KEYC-TV is a dual CBS/Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Mankato, Minnesota, United States and serving southwestern Minnesota. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 12 from a transmitter in Lewisville. Owned by Gray Television, KEYC-TV maintains studios on Lookout Drive in North Mankato. On cable, the station's primary CBS feed can be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 10 and Consolidated Communications channel 12.
The Mankato market is within reach of some television stations based in the Twin Cities. CBS owned-and-operated station WCCO-TV has an over-the-air signal that reaches just short of Mankato proper. However, the station is offered locally on Spectrum channel 4. Due to the cable presence of WCCO, KEYC can invoke the FCC's network non-duplication rule resulting in Spectrum blacking out programming from the former during network shows. WCCO's newscasts and some of its syndicated programs can be seen, however.
KEYC-TV signed on October 5, 1960, just in time to broadcast the first game of the World Series that night from NBC. It was owned by Lee Enterprises which also started nearby KGLO-TV (now KIMT) in Mason City, Iowa. Less than a year later, KEYC switched its affiliation to CBS which has been maintained to this day. Lee Enterprises, intending to purchase KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon, was forced to sell KEYC to United Communications in 1977 due to ownership limits imposed by the FCC. During UPN's existence, the station carried some of that network's programming through a secondary arrangement.
KEYC was a major beneficiary of an exception to the FCC's "2½ + 1" plan for allocating VHF television bandwidth. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available, and 69 UHF channels (which was later reduced to 56 with the removal of high-band channels 70-83 in the early 1980s). The VHF bands were more desirable because signals broadcasting on that band traveled a longer distance. Because there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced. With the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order in 1952, the Commission outlined a new allocation table for VHF licenses and opened up the UHF band. Through these initiatives, almost all of the United States would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one non-commercial allocation. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas of the country would be designated as "UHF islands," since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service.
However, what would become of the Mankato market was sandwiched between Minneapolis–Saint Paul (channels 2, 4, 5, 9, and 11) to the north, Rochester (channels 3, 6, and 10) to the east, Sioux Falls (channels 2, 5, 7, 11, and 13) to the west, and Des Moines (channels 5, 8, 11, and 13) to the southeast. This created a large "doughnut" in Mankato where there could only be one VHF license. KEYC was fortunate enough to gain that license, and consequently became the only affiliate of a major network to be based in Mankato.
On July 1, 2007, the station signed-on a new second digital subchannel and brought Fox programming to the market for the first time. KEYC's broadcasts became digital-only effective June 12, 2009. It is the sole commercial station in the area that it serves which is ranked as the 12th smallest (ranked #199) out of 210 in the United States. However, KEYC is not without significant competition because outlets from the Twin Cities, the 15th largest market, cover major news and weather events in the region.
This station, though, maintains a highly local focus such as through its production of the long-running music series Bandwagon. It airs the entire CBS schedule but does not clear the CBS News program known as the CBS Overnight News. Also, KEYC did not air either of that program's predecessors: Up to the Minute from 1992 to 2015, or CBS News Nightwatch from 1982 to 1992. The station signs-off at around 1 each morning with cable viewers in Mankato and some surrounding areas receiving the CBS Overnight News from WCCO. KEYC is one of very few broadcast stations to still sign-off nightly as opposed to on weekends, once a week, or not at all (KEYC-DT2 does the same thing). Two programs that have aired almost throughout the station's history include Bandwagon and a local religious program, I Believe in Miracles, which first aired on February 19, 1961. Miracles aired for the last time on KEYC on February 8, 2015. Various other local programs have aired over the years as well as a variety of specials such as on holiday music or major community issues.
On February 8, 2019, Gray Television announced it was purchasing the United stations, including KEYC. In advance of the purchase, Gray assumed control of the station via a local marketing agreement (LMA) on March 1. KEYC would be Gray's first station in Minnesota. The sale was completed on May 1.
KEYC-DT2, branded on air as Fox 12 Mankato, is the Fox-affiliated second digital subchannel of KEYC-TV, broadcasting in 720p high definition on virtual and VHF channel 12.2. On cable, the station can be seen on Spectrum channel 19 and Consolidated channel 13. Although Fox owned-and-operated station KMSP-TV has an over-the-air signal that does not reach Mankato proper, it is offered locally on Spectrum channel 9 and in high definition on digital channel 789.
In November 2017, KEYC-DT2 was upgraded to 720p HD; it had previously been in 480i widescreen standard definition.
|TV stations in Minnesota|
| WCCO, Minneapolis|
|TV stations in Minnesota|
| KMSP, Minneapolis|
|TV stations in southwestern Minnesota including Le Sueur, Luverne, Mankato, North Mankato, Pipestone, Redwood Falls, Worthington and St. James|
| KEYC 12 (CBS)|