|City||Pine Bluff, Arkansas|
|Branding||The CW Arkansas|
|Owner||Mission Broadcasting, Inc.|
|Operator||Nexstar Media Group|
|KLRT-TV, KARK-TV, KARZ-TV|
First air date
|June 17, 1986|
Former call signs
|KMJD-TV (CP, 1985–1986)|
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|"Arkansas State Network"|
|HAAT||589.6 m (1,934.4 ft)|
Public license information
KASN (channel 38) is a television station licensed to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, United States, serving the Little Rock area as a de facto owned-and-operated station of The CW. It is owned by Mission Broadcasting alongside Fox affiliate KLRT-TV (channel 16); Mission maintains a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Nexstar Media Group (which owns NBC affiliate KARK-TV [channel 4] and MyNetworkTV affiliate KARZ-TV [channel 42] and holds a majority stake in The CW) for the provision of certain services. The stations share studios at the Victory Building on West Capitol Avenue and South Victory Street (near the Arkansas State Capitol) in downtown Little Rock, while KASN's transmitter is located on the Clear Channel Broadcasting Tower, two miles (3.2 km) west-southwest of Redfield.
Channel 38 was established in 1985 as the second independent station in the Little Rock market and was the Fox affiliate for central Arkansas from 1986 to 1990. It struggled to compete with KLRT and ultimately lost the Fox affiliation to it; beginning in 1992, KLRT handled certain sales, marketing and operational functions for channel 38. Both stations were sold to Mission Broadcasting in 2012 in conjunction with consolidation with the city's Nexstar stations.
The construction permit for UHF channel 38 in Pine Bluff was filed for on January 14, 1983, and granted on May 18 of that year to Pine Bluff Broadcasting Inc., the merger of two applicants: siblings A.G. Kasselburg and Chloee Poag and American Satellite & Television of Gainesville, Florida.), which filed the application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on January 14, and received the permit grant on May 18, 1983. On March 14, 1985, Pine Bluff Broadcasting sold the construction permit, bearing the call sign KMJD-TV, to Virginia Beach–based Television Corp. Stations (subsequently renamed TVX Broadcast Group) for $200.000; the FCC granted approval of the purchase on May 15.
Channel 38 first signed on the air on June 17, 1986, as KJTM-TV, in honor of J. Timothy McDonald, the chairman of TVX. Originally operating as an independent station, it was the third independent to sign on in the Little Rock–Pine Bluff market, after KLRT-TV (channel 16), which began broadcasting on June 26, 1983, and Hot Springs–licensed KRZB-TV (channel 26), which signed on February 7, 1986. It was also the second Central Arkansas television station to be licensed to Pine Bluff: ABC affiliate KATV (channel 7) signed on from Pine Bluff in December 1953 and was reassigned to Little Rock (where it had operated a secondary studio) in July 1958. KJTM originally operated from studio facilities located on West 29th Avenue (between South Fir and Hazel Streets) in southwest Pine Bluff; since its sign-on, the station's transmitter has operated from a 1,898-foot-tall (579 m) tower located two miles (3.2 km) west-southwest of Redfield, adjacent to the 2,000 feet (610 m) broadcast tower operated by KATV and the former Arkansas Educational Television Network tower at Redfield.
Only four months after its debut, KJTM became a charter affiliate of Fox on October 9, 1986. Although it was technically a network affiliate, channel 38—which began identifying as "Fox 38" in September 1987—continued to be programmed as a de facto independent station, as Fox had initially only provided a late-night talk show (The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers) and would not add prime time programming (launching initially on Sundays and then on Saturdays over the span of three months) until April 1987. On April 27, 1988, TVX sold the station to Evanston, Illinois–based MMC Television Corp. (principally owned by Paula Baird Pruett) for $6 million; the sale received FCC approval on June 15, 1988. (TVX had previously attempted to sell KJTM to Detroit-based Barden Communications in a $6-million deal that received FCC approval on December 30, 1987, but was terminated prior to its completion.) The station's call letters were changed to KASN (for "Arkansas State Network") on September 27, 1988. The station subsequently moved its operations into offices located along I-30 (between West 65th Street and Baseline Road) in southwest Little Rock.
During the late 1980s, Channel 38 struggled to compete with dominant independent KLRT as the Little Rock–Pine Bluff market did not have enough television-viewing households to support three independent stations, two of which could be received in Little Rock proper. In July 1988, Little Rock Communications Associates (LRCA), then-owner of KLRT, negotiated a deal with MMC Television to acquire channel 38's non-license assets (including its Fox affiliation rights and most of its syndication inventory) and have KLRT managing partner Scollard Communications assume the station's financial liabilities (including overdue programming payments) through its creditors. KASN was to then become a full-time affiliate of the Home Shopping Network (which had been airing overnights through its Home Shopping Spree broadcast service). That October, however, KLRT management notified KASN/MMC in a faxed document that it would not be moving forward with the deal. Although an alleged "side contract" with Fox stated the affiliation would revert to KASN if the proposed asset merger fell through by October 21, 1988, the network's programming changed hands twice between the two stations (initially airing on channel 16 for just 42 days in September and October 1988) before settling on the higher-rated KLRT full-time on April 1, 1990. At least half of KASN's approximately 40 employees were laid off, many of whom were rehired by MMC after the deal's sudden collapse. MMC Television subsequently filed a lawsuit against LRCA and Scollard with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging civil conspiracy, misappropriation of trade secrets, business relationship interference, breach of contract and fraud in what the company claimed was an effort by KLRT management to "dismantle" KASN; KLRT ownership countered that MMC misrepresented the actions and had concealed KASN's financial issues in the suit.
On November 12, 1991, San Antonio–based Mercury Broadcasting Co. purchased KASN for $14.3 million. The purchase received FCC approval on December 24, 1991, and was finalized on January 31, 1992. After the two stations settled their lawsuit over the aborted 1988 asset sale, in September 1992, another San Antonio company, Clear Channel Television, which had purchased KLRT the year prior, entered into a joint sales agreement with Mercury Broadcasting to handle advertising and promotional services for KASN. Additionally, KLRT began providing programming and other administrative services for KASN under an amended local marketing agreement on January 1, 1995; at that time, KASN transferred its operations into KLRT's offices on Markham Street and Bowman Road in southwestern Little Rock.
On January 16, 1995, KASN became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN), as part of a 1994 affiliation deal for four stations owned by Clear Channel and Mercury. Alongside UPN prime time programming, KASN—which concurrently began branding as "UPN 38"—carried some first-run syndicated programs, recent and classic off-network sitcoms and drama series, movies in prime time and on weekends, and a blend of syndicated cartoons and live-action children's shows. During its later years with UPN, KASN phased out many of its classic sitcom reruns, in favor of offering more talk, reality and court shows in daytime and more recent sitcoms and first-run and off-network drama series in the evening; Shop at Home Network programming was also carried overnights from 1:00 to 6:00 a.m. until that network ceased broadcasting on June 22, 2006. Some KASN promotions from 1998 to 2006 featured the "UPN Girls", a group of four women between the ages of 18 and 25, who also hosted the station's Saturday night movie showcase and made publicity appearances at local events; this concept was also used by the other Mercury and Clear Channel stations, such as KTFO in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On November 16, 1999, three months after the FCC began permitting ownership of two television stations in markets with at least eight full-power commercial stations, Clear Channel purchased KASN from Mercury outright in a four-station deal worth $11.663 million. The sale received FCC approved on March 9, 2000, and was finalized on May 2, resulting in KLRT and KASN becoming the first legal television duopoly in the Little Rock market. In March 2001, Clear Channel consolidated the operations of its Central Arkansas broadcasting properties—KLRT and KASN plus radio stations KDDK (100.3 FM), KMJX (105.1 FM), KMVK (106.7 FM), KOLL (94.9 FM), and KSSN (95.7 FM)—into the new Clear Channel Metroplex studio complex, a converted 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) former retail development and Sam's Club store on Colonel Glenn Road (east of I-430) in West Little Rock. From 2002 to 2013, KASN also carried the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in lieu of CBS affiliate KTHV, which declined to air the annual special due to concerns by station management with its sexual content.
On April 19, 2006, as part of a long-term deal that also involved sister stations WKRC-TV in Cincinnati and KUWB in Salt Lake City, Clear Channel announced that KASN would become the Little Rock charter affiliate of The CW, a joint venture of CBS Corporation and Time Warner (announced on January 24) that would initially feature programs originated on UPN and The WB as well as newer first-run series. KASN affiliated with The CW when that network launched on September 18, at which time the station rebranded as "The CW Arkansas", removing most on-air references to its over-the-air channel number.
On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its 35 television stations (including KASN and KLRT) to Newport Television, a holding company of private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, for $1.2 billion, in order to refocus the company around its radio, outdoor advertising, and live event units. The sale received FCC approval on November 29, 2007; following the settlement of a lawsuit filed against Providence by new Clear Channel owners Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital to force its completion, the sale was finalized on March 14, 2008. Although the Providence/Newport purchase separated ownership of the television and radio stations, KLRT and KASN continued to operate from the Colonel Glenn Road complex.
On July 19, 2012, Irving, Texas–based Nexstar Broadcasting Group—owner of KARK-TV and KARZ-TV—purchased 12 of Newport's 27 stations, including KASN and KLRT, for $285.5 million. Because of FCC regulations prohibiting companies from owning two of the four highest-rated stations and more than two stations overall in the same market, the licenses of KASN and KLRT were transferred to Westlake, Ohio–based Mission Broadcasting (which owns stations managed by Nexstar in markets where the latter cannot legally own multiple television properties) for $60 million. The sale of KLRT/KASN to Mission received FCC approval on December 10, 2012, and was completed on January 3, 2013; Nexstar took over the operations of KASN and KLRT, which were relocated to KARK/KARZ's Victory Building studios on West Capitol Avenue, under a local marketing agreement on February 2, 2013. As a result, Nexstar/Mission's Little Rock cluster became one of only two "virtual quadropolies"—four local full-power stations managed by one company—in existence in American television. (Sinclair Broadcast Group maintains a similar arrangement in the Mobile–Pensacola market involving Sinclair-owned WEAR-TV and WFGX, and WPMI and WJTC, which Sinclair partner Deerfield Media concurrently purchased from Newport.)
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|38.1||1080i||16:9||KASN-HD||Main KASN programming / The CW|
KASN signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 39 on September 4, 2002. The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 38, on February 17, 2009, the original deadline for American full-power television stations to transition exclusively to digital broadcasts (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39, continuing to use virtual channel 38.
As a part of the broadcast frequency repacking process following the 2016–17 FCC incentive auction, KASN relocated its digital signal to UHF channel 34 on November 30, 2018.