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A 10-minute fragment from KTLA's first broadcast exists at the Paley Center for Media.

KTLA was originally affiliated with the Du Mont Television Network, of which Paramount held a minority stake; it disaffiliated from the network in 1948 and converted into an independent station.

Bob Hope served as the emcee for KTLA's inaugural broadcast, titled as The Western Premiere of Commercial Television, which was broadcast live that evening from a garage on the Paramount Studios lot and featured appearances from many Hollywood luminaries.

Hope delivered what was perhaps the most famous line of the telecast when, at the program's start, he identified the new station as "KTL" – mistakenly omitting the "A" at the end of the call sign.

Under Tribune, KTLA continued to acquire high rated off-network sitcoms as well as talk shows for its schedule.

KTLA became an affiliate of the MGM/UA Premiere Network, a film-based ad hoc television network, with the showing of Clash of the Titans.

On January 22, 1947, the station was licensed for commercial broadcasting as KTLA on channel 5, becoming the first commercial television station in Los Angeles, the first to broadcast west of the Mississippi River, and the eighth television station in the United States.

Estimates of television sets in Los Angeles County at the time ranged from 350 to 600, since experimental station W6XAO (later KTSL and now KCBS-TV) was already in operation.

In 1958, KTLA moved its operations into the Paramount Sunset Studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.KTLA sought a different programming strategy from its competitors during the late 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing syndicated reruns of off-network hour long dramas with a heavy emphasis on western-themed programs such as The Gene Autry Show, Bonanza, The Big Valley, first-run talk shows, movies and sports programming.Children's programs, with the exception of weekend morning Popeye cartoons (which originally came from former parent Paramount,), were also phased out.Popeye continued Sunday Mornings but with only the 1960s King Features episodes.Later in the 1970s more drama shows like Kojak and Starsky and Hutch were added.

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