The CBS Mandate, which is also known as the Viacom Mandate, is a mandate used by both Viacom & now CBS Corporation on the company's O&Os with regards to a universal style & look. Under the Mandate, the station is known as CBS, then the channel number of that particular station. The logos are also similar & the color schemes are usually either blue, yellow & white, or light blue & white. Sometimes, the location name is also added to the name as well (most likely to avoid confusion between stations that broadcast on the same channel number).

Development[edit | edit source]

The CBS Mandate was first introduced in 1997 when Westinghouse Electric Corporation renamed itself CBS Corporation. It decided to implement similar branding on the company's 3 flagship stations: WCBS-TV in New York City, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles & WBBM-TV in Chicago. Since all 3 stations are positioned on ch. 2, they were referred to as "CBS 2" in every single reference to the station except when the FCC mandates use of the call signs, which otherwise are absent altogether from the logo. The 3 stations, however, did not share identical graphics & music, or even the same logo.

Initially, only those 3 stations were mandated for this change, but after Viacom acquired CBS in 2000, this began to spread. From 2002-early 2004, many of the other CBS O&Os began to implement such changes, with most of them literally changing overnight, some changing in association with CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XXXV in February 2001, or Super Bowl XXXVIII in February 2004. KYW-TV in Philadelphia, which adopted the "CBS 3" moniker in January 2003, was 1 of the few that gave viewers notice prior to the changes. KOVR in Sacramento, which CBS acquired in 2005 from Sinclair Broadcast Group, is the most recent station to undergo these changes, as it was rebranded as "CBS 13" later that year. KEYE in Austin was still branded simply as "K-EYE" even after being sold by Granite Broadcasting in 1999 to CBS Corporation until 2005 when it was rebranded as "CBS 42".

The light-blue & white color scheme made its debut on WBBM in 2002, with the arrival of new GM Joe Ahern. Under Ahern, the station also returned to using its previous news theme, The Enforcer by Frank Gari. WCBS then adopted a color scheme with a darker shade of blue in 2003 & began using John Hegner's News in Focus as its news theme. (News in Focus was later absorbed into Gari's Enforcer.) The color scheme then spread to several other O&Os. By this time KCBS had introduced a new logo with a blue & yellow color scheme, a color scheme which was carried over from its new sister station, KCAL (which Viacom had acquired in 2002; KCAL's GM, Donald Corsini, also took over as KCBS's GM). This color scheme can also be found on KCNC in Denver. In addition, many O&Os use the Helvetica font as part of their branding.

CBS has gotten mixed results from the changeovers, as stations either struggled with this scheme (such as WBZ-TV in Boston) or have become more successful (such as KYW-TV & WBBM-TV). The most common names used are "CBS 2" & "CBS 4", which are used in a combined 8 markets & possibly 9 depending on what KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh ends up doing, as viewers in the Pittsburgh market have protested over such possible changes. KDKA did end up "meeting halfway" in May 2003 when it adopted a CBS Mandate-style logo, but with the KDKA name still being used instead of "CBS 2". KCNC-TV, which had been branded as "News 4 Colorado" since 1988, adopting ex-sister station WNBC's "News 4 New York" logo in 1992 (with "Colorado" substituting for "New York" & the CBS eye substituting for the NBC peacock beginning in 1995), began integrating the CBS eye into the logo, but the station switched to nearly full compliance with the CBS Mandate in September 2003 with new graphics, a new set & the use of the Newstime theme by 615 Music. However, they still referred to their newscasts as News 4 for 2 years after the switch.

Variations & non-compliance[edit | edit source]

Some O&Os, however, use other graphics & music packages despite following the "CBS/channel number" branding. For example:

  • The graphics packages on KTVT (CBS 11) in Fort Worth/Dallas & KEYE-TV (CBS 42) in Austin prominently feature a Lone Star motif.
  • KPIX-TV (CBS 5) in San Francisco continues to use a variant of the Group W font from the Westinghouse days on its logo, as does WJZ-TV in Baltimore (which currently does not follow the Mandate).
  • WFOR-TV (CBS 4) in Miami, Florida also uses a different font for its logo & Century Gothic for their graphics. It also uses an orange & teal color scheme in reference to the Miami Dolphins, of which WFOR is the "home" station.

WWJ-TV in Detroit formerly omitted their channel number in favor of the city by calling the station "CBS Detroit", similar to the practice of former UPN O&Os. This may have been due to the perceived embarrassing nature of having a "Big 3" network affiliate in a major American market residing on UHF ch. 62, the highest of any CBS affiliate.

Currently, the following CBS-owned stations do not follow the full Mandate: Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV (which stopped just short of the "CBS 2" branding), Baltimore's WJZ-TV & Minneapolis-St. Paul's WCCO-TV (the latter 2 of which have not adopted any form of the Mandate). Additionally, on November 20 2006, WBZ-TV announced that it would cease to follow the Mandate & return to using its call letters on-air, with GM Ed Piette stating that "Employee feedback & comprehensive market research made it clear ... combining the well respected, local identity of WBZ-TV with the strength of CBS ... is an important step in the station's growth." In February 2007, WBZ officially joined KUTV, WCCO & WJZ in not following any form of the CBS Mandate by rebranding as simply "WBZ". In January 2008, WWJ-TV also abandoned the CBS Mandate by rebranding as "WWJ TV", removing the network reference & continuing to leave out their analog channel number, in an attempt to help localize the station.

While it was owned by CBS, Salt Lake City's KUTV called itself "2 News" & thus did not follow the Mandate. That station, along with KEYE, were sold to the Four Points Media Group in January 2008.

Other stations[edit | edit source]

UPN/CW[edit | edit source]

Once most of the CBS O&O stations started to follow the Mandate, some of the UPN O&Os began to go by a slightly different version of this as well. UPN's version has the station known as UPN, then the location name & usually with a red & white color scheme, with an accent of yellow.

A reason for the location in the name instead of a channel number is from the stations being in the higher Ch. 40-70 range, thus alleviating confusion due to much lower channel number assignments on cable & satellite systems & the low appeal of a high channel number, such as the case of Atlanta's WUPA, which broadcasts on Ch. 69, the highest UHF channel allotment possible.

The UPN version of the Mandate began in fall 2003, when WNPA in Pittsburgh (now WPCW), KDKA's sister station, changed names from "UPN 19" to "UPN Pittsburgh". This was originally done to avoid confusion, as WNPA was carried on different channels on various cable systems in the area. There was also possible confusion in the northwestern area of WNPA's viewing area with Cleveland's CBS affiliate WOIO-TV, which is also on ch. 19.

Eventually, many of the UPN stations in the same situation as WNPA & even not so - ended up adopting this naming scheme. However, this regressed in later years (mostly due to UPN stations in non-duopoly markets being sold off) & by August 2006 only WPCW, KBCW (44) in San Francisco, WUPA (69) in Atlanta, WKBD (50) in Detroit & WUPL (54) in New Orleans went by this scheme.

KBCW did show a "44" number in a UPN slanted circle next to the UPN Bay Area logo, with its 'cable 12' Comcast Bay Area system assignment below both logos.

Of note, KSTW in Seattle does not use the Mandate (previously going by the on-air brand UPN 11; it's currently CW 11 & has since added its callsign to its branding) due to being a VHF station with a channel number easier to market & that fits in with most cable/satellite system assignments.

Most of the UPN stations following the mandate have since changed to reflect the network's merger with The WB, creating the new CW Network (the only exceptions being WKBD, which became CW 50 & WUPL, which affiliated with My Network TV instead & was later sold off). Except for reflecting The CW instead of UPN, the CW version of the Mandate is identical to the UPN version. However, by 2008, only WPCW continues to follow this Mandate. The other stations began to use their over-the-air channel numbers (& in the case of KBCW & WUPA, their cable channel positions) in their branding.

Independent station[edit | edit source]

In addition, CBS's independent station in Los Angeles, KCAL-TV (Ch. 9) also follows the Mandate. The station uses the same newsroom, graphics package & branding as KCBS. It also uses a logo similar to KCBS's, with a silver disc imprinted with the KCAL call letters taking the place where the CBS eyemark would be in the KCBS CBS 2 logo.

CBS's other 2 independent stations (WSBK-TV in Boston & KTXA in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas) & MyNetworkTV station WBFS in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida do not currently follow this mandate.

Stations with the Mandate[edit | edit source]

Here is a list of the stations with the Mandate for both CBS & CW, in addition to KCAL.

CBS[edit | edit source]

  • WCBS-TV in New York City: "CBS 2 New York"
  • KCBS-TV in Los Angeles: "CBS 2 Los Angeles"
  • WBBM-TV in Chicago: "CBS 2 Chicago"
  • KYW-TV in Philadelphia: "CBS 3"
  • KPIX-TV in San Francisco: "CBS 5 Bay Area"
  • KTVT in Dallas/Fort Worth: "CBS 11"
  • WFOR-TV in Miami: "CBS 4 News"
  • KCNC-TV in Denver: "CBS 4 Denver"
  • KOVR in Sacramento: "CBS 13"

CW[edit | edit source]

  • WPCW in Pittsburgh: "Pittsburgh CW"

Additionally, WWHO in Chillicothe, Ohio & WNDY-TV in Indianapolis were respectively known as "UPN Columbus" & "UPN Indiana" while they were owned by Viacom/CBS.

Independent[edit | edit source]

  • KCAL in Los Angeles: "K-CAL 9"

External links[edit | edit source]

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