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KCNC-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 35), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to Denver, Colorado, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. KCNC's studios are located on Lincoln Street (between East 10th and 11th Avenues) in downtown Denver, and its transmitter is based on Lookout Mountain, near Golden. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity in standard definition on channel 4, and in high definition on digital channel 654. It is also carried on CenturyLink Prism channels 4 and 1004.

HistoryEdit

As an NBC affiliateEdit

The station first signed on the air on December 24, 1953, as KOA-TV. Founded by Metropolitan TV Company (partly owned by famed comedian Bob Hope, and not to be confused with a similarly-named company later known as Metromedia), owners of KOA radio (850 AM and 103.5 FM, now KRFX), channel 4 immediately assumed the NBC affiliation from KBTV (channel 9, now KUSA), due to KOA radio's longtime affiliation with and ownership by the NBC Red Network.

In 1965, KOA-TV began carrying most of NBC's American Football League game telecasts as the network obtained the league's broadcast television rights (with play-by-play announcing duties handled by Curt Gowdy); however, Denver Broncos home games aired by the network had to be blacked out due to the team's inability to sell out tickets to the games (NFL blackout rules in effect at the time required teams to sell all tickets for home games in order to allow them to be broadcast in the team's primary market; the league later lowered the designated sales threshold to allow home game broadcasts to 75% of all tickets, and as of 2015, the blackout rules have been lifted indefinitely), this partnership continues to this day with CBS (with exception of a hiatus from the second week of the 1995 season to end of the 1997 season, when most games moved to KUSA in that interim period). In 1967, KOA-TV ran an award-winning documentary The Acid Test, LSD; hosted by news editor Bob Palmer, the film took five months to produce with more than 5,000 feet of film shot. Photographers involved included Bill Baker, Medill Barnes, Jerry Curran, Sam Houston and Barry Trader.

In 1968, Metropolitan TV Company sold KOA-AM-TV to General Electric for $10 million. General Electric sold the KOA radio stations to A. H. Belo Corporation in 1983 for $22 million, as part of the company's overall exit from broadcasting. GE retained channel 4, but was required by FCC law at the time, which forbade TV and radio stations in the same city, but with different owners from sharing the same call letters to change the station's call letters to KCNC-TV (standing for "Colorado's News Channel"), which it officially adopted on August 12 of that year.

On the evening of June 18, 1984, Alan Berg—an attorney who hosted programs on both KOA radio and KOA-TV and was known for taking a largely liberal stand on issues, using an abrasive and combative demeanor to callers and guests with opposing views at times—was shot and killed in the driveway of his home by members of a White Nationalist group called The Order. The incident was adapted into Steven Dietz's 1988 play God's Country and the 1988 film Betrayed, as well as the film Brotherhood of Murder (1999). Oliver Stone's 1988 film of Eric Bogosian's play Talk Radio drew inspiration from Berg's plight.

In 1986, General Electric acquired NBC, resulting in GE's return to broadcasting and KCNC becoming the first owned-and-operated station of a major network in the state of Colorado. By 1990, KCNC-TV devoted nearly all of its programming hours outside of network shows to locally produced news programs, broadcasting nearly 40 hours of newscasts each week. General manager Roger Ogden felt his station's money was better spent on local programming, rather than paying syndication distributors to acquire nationally syndicated shows. In 1990, KCNC paid $11,000 to KRMA-TV (channel 6) in Denver to carry the station's election coverage (using KCNC's reporters), in order to allow channel 4 to air NBC's Tuesday night lineup, including Matlock and In the Heat of the Night.

By early 1995, KCNC-TV was airing 41 hours of news a week, and the station programmed either local-interest programming or newscasts at times when NBC didn't have network programming, because the station didn't buy syndicated programming. This ended almost as soon as Group W/CBS took over after the affiliation switch.

Switch to CBSEdit

On July 14, 1994, CBS and Westinghouse Electric Corporation agreed to a long-term affiliation deal that would result in three of Westinghouse's television stations (longtime ABC affiliate WJZ-TV in Baltimore and longtime NBC stations KYW-TV in Philadelphia and WBZ-TV in Boston) become CBS affiliates, joining the company's two longtime CBS affiliates (KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX in San Francisco). However, CBS discovered that if it sold its longtime owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia, WCAU-TV, in order to affiliate with KYW-TV, it would have had to pay hefty capital gains taxes on the profit of the transaction. To alleviate this problem, in November 1994, NBC decided to swap ownership of KCNC-TV and KUTV in Salt Lake City (which NBC had acquired the month before), along with the VHF channel 4 allocation and transmitter in Miami to CBS in exchange for WCAU and the VHF channel 6 allocation and transmitter in Miami, which for legal purposes made the deal an even trade.

KCNC-TV became Denver's CBS affiliate at 12:07 a.m. on September 10, 1995 after Saturday Night Live ended, as part of a three-way affiliation swap involving each of the market's "Big Three" network affiliates. Longtime CBS affiliate KMGH-TV (channel 7) switched its affiliation to ABC through a multi-station affiliation agreement with KMGH's owners at the time, McGraw-Hill; while longtime ABC affiliate KUSA took the NBC affiliation (although KUSA's owners, the Gannett Company, had already owned several NBC affiliates at the time, as is the case in the present day with successor company Tegna, Inc.). The final NBC program broadcast on the station on September 9 was a repeat episode of Saturday Night Live; NBC moved all of its programming locally to KUSA after the program ended. Under the terms of the CBS/Westinghouse deal, CBS a sold controlling ownership interest (55%) in KCNC to Westinghouse's broadcasting division Group W. The previous month on August 1, Westinghouse had acquired CBS for $5.4 billion; once the merger was finalized on November 24, 1995, KCNC-TV became a CBS-owned-and-operated station, making it one of a handful of television stations that have been owned by two different networks at separate points in its history. As of 2014, KCNC is the only television station in the Denver market that is an owned-and-operated station of one of the five major English language broadcast networks (at the time of the CBS-Westinghouse merger, Fox had acquired KDVR (channel 31), which it would eventually sell to Local TV in 2008).

In 1998, CBS acquired the broadcast rights to the American Football Conference of the National Football League (which absorbed the AFL and the Broncos in 1970), moving the conference's game telecasts to the network from NBC (and with it, from KUSA, which aired most games between the second week of the 1995 season to the end of the 1997 regular season [and Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998, which the Broncos won]); as a result, KCNC regained the local television rights to the Broncos (coinciding with the season in which the team won its second straight Super Bowl championship and fan favorite John Elway played his final season with the Broncos before his retirement from the NFL). Ironically, KCNC would later carry the Broncos' win in Super Bowl 50, the last game of quarterback Peyton Manning before he retired.

In 2003, KCNC changed its on-air branding to "CBS 4" (the logo seen above similar in style to that of Los Angeles sister duopoly of KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV) to comply with the network mandated branding conventions (although it retained the longtime News 4 title for its newscasts until 2005, when the newscasts were rebranded as CBS 4 News).

The station was featured in the 2007 film Blades of Glory; along with other Denver area stations, it has also been mentioned on the Colorado-set Comedy Central series South Park. In one episode, Ron Zappolo is referenced as still being with channel 4 (although at the time, Zappolo served as evening anchor at KDVR).

KCNC became the last of the "big 3" stations in Denver to start a digital subchannel, launching Decades on January 23, 2015. On July 24, 2018, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the creation of the Start TV subchannel which launched on September 3, 2018.


TV stations in Colorado
KCNC, Denver

KREX/KREY, Grand Junction/Montrose
KKTV, Colorado Springs

TV stations in the greater Denver area
KWGN 2 (CW)
KCDO 3 (Ind)
KCNC 4 (CBS)
K05MD-D 5 (SBN)
KRMA 6 (PBS)
KMGH 7 (ABC)
KZCO-LD 7 (ABC)
KUSA 9 (CBS)
KSBS-CD 10 (Light)
KBDI 12 (PBS)
KCEC 14 (UNI)
KBRO-LD 16 (Ind)
KTVD 20 (MNTV)
KFCT 22 (Fox)
KDEO-LD 23 (EWTN)
KRMZ 24 (PBS)
KDEN 25 (TLM)
KHDT-LD 26 (Movies)
KLPD-LD 28 (HSN)
KDVR 31 (Fox)
KQCK 33 (CTN)
K36DB-CD 36 (Outside)
KPJR 38 (TBN)
KRMT 41 (Daystar)
K45IE-D 45 (Outside)
KTFD 50 (UMas)
KETD 53 (ESTRELLA)
KPXC 59 (Ion)
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