|Branding||Quad Cities CW (general)|
Local 4 News (newscasts)
|Affiliations||26.1: The CW|
26.2: This TV
First air date
|January 6, 1988|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|Grant (previous owner) CW|
|HAAT||316.4 m (1,038 ft)|
Public license information
KGCW (channel 26) is a television station licensed to Burlington, Iowa, United States, serving the Quad Cities area with programming from The CW. It is owned and operated by network majority owner Nexstar Media Group alongside Rock Island, Illinois–licensed CBS affiliate WHBF-TV (channel 4); Nexstar also provides certain services to Davenport, Iowa–licensed Fox affiliate KLJB (channel 18) under a shared services agreement (SSA) with Mission Broadcasting. The stations share studios in the Telco Building on 18th Street in downtown Rock Island, while KGCW's transmitter is located near Orion, Illinois.
The station signed on January 6, 1988 as KJMH. It aired an analog signal on UHF channel 26 with an effective radiated power of 200 kilowatts (at a height of 96 meters (315 ft)) from a tower on Winegard Drive in Burlington. KJMH quickly became a Fox affiliate, primarily serving the southern portion of the Quad Cities market. However, the station suffered interference and duplication from the area's other Fox affiliate, KLJB in Davenport, serving the northern portions of the area. Finally in 1996, this station became a full-time satellite of KLJB. In 2001, KJMH broke off and became a WB affiliate for the Quad Cities and adopted the KGWB-TV call sign.
In September 2006 as a result of The WB and UPN merging to form The CW, the station was picked as the new network affiliate for the Quad Cities. To reflect the change, KGWB adopted the KGCW-TV call letters on June 30, 2006. Meanwhile, the area's low-power UPN affiliate WBQD-LP joined the other new service, News Corporation's MyNetworkTV. While broadcasting in analog, KGCW's signal failed to cover the Quad Cities adequately because WBQD also transmitted on channel 26. In addition, its coverage area was less than most full-powered UHF outlets in the United States due to its lower effective radiated power and shorter antenna height. However, from 2001 to 2015, this shortfall had been made up by it being available on cable systems in the area through a fiber optic link and a simulcast on KLJB-DT2. During spring 2015, however, the KGCW subchannel simulcast would migrate to WHBF-DT2.
On November 6, 2013, Irving, Texas–based Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would purchase the Grant Broadcasting stations—including KGCW and KLJB—for $87.5 million. Just six weeks prior on September 16, Nexstar had announced it was acquiring CBS affiliate WHBF-TV (channel 4) from Bronxville, New York-based Citadel Communications in an $88-million deal, in which Nexstar also assumed that station's operations through a time brokerage agreement. This precluded Nexstar from acquiring KLJB directly as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership regulations prohibited common ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in the same media market; Nexstar originally intended to address the conflict by spinning off KLJB to Westlake, Ohio-based partner company Mission Broadcasting, with the intent of taking over that station's operations through a shared services agreement.
However, on June 6, 2014, Nexstar announced that it would instead sell KLJB to Houston-based Marshall Broadcasting Group—a newly formed, minority-controlled company headed by Pluria Marshall Jr.—for $58.5 million. While Marshall acquired much of channel 18's assets, Nexstar entered into a shared services agreement to provide non-programming resources (such as master control) and advertising sales for KLJB and Marshall's two other stations (Fox affiliate KMSS-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana and KPEJ-TV in Midland, Texas, both of which were acquired by Marshall through Nexstar's concurring acquisition of the Communications Corporation of America stations). The sale was completed on December 1, 2014.
In November 2014, while Nexstar was still waiting for the completion of its sale of KLJB to Marshall Broadcasting, there was speculation by other local media that KGCW might move to a digital subchannel of WHBF-TV. On May 14, 2015, Nexstar relaunched WHBF's 4.2 subchannel with a standard definition simulcast of KGCW. The simulcast had previously aired on KLJB's 18.2 subchannel, but was moved to the WHBF subchannel due to the sale of KLJB to Marshall Broadcasting.
On January 27, 2016, Nexstar announced that it would acquire Media General, who owns rival NBC station KWQC with the combined company was to be named by "Nexstar Media Group". As such, in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit future joint sales agreements, Nexstar was required to sell either KWQC or both WHBF and KLJB (separately as it would break the grandfathered LMA) to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. Likewise, to address the ownership conflict, KGCW could either be retained by Nexstar (tied with either KWQC or WHBF) or sold to the new buyer if WHBF is sold, as KGCW does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Quad Cities market. On June 3, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would keep WHBF-TV, KGCW and the SSA for KLJB and sell KWQC to Gray Television, in a group deal that saw Gray acquiring the Green Bay ABC station WBAY-TV for $270 million. The sale was completed on January 17, 2017.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned ABC affiliate WQAD-TV (channel 8) since December 2013—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar was precluded from acquiring WQAD directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WQAD through local marketing or shared services agreements would have been subject to regulatory hurdles that could have delayed completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar was required to sell either WQAD or both WHBF and KLJB (separately as it would break the grandfathered LMA) to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. KGCW could either be retained by Nexstar (tied with either WQAD or WHBF) or sold to the new buyer if WHBF is sold, as KGCW does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Quad Cities market.
On March 20, 2019, it was announced that Nexstar would keep WHBF-TV, KGCW and the SSA for KLJB and sell WQAD to McLean, Virginia–based Tegna Inc., as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; this would make WQAD the first television property in Iowa for Tegna and its first television property in Illinois since the group (under its pre-2016-split structure as the broadcasting arm of the Gannett Company) sold WREX in Rockford, Illinois to the Gilmore Broadcasting Corporation in 1969.
On March 25, 2015, it was announced that KGCW would broadcast 24 Chicago Cubs baseball games to Quad Cities area baseball fans during the 2015 Major League Baseball season. This was due to the baseball games no longer being available on a national basis to cable and satellite viewers via WGN America. The origination of the baseball broadcasts was split between Chicago's CW affiliate (now independent station) WGN-TV and ABC O&O WLS-TV, with KGCW carrying the games broadcast by WLS, and the Quad Cities' MyNetworkTV affiliate WQAD-DT3 airing the games broadcast by WGN. In the past, KGCW had aired St. Louis Cardinals baseball games when that team's flagship station was fellow WB/CW affiliate KPLR-TV. On April 5, 2016, it was revealed that during the 2016 season, KGCW would carry Cubs telecasts originating from WLS-TV for a second consecutive year.
Until 2010, KGCW aired a rebroadcast of KLJB's thirty-minute prime time newscast produced by the Independent News Network (INN) on Tuesday through Saturday mornings at 5. On August 6, 2010, it was made public KLJB terminated its long standing partnership with INN and entered into a news share agreement with ABC affiliate WQAD-TV (owned by Local TV). On September 6, that station began producing a nightly half-hour prime time show on KLJB still known by the same name. KGCW then began repeating the previous night's newscast Monday through Friday mornings at 5. Production of Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News changed once more on December 31, 2012, when it was taken over through a new outsourcing arrangement by NBC affiliate KWQC-TV (owned by Young Broadcasting). KGCW moved the repeat of KLJB's show to the next morning at 1. In the fall of 2015, the KLJB newscast repeat was dropped in favor of an overnight rebroadcast of WHBF-TV's late newscast.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|26.1||720p||16:9||KGCW-DT||Main KGCW programming / The CW|
|26.2||480i||This TV||This TV|
|26.4||CBS-SD||SD simulcast of WHBF-TV / CBS|
On December 10, 2009, KGCW added a new second subchannel of its own carrying This TV. It also added MeTV to a new subchannel on April 10, 2012.
In December 2009, it finally changed the PSIP identifier for the main channel on 26.1 from its pre-transition labeling of "KGCW-DT" to its current legal call sign "KGCW" without the "-DT" suffix in it. KGCW shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 26, at noon on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 26. It transferred the "KGCW-TV" calls from its now-defunct analog signal channel 26 to its digital signal on channel 41 and the "KGCW-DT" call sign was discontinued.
However, it changed the legal FCC call sign again to KGCW around the revised digital transition date in June 2009 while continuing to use "KGCW-DT" through PSIP to identify channel 26.1 all the way up until December 2009. The current digital signal had been on-the-air from a new transmitter site near north of Seaton since November 2008 and from the station's original Burlington site on Winegard Drive prior to that. The remainder of the television stations in the Quad Cities terminated analog signals on the new analog shutoff date, June 12.