KIKU, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 19), is an independent television station licensed to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. The station is owned by NRJ TV, LLC. KIKU's studios are located on Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu, and its transmitter is located in Nānākuli. The station is carried on Oceanic Spectrum channels 9 and 89, Hawaiian Telcom channel 20, and on satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV, both on channel 20. As a result, KIKU is available on all the major islands.[2]

Honolulu, Hawaii
United States
SloganHawaii's KIKU Television
ChannelsDigital: 19 (UHF)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
Affiliations20.1: Independent
20.2: ShopHQ
20.3: Laff
20.4: SonLife
(sale to WRNN-TV Associates pending[1])
(NRJ TV Hawaii License Co, LLC)
First air dateDecember 30, 1983 (1983-12-30)
Call letters' meaningKIKU is 菊(きく), or Chrysanthemum in Japanese
Former call letters of KHNL
Former callsignsKHAI-TV (1983–1993)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
20 (UHF, 1983–2009)
Former affiliationsSecondary:
UPN (2004–2006)
FUNimation Channel (2006–2007)
Transmitter power60.7 kW
Height606.4 m (1,990 ft)
Facility ID34527
Transmitter coordinates21°23′40″N 158°5′51″W


Prior history of the KIKU callsign in Honolulu

Although the station advertises on-air that it has been on the air for "over 40 years," the "current KIKU" is not to be confused with another station in Honolulu on VHF channel 13 that formerly used the KIKU call letters. That station launched as independent station KTRG-TV on July 4, 1962, under the ownership of the Watumull Broadcasting Company. That station was sold in 1966, changing its call letters to KIKU.[3] The original KIKU became quite popular with Hawaiian children throughout the 1970s, televising several Japanese tokusatsu shows, including Kamen Rider V3, Kikaider, Rainbowman, Ganbare!! Robocon, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger and Battle Fever J.

The Cushmans of San Diego, in partnership with TV Asahi and ten local investors, formed Mid-Pacific Television Associates and purchased channel 13 on April 9, 1979. Japanese programming was pared down and moved to the primetime hours from 7 to 10 p.m.; KIKU switched to a "kid vid" format, scoring success with programs such as The Children's Hour and Professor Fun.[3] (the Japanese programs would be dropped completely by 1981).

In 1984, KIKU had its callsign changed to KHNL-TV. In 1986, KHNL-TV was sold to Seattle-based King Broadcasting Company; that year, channel 13 became a charter affiliate of the Fox network. However, KHNL continued to broadcast Asian programming content—mostly sumo wrestling matches. In 1992, King Broadcasting merged with the Providence Journal Company and its financial partner, Kelso & Company. KHNL presently operates as the market's NBC affiliate following a January 1, 1996 affiliation switch that saw the station trade network affiliations with KHON-TV (channel 2), which became Honolulu's Fox affiliate on that date through a groupwide affiliation agreement with its then-owner SF Broadcasting.

KIKU station history

Channel 20's history traces back to February 12, 1980, when a license for the allocation was filed with the Federal Communications Commission, officially registered under the call letters KHAI-TV. It signed on the air under that callsign on December 30, 1983 under the ownership of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Media Central.[4] Initially, the station's programming mirrored that of a traditional independent station during the daytime and late evening hours (featuring cartoons such as Inspector Gadget and Voltron, Defender of the Universe, infomercials, and movie packages such as Kung Fu Theater), with most of the Asian programming airing in the evenings, similar to the format of the channel 13 KIKU. This would gradually change over the years as it expanded the Asian programming throughout its entire schedule. KHAI was originally carried by Oceanic Cable on channel 21, C-SPAN took over the space during the morning hours when KHAI was off-the-air; this continued until Oceanic realigned its basic cable lineup and move the station to channel 9. After Media Central ran into financial troubles and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, KHAI was sold to the owners of Los Angeles multicultural station KSCI in 1989.[5] The station changed its call letters to KIKU on September 4, 1993.

In October 2003, the station's general manager Gregg Mueller left KIKU after a three-year tenure. After many years, acting president Joanne Ninomiya[6] of JN Productions ended her company's partnership with KIKU in early 2004.

On November 1, 2004, KIKU began a secondary affiliation with UPN.[7] The station became the fourth and final television station in the Honolulu market to affiliate with UPN; KFVE served as the market's original UPN affiliate from January 1995 to September 2002, after which KHON-TV and KGMB shared the network's programming as a joint secondary affiliation until October 2004. KIKU aired most UPN programming during the late afternoon hours, with some shows airing out of pattern. For instance, in 2006, the station aired UPN's Thursday night comedy block out of order on Friday afternoons, resulting in WWE Friday Night Smackdown airing in a Saturday late night timeslot.

KIKU reverted to being a full-time independent station after UPN shut down on September 17, 2006 (UPN and The WB's consolidation and shutdowns that month resulted in the creation of The CW Television Network[8][9]). After the launch of The CW was announced, KIKU formally announced it would not seek to affiliate with the upstart network;[10] The CW later signed an affiliation deal with KHON-TV, which carries the network on a digital subchannel.

On September 18, 2006, KIKU became one of the few over-the-air affiliates of the FUNimation Channel. From that date until September 2007, KIKU ran two hours of select anime programs in English every weekday from 6:00 to 7:00 and 10:00 to 11:00 p.m., with the lineup of shows changing periodically. KIKU disaffiliated from the FUNimation Channel in September 2007, due to low viewership.

In January 2012, KIKU's then-owner AsianMedia Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; the station, along with KSCI in Los Angeles and its San Diego repeater KUAN-LP, was sold to NRJ TV (a company unrelated to European broadcaster NRJ Radio) for $45 million in March 2012, in a transaction that included the assumption of AsianMedia Group's debt.[11][12] In May 2012, KIKU dropped most of its English-language entertainment programming to concentrate on expanding its Asian programming.

Pending sale to RNN

On December 9, 2019, it was announced that WRNN-TV Associates, owner of New York City-based WRNN-TV, secured a deal to purchase seven full-power TV stations (including KIKU) and one Class A station from NRJ, pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The sale is expected to close by the first quarter of 2020.[1]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[13]
20.11080i16:9KIKU-DTMain KIKU programming

Analog-to-digital conversion

KIKU discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on January 15, 2009, the date in which full-power television stations in Hawaii transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts (six months earlier than the June 12 transition date for stations on the U.S. mainland). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 19,[14] using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20.


Most of KIKU's programming consists of multicultural content catering to the large Asian community in the Hawaiian Islands. Programs seen on the station are broadcast in Japanese, Tagalog, and English. Japanese programming is its most popular genre on the station, with content licensed from some of Japan's major television broadcasters, including TV Asahi, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, NHK and Nippon TV.[2][15] Also its Filipino programming are from the most popular television broadcasters in the Philippines GMA Network, ABS-CBN, and TV 5. In 2011, KIKU expanded its Asian focus to include Chinese programming on Saturdays.

KIKU partners with various companies to provide English subtitles for its Japanese programming to reach English-speaking viewers, some programs are subtitled in-house.


In the April 2006 hardcopy publication Kokiku Magazine, fans have expressed their displeasure of KIKU continuing to air old travel shows such as Soko ga Shiritai.[16] In the following May issue, KIKU general manager Phyllis Kihara defended the station's position, stating that Soko has higher ratings in the local Nielsen ratings than some of the major network shows that air in the 7:00 p.m. timeslot on weeknights.

See also


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