|Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Channels||Digital: 30 (UHF)|
|Branding||Fox 16 Arkansas (general)|
Fox 16 News (newscasts)
|Owner||Mission Broadcasting, Inc.|
|Operator||Nexstar Media Group|
|KASN, KARK-TV, KARZ-TV|
First air date
|June 26, 1983|
Former call signs
|KLRT (CP, 1/6/1983–1/26/1983)|
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|Little Rock Television|
|HAAT||449 m (1,473 ft)|
Public license information
KLRT-TV, virtual channel 16 (UHF digital channel 30), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. Owned by Wichita Falls, Texas-based Mission Broadcasting, it is part of a duopoly with Pine Bluff-licensed CW affiliate KASN (channel 38); Nexstar Media Group, which owns NBC affiliate KARK-TV (channel 4) and MyNetworkTV affiliate KARZ-TV (channel 42), operates KLRT-TV and KASN under joint sales and shared services agreements (JSA/SSA). The stations share studios on West Capitol Avenue in Downtown Little Rock, while KLRT-TV's transmitter is located on Shinall Mountain.
The station first signed on the air on June 26, 1983, as the first independent as well as the first new commercial television station to sign on in Little Rock in 28 years (since KTHV (channel 11) debuted in November 1955). KLRT was originally locally owned by Little Rock Communications Associates and operated by Scollard Communications. During KLRT's early independent years, the station's slogan was "Prime All The Time" and the mascot was a TV with the logo on the screen with arms and legs named Primetime who spoke in a robot voice. Channel 16's original offices and studios were located on West Markham Street at the southeast corner of Bowman Road in Western Little Rock; it was the first of the city's television stations to maintain studio facilities outside of downtown Little Rock.
In 1988, KASN (channel 38) negotiated a merger with KLRT-TV that would have resulted in KASN's Fox network affiliation and syndicated programming to KLRT; under the deal, KASN would have become an affiliate of the Home Shopping Network. KLRT abruptly pulled out of the merger deal with KASN, notifying the station by fax of its nullification of the deal on its part. However, in April 1990, Fox chose to move its network programming to the higher-rated KLRT, despite the fact that the deal made it so that KASN would continue as a Fox station if the merger fell through. KASN owner MMC Television filed a lawsuit against KLRT owners LRCA/Scollard due to the failed merger, alleging civil conspiracy, misappropriation of trade secrets, interfering with business relationships, breach of contract and fraud.
The station remained under local ownership until 1991, when LRCA/Scollard sold KLRT to Clear Channel TV. Ironically, given the previous lawsuit against channel 16, Clear Channel began entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with MMC Television to operate KASN in 1991. In 1996, KLRT gained sister stations when Clear Channel Communications acquired US Radio, which gave them additional radio stations in the Little Rock area.. Over the years, the station was joined by various radio stations serving the market that Clear Channel owned.
In 2000, shortly after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revised its media ownership rules to permit television station duopolies in markets with at least eight full-power stations, Clear Channel purchased KASN from Mercury Broadcasting, creating the first such duopoly in the Little Rock market. The following year, KLRT vacated the Markham Street studios and moved into the Clear Channel Metroplex (a converted former Sam's Club) farther southeast on Colonel Glenn Road (east of Interstate 430) in West Little Rock, where all of Clear Channel's Central Arkansas properties were consolidated. KLRT's original facility was razed shortly after the station moved out of the building (a local branch of National Bank of Arkansas, an office of its mortgage division, and a David's Burgers restaurant now occupy the former studio site).
On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its television station group to Newport Television, a holding company owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. Following the sale of KLRT and KASN to Providence Equity Partners, both stations remained in the same complex with its former sister radio stations under Clear Channel ownership; the special events portion of the site has since been renamed the Metroplex Events Center.
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television reached an agreement to sell 22 of its 27 stations to Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. KLRT-TV and KASN were among the twelve that were sold to Nexstar. However, since Nexstar already owned NBC affiliate KARK-TV (channel 4) and MyNetworkTV affiliate KARZ-TV (channel 42) and in order to comply with FCC regulations prohibiting common ownership between two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market, KLRT and KASN were instead transferred to Mission Broadcasting, a company which is involved in several local marketing and joint sales agreements with Nexstar-owned stations in other markets where Nexstar itself is legally prohibited from owning multiple television stations. Nexstar/Mission's acquisition of KLRT and WJKT in Jackson, Tennessee created an irony, given that Nexstar terminated the Fox affiliations of several of its small-market stations during 2011 and 2012 due to a reverse compensation dispute. The FCC approved Mission's purchase of KLRT and KASN on December 10, 2012, and the deal was consummated on January 3, 2013.
On February 2, 2013, the operations of KLRT and KASN were consolidated with KARK and KARZ at KARK's downtown Little Rock studios, making it the first instance in which four full-power television stations in one market, carrying affiliations with four of the six major English-language networks (NBC, Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV) were controlled by one company; and all four having been housed out of one facility. Around 30 positions between the KARK/KARZ and KLRT/KASN duopolies (mainly among management – including KLRT/KASN general manager Chuck Spohn – and news department staff) were eliminated in the consolidation. KLRT's former news set would be repurposed by Memphis sister station WATN-TV at its new studio facilities, which officially began operations on June 1, 2013.
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including KLRT-TV and KARK-TV (Sister station KARZ-TV already airs Bounce TV, and at the time of the affiliation deal, Grit was available in Little Rock on KATV-DT3; Grit has since moved to KARK-DT3, while KATV-DT3 now airs Charge!).
KLRT presently broadcasts 17 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with three hours on weekdays and one hour each on weekends), which is well behind the weekly output of the Big Three network affiliates in the area.
Prior to its full-scale broadcasts, KLRT provided some brief news updates and public affairs programming during its earliest years on the air. Early weather segments were once presented by former KKYK-FM and KURB morning disc jockey and current KTHV news anchor Craig O'Neill. O'Neill included a vocal rendition of his radio character "Sherman Bonner, the World's Only Human Thermometer" to voice-over some of the weather introductions. Newsbriefs were presented by Bill Powell (formerly of KTHV) and Linda Gilliam on an individual basis in the early years. Ron Breeding, who then primarily worked with radio station KARN-FM (now working with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock via NPR member station KUAR) provided news and later weather updates for the station in the late-1980s. On September 4, 2000, the station began airing "Fox First Weather", a five-minute late evening weather forecast segment that ran until shortly before KLRT's newscasts debuted (the program was similar to a locally produced weather insert that aired on former sister station KOKI-TV in Tulsa from 1997 to 2002).
During its waning years under Clear Channel ownership, KLRT started a full-fledged news department. On March 28, 2004, the station debuted a nightly hour-long prime time newscast at 9:00 p.m. In 2007, it began airing two half-hour newscasts at 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. each weeknight. On January 18, 2010, KLRT debuted a weeknight 10:00 p.m. newscast, which competed against longer-established 10:00 p.m. newscasts on KARK, KTHV and KATV (channel 7) (fellow Fox affiliate and Tulsa sister station KOKI also launched a 10 p.m. newscast on that date).
On April 5, 2011, KLRT became the second television station in the Little Rock market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (preceded only by KTHV). With the switch to HD, KLRT introduced a new graphics package and theme music for its newscasts and a new on-air logo. The music and logo currently used is the typical style found on Fox owned-and-operated stations and some affiliates nationwide (although the Fox searchlights are noticeably absent from the station logo unlike other stations that use the Fox O&O graphics); the graphics are a variant of a package designed by Hothaus Creative Design that was also used on KTXL in Sacramento, KSWB-TV in San Diego, WPMT in Harrisburg, and former sister stations KOKI-TV and WAWS in Jacksonville.
Following the consolidation of the station's operations into the KARK studios, KLRT canceled its 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts, while retaining newscasts at 5:30 p.m. weekdays and at 9:00 p.m. seven nights a week. Additionally on February 4, 2013, after its news department was merged with KARK-TV, KLRT launched a two-hour weekday morning newscast, airing from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. (as a result, the KARK-produced morning newscast that aired during the 7:00 a.m. hour on KARZ-TV was canceled).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|16.1||720p||16:9||KLRT-TV||Main KLRT-TV programming / Fox|
|16.2||480i||Escape||Court TV Mystery|
KLRT-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 16, on February 17, 2009, the original target date for full-power television stations in the United States to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 16.