KSMO-TV, virtual channel 62 (UHF digital channel 32), is a MyNetworkTV-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 CBS affiliate KCTV (channel 5). The two stations share studios on Shawnee Mission Parkway (US 56/US 169) in Fairway, Kansas; KSMO's transmitter is located in Independence, Missouri. On cable, KSMO is available on Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Consolidated Communications and Google Fiber channel 10, and AT&T U-verse channel 62. There is a high definition feed provided on Spectrum digital channel 1215, Xfinity channel 810, Consolidated channel 619 and U-verse channel 1062.
KSMO also serves as the default MyNetworkTV affiliate for the St. Joseph market, which borders the northern portions of the Kansas City Designated Market Area, as that market does not currently have an affiliate of the programming service. The station is 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. Since KCJO-LD (channel 30) converted into a CBS affiliate on June 1, 2017, giving the market over-the-air access to five of the six major broadcast networks, KSMO-TV is the only remaining Kansas City-based station that acts as the default carrier of a network not currently affiliated with either of St. Joseph's four existing commercial television stations.
The station first signed on the air on September 12, 1983 as KEKR-TV, which had cited its call letters from a congressman[who?] who had helped the station obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Originally operating from studio facilities in Kansas City, Kansas, it became the second independent station in Kansas City, after KSHB-TV (channel 41), which signed on as KBMA-TV in September 1970; it was also the third independent to have signed on in the market overall after KCIT-TV (channel 50, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station KPXE-TV), which operated from October 1969 to July 1971.
Originally owned by Channel 62 Partnerships, a joint venture of Choice Channel of Kansas City Inc. (a locally based company owned by businesspeople Edward D. Schneiderman, Debra Slotnick, David Block and Marvin Zambrosky) and Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Media Central (which purchased a 60% interest in the license for $530,000 in February 1983), it was a typical independent of the time period, running a general entertainment schedule consisting of cartoons, sitcoms and drama series, classic feature films, religious programming and westerns. The new station originally identified as "Super 62", although the launch was anything but what the moniker made the station out to be. During its first day of operation, it aired only three local commercials between breaks in each program: two for record releases from Candelite Music (an LP collection of Elvis Presley songs and a collection of country songs), and an advertisement for a modeling school. These commercials aired during nearly every ad break, if the station was not showing a station identification slide of its logo. The picture format was also substandard, with a mysterious black tracking bar visible at the top of most programs and commercials.
In the fall of 1984, Media Central purchased Choice Channel's minority interest in the station. Following the sale's closure, on January 27, 1985, its call letters were changed to KZKC. After the ownership change, channel 62 added additional sitcoms and movies to its schedule, and decreased the amount of religious programs it aired as part of its morning lineup. KZKC also experimented with broadcasting movies that were not edited for inappropriate content, which had become typically associated with premium cable networks that do not rely on support from advertisers. This decision led to legal trouble for channel 62 following a May 1987 showing of the 1981 comedy-drama film Private Lessons, a film known for its frontal nudity and a plot involving a relationship between a high school student and a maid. The FCC slapped KZKC and Media Central with a $2,000 fine in June 1988, after a viewer filed a complaint against the station to the agency, in objection to the film's subject matter and nudity; Media Central narrowly avoided revocation of the KZKC license in a 2-1 vote by the FCC Commissioner's Board (at the time of the decision, the agency had yet to appoint two commissioners to fill open positions on the board). The violation received national attention when the incident was mentioned in TV Guide's annual J. Fred Muggs awards, a list of those in television who "made monkeys of themselves".
In early 1986, KZKC vied for the contract to become the Kansas City charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company. It would lose out on the affiliation rights to the upstart network to the much stronger KSHB-TV, which became a Fox affiliate when that network debuted on October 6, 1986. Channel 62 remained unprofitable until it was sold to Abry Communications in 1990; the station subsequently changed its call letters to KSMO-TV on April 22, 1991. While its previous callsign has not been used by any other broadcast station in the Kansas City area since it discontinued using them, the KZKC calls would coincidentally later be used fictionally in the Kansas City-set UPN sitcom Malcolm & Eddie, as the identifier for the radio station where co-lead character Malcolm McGee (played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner) worked during the series' first two seasons (channel 62 would incidentally begin airing Malcolm & Eddie when UPN debuted that program in January 1996).
After ABRY assumed ownership of the station, the group attempted to help turn around its new Kansas City media property. The company partnered with station management to purchase ad space in local television listings magazines (such as the Kansas City-Topeka edition of TV Guide and supplements in local newspapers like The Kansas City Star's TV Week) to insert ballots asking readers for advice to improve the station's programming (this lent itself to the new logo that KSMO introduced at this time, which featured a checkmark placed within the "O"). Under ABRY's stewardship, the station began turning a profit, and held its own against market-leading independent KSHB with a lineup of syndicated cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and a handful of talk and reality shows. In August 1993, the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired KSMO-TV and ABRY Communications' other non-network affiliates, in a deal that saw Sinclair transfer some of the stations to Glencairn, L.P.
As a consequence of a long-term affiliation and financing agreement between News Corporation and New World Communications that resulted in longtime NBC affiliate WDAF-TV (channel 4) trading affiliations with Fox charter affiliate KSHB-TV on September 12, 1994, KSMO acquired several first-run and off-network syndicated programs – including sitcoms, drama series and cartoons – that KSHB was forced to vacate from its schedule to make room for the heavy amount of network programming that NBC would provide to fill much of channel 41's schedule, although WDAF would also acquire a limited number of syndicated offerings carried by channel 62 to fill portions of its schedule previously occupied by NBC shows. Even though WDAF took over the Fox affiliation, KSMO assumed the local broadcast rights to the network's children's programming block, Fox Kids, as – in a situation that would become standard practice for New World's other Fox stations that had joined the network after WDAF's September 1994 switch – station management at channel 4 declined to carry the block's weekday daytime and Saturday morning editions, opting instead to fill the block's standard time slots with expanded newscasts on Monday through Saturday mornings and first-run syndicated shows on weekday afternoons; KSHB also could not retain the block due to its new programming commitments to NBC.
Network affiliations with UPN and The WB
On January 16, 1995, KSMO-TV became the Kansas City charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN), which was created as a partnership between Paramount Television and Chris-Craft/United Television. As it did for most of its tenure as an independent station, KSMO—which concurrently changed its branding to "UPN 62"—continued to fill the 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. time slot with feature films and some first-run syndicated programs as, at the time of its launch on that date, UPN had only maintained a lineup of prime time programs on Monday and Tuesday nights; this would become less of an issue as UPN launched a supplemental weekend film package in September 1995 (the UPN Movie Trailer, which was eventually replaced by a block of same-week repeats of UPN's drama and reality series) and additional nights of programming over the next four years, adopting a five-night weekly schedule on Monday through Fridays in September 1998.
Alongside UPN prime time programming and a blend of cartoons and a few live-action children's shows from both Fox Kids and The Disney Afternoon syndication block, KSMO initially carried some recent off-network sitcoms and drama series, movies in late-night and on weekends, and some first-run syndicated shows. The station's inventory of children's programming expanded when UPN launched a competitor to Fox Kids, UPN Kids, in September 1995; the station carried UPN Kids' Sunday morning block, but preempted its weekday afternoon editions because of existing commitments to Fox Kids and The Disney Afternoon.
On July 21, 1997, Sinclair signed a long-term affiliation agreement with Time Warner, under which the group committed five of its UPN-affiliated stations and three independent stations to become affiliates of The WB, a joint venture between Time Warner and Tribune Broadcasting (which would eventually purchase WDAF-TV in December 2013). One of the stations involved in the deal was KSMO, which was set to displace KCWB (channel 29, now KCWE), which signed on the air on September 14, 1996 as the network's original Kansas City affiliate (beforehand, area residents were only able to receive programming from The WB through Chicago affiliate WGN-TV's superstation feed, now standalone cable channel WGN America, on local cable and satellite providers). KSMO took over the WB affiliation on January 21, 1998, at which time, the station changed its branding to "WB 62"; KCWB concurrently began carrying the full UPN schedule on that date.
Still, channel 62 was only given clearance to The WB's prime time lineup, as KCWE chose to retain the local programming rights to the Kids' WB programming block in the interim; KSMO, meanwhile, retained carriage of the Fox Kids lineup. The two blocks would eventually transfer between the two stations in June 1998, when KSMO took over the Kids' WB programming rights, while Fox Kids moved to KCWE. As time went on, KSMO divested itself of many of the classic sitcom reruns (such as Happy Days and Family Ties), and most of its inventory of syndicated cartoons (such as The Wacky World of Tex Avery, Pokémon and Beast Wars: Transformers) in favor of more talk, reality and court shows. After UPN discontinued the Disney's One Too block in August 2003 and KMCI relegated its children's programs to Saturday mornings around the same timeframe, KSMO became the lone remaining Kansas City-area station that ran cartoons on weekdays (a status that it retained until January 2006, when The WB discontinuance of Kids' WB's weekday afternoon block nationally in favor of the Daytime WB rerun lineup relegated animated series to the station's Saturday morning schedule).
Meredith Corporation purchase
On November 12, 2004, the Meredith Corporation—which has been the owner of CBS affiliate KCTV (channel 5) since shortly after its September 1953 sign-on—announced that it would purchase KSMO-TV from Sinclair for $33.5 million. Under the terms of the two-part deal, Meredith paid $26.8 million for the non-license assets, immediately assuming responsibility for KSMO's advertising sales and administrative operations under a joint sales agreement.
When the deal was finalized on September 29, 2005, KCTV and KSMO became the third legal television station duopoly in the Kansas City market; however, Meredith's $6.7 million purchase of the channel 62 license was only permitted through the granting of a failing station waiver by the FCC, which required the group to demonstrate that the station was in an economically non-viable position to remain in operation as a standalone outlet. The Hearst Corporation's creation of a duopoly between KCWE and ABC affiliate KMBC-TV (channel 9) in 2001 (by way of an indirect subsidiary that maintained KCWE's existing local marketing agreement with KMBC parent subsidiary Hearst-Argyle Television for nine years prior to the former's direct license transfer to the broadcasting unit) and the duopoly between KSHB-TV and independent station KMCI-TV (channel 38) by the E. W. Scripps Company (which purchased KMCI from Miller Television in 2002) left Kansas City with six unique full-power station owners, two fewer than that required by FCC rules to legally permit a third duopoly in the market between KCTV and KSMO if both were economically viable. KSMO subsequently migrated its remaining operations into KCTV's Fairway studios following the transaction's completion, resulting in the layoffs of several of KSMO's 35 employees that provided redundant services with those that KCTV employees would take over.
As a MyNetworkTV affiliate
On January 24, 2006, the respective parent companies of UPN and The WB, CBS Corporation and the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner, announced that they would dissolve the two networks to create The CW Television Network, a joint venture between the two media companies that initially featured programs from its two predecessor networks as well as new series specifically produced for The CW. Subsequently, on February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a network operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television that was created to primarily to provide network programming to UPN and WB stations with which The CW decided against affiliating based on their local viewership standing in comparison to the outlet that the network ultimately chose, allowing these stations another option besides converting to independent stations.
On March 7, 2006, in a joint announcement by the network and Hearst-Argyle Television, KCWE was confirmed as The CW's Kansas City charter affiliate. Since the network chose its charter stations based on which of them among The WB and UPN's respective affiliate bodies was the highest-rated in each market, KCWE was chosen to join The CW over KSMO and KMCI as it had been the higher-rated of the two stations at the time of its agreement despite channel 62 having had a thirteen-year headstart on KCWE operation-wise. Two days later on March 9, Meredith announced that it had signed an agreement with Fox, which named KSMO as the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate, as part of a deal that also saw UPN-affiliated sister station KPDX-TV in Portland, Oregon (which was passed over for the CW affiliation in that market in favor of Tribune-owned WB affiliate KWBP, now KRCW-TV) being committed to join the network. KSMO-TV subsequently became one of a handful of UPN or WB-affiliated stations not owned by Fox Television Stations to remove on-air brand references to UPN or The WB – rebranding as "My KSMO TV" in preparation for the MyNetworkTV launch – and cease promotion of the network's programs.
KSMO officially joined MyNetworkTV upon that network's launch on September 5, 2006; although—like other WB- and UPN-affiliated stations that were committed to join MyNetworkTV—while it ceased carrying The WB's prime time programming, channel 62 continued to air the Daytime WB block until September 15, two days before the network formally ceased operations. KCWE remained a UPN affiliate until September 15, and officially affiliated with The CW when that network debuted on September 18. In April 2011, KSMO modified its branding to focus around its call letters, removing the "My" moniker as many of MyNetworkTV's affiliates began dropping network references due to its transition from a traditional television network into a prime time programming service. KSMO retained the multi-pattern "blue TV" component of the network's logo until October 2011, when it debuted a new wordmark logo.
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 KSMO-TV and KCTV 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-DT3, 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)