KMEG is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Sioux City, Iowa, United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 39 (or virtual channel 14 via PSIP) from a transmitter in unincorporated Plymouth County, Iowa east of James and US 75 along the Woodbury county line. The station is owned by Waitt Broadcasting; Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns Fox affiliate KPTH, operates KMEG under a shared services agreement. The two outlets share studios along I-29 (postal address says Gold Circle) in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.
The station signed on September 5, 1967, as the market's third television outlet. It has been affiliated with CBS since the beginning. Before its launch, the network had previously been carried on KVTV (now KCAU-TV) from 1953 until 1967. That station switched its affiliation to ABC on September 2, 1967, and Siouxland was briefly without a CBS affiliate until KMEG signed on three days later. KMEG was started by a group of local investors led by Bob and Norma Donovan. Its call letters were selected in honor of their daughter Meg who would later pass away.
The station's original ownership group sold KMEG to John Fetzer in 1969. Fetzer sold off all of his broadcasting properties in the mid-1980s. KMEG was among the last to be divested, going to Gillett Holdings in 1985. The next year, Gillett sold the station to the Maine Radio and Television Company, the owner of WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine, and WLBZ-TV in Bangor, Maine. KMEG was one of only two CBS stations not to air the Late Show with David Letterman when it premiered. KXJB-TV in Fargo, North Dakota, also declined to alter its syndicated lineup in order to air the new program. (CBS programming is now seen in Fargo on KXJB-LD/KVLY-DT2.) This led Sioux City to become known as The Late Show's first home office. KMEG began airing the show in 1994.
Maine Radio and Television merged with Gannett in 1998. However, KMEG was not included in the deal; it was acquired by Waitt Broadcasting later in 1998. The new owners significantly upgraded KMEG's facilities, including an increase of its broadcast tower height to 2,000 feet (610 m) and effective radiated power to five million watts. This gave its analog signal on UHF channel 14 a signal comparable to those of KCAU and KTIV, spanning 23 counties in northwestern Iowa, northeastern Nebraska, and southeastern South Dakota. Previously, its over-the-air signal was effectively limited to Sioux City itself and the immediate metro area; most of the market had needed cable to get an acceptable signal.
Around the same time Waitt bought KMEG, the company also purchased Fox affiliates WFXL in Albany, Georgia, WPGX in Panama City, Florida, WDFX-TV in Dothan, Alabama, and KYOU-TV in Ottumwa, Iowa. However, the Fox affiliates were kept separate from KMEG through a subsidiary known as Waitt Media. In 2003, Waitt Broadcasting sold its entire Waitt Media unit to Raycom Media (who concurrently transferred KYOU's license to a third party due to Federal Communications Commission duopoly regulations, as Raycom already owned Ottumwa's ABC affiliate KTVO at the time) but retained KMEG.
From 1988 until the sign-on of KPTH in 1999, the station maintained a secondary affiliation with Fox. It also aired selected UPN programming out-of-pattern until the network merged with The WB (carried locally on KTIV-DT2 and cable television) to form The CW in 2006.
KMEG's first studios were at the corner of 7th Street and Floyd Boulevard in Downtown Sioux City until around the start of the 21st century when it moved into new facilities in Dakota Dunes near North Sioux City, South Dakota. The 20,132-square-foot (1,870 m2) building was constructed by Darland Construction Company, and at the time, the building housed KMEG and two radio stations (KZSR 102.3 FM and KKYY 101.3 FM). In May 2005, Waitt Broadcasting entered into a shared services agreement (SSA) with Pappas Telecasting, then-owner of KPTH—a rare instance of a Big Three affiliate being junior partner in such an arrangement. The two radio stations moved out and KPTH was integrated into KMEG's facility even though it was the senior partner.
In November 2007, Waitt announced it would sell KMEG to Siouxland Television, LLC. Pappas was to have continued operating the station as part of the deal. However, KPTH was among Pappas' thirteen stations which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As a result, the sale of KMEG to Siouxland Television fell through. On January 16, 2009, it was announced that several of the Pappas stations involved in the bankruptcy (including KPTH) would be sold to New World TV Group after the transaction received United States bankruptcy court approval. The change in ownership was completed on October 15, 2009, and on that day, New World TV Group took over the SSA with KMEG. TTBG announced the sale of most of its stations, including KPTH and the SSA of KMEG, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group on June 3, 2013. The sale was completed on September 30.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|14.1||1080i||16:9||KMEG-DT||Main KMEG programming / CBS|
KMEG shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 14, at noon on February 17, 2009, to conclude the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39, using PSIP to display KMEG's virtual channel as 14 on digital television receivers.
KMEG's signal is repeated over three translators. Since all are licensed as low-powered stations, they were exempt from transitioning to digital-only broadcasts in 2009 as mandated by law for all full-power television stations.
When it signed on, KMEG broadcast newscasts under the name Newsbeat 14. It made little headway in the ratings, however. Not only did it have to contend with long-established KTIV and KCAU, but it also had to compete against KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the nation. Also, as mentioned above, its signal was nowhere near as strong as its competition; much of the area wouldn't be able to get an adequate signal from the station until cable arrived in the 1980s. By the late 1970s, KMEG had closed its news department. For the next two decades, it was one of the few Big Three affiliates without a newscast; the only local news came in the form of cut-ins and updates.
After being acquired by Waitt Broadcasting in 1998, KMEG revived evening and late-night local news as KMEG News. On October 9, 2006, KMEG began producing a weeknight prime time newscast on KPTH. Known as Siouxland News at Nine on Fox 44, the broadcast can currently be seen for thirty minutes. Although KPTH is the senior partner in the SSA, KMEG produces the newscasts on both stations. On October 25, 2010, KMEG became the first station in the market to upgrade its news operation to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. Although not truly high definition, the broadcasts matched the ratio of HD television screens. The weeknight news at 9 on KPTH was included in the change. On April 15, 2013, KMEG and KPTH completed an upgrade to full high definition news broadcasts, two years after competitors KCAU-TV and KTIV.
In November 2015, KMEG brought back a weekend newscast at 10 p.m. Its weekday broadcasts in the morning, at 5, and 10 are streamed live on the station's website. Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Central Time Zone, it does not air local news at noon or weeknights at 6. With only nine on-air personalities—including only two reporters—KMEG has a much smaller news department than most Big Three affiliates in markets as small as Sioux City.