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Let’s Explain What’s Happening With KGBT Channel 4

Earlier this week, KGBT announced that beginning on Tuesday, January 28 at midnight, CBS programming would be moved over to 23.2 as news broke out that Sinclair Broadcasting Company, who owns KGBT, had agreed to fork over assets from KGBT to Nexstar Media Group, who owns KVEO.

Understandably, most of this seems like it’s coming out of nowhere and can be a bit confusing for some to follow, so let’s try to break down what exactly is happening with KGBT Channel 4.

In summary, after 66 years, KGBT (the entity) will no longer air CBS programming (CBS sporting events, CBS national news, whatever primetime crap they have like Young Sheldon) as they are no longer affiliated with each other. All of that CBS programming has been moved over to 23.2 and currently being rebranded as “CBS 4” according to KVEO’s news release. Cable and satellite customers may still find CBS content, including local news, on “channel 4” in their receivers, which just throws another wrench into an already confusing transition.

Sinclair has also coughed up the 25,000 square foot station located on 9201 E. Expressway 83 in Harlingen. Nexstar has announced that they will move their KVEO 23 operations there within the next few months, claiming that they will also keep all 93 employees (ex-KGBT) and merge with KVEO’s 38 employees as reported by The Monitor.

KGBT (which is actually UHF channel 31, virtual channel 4) will continue to be operated by Sinclair as an “independent broadcast station” with properties such as Azteca America (virtual 4.2), Comet TV (4.3), Estrella TV (4.4), Grit (4.5), and Court TV Mystery (4.6). It is currently unclear what KGBT intends to do with their main broadcast signal since they sold off their main building and employees to Nexstar/KVEO.

To answer what will happen to the local news team, it’s still unknown what Nexstar’s plans will be when the move is finalized in the next few months. One could speculate that one of two things may happen: A) The former news staff from KGBT will continue to operate as their own news, maybe under “local CBS” on channel 23.2 while KVEO continues their local news on NBC 23 or B) “News Channel 4” and “News Channel 23” may both cease to exist separately as KVEO and ex-KGBT staff will simply merge into one local news program.

Although it may seem like this is just happening overnight, all of this stems from a failed merger and subsequent lawsuit filed years earlier.

Back in May 2017, Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative-slanted broadcasting conglomerate best known for their aggressive local television takeovers and putting out that creepy, Orwellian style PSA on all their networks including KGBT, had sought to acquire Tribune Media. The deal turned some heads in Washington and in the media-journalism-sphere as the acquisition would have given Sinclair Broadcasting at least one station in approximately 72% of American households with a television set.

Although the deal was facing significant legal hurdles set in place by the FCC, the merger was called off in August 2018 as Tribune filed a breach of contract suit against Sinclair for violations in their agreement regarding stations that they would divest to satisfy FCC regulations.

Tribune, having since been acquired by Nexstar in August 2019, and Sinclair settled their lawsuit on Monday with the asset swaps that included KGBT, $60 million, and a Kentucky station awarded to Nexstar announced in an 8-K filing from Sinclair.

Again, this story is fairly new and logistical details seem to still be murky, but for the moment, maybe now that “ex-KGBT/CBS” news is under new management, we can expect them to not fuck up as bad as they do.

3 Comments

  1. The whole FCC’s butthurt hoopla about the failed Sinclair/Tribune merger having too large a market share makes no sense, since the now Nexstar/Tribune merger has even MORE MARKET share. That’s right, Nexstar owns way more more stations than Sinclair would have.

    As for the Boris (and I do agree, he’s a blowhard idiot) segments, that was just 2 minutes 5 times a week when most people were still asleep. It wasn’t 24/7 of intentional Trumpaganda like FOX News. KGBT reporters were never muzzled in their topics. Also, not all employees are not transitioned over. KVEO/NBC will be putting on their own fully live broadcast yet again for the third time in the past decade.

    This thing about owning CBS and NBC in the same market also doesn’t make sense. It’s like owning a McDonalds and Burger King and operating them from the same building. The only analysis I can see from it is since Nexstar is the organization with the most CBS affiliates, they saw a chance to snap up another CBS affiliation, work the remainder of the NBC contract, then either simply let it (NBC) lapse when the contract runs out, OR trade this affiliation for another market they are not it.

    The truly bad part is the employees were literally given one hour notice they were to have new employers. Once insider paraphrased a The Who song: meet the news boss, WORSE than the old boss…

  2. Locally, Sinclair handed over to Nexstar 1) the building in Harlingen and the bureau in Pharr, 2) the employees, and 3) the CBS channel/affiliation. Sinclair stayed with their transmitter (as KVEO already has their own transmitter) and the KGBT call sign.

    Nexstar in turn handed over their local sub-channels (Estrella, Court TV, Grit) to Sinclair. KGBT still exists, except as an independent station simply passing through specialty channels (Azteca, Comet, Estrella. Court TV, Grit). Funny thing is, the now-KVEO sales people are still selling Azteca spots until the end of the month, and the now-KVEO employees are still tending to the live Azteca playlist until the end of the month.

    Not all ex-Sinclair employees have transitioned to Nexstar. Also there are some redundancies which WILL result in layoffs, despite what Bill Jorn said in his press release.

  3. Well, this happened, only because Sinclair decided not to follow the rules when the Sinclair/Tribune failed merger happened. It took two years only to fail.

    However, when Gray and Raycom merged, FCC only gave six months’ approval because Gray followed the rules.

    If you ask me, both news operations (in reality, KVEO’s news is partly produced by sister station KTSM El Paso) will merge as one with expanded local news broadcasts on both stations, whether that be in the morning or in the evening or even both. Its the only way they’ll be able to compete against the giant, KRGV because both have historically been behind KRGV by wide margins.

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