With the Olympics just a few weeks away, KNTV Channel 11 has begun producing its local news in HD and has changed its on-air brand from “NBC11” to “NBC Bay Area,” dropping any reference to a channel number.
When KNTV became an NBC affiliate in 2001, the station’s owner, Granite Broadcasting, branded the station NBC3 to match the channel position Comcast gave the station, even though it was broadcasting over the air on Channel 11. At the time, KNTV’s transmitter was located atop Loma Prieta Peak, about 60 miles south of San Francisco. Most Bay Area households receiving KNTV at the time were likely seeing it via cable. The NBC3 branding created confusion with KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento, an NBC affiliate seen in the East Bay. When NBC took over KNTV in 2002, it re-branded the station as NBC11. NBC has since moved the transmitter to San Bruno Mountain.
The decision to drop any reference to a channel number may be the wave of the future, as channel positions will become less important after the switch to all digital TV next February.
With KNTV’s switch to HD, all four network stations in the Bay Area are producing news in high definition. KTVU Channel 2 was the first, starting Oct. 11, 2006. KGO ABC7 was next, making the switch on Feb. 17, 2007, followed by KPIX CBS5 on Jan. 28, 2008.