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KSTU, virtual channel 13 (UHF digital channel 28), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. KSTU's studios are located on West Amelia Earhart Drive in the northwestern section of Salt Lake City, and its transmitter is located on Farnsworth Peak in the Oquirrh Mountains, southwest of Salt Lake City. The station has a large network of broadcast translators that extend its over-the-air coverage throughout Utah, as well as portions of Nevada.
|Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Branding||Fox 13 (general)|
Fox 13 News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 28 (UHF)|
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
(sale to Nexstar Media Group pending; to be resold to the E. W. Scripps Company thereafter)
(KSTU License, LLC)
|First air date||October 24, 1978|
November 9, 1987
|Call letters' meaning||Springfield Television of Utah|
|Former channel number(s)|
|Transmitter power||350 kW|
|Height||1,210 m (3,970 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
As an independent stationEdit
The station first signed on the air on October 24, 1978 under the ownership of Massachusetts-based Springfield Television, which also owned NBC affiliate WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts and ABC affiliate WKEF in Dayton, Ohio. It was the first independent station in Utah, as well as the first new commercial station to sign on in the area since KUTV (channel 2) hit the airwaves 24 years earlier.
Salt Lake City had a fairly long wait for an independent station compared to other cities of its size; it had been big enough on paper to support one since the early 1960s. However, the Salt Lake City market is one of the largest and most mountainous markets in the country, covering all of Utah and large slices of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. The market's three commercial stations, as well as PBS members KUED and KBYU-TV, all needed massive networks of low-power translators to cover it. Additionally, at the time the only available allocations were on the UHF band, and UHF stations have never covered mountainous territory very well. The expense associated with building a translator network, combined with the limitations of UHF, most prospective investors until the 1970s. By the mid-1970s, however, cable television—a must for acceptable television in much of Utah, even in today's digital era—had gotten enough penetration in the market to lessen the need for translators and make an independent station viable.
The station originally broadcast on UHF channel 20 using a transmitter originally used for WWLP's partial satellite, WRLP-TV in Greenfield, Massachusetts (which closed down shortly before KSTU's sign-on). KSTU's programming at the time was typical for an independent station—cartoons, off-network classic sitcoms, classic movies, and drama series. Springfield Television merged with Adams Communications in 1984. On October 6, 1986, the station became a charter affiliate of Fox. However, like most Fox affiliates early in the network's history, it was still essentially programmed as an independent. Fox initially ran only late night programming at launch and when it added primetime programming in April 1987, it only aired such programs on Saturdays and Sundays. It would not air a full week's worth of programming until 1993.
A new licenseEdit
In 1980, the Federal Communications Commission added a new VHF allocation on channel 13 to the Salt Lake City market. Five groups submitted applications for a permit to build a television station on that allocation in May 1981. The FCC held evidentiary hearings with the competing applicants in 1984, and in 1985, announced the winning applicant. The second-place applicant, locally owned Mountain West Television Company, or MWT Company, appealed the FCC decision, but lost the appeal. When that failed, MWT Company proposed a buyout of the other four competing interests, including the winning applicants. The strategy succeeded and was carried out in November 1986. At the same time, Mountain West entered into a limited partnership agreement with Northstar Communications, which was partly owned by Allstate, and a new company, called MWT, Ltd., was formed. On January 20, 1987, the FCC awarded the original construction permit for a new station on channel 13 to MWT, Ltd., under the calls KTMW. However, buying equipment for the new station soon proved difficult.
Meanwhile, Adams Communications was undergoing serious financial difficulties and decided to sell off its stations. There were few takers for channel 20, however. Under the circumstances, it was very receptive to an offer from MWT to buy KSTU's assets for $30 million. Adams was able to make a considerable profit on the deal, while MWT was able to get the equipment it needed at a substantial discount. The two parties reached a sales agreement in July, the sale was approved by the FCC in September, and the transaction was finalized on October 23, 1987.
On November 9, 1987; MWT moved the channel 20 intellectual unit (call letters, staff, programming and Fox affiliation) to channel 13. It also returned the channel 20 license to the FCC on the same day. As a result, the FCC reckons the current KSTU as a separate station from the old channel 20. MWT went on the air with the new KSTU on channel 13 under Program Test Authority. It requested a license to cover the CP on November 16, which was duly granted on March 7, 1988.
The purchase of KSTU, however, put a financial strain on MWT, namely on the old Mountain West partners. In May 1988, Mountain West sold its interest in KSTU to Northstar. The station rebranded as Fox 13 by 1989.
Fox takes overEdit
Northstar sold KSTU to Fox Television Stations the next year, making it a Fox owned-and-operated station, and the first network-owned station in Utah. Unlike its rival stations, which have changed networks over the years, KSTU was the only VHF commercial station in Salt Lake City that has remained affiliated with the same network since that network's inception; only KTVX (channel 4), originally an NBC affiliate, has been affiliated with ABC longer than KSTU has been a Fox affiliate.
Incidentally, when Fox Television Stations acquired the television station group owned by KTVX's then-parent Chris-Craft Industries on August 12, 2000 KTVX was one of two stations that the company traded to Clear Channel Communications (as part of a swap with WFTC in Minneapolis–St. Paul). It was forced to sell KTVX due to FCC regulations prohibiting one company from owning two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market, as well as the fact that the station was in the middle of a long-term affiliation contract with ABC.
The station replaced most of the classic sitcoms on its lineup with talk shows in the mid-1990s. The station added additional syndicated programming in 2002, once Fox dropped the Fox Kids weekday children's block nationally. In 2006, KSTU migrated its website to Fox Interactive Media's MyFox web platform; it also introduced a new logo, in a style in line with the other Fox O&O stations. However, the Times New Roman "13," which the station has used since 1997, was retained (unlike WHBQ-TV in Memphis, which switched to a "13" resembling that used by its Tampa sister station WTVT). KSTU was one of two network-owned stations in the Salt Lake City market from 1995 to 2007, when CBS sold KUTV (channel 2) to Four Points Media Group, a subsidiary of private-equity group Cerberus Capital Management.
Local TV and Tribune ownershipEdit
On June 13, 2007, Fox sold KSTU and seven other owned-and-operated stations to Local TV (a subsidiary of another private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners), which had acquired the former broadcasting division of The New York Times Company the previous year. The sale was finalized on July 14, 2008. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; the sale was completed on December 27.
Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group; possible sale to FoxEdit
On May 8, 2017, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group—owner of KUTV, independent station KJZZ-TV (channel 14), and St. George-based MyNetworkTV affiliate KMYU (channel 12)—entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. While KMYU (due to contours that do not overlap) and KJZZ (not ranking in the top four in ratings) are not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules and would be retained by Sinclair in any event, the group is precluded from acquiring KSTU directly as broadcasters are not currently allowed to legally own more than two full-power television stations in a single market (without satellite exemptions) and both KUTV and KSTU rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Salt Lake City market in total day viewership (Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley cited Salt Lake City as one of three markets, out of fourteen where ownership conflicts exist between the two groups, where the proposed acquisition would most likely result in divestitures).
Sinclair later announced that it would keep its existing assets and sell KSTU to a third party to be determined later, and reports speculated that Sinclair would sell KSTU back to Fox Television Stations. On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that KSTU would be one of 23 stations sold to obtain approval for the merger, though it was one of seven stations for which a buyer was not disclosed (KMYU will concurrently be acquired by Howard Stirk Holdings). On May 9, 2018, it was officially announced that Fox Television Stations would buy back KSTU, as part of a $910-million deal that also involved six other Tribune-owned stations (Fox affiliates KTXL/Sacramento, KCPQ/Seattle, KDVR/Denver, WJW/Cleveland and KSWB-TV/San Diego, and CW affiliate WSFL-TV/Miami).
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Fox's purchases of KSTU and the other six Tribune stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
Pending sale to ScrippsEdit
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned KTVX and CW affiliate KUCW (channel 30) since December 2012—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring KSTU directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of KSTU through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either KSTU or KTVX to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict. (In the case of KSTU, reports preceding the purchase announcement stated that, as it did during the group's failed purchase by Sinclair, Fox Television Stations would seek to acquire certain Fox-affiliated stations owned by Tribune from the eventual buyer of that group. Also, as KUCW does not rank among the top four in total-day viewership and therefore is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules, that station optionally can be retained by Nexstar regardless of whether it chooses to retain ownership of KTVX or sell KTVX in order to acquire KSTU or, should it be divested, be sold to the prospective buyer of KTVX.) On March 20, 2019, the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company announced it would purchase KSTU from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, marking Scripps' entry into Utah, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Scripps and Tegna Inc. in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; once the deal closes, KSTU will become a sister station to Scripps-owned ABC affiliates KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, KNXV-TV in Phoenix and KMGH-TV in Denver, the former of which was acquired by Scripps from Journal Media Group in 2014.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||720p||16:9||KSTU-HD||Main KSTU programming / Fox|
On December 29, 2017, KSTU added Charge! on digital subchannel 13.4.
KSTU shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 28, using PSIP to display KSTU's virtual channel as 13 on digital television receivers.
KSTU presently broadcasts 54 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 9 hours on weekdays and 4½ hours on weekends); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among Utah's television stations. KSTU's Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption due to network sports coverage, as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts.
The station launched its news department on December 31, 1991, with the debut of a half-hour 9 p.m. newscast; KSTU added a three-hour weekday morning newscast, titled Good Day Utah, in 1996, replacing morning cartoons. In 2005, the station launched a midday newscast at 11 a.m. In August 2008, KSTU entered into a strategic alliance with news/talk radio station KNRS-FM (105.7 FM), in which KSTU meteorologists provide weather reports to KNRS, while KSTU reporters are often heard during KNRS newscasts and talk shows. In September 2008, KSTU debuted an hour-long early evening newscast at 5:00 p.m.
On August 17, 2009, the station expanded its midday newscast to 90 minutes by adding a half-hour newscast at noon, following its existing hour-long 11:00 a.m. newscast. On January 23, 2010, KSTU debuted a 90-minute weekend morning newscast from 7:30–9:00 a.m. In January 2013, KSTU expanded its weekend morning newscast by one hour to 6:30 a.m. On April 23, 2012, KSTU became the fourth (and last) major network station in Utah to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. In September 2013, KSTU debuted an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast, which competes with hour-long newscasts on KUTV and KTVX.
Notable former on-air staffEdit
KSTU extends its coverage throughout the entire state of Utah (with a rebroadcaster KKRP-LD channel 46 – formerly KSTG in Saint George, Utah), plus parts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming, using a network of community-owned translator television stations listed below.
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