KDSM-TV is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Des Moines, Iowa, United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 16 (or virtual channel 17 via PSIP) from a transmitter located in Alleman, Iowa. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, KDSM-TV maintains studio facilities on Fleur Drive (IA 5) in Des Moines. On cable, the station is available on Mediacom channel 6 in standard definition and on digital channel 817 in high definition.
Prior history of UHF channel 17 in Des Moines
Central Iowa's second television station, KGTV, signed-on in 1953 airing an analog signal on UHF channel 17. At the time, all four networks were shoehorned on WOI-TV. KGTV was plagued by financial problems from the start. The Des Moines market is fairly large geographically, and at the time UHF signals didn't travel very far across long distances. It did not help that very few television sets had UHF capability at the time. As a result, while KGTV should have logically taken the NBC affiliation, that network opted to keep its secondary affiliation with WOI-TV.
The death knell for the station sounded a few months after it went on the air, when Palmer Communications, owner of WHO-AM-FM, won a construction permit for WHO-TV (channel 13). As WHO had been an NBC radio affiliate for almost 30 years, it was a foregone conclusion that WHO-TV would take the NBC affiliation. Channel 17 went dark April 15, 1955. The KGTV calls now reside on the ABC affiliate in San Diego, California.
Analog UHF channel 17 remained silent until 3:27 p.m. on March 7, 1983 when independent station KCBR (known as "The Great Entertainer") signed-on for "testing" purposes. Normal operations began on March 14, 1983. It was Iowa's first independent station, as well as the first new commercial station in Central Iowa since KRNT-TV (now KCCI) signed-on 28 years earlier. The call letters were picked from the first names of the three original owners: Carl Goldsberry, Bill Trout, and Ray Gazzo. Goldsberry was a Northwestern Bell yellow pages sales representative, while Trout and Gazzo were partners in the Des Moines law firm of Coppola Trout Taha & Gazzo. Trout and Gazzo's law partner, Joe Coppola, bought a stake in the station when it needed a cash infusion.
The station was sold to Richard L. Duchossois, a Chicago businessman, in 1986. Duchossois changed the station's call letters to KDSM-TV ("KDSM" is the IATA airport code for Des Moines International Airport) on January 17 and later that year, it became one of the charter affiliates of Fox. In 1987, KDSM won the rights to televise University of Iowa basketball games, coaches shows and football replays. The station carried Iowa Hawkeyes basketball along with Big Ten Conference football and basketball until those games left syndication due to the creation of the Big Ten Network in 2007. KDSM came under the ownership of River City Broadcasting in 1991. In 1996, River City merged with the station's current owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group. On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including KDSM-TV, allowing them to continue to carry the network's programming through 2017.
Proposed sale to Standard Media
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media – which has owned WHO-TV since December 2013 – for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Because Sinclair and Tribune each owned two television stations in the Des Moines market, and WHO and KDSM both ranking among the market's four highest-rated stations in total day viewership, the companies were required to sell one of the two outlets to an independently-operated station owner in order to comply with FCC local ownership rules. On April 24, 2018, in an amendment to the Tribune acquisition through which it proposed the sale of certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies to curry the DOJ's approval, Sinclair announced that it would sell KDSM and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, WRLH-TV in Richmond, WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WXLV-TV in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million. The transaction includes a transitional services agreement, through which Sinclair would have continued operating KDSM for six months after the sale's completion.
Three weeks after the FCC's July 18 vote to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. The termination of the Sinclair sale agreement places uncertainty for the future of Standard Media's purchases of KDSM and the other six Tribune- and Sinclair-operated stations included in that deal, which were predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
|TV stations in Iowa|
|KDSM, Des Moines|
|TV stations in central Iowa (including Des Moines and Ames)|
|WOI 5 (ABC) |
KCCI 8 (CBS)
KDIN 11 (PBS)
WHO 13 (NBC)
KDSM 17 (Fox)
KDMI 19 (TCT)
KTIN 21 (PBS)
KCWI 23 (CW)
KAJR-LD 36 (Info)
KFPX 39 (Ion)
K41DD-D 41 (HSN)
KCYM-LD 45 (NEWSMAX)
KDAO-CD 45 (RTV)