KSAS-TV, virtual channel 24 (UHF digital channel 26), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Wichita, Kansas, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group; Sinclair also operates MyNetworkTV affiliate KMTW (channel 36) under a local marketing agreement with owner Mercury Broadcasting Company. The two stations share studio facilities located on North West Street in northwestern Wichita; KSAS maintains transmitter facilities located in rural northwestern Sedgwick County (east of Colwich).
KSAS-TV serves as the flagship of Fox Kansas (which also serves as the station's main branding), a statewide network of three full-power and two low-power stations relaying Fox network programming across central and western Kansas. On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications channel 4 and AT&T U-verse channel 24 in standard definition, and in high definition on Cox digital channel 2004 and QAM channel 116.10. and U-verse channel 1024.
The station first signed on the air on August 24, 1985; it was founded by a limited partnership known as Columbia-Kansas TV Ltd., which was restructured into Channel 24 Ltd. before it signed on. Originally operating as an independent station, channel 24 was the first such station licensed to Kansas as well as the first commercial television station to sign on in the Wichita market since KARD-TV (channel 3, now KSNW) debuted 30 years earlier in September 1955. The station became a charter affiliate of Fox when the network launched on October 9, 1986. However, like most Fox stations early on, it continued to program as a de facto independent for Fox's first eight years of existence.
On April 3, 1988, KAAS-TV (channel 17) signed on in Salina as a full-time satellite of KSAS. The station later added repeaters in Western Kansas in 1995, with the launches of low-power stations KSAS-LP (channel 29) in Dodge City and KAAS-LP (channel 31) in Garden City. Channel 24 Ltd. filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s, and was eventually bought out by Clear Channel Communications in August 1990.
In 1998, per the suggestion of then-program director Michael Hochman, KSAS changed its branding from "Fox 24" to "Fox Kansas," in order to help position KSAS and its satellites as a regional "network" along the lines of the other major stations in the market (such as the Kansas State Network, the Kansas Broadcasting System, and the KAKEland Television Network). Two years later, when KBDK (channel 14, now KOCW) in Hoisington was added as another full-power satellite to serve Great Bend and Hays. The Wichita-Hutchinson market's four major network stations all require at least three full-power transmitters to cover the unusually large market, which covers over 70 counties stretching from the Flint Hills to the Colorado border (encompassing almost three-fourths of the state), making it the largest designated market area (DMA) by number of counties in the United States.
In January 2001, Clear Channel entered into a local marketing agreement with the Mercury Broadcasting Company to provide services to upstart UPN affiliate KSCC (channel 36, now MyNetworkTV affiliate KMTW), which it had acquired from the Paramount Stations Group subsidiary of Viacom (now CBS Television Stations and owned by CBS Corporation) shortly before its sign-on (Mercury would not assume ownership until June of that year).
In 2005, KSAS became a crucial location in the search for and apprehension of infamous Wichita serial killer Dennis Rader, known for decades as the anonymous BTK Killer. Rader's last known communication with the media and police was a padded envelope which arrived at KSAS' West Street studios (one of many stations in the Wichita market which Rader had contacted over the years) on February 16 of that year. Enclosed in the package was a purple, 1.44-MB Memorex floppy disk; a letter; a photocopy of the cover of a 1989 novel about a serial killer (Rules of Prey); and a gold-colored necklace with a large medallion. Police found metadata embedded in a Microsoft Word document on the disk that pointed to Wichita's Christ Lutheran Church and the document was marked as last modified by "Dennis". A search of the church website turned up Dennis Rader as president of the congregation council.
On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its television stations (including KSAS and its LMA with KMTW) to Newport Television, a holding company owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners; the deal closed on March 14, 2008. Longtime Wichita television broadcaster Sandy DiPasquale, the group's president and CEO, was part owner of Smith Broadcasting, and was the last local owner of CBS affiliate KWCH-TV from 1989 to 1994. DiPasquale moved Newport's headquarters to Kansas City in 2008 from his longtime base in Wichita.
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of KSAS-TV to the Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a group deal worth an estimated total of $1 billion involving the sale of 22 stations to Sinclair, the Nexstar Broadcasting Group and the Cox Media Group; the local marketing agreement with KMTW was included in the purchase. The transaction was finalized on December 3.
KSAS operates a network of two full-power and two low-power stations covering central and western Kansas. The full-power outlets also carry Antenna TV on their second digital subchannels. These stations air virtually the exact programming as KSAS, apart from local advertisements targeted to their respective viewing area.
|Station||City of license||Channels||First air date||ERP||HAAT||Facility ID||Transmitter coordinates||Transmitter location|
|KAAS-TV||Salina||17 (UHF)||April 3, 1988||65 kW||314 m||11912||west of Manchester along Ottawa and Dickinson County line|
|KOCW||Hoisington/Great Bend||14 (UHF)||2000||40 kW||163 m||83181||along U.S. 281 in Northern Barton County|
|KSAS-LP||Dodge City||29 (UHF)||1995||15 kW||907 m||11967||northwest of city|
|KAAS-LP||Garden City||31 (UHF)||1995||14.6 kW||129 m||11968||south of city|
- 1. Call sign was changed from KBDK to KOCW in 2006.
Because it was granted an original construction permit after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalized the digital television allotment plan on April 21, 1997, KOCW did not receive a companion channel for a digital broadcast signal. Instead on June 12, 2009, the station turned off its analog signal and turned on its digital signal (an action called a "flash-cut"). Due to their low-powered status, both KSAS-LP and KAAS-LP will not have to convert to digital until September 1, 2015.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|24.1||720p||16:9||KSAS-DT||Main KSAS-TV programming / Fox|
KSAS digital subchannel 24.2 began carrying Antenna TV on August 6, 2012, replacing music video network TheCoolTV (coincidentally, this occurred before the closure of its sale to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which dropped the network from its stations at the end of that month).
KSAS-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were 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 26. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 24.
KSAS-TV broadcasts the entire Fox network schedule (nightly primetime, Saturday late night, and Fox Sports programming, along with the network's Saturday morning infomercial block, Weekend Marketplace and the political talk show Fox News Sunday). Syndicated programs broadcast on KSAS include The Steve Harvey Show, Family Feud, Celebrity Name Game, Hot Bench, Mike & Molly.
KSNW presently produces 3½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for KSAS-TV (with a half-hour each on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays). KSAS's studios on West Street have always been too small to house a full-scale news department, so its newscasts have been outsourced to other stations in the market. In the mid-1990s, ABC affiliate KAKE-TV produced news updates, branded as KAKE News 10 Update on Fox 24, that aired during Fox prime time programming between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.; the updates served mainly to tease stories that would air on KAKE's 10:00 p.m. newscast. On September 29, 1997 through a news share agreement, NBC affiliate KSNW produced the first primetime newscast in the market for KSAS, a nightly 9:00 p.m. newscast titled Fox News at 9 (originally called Fox First News prior to its launch), along with hourly local news updates that aired during early evening and primetime programming. The program was scheduled to premiere on September 15, but was delayed due to construction delays on a secondary news set at KSNW's studios that would be used for the primetime show. The broadcast was terminated due to poor ratings, with the last edition airing on December 31, 1998. The station announced plans to build the market's fourth in-house news department in 2000, but those plans fell through.
Another news outsourcing agreement was established in 2003 with CBS affiliate KWCH resulting in the return of a nightly primetime newscast to channel 24, which made its debut on January 19, 2004. Known as Fox Kansas Eyewitness News at 9, the half-hour show originated from a secondary set (designed by FX Group) at KWCH's facility on East 37th Street North in northeastern Wichita. In 2005, the newscast received the "Best Large Market Newscast in Kansas" award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. KWCH continued production of the 9:00 p.m. newscast even after Schurz Communications (which acquired KWCH in 2006) purchased CW affiliate KSCW (channel 33) in 2008 under a failing station waiver and added an extension of its weekday morning newscast to that station's schedule. In October 2008, KWCH became the first station in the market to upgrade its local newscasts to high definition; although not initially included in the change, KWCH upgraded its weather forecast segments to HD in March 2009.
On September 12, 2011, KWCH began producing half-hour newscasts at 4:00 p.m. weekdays and seven nights a week at 9:00 p.m. for KSCW; the latter newscast directly competed with KWCH's newscast on KSAS, until the news share agreement between both stations expired on December 31. In theory, KWCH could have simultaneously broadcast two 9:00 p.m. newscasts until the expiration of the agreement, because KSAS' newscast originated from a secondary set at KWCH's studio facility; however on October 5, 2011, KSAS filed a lawsuit against KWCH in Sedgwick County District Court claiming that in violation of the news share agreement, KWCH began taping the KSAS newscasts in advance, while KWCH produced its newscast for KSCW as a live telecast; District Judge Jeff Goering signed an order requiring KWCH to restore the live newscast on KSAS while the suit was pending.
Two days later, the two stations reached an agreement, ending the suit, and allowing KWCH to produce its newscast for KSAS live until the expiration of its news share agreement with the station, after which the live broadcasts were moved back over to KSCW. After the outsourcing deal with KWCH ended, production of the 9:00 p.m. newscast was turned back over to KSNW on January 2, 2012. By that time, KSNW had upgraded its in-studio segments to high definition. The broadcast was renamed Fox Kansas News at 9, and originates from an updated main set at KSNW's facility which has separate duratrans indicating the KSAS broadcast.