KTSM-TV, virtual 9 and UHF digital channel 16, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in El Paso, Texas, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group. KTSM-TV maintains studio facilities located on Oregon Street (near El Paso Community College) in northwest El Paso, and its transmitter is located atop the Franklin Mountains on the El Paso city limits. On cable, the station is available on Time Warner Cable channel 10 and in high definition on digital channel 860.
The station first signed on the air on January 4, 1953; KTSM was the second television station to sign on in the El Paso market, behind KROD-TV (channel 4, now KDBC-TV) – which debuted in December 1952. It was owned by Tri-State Broadcasting--a nod to the US states of Texas and New Mexico and the Mexican state of Chihuahua-- along with KTSM radio (1380 AM, now at 690 AM, and 99.9 FM), which are both now owned by Clear Channel Communications. The call letters stood for the company's original name, "Tri-State Music" (the meaning has since changed to Tri-State Media). KTSM's broadcast tower at Ranger Peak (located within the Franklin Mountains) claims to be the tallest VHF transmission tower in Texas, standing at 2,000 feet (610 m) above downtown El Paso, and 5,990 feet (1,830 m) above sea level.
Tri-State Broadcasting was controlled by El Paso broadcast pioneer Karl O. Wyler (1906-1990), who signed on KTSM (AM) in 1930. Wyler built the El Paso Aerial Tramway in the early 1960s to allow his staff to maintain the transmitters at Ranger Peak. The tramway was open to the public until the 1980s, when insurance laws in Texas prohibited its use by the general public. Wyler owned the station until his death in 1990, and donated his controlling stake in Tri-State Broadcasting to the El Paso Community Foundation. In 1991, the Foundation hired Richard E. Pearson, who served as station manager at ABC affiliate KVIA-TV (channel 7) at the time, to run the operations of the radio and television stations. Under Pearson's leadership, KTSM-TV flourished, and became a dominant force in the market, until the stations were sold to Communications Corporation of America in 1998.
Among KTSM's most famous personalities was Ted Bender (1925-2013), who hosted numerous programs on the station including the local version of the Dialing for Dollars franchise (which aired weekdays at 10:05 a.m., following a five-minute mid-morning newscast at 10:00 a.m.), in which he gave four viewers a chance to win money; halfway through the calls, Bender (who was a city councilman) would interview a key figure in the El Paso community. Bender also served as KTSM's lead weather forecaster from the station's inception until his retirement in 1991, using weather symbols that used in National Weather Service weather charts.
For many years, the station pre-empted NBC's daytime game shows – which later aired in the afternoon hours – with Dialing for Dollars and daytime soaps. The NET/PBS shows Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were also broadcast due to the lack of a full-market public television station in the area at the time. Las Cruces-based KRWG-TV (channel 22) was an NET/PBS member, but its reception was spotty within El Paso proper due to the Franklin Mountains cutting across western El Paso, NET/PBS arranged for channel 9 to carry select programs including Sesame Street; in particular, the children's program aired on the station from its debut in 1969 until KCOS signed on in August 1978.
On October 19, 2009, Communications Corporation of America entered into a shared services agreement with Titan Broadcast Management, in which KTSM would provide advertising sales and administrative services as well as some news resources for CBS affiliate KDBC-TV; Titan retained KDBC's license and both stations retain separate news departments. On April 24, 2013, ComCorp announced that it would sell all of its television stations, including KTSM-TV, to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The sale was completed on January 1, 2015.
The acquisition as well as the sale of KDBC to the Sinclair Broadcast Group (which originally planned to transfer that station's license to partner company Cunningham Broadcasting) placed some uncertainty on the future status of the SSA between KTSM and KDBC, particularly as KDBC is now co-owned with Fox affiliate KFOX-TV (channel 14), and the SSA was indeed terminated on October 16, 2014, at which point KDBC began its new newscasts in association with KFOX.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||1080i||16:9||KTSM-DT||Main KTSM-TV programming / NBC|
KTSM-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, at 12:30 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 16 to VHF channel 9.
Due to reports of reception issues with its signal on digital channel 9, KTSM-TV was granted permission by the Federal Communications Commission to operate a secondary signal on its former UHF digital channel 16 under special temporary authorization on July 23, 2009, mapped to virtual channel 9.1. KTSM had filed a petition to the FCC to permanently operate its digital signal exclusively on UHF channel 16, and was issued a license for that channel on June 5, 2015.
KTSM-TV clears most of the NBC network schedule; however, the station pre-empts the CNBC program Mad Money – which airs as part of the network's overnight block (although it clears the rebroadcast of the fourth hour of Today which precedes it nationally), the station airs infomercials in place of Mad Money. Syndicated programs broadcast by KTSM-TV include The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil, The Doctors and Hot Bench.
KTSM-TV presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); unlike most NBC affiliates, the station does not produce newscasts in the midday time period on weekdays or on weekend mornings. KVIA-TV shares news resources with cadenatres station XHIJ-TV (channel 44) and Azteca Trece station XHCJE-TV (channel 11) in Ciudad Juárez, and Las Cruces-based Telemundo affiliate KTDO (channel 48), particularly in regards to coverage of crime in the Mexico border town. Sports anchor is currently Beau Bagley.
On August 3, 2008, starting with its 5:00 p.m. newscast, KTSM became the first television station in the El Paso market to begin broadcasting its local newscast in high definition.