The 1994 United States broadcast television realignment consisted of a series of events, primarily involving affiliation switches between television stations, that resulted from a multimillion-dollar deal between the Fox Broadcasting Company (commonly known as simply Fox) and New World Communications, a media company that – through its then-recently formed broadcasting division – owned several VHF television stations affiliated with major broadcast television networks, primarily CBS.
The major impetus for the changes was to allow Fox to improve its local affiliate coverage, in preparation for the commencement of its rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) television package, which the National Football League (NFL) awarded to the fledgling network in December 1993. As a result of various other deals that followed as a result of the affiliation switches created by the deal between Fox and New World, most notably the buyout of CBS by Westinghouse, the switches constituted some of the most sweeping changes in American television history. As a result of this realignment, Fox ascended to the status of a major television network, comparable in influence to the Big Three television networks (CBS, NBC and ABC).
Nearly 70 stations in 30 media markets throughout the United States changed affiliations starting in September 1994 and continuing through September 1996 (although an additional affiliation switch would occur in February 1997, through the launch of an upstart station that gained its network partner through one of the ancillary deals), which – along with the concurrent January 1995 launches of The WB Television Network (a joint venture between Time Warner, the Tribune Company and the network’s founding chief executive officer, Jamie Kellner) and the United Paramount Network (UPN) (founded by Chris-Craft/United Television, through a programming partnership with Paramount Television), both of which affiliated with certain stations that lost their previous network partners through the various affiliation agreements – marked some of the most expansive changes ever to have occurred in American television.
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