the FCC's requirements at the time to be considered a network and to be free of resulting regulations, though FCC rules have been relaxed since then.
Fox also does not air soap operas or any other network daytime programming (game shows, talk shows) despite being a major network. Because of this, affiliates have more time for lucrative syndicated programming. (Fox produces three syndicated daytime courtroom shows, Divorce Court, Judge Alex, and Cristina's Court). However, it has been reported that Fox may be moving into the arena in the near future, as they have ordered a daytime drama pilot called Born in the USA which has already been cast and has now started production.
At least half of Fox's 180 O&O and affiliated stations air local news in the 10-11 p.m. (9-10 p.m. CT/MT) timeslot. The newscast schedules on Fox stations vary more from station to station than ABC, CBS and NBC's affiliates. Some Fox stations have a newscast schedule similar to the Big Three's affiliates along with the added late evening newscast at 10 p.m. and a late afternoon newscast extended by a half-hour competing with the national evening newscasts, while others only have a 10 p.m. newscast.
Miami's WSVN has the most local news of any Fox station with roughly 54 hours per week, followed by Tampa's WTVT with roughly 52.5 hours per week. Only a few Fox stations that air an 11 p.m. (or 10 p.m.) newscast along with a 10 p.m. (or 9 p.m.) newscast. WTVT, WNYW in New York, WTXF in Philadelphia, WFLD in Chicago, KDFW in Dallas/Fort Worth, WAGA in Atlanta, WOFL in Orlando, WJBK in Detroit, KMSP in Minneapolis-St. Paul, KSAZ in Phoenix, WTTG Washington, D.C., and WFXT in Boston are the only Fox-owned stations to have a 11p.m./10 p.m. newscast in the Eastern Time Zone, Central and Mountain Time Zones with only WFXT, WTTG, and KSAZ airing it every night. WDAF-TV in Kansas City, WITI in Milwaukee, WBRC in Birmingham, KOKH in Oklahoma City, WZTV in Nashville, KTVI St. Louis., and WSVN in Miami are some of the few non-O&Os airing a 10pm (or 9 p.m.) and a 11pm (or 10 p.m.) newscast.
Stations that don't air local news air syndicated programming, usually off-network sitcoms in that timeslot, though some small market Fox affiliates outsource their newscasts to a Big Three station in the market (either situation may change in the future as more Fox stations start their own news divisions). In some smaller markets with duopolies, the Fox affiliate usually airs a 10 PM newscast from a sister station, such as Youngstown, Ohio where CBS affiliate WKBN airs a 10 PM newscast on its sister station, Fox affiliate WYFX . Upstart Fox local news divisions do not run a full slate of newscasts (i.e., morning, midday, early and late evening newscasts plus news on weekend evenings and possibly weekend mornings), instead starting with a 10 p.m. newscast then gradually adding other newscasts.
The largest market with a Fox affiliate that airs no news whatsoever is Buffalo, New York, where WUTV has long opted for sitcom reruns instead; that station is within range of the Toronto area and targets Southern Ontario heavily with their programs and advertising instead of launching a news operation in an area with heavy news coverage already from other stations in Buffalo, Hamilton and Toronto.
The network's justification for canceling these programs has generally been poor ratings. Fans of these programs respond by pointing toward critical praise and dedicated core fan followings, and blame the ratings on inconvenient time slots, poor advertising or illogical broadcasting. For example, the pilot episode of Firefly, traditionally aired first as an introduction to characters and storylines, was the last episode aired by Fox. Most other episodes of Firefly were aired out of production and storyline order. Another often-cited example is the 1990s series Sliders, which faced similar problems on Fox.
In more recent years, the first two episodes of Drive were aired on a Sunday, and the third episode was aired the next day against Dancing with the Stars and Deal or No Deal. Fox canceled Drive after only four episodes and the last two complete episodes were shown online. Further inflaming fans, Fox has promised to air remaining episodes of shows and then failed to follow through on these promises.
In 2006, a number of Fox affiliates said that they would refuse to air O.J. Simpson's two-night interview special with Judith Regan, If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, scheduled for November 27 and 29, citing overwhelmingly negative viewer feedback. With other major affiliate groups reportedly threatening to pull their stations as well, Fox pulled the special a week before its airdate.
The Parents Television Council has criticized many popular FOX shows for perceived indecent content, such as American Dad, Arrested Development, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Hell's Kitchen, Married...With Children, Prison Break, and That '70s Show. The Council sometimes has gone even as far as to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission regarding indecent content within Fox programming, having done so for That '70s Show and Married By America, having successfully been able to make the FCC fine the Fox network nearly $1 million for Married by America. Also, Fox programming has been chosen by the PTC for its weekly "Worst TV Show of the Week" feature more often than programming from any other broadcast network.
Since the network bought the rights to post-season baseball coverage, Fox has received criticism from non-baseball fans for not airing first-run original programming during October. (Baseball fans point out that there are plenty of other broadcast and cable networks available on every TV package that do show original scripted programming.) For the majority of the years that Fox has aired baseball, the network started the season for The Simpsons and other shows in November. In 2005, Fox started its season in September, took the month of October off to show the Major League Baseball playoffs, and resumed non-baseball programming in November. (In 2007, Fox no longer has rights to League Division Series games, and has only one League Championship Series per year.) Both approaches have drawn criticism. Fox Sports has also received criticism from sports fans of bias toward teams in certain conferences, especially during the Super Bowl and the World Series, usually the National Football Conference in football (due to the fact that Fox owns the rights to NFC games) and the American League, especially the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, in baseball. Fox rarely shows teams from outside the top-10 media markets during the regular season.
Among baseball enthusiasts, Fox's coverage of Major League Baseball is often criticized. Many cite "whooshing" sound effects to accompany on-screen graphics, the use of Scooter, a talking baseball created with the intent of teaching the younger audience the difference between pitches, and even announcers Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and Jeanne Zelasko as reasons for their disdain (even though McCarver used to be an analyst at ABC and CBS before he worked at Fox). Other purists are critical of Fox's rapid-fire switching of screen shots, complaining that it is not well-suited to the pace of baseball.
Fox's National Hockey League coverage drew the ire of some hockey fans due to FoxTrax, a computer-generated "glowing" effect around the puck, which was intended to help casual fans keep up with the action. Ostensibly, it did not work, as the network chose not to match ESPN and ABC Sports' five-year, $600-million contract with the NHL in August 1998. Fox did not retain FoxTrax for its final season of coverage.
Fans of the series Malcolm in the Middle also criticized Fox, because during the football season, Fox would finish the scheduled game, but then cut to another game running over schedule, then do the postgame show, frequently eating into Malcolm's timeslot in the Eastern United States. This resulted in a ratings drop that would later lead to the series' cancellation. This is the same fate previously met by Futurama.
Fox is credited with a major graphics innovation in televised sports. Originally known as the Fox Box, a nearly omni-present graphic featuring the score and pertinent information, most notably the position of base-runners, count on the batter, score, inning and pitch speed in baseball; time remaining, score, down, possession and penalty flag indicators for football. Originally presented as a box in an upper corner of the screen (hence the term Fox Box), it is now generally seen as a strip imposed over the picture at the top of the screen. Other networks have adopted the scheme, which allows fans an instant and constant graphic insight into the progress and status of a game, as opposed to the prior practice which saw graphical references to scores and time remaining presented mainly at critical junctures or leading into commercial breaks. The scoring banner design is also used by other Fox owned sports operations, such as Fox Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.
|1986/1987||Don't Let Fox Weekend Pass You By|
|1988||This is the Year|
|1990||It's on Fox|
|1992||You're Watching Fox|
|1993||Fox: You're Watching It|
|1994||It Could Only Happen on Fox|
|1994||The Spirit of Fox/We're Gonna Keep it on Fox|
|1995||Cool Like Us|
|1997||Just One Fox|
|2006||Fox 20 Years|
In 1986, the year of its inaugurating television service, Fox got its first official logo, which was based on 20th Century Fox's longtime logo with the noted difference being that the only wording in the logo was the "FOX" in capital letters. It also contained the signature Fox searchlights and the double-pane platform under the "FOX" typing (Fox Movie Channel currently uses a logo also modeled after the 20th Century Fox logo).
In 1993, the original logo was dropped in favor for a modernized version, this time removing the searchlights and became a multi-paned rectangle with two panes under and an extra pane above the "FOX" typing. This logo introduced a slightly modified version of the current typeface for the "FOX" logo. The logo was revised again in 1996, made as a modified version of the 1986-1993 logo with the current "FOX" typing. It reintroduced the searchlights placed behind the network name.
The logo was again revised in 1997, removing the panes underneath the network name, but leaving the searchlights. The current version of the logo was introduced in 1999 when the 20th Century Fox searchlights were removed completely and only the network name was visible. Despite this, the searchlight theme remains an integral part of News Corporation's Fox branding efforts, still seen in the Fox News Channel logo, and in the new universal station logo utilized by the FTSG stations, those former Fox stations sold to Local TV LLC, and several of Tribune Broadcasting's Fox stations. The older 1996-1997 Fox logo with searchlights is still used by many of the network's affiliates in their logos, and the searchlights were seen in FX's logo until a rebranding effort in 2008.
In addition, a green version of the logo in late April 2008 featured the O in the logo replaced with either a leaf inside a circle, or a globe with the Western Hemisphere in profile, in conjunction with the network's Earth Day campaign. During holiday periods, the Fox O has also been replaced with a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween, a globe Christmas ornament for that holiday, and the week before the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a baseball. Also, in 2007, the F and the X in "FOX" were displayed in a yellow color and the O was in the shape of a pink donut to coincide with the release of The Simpsons Movie to movie theaters.
The week prior to the NFL on FOX's season premiere featured the show's logo as the bug, and below it with the text "Returns Sept. 7".