KYES-TV is a MyNetworkTV affiliated television station serving Anchorage, Alaska. The station is owned by Gray Television of Atlanta, Georgia as part of a duopoly with NBC affiliate KTUU-TV (channel 2). The station is broadcast over the air on digital channel 5. Its over-the-air transmitter is located in the city's Eagle River district, while its studios are located on East 40th Avenue in Anchorage.
KYES signed on the air in 1990 as an independent before joining UPN in 1995. It also had a secondary affiliation with The WB until that network launched The WB 100+ Station Group in 1998 in order to shift to cable-only distribution in smaller markets. In January 2006 it was announced that the WB and UPN were to merge operations in September 2006 to form The CW. The station was expected to become a CW affiliate, but on April 24 it was announced that The CW would be carried on a digital subchannel on ABC's Anchorage affiliate KIMO. KYES instead became an affiliate of MyNetwork TV and one of only two in Alaska (former sister station K17HC 17 in Juneau was the other); KFXF, the Fox affiliate in Fairbanks, declined an offer to run it as their secondary network.
On October 1, 2015, Gray Television announced that it would acquire KYES and four of its five translators from Fireweed Communications for $500.000, and apply for a "failing station" waiver from the FCC so it can form a duopoly between KYES and NBC affiliate KTUU, which Gray is acquiring as part of a separate transaction with Schurz Communications. Gray stated that it planned to invest in improving the quality of the station's services and programming.
The acquisition was opposed by GCI—owner of KTVA, who filed a complaint to the FCC in December 2015. The company argued that the consolidation of KTUU and KYES would harm the ability for other stations to compete. Attorney General Craig W. Richards also objected to the purchase, stating that such a consolidation would have the "potential for significant negative effects on competition in the small Anchorage DMA". Gray objected to GCI's claims, arguing that it was ironic for a "monopoly" utility company to "[allege] anti-competitive harms and serious threats to its impressive bottom line from the combination of KTUU, a strong station with an undisputed record of serving local communities, with [KYES], a weak station that has no local news, that hardly registers in ratings, and that GCI concedes has less than 5% of the local broadcast television advertising market", and that "GCI may need to increase its investments in KTVA to prevail in the marketplace over a new competitor in KYES-TV. Investments and competitive responses are precisely the types of benefits that the commission and the public want to see from broadcasters."
On June 17, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission approved the sale of the station Gray, with a condition that the station will not enter (during two years post-consummation) into an affiliation agreement with a television network that would convert KYES into one of the top-four stations in audience share. The sale was completed on June 27, 2016. Prior to the sale, KYES was one of the few stand-alone locally owned commercial television stations left in the United States. Immediately after, the station's logo was redesigned, and its MyNetworkTV affiliation was de-emphasized, as has become standard during MyNetworkTV's decline as solely a programming service with limited network imaging. Around the same time, KYES's translator in Juneau, KCBJ-LP (channel 15) took over for K17HC, which was retained by Fireweed, but went dark in 2017.
In 1990, the station broadcast news from the U.S.S.R. translated into English. It also hosted Valley News, an independent production from Wasilla, Alaska, anchored by long-time Mat-Su Valley broadcaster Fred James. Until the Gray purchase, It ran Democracy Now! live (which in Alaska is at 4:00 a.m.), and carried France 24 on DTV 4. After the Gray purchase, a repeat of KTUU's 5:30 a.m. newscast began airing at 7:30 a.m.
KYES's digital signal on channel 22 signed on with 20 watts of power on August 25, 2003—the first television station in the Anchorage market to have a digital signal, and the first in Alaska to offer high-definition television.
The means of getting the digital signal out, however, was extraordinary—KYES used a TTC 100-watt analog translator and a K-Tec digital exciter purchased on eBay, along with a temporary 30-foot (9.1 m) tower, originally used for an analog LPTV translator, on the roof of the hillside home of KYES's president and chief engineer manager, Jeremy Lansman. At only $5000 to construct, it was sufficient enough to transmit a viewable digital signal throughout most of Anchorage, with the exception of the road to the town dump. KYES's initial digital programming included high-definition programming from HDNet and Wealth TV, along with an in-house audio music channel, rebroadcasts of KUDO-AM, KEUL FM and the Republic Broadcasting Network, and a standard-definition KYES broadcast.
KYES briefly included Retro Television Network in its digital lineup beginning in 2008. However, this was discontinued when the network was acquired by Luken Communications. No explanation has been given by KYES as to why the programming was discontinued. However, the reasons are likely technical. Under Equity Broadcasting, RTN was uplinked from Galaxy 18 at 123° West. When Luken acquired the network, it was moved to AMC 9 at 83° West, an orbital location that is below the horizon from Anchorage.
The channel 22 signal is now licensed as K22HN, and operates at 2.8 kW ERP. KYES is authorized by the FCC to broadcast digital signals via VHF channel 5, broadcasting up to 45 kW. Thus, it has duplicate VHF and UHF signals.
In a DTV transition status report (FCC Form 387) filed by the station on October 7, 2008, Jeremy Lansman of KYES describes the station's digital readiness:
- "The form asks: 'licensee/permittee has other needs that must be addressed before it can fully construct and operate its post-transition facility. (if checked, explain.)'
- 1. Reliability and quality of using 1970's Harris transmitting gear is unknown.
- 2. No equipment is available to accurately measure DTV or ACLR power.
- 3. The 8VSB signal will originate at K22HN. Reliability of reception of the 8VSB signal is unknown, though it seems to work in spite of two path terrain obstacles.
- 4. Electricity supplies are unreliable at both sites; Hillside where K22HN will originate 8VSB signals for the region, and Eagle River where KYES-DT will translate those signals. Both sites are subject to winds in excess of 100 mph. Serial retransmission will compound the probability of off air time. The station needs back up generators, but has no money for one, no less two. Public safety will be compromised after the analog signal is switched off due to lack of back up power.
- For example, power at K22HN failed last night (Oct 10, 2008) shortly after 4.30 am. It is still off as of this time, 6 pm. As a result, KYES has had no DTV signal at all for over 12 hours. This will not be a unique experience. The analog signal originates from a UPS-protected studio. the 8VSB signal is encoded at K22HN.
- The FCC form asks what is needed. The answer? Funds from the spectrum auction as made possible by this conversion to DTV, said funds to be applied to equipment that may be needed, especially by stations in financial distress. Dumpster diving may result in an 8VSB signal, but the result will be less than ideal.
The document then goes on to cite a local newspaper article explaining that a storm and 100 mph winds had knocked out power in the area, taking K22HN dark. Effectively, KYES-DT files its FCC digital television status reports by candlelight.
Fireweed Communications LLC has now requested FCC authorization to operate KYES-DT post transition from multiple transmitter sites. The existing UHF 22 DTV facility would continue operation and multiple transmitters would rebroadcast the signal onto the former analog channel (5) using existing KYES low-power television facilities.
While the cash-strapped station expects this will allow rapid and less costly construction and provide replication of analog service, this technically is not a request for a DTx (distributed transmission system). The transmitters may not be synchronized and therefore could interfere with each other in certain narrow geographical areas. The affected locations are all currently unpopulated.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||My-TV5||Main KYES-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
Since 2016, KYES airs programming in high definition.