KBZK
Semi-satellite of KXLF-TV, Butte, Montana
A white 7 in a red square to the left, with two lines of black lettering: the top line has "KBZK" in a large, bolded serif, and the bottom line has "BOZEMAN" in a smaller, thin serif.
Channels
Branding
  • KBZK 7, MTN News
Programming
NetworkMontana Television Network
Affiliations
Ownership
Owner
History
First air date
August 31, 1987
(36 years ago)
 (1987-08-31)
Former call signs
KCTZ (1987–2000)
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 7 (VHF, 1987–2009)
  • ABC (1987–1993)
  • Fox (1996–2000)
  • UPN (secondary, 1996–2006)
  • ABC (as KSVI satellite, 1993−1996)
  • The CW Plus (DT2, 2006–2023)
Call sign meaning
"Bozeman"
Technical information[3]
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID33756
ERP18.9 kW
HAAT271 m (889 ft)
Transmitter coordinates45°40′24″N 110°52′5″W / 45.67333°N 110.86806°W / 45.67333; -110.86806 (KBZK)
Links
Public license information
Websitekbzk.com

KBZK (channel 7) is a television station in Bozeman, Montana, United States, affiliated with CBS. Owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, it is part of the Montana Television Network (MTN), a statewide network of CBS-affiliated stations. KBZK has its studios on Television Way in Bozeman; its primary transmitter is located atop High Flat, southwest of Four Corners.

Although identifying as a separate station in its own right, KBZK is considered a semi-satellite of Butte's KXLF-TV (channel 4). As such, it simulcasts all network and syndicated programming as provided through its parent station but airs separate commercial inserts, legal identifications and weeknight newscasts, and has its own website. Although KBZK maintains its own facilities, master control and some internal operations are based at KXLF-TV's studios on South Montana Street in downtown Butte.

Bozeman's first commercial television station, channel 7 has been on the air since 1987.

History

Early years

Very high frequency (VHF) channel 7 was originally allocated as the educational channel for Butte. However, plans for educational broadcasting in Montana had failed to get off the ground; the 1975 Montana Legislature scuttled a proposed educational network using the Butte channel 7 allotment. When Robert L. Cooper, a Bozeman native, decided to pursue a television station for the city, he filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have channel 7 moved from Butte to Bozeman for commercial use, rejecting the use of a channel on the ultra high frequency (UHF) band as unsuitable. PBS agreed to the idea of adding channel 2 to Butte for educational use there, making it feasible for channel 7 to be reallocated to Bozeman. Several groups objected to the proposal, including Butte station KXLF-TV; Rocky Mountain Public Television; and Governor Thomas Judge, who continued his objection even after learning that plans would keep an educational channel in Butte.[4] KXLF had objected as part of the Montana Television Network as a whole; it feared that putting channel 2 at Butte would cause eventual interference issues with KTVQ in Billings on the same channel. The FCC, however, found that a growing Bozeman merited a commercial VHF station and granted Cooper's request in November 1980.[5]

Cooper was among four applicants for the channel once applications closed in September 1981, joined by Edward Johnson, an attorney from Knoxville, Tennessee; Tri-B Broadcasting of Plentywood; and Bee Broadcasting, owned by Benny Bee, a radio DJ from Whitefish.[6] However, a comparative hearing among the four applicants, scheduled for August 1982, was forestalled when merger negotiations began among the group; by this time, Johnson had all but dropped out.[7] Bee Broadcasting owned 90 percent and Tri-B the remainder of the merged entity; Cooper's company, New West Broadcasting, dropped out in exchange for reimbursement of its expenses.[8] The construction permit was issued by the FCC on December 22, 1982.[9]

Bee approached the three major networks seeking affiliation. However, he was denied, first by CBS[10] and later by ABC and NBC. At the time, in the Missoula–Butte market, the existing two stations each had their own network affiliations. The Eagle Communications network (KECI-TV in Missoula and KTVM-TV in Butte) was an NBC–CBS affiliate, while KXLF-TV and KPAX-TV in Missoula had held first call rights to ABC programs while also airing some CBS shows.[11][10] The networks believed Bozeman was adequately covered. With no network affiliation and no building permits locally for studios, Bee declared in July 1983 that he had "had his fill" of television and wanted to sell the construction permit.[12] However, he reactivated plans for the station in February 1984, this time proposing to operate it as an independent station without network affiliation.[13]

At that time, however, a brief opening appeared in western Montana television affiliations. Later in 1984, KXLF and KPAX, along with the other stations in MTN, became sole CBS affiliates. The Missoula-based Eagle Communications network—which also had a station in Butte—then obtained the ABC affiliation, which precluded it from being available to Bee's proposed Bozeman outlet.[14]

In September 1984, Eagle Communications then filed to buy the KCTZ construction permit for $179,000, with a third of the purchase price to be paid in advertising credits with Eagle.[15][16] However, the application—contingent on the FCC reversing a decision to delete the permit for failure to build—languished at the commission for more than a year. The reason why was that the Reier family, which owned KBOZ-AM-FM, had objected to the sale at the start of 1985. It felt that local interests should have the opportunity to file for the channel and propose their own service.[17][18] The commission granted the necessary extension in January 1986.[19]

The Eagle acquisition never panned out; in January 1987, the FCC denied the proposed sale, claiming that KTVM-TV was already seen in Bozeman and that a new satellite station would be duplicative.[20] Bee then set out to build the station itself, only to find yet more opposition from the Reiers. Bee claimed that Karen Reier had telephoned him in March 1987 and inquired as to whether Bee would sell the permit; in July, Bee then sued the Reiers for $10 million in damage, claiming their actions had caused potential deals with Eagle and KOUS-TV in Billings to fall through.[21] Meanwhile, construction of the station took place.[22]

At last, KCTZ began broadcasting on August 31, 1987. On its fourth day of operation, the station had to go off the air for five hours because its broadcasts interfered with medical telemetry equipment at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital that also used channel 7 spectrum.[23] Having fought years of battles, however, Bee was thinly capitalized. When Bozeman Cable TV could not include the station on its lineup until after the start of 1988, starving it of much-needed advertising revenue, Bee decided he could hold out no longer and decided to put the station up for sale. He reached a deal with Big Horn Communications, owner of KOUS-TV, though he first had to offer Cooper the ability to buy KCTZ under the terms of his 1982 buyout.[24] The transfer to Big Horn was approved in July 1988[25][26] and consummated that November,[27] though the Reiers alleged that Big Horn had taken control without a formal application, leading to proceedings that did not end until 1991.[26]

Sale to KXLF

Big Horn put KCTZ on the market in 1990, but because of the overlap of contours of KCTZ and the Butte stations, at least one prospective buyer opted not to make a deal.[28] In 1993, the Evening Post Publishing Company, owner of KXLF-TV, acquired the station and received permission to operate it as a satellite of the Butte outlet.[28]

When the sale closed, KXLF's CBS programming and news moved to KCTZ from translator K26DE. "K26" and K43DU in Butte then inherited most of the ABC programming and the Bozeman local news that KCTZ had aired.[29][30][31] After KWYB (channel 18) signed on in September 1996 and took the ABC affiliation in the Butte-Bozeman market, K43DU was taken off the air[31] (the repeater was sold to Montana State University in 2001[32] and now carries Montana PBS); on October 31, after K26DE's ABC affiliation ended in advance of the launch of KWYB repeater K28FB (channel 28, now KWYB-LD), KCTZ became a Fox affiliate, and channel 26 returned to translating KXLF.[33] During this time, channel 7 also took on a secondary affiliation with UPN.[34]

KCTZ dropped Fox on August 21, 2000, saying that the network usually generated lower ratings than the Big Three television networks in smaller markets.[35] At that point, the station once again became a satellite of KXLF-TV (though with separate advertising)[36] and changed its call letters to KBZK-TV (the "-TV" suffix was dropped eight days later).[37] Area cable systems then picked up Foxnet for Fox programming after an unsuccessful attempt to pipe in KHMT from Billings;[36] the Butte–Bozeman market would not get another Fox affiliate until KBTZ (channel 24) signed on in 2003.

News operation

In April 1988, KCTZ began producing a local 6 p.m. newscast.[38] The news programs aired on weekdays only.[39] When KCTZ was sold to Cordillera, the newscasts moved to K26DE.[31] Local news returned to KCTZ after the switch to Fox in 1996;[33] the station aired a 9 p.m. newscast, replacing its prior 6 and 10 p.m. programs.[40] In April 1999, the 9 p.m. news was moved back to 10 p.m., where its ratings tripled, and a 6 p.m. newscast was reintroduced, citing advertiser demand.[41] However, after channel 7 became KBZK in 2000, the newscasts were canceled and replaced with simulcasts of KXLF's newscasts, retaining a small newsroom in Bozeman to cover stories from the area.[36]

In 2006, KXLF and KBZK began presenting a newscast with an anchor in Butte and another in Bozeman.[42]

In 2007, KBZK returned to producing a separate newscast from its studios in Bozeman.

Technical information

In December 2021, Scripps filed petitions for rulemaking to relocate all five high-power MTN transmitters to the UHF band, including KBZK, for which Scripps proposed operation on channel 27.[43]

Subchannels

KBZK airs the same digital subchannels as KXLF-TV:

Subchannels of KXLF-TV[44] and KBZK[45]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
KXLF-TV KBZK KXLF-TV KBZK
4.1 7.1 1080i 16:9 KXLF-TV KBZK Main programming / CBS
4.2 7.2 720p CW KBZK-CW Independent "MTN"
4.3 7.3 480i Grit Grit
4.4 7.4 ION Ion Television
4.5 7.5 CourtTV Court TV
4.6 7.6 SCRIPPS Scripps News

Translators

Livingston is also served by a second transmitter of KBZK itself, which was approved in 2020 after the main KBZK facility was relocated to High Flat to retain service to Livingston.[46]

References

  1. ^ "Channel Substitution/Community of License Change". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  2. ^ "Report & Order" (PDF). Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission. May 17, 2022. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  3. ^ "Facility Technical Data for KBZK". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  4. ^ Peterson, Ron (January 3, 1979). "Station planned: TV for Bozeman?". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Bozeman TV gets channel". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. November 28, 1980. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Four apply for Bozeman TV license". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. September 22, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Schmidt, Carol (August 16, 1982). "Possible merger delays hearing on TV". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Mengel, JoAn (August 17, 1982). "TV forces merge; building may start in fall". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Israel, Lynn (December 23, 1982). "TV station gets construction go-ahead". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ a b Israel, Lynn (March 22, 1983). "Network nixes plans for local television station". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 9. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "WSOC-TV ships on with ABC-TV". Broadcasting. August 1, 1977. pp. 32–33. ProQuest 1014699856. 1976–…acquired KXLF-TV Butte, Mont., on channel 4, and channel 8 satellite KPAX-TV Missoula, Mont., from CBS on Aug. 30…
  12. ^ Israel, Lynn (July 7, 1983). "Broadcaster may sell local TV license". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Bozeman television station on again". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. February 15, 1984. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Nell, William (June 15, 1984). "ABC deal could delay TV station in Bozeman". The Billings Gazette. pp. 1A, 14A. Archived from the original on November 2, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  15. ^ "Network buys station permit in Bozeman". Great Falls Tribune. Associated Press. September 13, 1984. p. 7-C. Archived from the original on November 2, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 10, 1984. p. 99. ProQuest 1014713033. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-08. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  17. ^ Caughey, Peter (January 8, 1985). "Reier's FCC protest may delay TV station". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "FCC delay frustrates TV station plans". The Billings Gazette. Associated Press. December 31, 1985. p. 6-A. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "FCC OKs extension to build Bozeman TV". The Missoulian. Associated Press. January 25, 1986. p. 15. Archived from the original on November 2, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  20. ^ Brock, William (April 10, 1987). "Broadcaster sets new target for TV station". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 13. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Ekey, Robert (July 29, 1987). "TV-license flap spurs lawsuit". The Billings Gazette. p. 1C.
  22. ^ Brock, William (August 28, 1987). "TV station getting ready to broadcast". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 3. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ "TV station has troubled start". The Billings Gazette. Associated Press. September 6, 1987. p. 3-C. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  24. ^ "TV station on the block: Broadcaster 'lost patience' with Bozeman cable firm". The Billings Gazette. The Associated Press. November 11, 1987. p. 2-B. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  25. ^ "Transfer of Bozeman TV station OK'd". The Montana Standard. Associated Press. July 29, 1988. p. 5. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  26. ^ a b Felker, Alex D. (July 15, 1988). "In re Applications of BEE BROADCASTING ASSOCIATES, A Limited Partnership … Station KCTZ(TV), Bozeman, Montana". Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  27. ^ "Application Search Details (KBZK)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  28. ^ a b Caton, William F. (September 17, 1993). "In Re Application of BIG HORN COMMUNICATIONS, INC. (Assignor) and KCTZ COMMUNICATIONS, INC. (Assignee) For Consent to Assign the License for Station KCTZ(TV), Channel 7, Bozeman, Montana". Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  29. ^ Tash, Paul (April 16, 1994). "Bozeman ABC station takes over channel 11". The Montana Standard. p. C2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  30. ^ Vestal, Shawn (November 23, 1993). "KCTZ plans to ax some news staff, change air time". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. p. 3. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ a b c Ellig, Tracy (October 21, 1996). "Bozeman to get new ABC TV station owner". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  32. ^ "Application Search Details (K43DU-D)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  33. ^ a b Ellig, Tracy (October 24, 1996). "TV news station changes affiliation". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  34. ^ "UPN Affiliate Stations (Montana)". UPN.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 1999. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  35. ^ Lutey, Tom (August 2, 2000). "Bozeman TV station drops affiliation with Fox". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  36. ^ a b c Lutley, Tom (August 22, 2000). "KCTZ pulls pin on Fox Network". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 8, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
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  39. ^ "Second local station signs on in Bozeman". The Missoulian. Associated Press. August 22, 1993. p. F-2. Archived from the original on November 2, 2021. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  40. ^ McAvoy, Kim; Green, Michelle Y. (September 15, 1997). "Fox affiliates gamble on news" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. pp. 38–44. ProQuest 1016945109. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-08. Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  41. ^ "Local TV stations expand nightly news". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. August 15, 1999. p. 3. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  42. ^ "CBS changes newscast". The Montana Standard. April 30, 2006. p. D4. Retrieved June 1, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  43. ^ "Channel Substitution/Community of License Change (177585)". FCC Licensing and Management System. December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  44. ^ "RabbitEars TV Query for KXLF". RabbitEars.
  45. ^ "RabbitEars TV Query for KBZK". RabbitEars.
  46. ^ "Modification of a License to Convert from DTV to DTS Application (126747)". FCC Licensing and Management System. November 10, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2021.