KCTV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 24), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Kansas City, Missouri, United States and serving the Kansas City metropolitan area. The station is owned by the Meredith Local Media subsidiary of the Meredith Corporation, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate KSMO-TV (channel 62). The two stations share studios on Shawnee Mission Parkway (US 56/US 169) in Fairway, Kansas; KCTV's transmitter is located on East 31st Street in the Union Hill section of Kansas City, Missouri (adjacent to the studios of PBS member station KCPT, channel 19). On cable, KCTV is available on Charter Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity and Consolidated Communications channel 3, and Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse channel 5. There is a high definition feed provided on Spectrum digital channel 1209, Xfinity channel 803, Consolidated channel 620 and U-verse channel 1005.
KCTV previously served as the default CBS affiliate for the St. Joseph market (which borders the northern portions of the Kansas City Designated Market Area) from June 1967—when KQTV (channel 2, then KFEQ-TV) disaffiliated from CBS after a 14-year tenure as a primary affiliate of the network to become a full-time ABC affiliate—until June 1, 2017, when locally based KBJO-LD (channel 30, which concurrently became KCJO-LD) switched its primary affiliation from Telemundo to CBS. KCTV remains available in that market on cable providers (including Suddenlink Communications) and on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network; its transmitter also produces a city-grade signal that reaches St. Joseph proper and rural areas in the market's central and southern counties.
The station first signed on the air on September 27, 1953 as KCMO-TV (for Kansas City, MissOuri). Founded by the KCMO Broadcasting Corporation, owners of radio stations KCMO (then at 810 AM, now at 710 AM) and KCMO-FM (94.9), from which the television station acquired its original call letters. It originally served as a primary affiliate of ABC and a secondary affiliate of the DuMont Television Network, both of which had been affiliated with WDAF-TV (channel 4) on a part-time basis since that station signed on as the Kansas City market's first television station in October 1949. The station originally operated from studio facilities located on East 31st Street in Kansas City, Missouri's Union Hill neighborhood. On October 2, six days after channel 5 made its debut, Meredith Engineering purchased the KCMO radio and television stations from KCMO Broadcasting; the sale was completed less than two months later in December 1953.
In January 1955, Meredith signed a multi-year agreement with CBS to affiliate five of the television stations that the former owned at the time with the network. As part of the deal, Meredith agreed to affiliate KCMO-TV with CBS, as compensation for sister station KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona losing its affiliation with the network (KPHO became an independent station after CBS moved its programming to KOOL-TV (now Fox owned-and-operated station KSAZ-TV), from which it would re-assume the network's Phoenix affiliation 39 years later in December 1994). CBS moved its Kansas City affiliation to channel 5 from KMBC-TV (channel 9) in September of that year; KMBC, meanwhile, would assume the local rights to the ABC affiliation.
While it changed its primary network affiliation, KCMO-TV remained a secondary affiliate of DuMont; it would disaffiliate from that network when it ceased operations on August 6, 1956, resulting in CBS becoming the station's sole network affiliation. For most of its first decade on the air, KCMO-TV branded on-air as "Television 5"; subsequently in 1966, the station's branding was simplified to "TV 5", a moniker which remained in use until the callsign change to KCTV in 1983 (around the time the latter brand was first adopted, it also began using a logo similar to that used at that period by NBC-affiliated sister station WNEM-TV in Bay City, Michigan).
Meredith sold the KCMO radio stations to Richard Fairbanks in 1983, but retained ownership of KCMO-TV. On March 7 of that year, per a since-repealed FCC rule that forbade TV and radio stations in the same market but with different owners from sharing the same callsign, the company changed the station's call letters to KCTV (standing for Kansas City's TeleVision, which also served as the station's on-air slogan from that year on until February 1994), based on the familiarity of the "TV 5" branding. It also relocated its operations across the Missouri-Kansas state line from its original studio facilities on East 31st Street to a new facility on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway, Kansas. The station's original studio building in Union Hill now houses the offices and production facilities of PBS member station KCPT (channel 19), although KCTV's transmitter antenna continues to operate from an adjacent tower located on the studio grounds (see below). The "TV 5" branding that had gradually been phased out from on-air usage following the callsign changeover in favor of the "KCTV 5" moniker was discontinued completely in 1990; however, KCTV's logo has continued to subtly reference the now-defunct brand, by changing the font of the "TV" lettering (as done from 1990 to 1999), rendering the "TV" lettering in bold type (as done from 1999 to 2002) or connecting the "T" and "V" (as done from 2002 to 2011).
On May 23, 1994, New World Communications signed a long-term affiliation and financing agreement with News Corporation, in which New World agreed to switch the network affiliations of five of its seven existing television stations and eight additional stations that the company was in the process of acquiring through separate deals with Great American Communications and Argyle Television Holdings (the latter of which sold its four stations to New World in a purchase option-structured deal on May 26 for $717 million) to Fox, in exchange for allowing News Corporation to acquire a 20% equity interest in the group. The stations involved in the agreement – which was motivated by the December 18, 1993 announcement that the National Football League (NFL) would award the rights to the National Football Conference television package to Fox effective with the 1994 season, ending the NFC's 38-year relationship with CBS – would disaffiliate from either of the three major broadcast networks (CBS, ABC and NBC) and join Fox once individual affiliation contracts with their existing respective network partners expired. One of the stations involved in the deal was NBC affiliate WDAF-TV, which was among the four television stations that Great American Communications sold to New World – along with CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, and ABC affiliates WBRC in Birmingham and WGHP in High Point, North Carolina – two weeks earlier on May 5 for $350 million in cash and $10 million in share warrants.
With Channel 4's contract with the network set to expire in five months, NBC quickly approached other area stations to replace WDAF-TV as its Kansas City affiliate. It first entered into discussions with KCTV management about becoming an NBC affiliate. The prospect of one of its strongest affiliates being courted by a rival Big Three network concerned CBS; New World planned to displace the network from stronger-performing VHF affiliates that the group had already owned or was in the process of purchasing in eight other markets to Fox, a situation that in most cases would force CBS to affiliate with either a former Fox affiliate or a lower-profile independent station. Many of the NBC- and ABC-affiliated stations and – with the exception of Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix – some higher-rated independents it approached for deals rejected CBS' offers to move its programming to those stations as the loss of NFL rights hampered its choices of replacement affiliates, exacerbating its existing problem of having a program slate that skewed towards an older audience than the other major broadcast networks that aided in CBS' ratings slide to third place nationally.
To prevent such a situation from happening in Kansas City, CBS negotiated a deal with Meredith executives conditional on agreeing to keep the CBS affiliation on channel 5, in which the company would agree to switch WNEM-TV and KPHO-TV to the network. Meredith and CBS would reach an agreement on the proposal on June 29, 1994. With CBS staving off another affiliate defection in a New World market, NBC's choices for finding an affiliate to replace WDAF were narrowed further. KMBC-TV was in the middle of a long-term affiliation agreement between ABC and that station's owner, Hearst Broadcasting, leaving NBC's only viable option being soon-to-be-former Fox station KSHB-TV (channel 41), which – through its owner, Scripps-Howard Broadcasting – agreed to affiliate with the network on August 1, 1994.
On November 12, 2004, Meredith purchased WB affiliate KSMO-TV (channel 62, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) from the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group for $33.5 million ($26.8 million for the non-license assets and $6.7 million for the license itself). Under the terms of the deal, Meredith assumed responsibility for KSMO's advertising sales and administrative operations under a joint sales agreement that continued until the sale's closure. When the deal was finalized on September 29, 2005 through permission of a "failing station" waiver, KCTV and KSMO became the third television station duopoly in the Kansas City market (after KMBC and KCWE (channel 29), the latter of which Hearst purchased KCWE outright in 2001 but continued to operate under a local marketing agreement through an indirect subsidiary of the company for nine years after the company, and KSHB-TV and KMCI-TV (channel 38), the latter of which Scripps had purchased from Miller Television in 2002). KSMO subsequently migrated its operations from its original studio facility in Kansas City, Kansas, into KCTV's Fairway studios following the transaction's completion.
On September 8, 2015, Richmond, Virginia-based Media General announced that it would acquire the Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion, with the intention to name the combined group Meredith Media General once the sale was finalized. The sale would have marked the first change in ownership for the station since it was purchased by Meredith in 1953 and would have put KCTV and KSMO-TV under common ownership with Media General's existing virtual triopoly in the adjacent Topeka market between NBC affiliate KSNT, Fox affiliate KTMJ-CD and ABC affiliate KTKA-TV. However, on September 28, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group (now-former owner of ABC affiliate KQTV (channel 2) in St. Joseph) made an unsolicited cash-and-stock merger offer for Media General, originally valued at $14.50 per share.
On November 16, following opposition to the merger with Meredith by minority shareholders Oppenheimer Holdings and Starboard Capital – primarily because Meredith's magazine properties were included in the deal, which would have re-entered Media General into publishing after it sold its newspapers to BH Media in 2012 to reduce debt – and the rejection of Nexstar's initial offer by company management, Media General agreed to enter into negotiations with Nexstar on a suitable counter deal, while the Meredith merger proposal remained active; the two eventually concluded negotiations on January 6, 2016, reaching a merger agreement for valued at $17.14 per share (an evaluation of $4.6 billion, plus the assumption of $2.3 billion in debt). On January 27, Meredith formally broke off the proposed merger with Media General and accepted the termination fee of $60 million that was previously negotiated under the original merger proposal; Media General subsequently signed an agreement to be acquired by Nexstar (with the combined company to be known as Nexstar Media Group), in exchange for giving Meredith right of first refusal to acquire any broadcast or digital properties that may be divested.
|TV stations in Missouri|
|KMOV, St. Louis|
|TV stations in Kansas City|
|WDAF 4 (Fox) |
KCTV 5 (CBS)
KMBC 9 (ABC)
KCPT 19 (PBS)
KCWE 29 (CW)
KCDN-LD 35 (Daystar)
KMCI 38 (Ind.)
KSHB 41 (NBC)
KCMN-LD 42 (Decades)
K45IO-D 45 (HSN)
KUKC-LD 48 (UNI)
KPXE 50 (Ion)
KSMO 62 (MNTV)