NEWS

FCC Monitor: Iowa TV Station Upgrades

Hearst CBS affiliate KCCI/8 (Des Moines) completed an upgrade from 28.3kW to 44.6kW, remaining on RF channel 8.

The FCC has approved the sale of KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City) and a station in Utah from HC2 Broadcasting to Faith Broadcasting Network, which operates the TCT Christian TV network.

K230CB/93.9 (Marshalltown) applied for a license to cover after a few months of testing. K230CB was granted during the FCC’s AM Revitalization effort to relay KFJB/1230.

Flood Communications’ KOHA-LD/27 (Omaha) was granted special temporary authority to continue broadcasting at 4kW while it works to complete a 15kW facility. (05/10/2021)

Townsquare Exits Crowded Cedar Rapids Top 40 Field

Townsquare Media has ended a ten-year-old Contemporary Hits format in the Cedar Rapids market after its agreement to run the station that had carried the format apparently expired.

The former “i107-1” (KRQN Vinton) is now carrying programming from the USA Radio Network. The station’s former website is redirecting to a goodbye message on the website of Adult Contemporary outlet KDAT/104.5 (Cedar Rapids) that encourages listeners to check out KDAT or two other Townsquare stations but does not mention KRQN’s new format.

KRQN is owned by George Flinn and had been operated by Townsquare and its Cedar Rapids predecessor, Cumulus Media, since 2006. The latest time brokerage agreement was due to expire May 1, according to documents in the station’s public file. Townsquare’s website no longer lists KRQN among its stations.

“i-107-1” was one of three Contemporary Hits stations in the Cedar Rapids market, competing with locally-owned “Z102.9” (KZIA Cedar Rapids) and iHeartMedia’s “Hot 95.7” (KOSY Anamosa-Cedar Rapids). Townsquare’s “B100” (KBEA/99.7 Muscatine-Quad Cities) also rimshots Cedar Rapids.

Neither KRQN nor KZIA is included in publicly-released Nielsen Audio ratings. KOZY and KBEA both had a 0.6 average quarter hour 12+ share in Nielsen’s Fall 2020 ratings for Cedar Rapids. KRQN signed on in 2005 and rimshots Cedar Rapids with a 4.7kW/113m (class A) signal. (05/08/2021)

Sinclair CW Stations to Add Evening National News

CW affiliates in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Omaha are due to begin carrying a late-evening national news block this fall.

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Tuesday that it’s expanding “The National Desk” to an evening broadcast starting Sept. 28. A news release says it will air from 9 to 11 p.m. Central time on all Sinclair-owned CW stations, which include WUCW/23 (Minneapolis), WVTV/18 (Milwaukee), WCWF/14 (Suring-Green Bay), and KXVO/15 (Omaha).

“The National Desk” launched as a morning program in January on Sinclair FOX, CW, and My Network TV stations across the country. Currently, it airs from 5 to 8 a.m. in Milwaukee (CW), Green Bay (CW), Sioux City (FOX), and Lincoln-Kearney (FOX), and from 6 to 8 a.m. in Minneapolis (CW) and Omaha (FOX).

The program serves as a national platform for content generated by Sinclair’s local TV newsrooms, including those in Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Omaha, and Kearney. Its stations in Minneapolis and Milwaukee don’t have local news.

“The National Desk” is also available on Sinclair’s STIRR over-the-top app and will launch its own standalone website and app later this summer. (05/05/2021)

Des Moines-Based Meredith Sells TV Group to Gray

Gray TV’s latest acquisition does not include any Upper Midwest TV stations but does have a regional connection: the seller is Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation.

The companies announced Monday, May 3, that Gray will buy Meredith’s 17 TV stations in 12 markets in a stock transaction valued at $2.7 billion. Meredith will focus on its magazine business.

Though based in Iowa, Meredith does not own any stations in the state. Its closest stations are in Kansas City (KCTV-CBS and KSMO-MNT) and St. Louis (KMOV-CBS).

Meredith had expressed interest in buying a Des Moines TV spinoff from the would-be Sinclair-Tribune merger in 2018, but a different divestiture partner emerged before the entire Sinclair-Tribune deal eventually fell apart.

The only overlap between Gray and Meredith’s groups is in the Flint-Saginaw market, where Gray will divest its own station, Flint ABC affiliate WJRT, and keep Saginaw-based CBS affiliate WNEM.

The deal will give Gray its first stations in its home market of Atlanta, CBS affiliate WGCL and Independent WPCH.

Gray is also in the process of buying stations in eight markets from Quincy Media. It will be the second-largest TV group owner, behind Nexstar, after all pending transactions are completed. (05/04/2021)

FCC Monitor: The FCC has told Edge Spectrum that it is ineligible to seek six-month extensions to move its licensed digital low-power TV stations to new channels

The FCC has told Edge Spectrum that it is ineligible to seek six-month extensions to move its licensed digital low-power TV stations to new channels. The licensee had been seeking extensions until January 2022 to resume broadcasting for LPTV stations that are still licensed on channels above 36, which have been discontinued. The FCC said the six-month extensions in question are only allowed for construction permits for new digital LPTV stations or analog LPTV stations transitioning to digital. It suggested that Edge may be able to submit requests for tolling instead. The affected stations are K20KF-D (Davenport, IA).

The FCC granted an extension for new low-power TV station K17MH-D (Cedar Falls) to sign on. The new deadline is in January 2022.

KOHA-LD (Omaha) requested special temporary authority to continue broadcasting on channel 27 with 4kW. The station has a construction permit to use 15kW on the channel but says it is not yet ready to turn on the 15kW facility. A previous STA to use 4kW expired in January, and the station apologized to the FCC for not seeking an extension before the STA expired. (05/03/2021)

Allen Media Picks Up Spinoffs from Gray/Quincy Deal

Allen Media will be the buyer of stations in seven markets, including four in Wisconsin and Iowa, that Gray TV is spinning off as part of its purchase of Quincy Media.

The stations are in markets where Gray already owns major network affiliates. The $380 million deal includes in Iowa:

-KWWL (NBC) Waterloo-Cedar Rapids

Gray is buying Quincy Media’s other stations in a $925 million deal first announced in February, including stations in Duluth, Rochester, and Sioux City. It is also buying current WAOW satellite WYOW (Eagle River) with plans to convert it to a satellite of Gray’s WSAW (Wausau).

Notably, Gray’s original news release about the Quincy purchase did not list WREX as a station it planned to divest. Gray also owns CBS affiliate WIFR-LD (Rockford), which is not subject to ownership rules because it is a low-power station.

Allen Media, headed by Byron Allen, has stations in 12 markets, including Mason City-Rochester.

“We plan to invest approximately ten billion dollars to acquire more ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX television stations over the next two years with the goal of being the largest broadcast television group in America,” Allen said in a news release. (04/29/2021)

Tribal Radio Station Drops Proposal to Enter Sioux City Market

An FM station owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has dropped a proposal to enter the Sioux City, Iowa, market.

KWTN/100.9 (Allen), which is currently off the air and licensed for just 100 Watts, had applied to change frequency to 97.1 and move to a tower closer to Sioux City, using 9.6kW/123m (class C3). However, the station has now amended its application to specify that it would remain at its current site and increase to 6kW/66m (class A).

The station’s filing says the change was “due to problems discovered with the currently pending application” but did not specify those problems. In late March, in its latest request for special temporary authority to remain silent, the station said it intended to resume broadcasting at the new location once the move was granted.

The Winnebago Tribe received KWTN as a donation from Cochise Broadcasting several years ago as part of a consent decree.

As previously reported, the FCC responded to KWTN’s initial application with a letter noting that such a move would be considered a major change requiring notice and comment procedures, unless a waiver is granted. KWTN responded with a waiver request, saying the consent decree allowed for a waiver “if the proposed operation will provide service at a location that will satisfy the Tribal Priority requirements.”

Though KWTN is licensed as a commercial station, minutes from a December tribal council meeting indicate that the tribe plans to operate it non-commercially with no personnel and a startup budget of $12,000. The tribal newspaper reported last September that KWTN will have a studio in the tribe’s Physical Resources Building. (04/28/2021)

Central Iowa Catholic Radio Network Adds Third FM Station

Iowa Catholic Radio, which currently has two FM signals and one AM station in the Des Moines area, is adding a third FM station.

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC indicates St. Gabriel Communications is buying KLOX/90.9 (Creston) from Florida Public Radio for $50,000. KLOX is currently licensed for 500 Watts but has a construction permit to upgrade to 100kW, serving a large area southwest of Des Moines.

St. Gabriel is the licensee of KIHS/88.5 (Adel) and K233BT/94.5 (Des Moines) and is the parent company of Trinity Communications and Putbrese Communications, which own KWKY/1150 (Des Moines). (A separate pending application will merge Trinity and Putbrese, making Trinity the licensee of KWKY under St. Gabriel’s continued ownership.)

Florida Public Radio, a Christian broadcaster, also owns KSKB/99.1 (Brooklyn, IA) as well as five stations in Florida and three in Kansas. (4/25/2021)

FCC Monitor: Iowa LPFM Appeals Fine

Clinton Education Association, licensee of KXJX-LP/92.5 (Clinton), requested cancellation of a proposed $1,500 fine for a late license renewal application. In its pleading, the licensee alleges that it is being treated unfairly because 18 other low-power FM stations in Iowa and Missouri filed their applications after the Oct. 1 deadline but were not fined. KXJX-LP’s license renewal application has already been granted. (4/13/2021)

Scripps to Add Broadcast Coverage for Newsy

Scripps Broadcasting has announced plans to add over-the-air coverage for Newsy, with affiliates expected in several Upper Midwest markets.

Newsy got its start as an online streaming service more than a decade ago and will launch Oct. 1 on subchannels of Scripps-owned stations, including ION stations that Scripps brought earlier this year, as well as some stations owned by other groups. Regionally, Scripps owns stations in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Omaha markets.

“Amid an increasingly polarized and divided national climate, Newsy will seize upon this opportunity to serve more Americans seeking quality objective journalism,” Scripps Networks President Lisa Knutson said in a news release.

“As TV viewers ‘self-bundle’ by combining free television with subscription video-on-demand services, Newsy will build on its successes in OTT by joining the other Scripps Networks in the over the air marketplace to bring these viewers high-quality, free news programming,” Knutson said.

Newsy will join NBC LX and NewsNet in the genre of 24-hour news networks on broadcast TV. With planned carriage in markets representing 80% of TV households at launch, Newsy may have much wider distribution than its competitors.

As a broadcast network, Newsy will be based in Atlanta and will use content from bureaus in Washington and Chicago as well as from Scripps’ local TV newsrooms. It will continue to be available on streaming platforms as well.

Scripps is one of several national TV group owners seeking to repurpose its local news content on a national platform. The field also includes Nexstar’s NewsNation, Sinclair’s The National Desk, and Gray TV’s Local News Live.

Scripps is also preparing two other networks, TrueReal and Defy, for launches this summer (TrueReal had been called Doozy in an earlier news release). It already runs ION, Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Bounce, Grit, and Laff. (3/5/21)

Tegna’s “Twist” Network Launches in Iowa, Nebraska

The latest new digital multicast network, Twist, launched April 5 with several affiliates in Iowa, Nebraska.

The new network carries lifestyle and reality shows that end in a “twist.” According to the network’s website, launch affiliates include:

Des Moines: 5.5 WOI (Tegna)
Omaha: 25.7 KQMK-LD (HC2)
Quad Cities: 8.5 WQAD (Tegna)
Waterloo: 35.5 KFKZ-LD (HC2)

Tegna also runs True Crime Network and Quest. (4/5/21)

“Joy” Joins “Hope” in Des Moines

Saga Broadcasting has launched a second commercial Christian format in Des Moines, switching an FM translator signal from Sports to Contemporary Christian.

99-Watt K271CO/102.1 (Des Moines) and originating station KAZR-HD3 (Pella-Des Moines) are now “Joy 102.1.” The change was first noted by RadioInsight, which points out that “Joy” competes with three non-commercial Contemporary Christian formats in the capital city.


Saga Broadcasting has launched a second commercial Christian format in Des Moines, switching an FM translator signal from Sports to Contemporary Christian.

99-Watt K271CO/102.1 (Des Moines) and originating station KAZR-HD3 (Pella-Des Moines) are now “Joy 102.1.” The change was first noted by RadioInsight, which points out that “Joy” competes with three non-commercial Contemporary Christian formats in the capital city.

K271CO had previously relayed ESPN Radio from KRNT/1350 (Des Moines).

The change comes just over a year after iHeartMedia added an FM signal for its Sports format on what is now KXNO-FM/106.3 (Ankeny-Des Moines). KXNO ranked sixth in Nielsen Audio’s 12+ ratings for January, while ratings for Saga’s stations are not released.

Saga also operates “Hope 940” (KPSZ Des Moines), which carries brokered Christian programming during the day and Singing News Radio at night. (4/5/2021)

Supreme Court Ruling Loosens TV Ownership Rules

Thursday’s unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the FCC’s 2017 changes to ownership rules could allow more consolidation within local TV markets.

The portion of the rule change that allows cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets received a lot of press, but the provision that’s more likely to impact local TV markets is the elimination of the “eight voices” rule and a return of a process to allow common ownership of two top-four TV stations.

The “eight voices” requirement prohibits transactions if they would leave a TV market with fewer than eight owners of full-power TV stations, including non-commercial stations. However, failing station waivers had already provided a workaround to the rule.

The “top four” rule says that a company that owns one top-four station cannot buy a second top-four station in the market. Companies have been able to work around that rule by moving affiliations to subchannels or low-power stations, which are not covered by ownership rules.

The FCC’s 2017 rules change laid out a process for groups to seek an exception to the top-four rule. As regular readers may recall, Gray TV’s Sioux Falls operation was the only one to ever get approval to merge two top-four stations before an appeals court threw out the FCC’s rule change in 2019.

(Jessica Rosenworcel, who is now the FCC’s Acting Chairwoman, had spoken out against the decision to allow the Sioux Falls combination.)

Fletcher Heald & Hildreth’s CommLawBlog explains that the Supreme Court ruling does not immediately restore the 2017 rule changes, but that they may take effect soon.

One pending deal that could benefit from the court ruling is Gray TV’s proposed acquisition of some Quincy Media stations, since Gray had been seeking failing station waivers to buy CW affiliate KDLH/3.1 (Duluth) as well as stations in the Fort Wayne and South Bend markets. The waivers may no longer be necessary once the “eight voices” rule is eliminated. (4/2/2021)

RELATED: TV Ownership Rules Explained

NEWS

FCC Monitor: Rochester AM seeks temporary authority

Townsquare Media’s KOLM/1520 (Rochester) continues to operate with its 800-Watt nighttime directional pattern 24 hours per day, rather than switching to its licensed daytime facility of 10kW non-directional. The station says in a request for extension of special temporary authority that after it fixed the initial problem with a control cable, it encountered more issues. The filing says winter weather has prevented the engineer from locating the source of issues with underground cabling to the tower bases. 03/29/2021

New FM’s: Marshalltown

Several more new FM signals have recently signed on as the deadlines approach to construct FM translators granted in 2018 as part of the AM revitalization effort.

in Iowa, Trending Media’s KFJB/1230 (Marshalltown) is in the process of signing on 250-Watt K230CB/93.9 (Marshalltown). The station, which carries a Full Service News/Talk format, says it is still tweaking the FM signal and hopes to have it fully operational within a month. (3/24/2021)

Longtime NW Iowa Christian FM to Switch to “K-Love”

Dordt University has announced plans to sell its KDCR/88.5 (Sioux Center) to the Educational Media Foundation, which will switch the station to the “K-Love” Contemporary Christian network.

KDCR has been on the air since 1968 and its 100kW signal covers the northwestern corner of Iowa. However, the university says the station faces “ongoing costs and limited listener financial support” and says it has seen “a shift in audience interest.”

“Over the last 12 months, Dordt has conducted a thorough review of KDCR, which has resulted in the selling of assets such as the frequency of 88.5 FM,” the college writes in a news release.

A sale price was not announced and the deal had not yet appeared in the FCC database as of Monday evening.

KDCR will continue its current programming until the end of the semester and then switch to “K-Love” on May 15. The college will continue to offer web streams of sports and other campus events through the Dordt Media Network. (3/22/2021)

FCC Monitor: Deluge of LPTV Extension Requests Continues

National

Edge Spectrum submitted dozens of filings saying that it intends to construct its unbuilt low-power TV stations in ATSC 3.0 using distributed transmission systems (DTS), which means the stations will use multiple transmitter sites. However, the company says it cannot seek construction permits for DTS facilities until DTS rules for LPTV stations are published in the Federal Register. It’s seeking six-month extensions for the current ATSC 1.0 facilities until January 2022 with intentions of seeking modifications to ATSC 3.0 once the new rules are released.

The FCC set an April 12 deadline for petitions to deny Gray TV’s proposed purchase of 14 full-power stations in 11 markets from Quincy Media, including stations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Iowa

Edge Spectrum requested six-month extensions to the construction permits for K20KF-D Davenport, K22LJ-D Mason City, K27MI-D Mason City, K35PA-D Mason City, and K31PP-D Sioux City. See above for more information. DTV America applied for a six-month extension of the construction permit for K17MH-D Cedar Falls. The licensee says it has contracted to use a tower near Allison, northwest of Cedar Falls, and is committed to finishing construction by Dec. 13.

Hispanic Family Christian Network applied for an extension of the construction permit for DK03IS-D Sioux City until Jan. 13, 2022. (3/21/21)

Christian Network Buys Iowa City TV Station

Faith Broadcasting Network, which is associated with Tri-State Christian Television, is buying a full-power TV station in the Cedar Rapids market that also has coverage of the Quad Cities.

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC says Faith Broadcasting is buying KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City) and a full-power station in Utah from HC2 Broadcasting for $4 million.

Faith Broadcasting Network has the same officers and shareholders as Radiant Life Ministries and Tri-State Christian TV. The companies own or are buying 21 full-power stations, including stations in the Des Moines, Sioux Falls, and Duluth markets.

KWKB is a former WB and CW affiliate that currently carries Court TV Mystery as its primary affiliation, along with five other subchannels. However, several of the channels it carries were recently added on KPXR (Cedar Rapids) after Scripps’ purchase of ION and the move of Scripps-owned networks to ION subchannels.

With a transmitter in West Branch, KWKB provides coverage of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities, but just misses Waterloo and Dubuque. The other commercial stations in the Cedar Rapids market transmit from sites midway between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

TCT will be the second Christian network with a full-power TV station in the Cedar Rapids market: Christian Television Network has owned KFXB/40.1 (Dubuque) since 2004. (3/19/21)

FCC Monitor: Late License Applications

The FCC continues to propose fines over late license renewal applications but cancelled one in Iowa after just a few days. On March 9, it issued notice of apparent liability proposing a $3,000 fine against licensee Fairfield Educational Radio Station, saying the license renewal application for KHOE/90.5 (Fairfield) was due Oct. 1 but not filed until Nov. 2. However, three days later the FCC issued an order noting that Media Bureau staff had told the licensee that they could file an application until Nov. 2 with no adverse action taken, so the fine was cancelled. (3/14/2021)

Scripps to Launch Another Two Subchannel Networks

After taking over the ION network and its group of stations, Scripps Broadcasting has announced plans to launch another two subchannel networks repurposing shows that first ran on cable channels

. Doozy and Defy TV will launch on July 1 and will bring Scripps to a total of nine networks. They’ll reach 75% of the nation’s households at launch.

Regionally, Scripps owns stations in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Omaha markets. Exact channel placement has not yet been announced.

Both networks will target viewers 25-54, with Doozy focusing on women and Defy focusing on men.

Doozy’s lineup will include “Storage Wars,” “Married at First Sight,” “Hoarders,” and “Little Women: LA.” Defy will carry “Pawn Stars,” “Forged in Fire,” “American Pickers,” and “The Curse of Oak Island,” among others.

“By creating compelling new network programming to distribute through ION’s spectrum, Scripps is expanding the ways it creates value from our ownership of ION and its powerful distribution platform,” Scripps Networks President Lisa Knutson said in a news release.

Many of the ION stations Scripps recently purchased have been rearranging their subchannels to add Scripps’ Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, Laff, and Bounce. The company also owns Newsy, which does not have broadcast affiliates. (3/3/2021)

Extension of Construction Permits

Landover 2 LLC requested an extension of the construction permits for K24KD-D (Salix) and K27LD-D (Salix). Landover 2 cites a provision in an FCC public notice that allows low-power TV permittees to seek a one-time extension due to an unforeseeable circumstance such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It proposes extensions to Jan. 13, 2022.

Scripps Broadcasting submitted a notification that it has moved the master control point for KMTV/3.1 (Omaha) to WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia. KMTV’s studio remains in Omaha. (2/28/2021)

Subchannel Shuffle Begins following ION Sale

Several subchannel networks are now receiving full-power carriage in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and several other Upper Midwest markets following Scripps’ purchase of the ION network and its stations.

As Scripps had announced earlier this year, national networks owned by the company are being moved to the ION stations. The company is discontinuing ION’s former qubo, ION Plus, and ShopTV subchannel networks effective Feb. 28.

Scripps owns Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, Bounce, and Laff. The networks are being moved as contracts with existing affiliates expire, upgrading from low-power stations in many cases.

Channel placement varies by market. According to listings at RabbitEars and TVTV and reports from viewers and a translator operator, the following changes have been made or are coming soon:

KPXM St. Cloud-Minneapolis: Bounce 41.2, Grit 41.3, Mystery 41.4 WPXE Kenosha-Milwaukee: Bounce 55.2, Court TV 55.3, Grit 55.4 (Court and Grit are also carried on Scripps’ WTMJ-TV) WTPX Antigo-Wausau: Grit 46.2, Mystery 46.3, Laff 46.4, Bounce 46.5 KPXR Cedar Rapids: Grit 48.2, Bounce 48.3, Laff 48.4 (HC2’s KWKB Iowa City continues to carry the networks as well as of Feb. 28.) KFPX Newton-Des Moines: Court TV 39.2, Laff 39.3, Mystery 39.4 The main ION network continues on the stations’ DT1 channels.

KPXM is relayed on several TV translator systems outside of the Twin Cities metro area. The Selective TV system in Alexandria said it is considering new programming for LPTV channels that had already carried Bounce and Grit. (2/28/2021)

Tegna to Launch New Lifestyle/Reality Channel

TV station owner Tegna, which has several stations in the Upper Midwest, has announced plans to launch a third subchannel network this spring.

“Twist” will carry lifestyle and reality programming targeting women. The channel is named for the reveals, or “twists,” at the end of most of the shows it will air.

Initial programming includes Clean House, Top Chef Masters, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Dance Moms, Tabatha Takes Over, Tiny House Nation, and Flipping Out.

The network will launch sometime this spring.

Tegna said Twist will be carried in all of its markets, which include Minneapolis (KARE), Des Moines (WOI-DT/KCWI), and the Quad Cities (WQAD). Exact channel placement has not been announced. Twist will also be carried on some stations owned by HC2 Broadcasting that have yet to be listed.

Tegna also runs True Crime Network and Quest. (2/24/2021)

FCC Monitor: Minn. FM at Reduced Power

Community Public Media’s KPVL/89.1 (Postville) was granted another extension of special temporary authority to operate at an unknown reduced power. The station’s latest filing repeats the narrative presented in an extension request last August. The latest extension is through Aug. 18.

Townsquare Media’s KROC-FM/106.9 (Rochester) is operating at about 10 percent of its usual 100kW following antenna damage. Its request for special temporary authority says the station has not yet been able to thoroughly inspect and troubleshoot the problem due to winter weather. KROC-FM transmits from the KTTC(TV) tower about 30 miles south of Rochester and is also heard on K293CV/106.5 (Rochester). (2/21/2021)

FCC Monitor: Iowa VHF to UHF Moves Progress

The FCC moved forward with a proposal to move Gray TV ABC affiliate KCRG-TV/9 (Cedar Rapids) to a UHF frequency, issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking for the move to RF channel 32.

iHeartMedia’s WMT/600 (Cedar Rapids) continues to transmit with reduced nighttime power following the collapse of one of its towers during last August’s Iowa Derecho. The station says a recent rezoning of its tower site in Marion Township slowed the project, but a variance to reconstruct the fallen tower was recently approved. WMT continues to transmit with its usual 5kW non-directional daytime but is transmitting at about a quarter of its normal power, non-directional, at night.

PBS member station KSMQ-TV/15.1 (Austin) has returned to full power after a transmitter problem that had begun late last year. (2/14/2021)

FCC Filings Provide Details of Gray TV’s Plans for Quincy Media Stations

Documents filed with the FCC on Feb. 12 for Gray TV’s purchase of Quincy Media indicate Gray plans to keep the FOX affiliation in Rochester, consider expanding its news operation in Duluth, and switch a northern Wisconsin satellite station to a different network.

Gray announced plans to buy Quincy Media for $925 million on Feb. 1, a deal which will include divestitures of overlapping stations in six markets, including four in the Upper Midwest. Buyers for the stations to be divested have not been announced.

The applications to transfer Quincy Media’s licenses to Gray reveal several items not included in the initial announcement:

Quincy NBC/CW affiliate KTTC (Rochester) will continue to operate SagamoreHill FOX affiliate KXLT (Rochester) through a shared services agreement after the sale to Gray. Gray says it will seek opportunities to expand local news production in Duluth, where it is seeking a failing station waiver to buy CW affiliate KDLH alongside NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR-TV. A failing station waiver is required because there are fewer than eight ownership voices in the market. (Gray is also seeking failing station waivers in the Fort Wayne and South Bend markets.) Gray will divest ABC affiliate WAOW (Wausau) but plans to keep WAOW satellite WYOW (Eagle River), switching it over to Gray’s existing CBS/FOX affiliate WSAW (Wausau). It will still divest WAOW’s other satellite, WMOW (Crandon).

As previously reported, Gray will divest NBC/CW affiliate KWWL (Waterloo) and ABC affiliates WKOW (Madison), WXOW (La Crosse), and WQOW (Eau Claire), along with WAOW and stations in Tucson and Paducah, where Gray already owns stations. (La Crosse and Eau Claire are considered one market for regulatory purposes, but WXOW and WQOW operate with separate identities and newsrooms.)

Besides the stations already mentioned above, regional stations Gray is buying also include NBC/CW affiliate KTIV (Sioux City), NBC/FOX/CW affiliate WGEM-TV (Quincy), NBC/CW affiliate WREX (Rockford), and KBJR satellite KRII (Chisholm). The other stations are in the Peoria, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Binghamton, and Bluefield markets.

Once the deal closes, Gray will own stations in every Upper Midwest market except Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Des Moines.

As part of its filing, Gray details its history of building award-winning news operations across the country. The company operates its own Washington news bureau, has a national investigative unit, and produces a national news program hosted by Greta Van Susteren. (2/12/2021)

Numerous FM Allotments Up for Auction This Summer

If you’ve ever wanted your own radio station, you have another chance to get one – as long as it’s in one of the small or unrated markets up for auction.

The FCC has set July 27 as the tentative start date for FCC Auction 109, which will include 136 FM allotments nationwide and four AM frequencies in the St. Louis area. Most of the FM allotments are in unrated and small markets and were to have been included in an auction last year that was canceled due to the pandemic.

Iowa stations include:

Dunkerton, IA: 103.9, class A (6kW/100m), $60,000 opening bid. Potential Waterloo coverage.
Rockford, IA: 92.9, class A (6kW/100m), $25,000 opening bid. Potential Mason City coverage.

The FCC is accepting comments on the proposed bidding procedures through March 15.

The commission has also frozen applications from existing stations that would require changes to the allotments that are scheduled for auction. (2/9/2021)

FCC Monitor: Partial Tower Collapse, Two Iowa LPFM’s Deleted

Saga Communications’ KOEZ/104.1 (Ames-Des Moines) is transmitting at reduced power after a partial tower collapse. The top 100 feet of its tower fell during a winter storm on Jan. 31 but a station filing says the rest of the tower appears to be structurally sound. KOEZ is using 58kW/166m from a four-bay antenna that was already side-mounted on the tower; it’s licensed for 100kW/308m (class C0). FCC records indicate the tower in Boone County, which was previously 1,025 feet tall, was constructed in 1985. Radio World has more on the collapse.

The FCC deleted the licenses of low-power FM stations KBOL-LP/100.1 (Waterloo) and KRUU-LP/100.1 (Fairfield) after the stations did not apply for license renewal. KRUU’s website says it ended regular programming three years ago and that its licensee, Fairfield Youth Advocacy, was interested in transferring the station to a different group, but no application to transfer the license was filed. KBOL-LP had been owned by The Community Outreach, Inc. Here’s KBOL in 2012:

Jomast Corp. signed on 250-Watt K280GT/103.9 (Sigourney), relaying the Classic Hits format of KMZN/740 (Oskaloosa). K280GT was granted as part of the AM revitalization effort. KMZN is also relayed on K258BG/99.5 (Oskaloosa), which existed prior to the AM revitalization windows. (2/7/2021)

Gray TV to Buy Quincy Media, With Several Divestitures

Weeks after Quincy Media confirmed that it had put itself up for sale, Gray TV has announced that it is the buyer.

Gray is buying Quincy for $925 million but will have to divest many of its stations due to overlap with existing Gray stations, splitting up Quincy’s current group. Wells Fargo Securities is looking for buyers for the stations to be divested.

In the Upper Midwest, Gray will keep:
Duluth: KBJR (NBC/CBS) and KDLH (CW); the company will have to obtain a failing station waiver to retain KDLH under current FCC rules. Many people still mistakenly refer to KDLH as the market’s CBS affiliate even though the network was moved to KBJR-DT2 five years ago.
Quincy: WGEM (NBC/FOX/CW), with its market including southeastern Iowa.
Rochester: KTTC (NBC/CW); the news release does not mention KXLT (FOX), which KTTC runs under a shared services agreement.
Sioux City: KTIV (NBC/CW)

but Gray will divest:

Cedar Rapids-Waterloo: KWWL (NBC/CW), where Gray already owns KCRG (ABC)
La Crosse-Eau Claire: WXOW/WQOW (ABC/CW), where Gray already owns WEAU (NBC)
Madison: WKOW (ABC), where Gray already owns WMTV (NBC/CW)
Wausau: WAOW (ABC/CW), where Gray already owns WSAW (CBS/FOX)

The deal also includes several stations in Illinois and other states, creating a new duopoly in the Rockford market that will combine low-power CBS affiliate WIFR-LD with NBC affiliate WREX. See the news release for the complete list.

The deal also includes WGEM/1440 and WGEM-FM/105.1 (Quincy), but Quincy Media’s print assets will be sold before the sale to Gray closes. Gray’s only other radio holding is a station in Texas that it acquired as part of its purchase of Raycom.

Gray will own TV stations in 102 markets once the deal is complete.

Regionally, the deal will give Gray a presence in almost every Upper Midwest market. Besides the markets already listed above, Gray owns stations in Davenport, Ottumwa, Mankato, Green Bay, Marquette, Fargo, Bismarck, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Omaha, Lincoln, and North Platte, with multiple big-four network affiliations in more than half of its regional markets. (2/1/2021)

Alpha Media under goes Reorganization

Alpha Media, which owns stations in 44 markets including many in the Upper Midwest, filed to transfer its licenses to itself as a debtor in possession. The company says the reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code will not result in any interruption to its operations.

Youngers Colorado Broadcasting’s K295CB/106.9 (Des Moines) was granted a frequency change to 94.1 under the new callsign K231DI. It will remain 132 Watts.

KROS Broadcasting says it’s continuing to work on plans for a new tower for KROS/1340 and K290CL/105.9 (Clinton) after the August Iowa Derecho downed their previous structure. It requested extensions of special temporary authority to operate KROS with 300 Watts from a wire antenna and K290CL with 250 Watts from a shorter tower.

DTV America’s KAJS-LD/32 (Lincoln-Omaha) returned to the air Jan. 20. It has withdrawn a request for special temporary authority to remain silent that had been filed earlier this month. (1/31/2021)

FCC Monitor: Objection to Iowa Renewal

Dave Vickers, the general manager and minority owner of KROS/1340 (Clinton), has submitted informal objections to license renewal for Gendreau Broadcast’s KCLN/1390 (Clinton) and KMCN/94.7 (Clinton). Vickers alleges that his competitors’ online public files are incomplete and that KCLN is not reducing power at night.

The FCC cancelled the construction permit for K241CX/96.1 (Independence), which was not built by its Jan. 16 deadline. The translator had been granted during the AM revitalization effort to relay KQMG/1220.

The FCC granted KLOX/90.9 (Creston) a construction permit to replace its expired permit to upgrade from 500 Watts to 100kW. (1/24/2021)

Sinclair to Move CBS to Sioux City Subchannel

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s operation in Sioux City has announced plans to move the CBS affiliation in the market to a subchannel of its FOX affiliate.

On Feb. 4, CBS will move from KMEG/14.1 to channel 44.3 of KPTH, which will continue to carry FOX on 44.1. The CBS channel will continue to brand as “CBS14” despite no longer being seen on broadcast channel 14. The stations’ announcement suggests the CBS channel placement will remain unchanged on cable and satellite systems.

Sinclair owns KPTH and operates KMEG through an agreement with Waitt Broadcasting. KMEG has been a CBS affiliate since it signed on in 1967 and has been operated by KPTH since 2005.

The change will come a month after Sinclair made a similar move in Cedar Rapids, moving the market’s FOX affiliation from its longtime home to a subchannel of the CBS affiliate that Sinclair owns.

The Sioux City change will also result in a subchannel shuffle. 44.2 will continue to carry the MyNetworkTV prime time block, but the rest of its schedule will switch from DABL to TBD. DABL will move full-time to 14.1. Charge! will move from 44.3 to 14.2, replacing TBD, and Stadium will move from 44.4 to 14.4. Comet will remain on 14.3. (1/23/2021)

New Owner to End Three ION Subchannels

The E.W. Scripps Company says it will discontinue three ION subchannels at the end of February following its purchase of the main ION network and its owned-and-operated affiliates.

ION Plus, Qubo, and Shop ION will end broadcasting by Feb. 28. Thursday’s announcement is not a surprise because Scripps had said when it purchased ION that it intended to move its Bounce, Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, and Laff networks to the ION stations.

The networks will move to ION subchannels as contracts with existing affiliates expire.

The ION owned-and-operated stations include KPXM (St. Cloud-Minneapolis), WPXE (Kenosha-Milwaukee), WTPX (Antigo-Wausau), KPXR (Cedar Rapids), and KFPX (Newton-Des Moines).

The affected networks are currently carried on the DT2, DT3, and DT4 signals of ION’s O&O’s. The Scripps announcement did not mention the fate of QVC on DT5 and HSN on DT6, but TV listings indicate Laff has already replaced QVC in some markets.

ION Plus is mostly carried on the O&O’s but also has a few independently-owned affiliates, including Byrne Acquisition Group’s WIFS/57.1 (Janesville-Madison) and Magnum Communications’ KQEG-CD/23.3 (La Crescent-La Crosse). (1/14/2021)

FCC Monitor: ION Sale Closes; Iowa DOT Returns LPFM Licenses

Scripps Media closed on its purchase of the ION owned-and-operated stations on Jan. 7. Stations in the deal include KPXR/48.1 (Cedar Rapids), KFPX/39.1 (Newton-Des Moines), KPXM/41.1 (St. Cloud-Minneapolis), WPXE/55.1 (Kenosha-Milwaukee), and WTPX/46.1 (Antigo-Wausau). 23 stations, none in the Upper Midwest, were divested to Inyo Broadcast Holdings.

The Iowa Department of Transportation returned the licenses of its four low-power FM stations, which had carried automated traffic and road construction information along interstates in rural Iowa. The 100-Watt stations were: KDDI-LP/102.9 (Adair), KSDE-LP/104.9 (De Soto), KSOA-LP/94.5 (Sloane), and KUBH-LP/99.9 (Urbana). Iowa DOT Communication Technology Bureau Director Peter Huffman said they cancelled the licenses because they no longer share road information via LPFM stations.

Meanwhile, the FCC formally deleted the license of Drake University’s KDRA-LP/94.1 (Des Moines) on Jan. 5, more than 18 months after the university requested cancellation. Drake had notified the FCC of its decision to surrender the license in a June 2019 letter but said at that time that it might continue operations until Aug. 15, 2019.

Wennes Communications Stations’ KDEC/1240 (Decorah), which was forced to leave its licensed site last year, says its new transmitter site is not yet ready. KDEC will co-locate with 1kW time-share partner KWLC/1240 and says in a request for extension of special temporary authority that it anticipates beginning testing within three to four months. KDEC is temporarily operating at reduced power of 250 Watts with a longwire antenna. (1/10/2021)

TV Station Owner Quincy Media Up for Sale

Quincy Media, an owner of more than a dozen network affiliates in the Midwest, confirmed Thursday that it has put itself up for sale.

“We think the timing is right for our shareholders,” President and CEO Ralph M. Oakley said in a news release.

Quincy owns or operates 21 network affiliates in 15 markets, all but three of them in small and medium Midwestern markets. It holds two major network affiliations in five of the markets.

The company got its start in the newspaper business in 1926 and still owns two newspapers, as well as two radio stations in Quincy, Ill. It has more than 1,000 employees. (1/7/2021)

FCC Monitor: Iowa Transmitter back at full power

Gray TV NBC affiliate KWQC/6.1 (Davenport) is back to full power of 1,000kW after transmitter problems that began in late November.

Family Radio’s KYFR/920 (Shenandoah) is operating at reduced power due to a transmitter problem. The station says it has been using 3.5kW daytime, instead of its usual 5kW, since Dec. 2. KYFR continues to use its licensed 2.5kW at night, with different directional antenna patterns for day and night. (1/3/2021)

FOX Moves to Subchannel in Cedar Rapids

Sinclair Broadcast Group has moved its FOX affiliation in the Cedar Rapids market to a subchannel of its CBS affiliate.

Second Generation of Iowa’s KFXA/28.1 (Cedar Rapids) had been the market’s primary FOX affiliate since it signed on in 1988, except for a period of silence in the mid-`90s.

On New Year’s Day, FOX programming was moved to channel 2.2 of Sinclair’s KGAN (Cedar Rapids) but is also still being simulcast on KFXA-DT1. It’s unclear from the station’s brief announcement if FOX will remain on both stations permanently or if it will leave KFXA eventually.

Sinclair has operated KFXA since the early 2000s and purchased its programming and equipment in 2008, but Second Generation of Iowa retained the KFXA license due to FCC ownership rules that prohibit the owner of one top-four station from buying another top-four station. However, ownership rules do not count subchannels as separate licenses, so KGAN-DT1 (CBS) and KGAN-DT2 (FOX) are considered to be the same license for regulatory purposes.

The stations switched to a joint news brand of “Iowa’s News Now” in early 2020.

The New Year’s Day change also resulted in a subchannel shuffle: getTV moved from 2.2 to 2.3, Comet moved from 2.3 to 28.5, and DABL moved from 2.4 to 28.6. Charge!, Grit, and Stadium continue on KFXA’s other subchannels. (1/1/2021)