Now that Larry Miller has saved another local organization, what exactly will it mean to local TV viewers?
Miller, of course, is best known for saving the Utah Jazz when the local NBA franchise was on the verge of heading out of town. Now he's buying independent station KXIV-Ch. 14.(The sale won't be final for some time - it still has to go through the whole FCC procedure - but no problems are expected.)
The fact is that KXIV was on pretty shaky ground. The station had been in limbo for months, unable to make new deals and sort of in stasis.
Now Ch. 14's future is instantly much brighter, if only because of the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are still on KSTU-Ch. 13 this season, but this is only a one-year contract. Expect to see the NBA team on Ch. 14 for the 1993-94 season.
And, because the Jazz draw huge ratings, expect to see Ch. 14 pull the kind of numbers it has only dreamed about.
Also this season, KSTU and cable's PSN will each carry 25 regular-season Jazz games. You can probably expect to see KXIV carry more than 25 games and PSN fewer. There's even some speculation that all televised Jazz games will be seen on Ch. 14 eventually.
You can also expect to see more Golden Eagles hockey games on KXIV. While this Miller-owned team is not the same kind of ratings blockbuster by any means, it will provide more exposure for the team and more programming at less cost for Ch. 14.
It's possible that KXIV could become the local sports station. Now, BYU is going to remain on KSL-Ch. 5 and Utah is going to remain on KUTV-Ch. 2. But KXIV could end up carrying more Utah State and Weber State games, and even more high school sports.
Not to mention major league baseball, which KXIV could beef up on during the summer months.
Local viewers can also be pleased that Miller's purchase will preserve independent television in the Salt Lake television market. We've got ABC (Ch. 4), CBS (Ch. 5), NBC (Ch. 2), Fox (Ch. 13) and PBS (Ch. 7, 9 and 11), but - with the exception of struggling KOOG-Ch. 30 - KXIV is the only nonnetwork station available.
All of what's available for independents isn't great - we're talking lots of off-network reruns - but it is an alternative.
So, while most Utahns don't have quite the emotional attachment to KXIV that they might have to the Jazz, we can be thankful once again to Miller for keeping Ch. 14 around.
HAPPY BUT WORRIED: KXIV employees, who've lived with a lot of uncertainty for months, are both pleased and concerned about the change of ownership.
It's great to see a strong new owner, but who knows what kind of staffing decisions the new management may make?