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.