Fox may be in line to acquire KTVU, but viewers shouldn't assume the Oakland television station will adopt a Fox News-like sensibility, say industry observers and Channel 2 insiders. Instead, Tuesday's announcement of a multipronged business transaction appears to be more about football than journalism.

"People can put their fears aside," said Rich Lieberman, who writes a blog about the Bay Area media scene. "You're not going to see Bill O' Reilly popping up on Channel 2 any time soon."

KTVU and its sister station KICU (Channel 36) are being dealt to Fox Television Stations by Atlanta-based Cox Media Group. In exchange, Cox is getting Fox-owned stations in Boston and Memphis. KTVU has been a Fox affiliate since 1987, but has been owned by Cox Media for the past 51 years.

The announcement triggered speculation over what impact, if any, the change, would have on KTVU's newscasts. Channel 2's 10 p.m. news program has long dominated the ratings in the largely liberal Bay Area market.

"People should realize that Fox, the network, has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel, which is just one of the many tentacles in Rupert Murdoch's (News Corp.) company," Lieberman said. "Initially, at least, I don't think viewers will notice any difference at all. The newscasts will look the same as they did yesterday and the day before."

A KTVU employee, who asked not to be identified, echoed that assessment.

"The reality is that we've been a Fox station for many years and yet the Fox News division has not been an intrusion on our news programming in any shape or form," he said.

KTVU, which went on the air in 1958 as an independent station, became one of the first affiliates of the fledgling Fox network. Longtime KTVU news anchor Dennis Richmond, who retired in 2008, said the partnership with Fox has benefitted both the station and network. But he warned against any shift toward a Fox News-like approach.

"Our viewers became accustomed to a straightforward newscast," he said. "Fox News, on the other hand, is very biased in one direction. I'd hate to see that stigma stuck on Channel 2 and I don't think viewers would react very positively if that happened."

KTVU news director Lee Rosenthal declined to comment.

The key part of the deal between Fox and Cox Media Group has much more to do with sports than news programming. The Bay Area market appealed to Fox because the network has the highly lucrative televising rights to the National Football Conference and the Bay Area is home to the 49ers.

"The NFL is so huge. It brings in ad profits, galore," Lieberman said. "Now, Fox won't have to share those profits (with Cox)."

Multiple sources have said that had Cox Media not been willing to negotiate, Fox probably would have purchased independent station KRON (Channel 4) and taken its programming there. If the deal receives regulatory approval as expected, KTVU will join all of the Bay Area's other major stations in being owned and operated by a broadcast network.

Follow Chuck Barney at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.