Independent stations are television broadcast stations that are not affiliated with a commercial network. This practice gives the stations more freedom to program where it is most profitable, and they command more revenue from local advertisers. In a number of markets, some independents would run network programming passed up by the local CBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates, most notably where the networks do not own a station.
Independents in larger markets were bountiful from the 1950s on. They were mainly on VHF channels in larger markets, as attempts to start up on UHF were stymied by the band's inaccessibility on 1950s tuners. The DuMont network popped up on some VHF stations but when it went belly-up, the stations that had it as primary would revert to independent status. By the 1960s, UHF tuners became mandatory and UHF channels began a slow trend to acceptability as was a gradual growth of independent stations. Some markets, such as Huntsville, Alabama and Fresno, California, have had all UHF stations (under the digital spectrum, Fresno now has two VHF stations). That began a slow but steady change.
By 1986 the FOX network started up and began recruiting mainly UHF and VHF stations that were up to that time independents. (About 35% of Fox affiliates were on VHF; they display via PSIP on what used to be their VHF position.) In 1995, The WB and UPN started up and began gobbling up remaining UHF and VHF independents. Areas that didn't have enough stations allocated would program The WB on basic cable and UPN would become secondary on network affiliates. In 1998, Paxson Communications would start PAX TV on their stations that didn't have other affiliations.
Independent stations are rare today but those still on the air continue to thrive. Among those:
|KUSI-TV||18||51||San Diego, CA||with UPN, 1995-98|
|WHDH-TV||35||7||Boston, MA||with CBS 1992-95 and NBC 1995-2017|
|KCAL-TV||9||9||Los Angeles, CA||with DuMont, 1949-55 (as KHJ)|
|WCIU-TV||27 (23)||26||Chicago, IL|
|KTXA||18||21||Ft. Worth, TX||with UPN, 1995-2006|
|WMOR-TV||19 (18)||32||Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL||Lakeland city of license|
|KTVK||24||3||Phoenix, AZ||previously ABC (to 1995)|
|WJXT||42 (18)||4||Jacksonville, FL||previously CBS (to 2002)|
|WAXN-TV||50 (32)||64||Charlotte, NC||Kannapolis city of license|
|KDOC-TV||12||56||Los Angeles, CA||Anaheim city of license|
|KSTC-TV||45 (30)||45||Minneapolis, MN|
|KMCI-TV||25||38||Kansas City, MO||Lawrence, KS city of license|
|WSKY-TV||9 (13)||4||Norfolk, VA||Manteo, NC city of license|
|WJTC-TV||45 (35)||44||Pensacola, FL||with UPN, 1995-2006|
|WPGA||23||58||Macon GA||Previously Fox (1994-96) and ABC (1996-2010); Perry city of license|
Figure in parenthesis indicates RF channel relocation for station as per the digital spectrum auction.