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KUSA, virtual and VHF digital channel 9, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Denver, Colorado, United States. The station is owned by Tegna Inc., as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate KTVD (channel 20, which rebroadcasts KUSA's signal on UHF digital channel 19.5 using virtual channel 9.4). The two stations share studios on East Speer Boulevard in Denver's Speer neighborhood (southeast of the studios of ABC affiliate KMGH-TV (channel 7) and the studios shared by Fox affiliate KDVR (channel 31) and CW affiliate KWGN-TV (channel 2)); KUSA's transmitter is located atop Lookout Mountain, near Golden.

On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity in standard definition on channel 9, and in high definition on digital channel 653. It is also carried on CenturyLink Prism channels 9 and 1009. KUSA is also carried by Carnival Cruise Lines through the in-room entertainment system available on ships touring the Caribbean and South Pacific.

HistoryEdit

Early yearsEdit

The station first signed on the air on October 12, 1952 as KBTV; it was the second television station to sign on in the Denver market—after KFEL-TV (channel 2, now KWGN-TV), which signed on just over three months earlier on July 18. Founded by Mullins Broadcasting, the station initially served as a primary affiliate of CBS, but also carried programs from ABC and NBC through secondary affiliations with both networks. It originally operated from studio facilities located in a converted former car dealership at 1089 Bannock Street in Denver's Civic Center neighborhood. Channel 9 gained an affiliation with the DuMont Television Network in 1953, but lost CBS programming to KLZ-TV (channel 7, now KMGH-TV) when that station signed on in November 1953; this was followed by the loss of the NBC affiliation to KOA-TV (channel 4, now KCNC-TV) when it signed on in December of that year (both KLZ-TV and KOA-TV inherited the affiliations as a result of their sister radio stations' respective longtime affiliations with the CBS Radio Network and the NBC Red Network). This left KBTV as a primary DuMont and secondary ABC affiliate. It would become a full-time ABC affiliate when DuMont ceased operations in 1956. Its radio news partner was KBTR (now KNUS); both stations were owned by Mullins Broadcasting, and the radio partnership lasted until the mid-1980s.

In 1972, Mullins Broadcasting sold KBTV and sister station KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas to the Combined Communications Corporation, owned jointly by Phoenix advertising mogul Karl Eller and Chicago advertiser John J. Louis, Sr., which already owned its flagship advertising business and stations KTAR-AM and KTAR-TV (the latter station is now KPNX-TV). Combined's station properties would eventually be merged into the Gannett Company seven years later in May 1978, in what was the largest media merger in United States history at the time.

In order to align itself with Gannett's new newspaper entity USA Today, the station changed its call letters to KUSA-TV on March 19, 1984 (Minneapolis–Saint Paul sister station WTCN underwent a similar rebranding in 1985, when it changed its call letters to WUSA; however, after Gannett purchased Washington, D.C. station WDVM-TV in 1986, it moved the WUSA call letters to its newly acquired station; the Minneapolis station that originally held the WUSA calls was renamed KARE-TV). Like many Gannett stations, KUSA dropped the "-TV" suffix ten days after the official digital television transition date of June 12, 2009, although KUSA had made the transition to digital-exclusive broadcasts nearly two months earlier. In April 1992, the station moved its operations into a new state-of-the-art facility at 500 Speer Boulevard (the original studio location was subsequently occupied by PBS member station KRMA-TV (channel 6)). The KBTV call letters are now at Beaumont, Texas' Fox-affiliated TV station.

Switch to NBCEdit

In July 1994, CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W) agreed to a long-term affiliation deal that saw longtime ABC affiliate WJZ-TV in Baltimore and longtime NBC affiliates KYW-TV in Philadelphia and WBZ-TV in Boston become CBS affiliates. Westinghouse's other two stations, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX-TV in San Francisco, were already longtime CBS affiliates. That November, NBC traded KCNC-TV, which was the network's owned-and-operated station at the time, to CBS in return for CBS' former O&O in Philadelphia, WCAU, as a result of a complex ownership deal between the network, Westinghouse and NBC. CBS had originally planned to sell WCAU to NBC as part of its plan to move its affiliation to KYW-TV, but discovered that an outright sale would incur heavy capital gains taxes and proceeds from the deal. To make the transaction a legal trade, the network swapped ownership of KCNC-TV and KUTV in Salt Lake City (which NBC had acquired earlier that year), along with the VHF channel 4 frequency and transmitter in Miami (then home to WTVJ), to CBS in exchange for WCAU and the channel 6 frequency in Miami (then home to WCIX, which subsequently became WFOR-TV).

McGraw-Hill, then-owner of outgoing CBS affiliate KMGH, entered into an affiliation agreement with ABC at the same time. More or less by default, KUSA affiliated with NBC. Gannett then signed a multi-station affiliation agreement with NBC that included KUSA. This resulted in all three of Denver's "Big Three" stations swapping affiliations at 12:07 a.m. on September 10, 1995, which resulted in KUSA switching to NBC, KMGH switching to ABC, and KCNC switching to CBS (Westinghouse purchased CBS in a group deal one month before, making KCNC a CBS owned-and-operated station when the deal was finalized – two months later).

In July 1996, Rapid City NBC affiliate KEVN-TV opted to join Fox, leaving the Black Hills region of South Dakota without a full-power NBC affiliate. As a result, most cable providers in that region began piping in KUSA. Channel 9 served as the market's default NBC affiliate until May 14, 2000, when KNBN signed on as the Rapid City market's new NBC station.

In August 2007, KUSA began the "9NEWS High School Hotshots Program", which awarded one of twelve student athletes from Colorado's high schools nominated for their academic excellence, selected by the school's administration and staff that recorded their high school football games; the program has since extended to cover winter sports at the schools.

Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for KUSA and KTVD, thus taking a big chunk out of the pockets of potential advertisers in the Rocky Mountains. Gannett threatened to pull all of its stations (including KUSA and KTVD) should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement. The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.

On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. KUSA and KTVD were retained by the latter company, named Tegna.


TV stations in Colorado
KUSA, Denver

KKCO, Grand Junction
KOAA, Pueblo

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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