When CBS and NBC finally made it official last week - that KUTV-Ch. 2 is being traded to CBS as part of a five-station, four-city deal - that calmed the waters in the local television market considerably.
All that's left is for KSL-Ch. 5 to work out an agreement with NBC. And, while there's some wrangling left to do, expect to see that happen before long.Once that's accomplished, for the first time in months the local scene will be all but settled. The only remaining question will be what the date of the the KUTV-KSL swap of their their NBC and CBS programming will be.
There's also some question about how the possible sales of CBS and/or NBC could affect the local stations, but indications are those sales won't have a major impact on either KSL or KUTV.
The rumor mill grinds on, however, but unlike last week's developments, don't expect to see any changes in the near future. Here's why:
- If (when) KSL signs an affiliation agreement with NBC, it will be of the long-term variety. Long-term as in 10 years, as so many affiliation agreements across the country are these days.
Which means that, at least for the next decade, the NBC affiliation won't be going anywhere.
- There's speculation that once CBS acquires control of KUTV, it might turn around and sell the station again. But that's unlikely.
The reasoning behind this rumor is that CBS would be more interested in major-market stations than one here in the 38th-largest TV market. Federal Communications Commission rules restrict any entity to owning no more than 12 stations that reach no more than 25 percent of the nation's households.
But the fact is that KUTV won't count against CBS in the 12/25 tabulation. The station will be run by a partnership between CBS and Westinghouse that is 51 percent owned by Group W - meaning it will be counted as one of Group W's stations.
Once this current round of deals is completed, CBS will control four stations, Group W will have four, and the Group W-led partnership another four. And the partnership is still looking to buy a couple more stations.
KUTV would have been a much more likely candidate for resale if it had been retained by NBC.
And if, purely hypothetically, KUTV was resold, it would remain a CBS affiliate.
- The rumor mill also reports that Bonneville International might be looking to sell KSL-Ch. 5 - a rumor that station officials strongly deny.
Anything is possible, but don't hold your breath waiting to see this one come to pass.
- Rumors that the local Fox-owned station, KSTU-Ch. 13, is for sale are unsubstantiated.
Fox, because of new affiliates it has gained through an investment in New World Communications, is actually selling off some of the stations it currently owns. (In cities where both Fox and New World owns stations, Fox is selling.) So Fox is nowhere near the 12/25 station limit.
And, hypothetically, even if KSTU were to be sold, viewers wouldn't notice the difference.
Should the fourth network sell its Salt Lake station - again hypothetically - the sale will almost certainly be to a company that Fox has a minority investment in, guaranteeing KSTU will remain the local outlet for Fox programming.
Fox isn't going to be going anywhere else. Neither is NBC nor CBS.
Which means that ABC will also be staying on KTVX-Ch. 4.
In other words, the likelihood of any more of Utah's major network affiliates being sold is slight.
And the possibility of seeing any other affiliation switches is virtually non-existent.
NEW NETWORKS: Which is not to say that we won't be seeing a couple of new network affiliates before long.
Come January, KJZZ-Ch. 14 becomes the local outlet for the United-Paramount network, which will start out by programming Monday and Tuesday nights with two hours of shows each night.
And also next month, KOOG-Ch. 30 will come on line with Warner Bros.' WB network, which will begin by programming two hours in prime time on Wednesday nights.
OVERSTATING THE CASE: Much has been made about which NBC shows KSL might not carry, if and when Ch. 5 reaches an agreement with the Peacock network.
Too much has been made of it, as a matter of fact.
KSL won't carry "Saturday Night Live." But, in all likelihood, another local station will pick that show up.
KSL will occasionally delay episodes of shows like "Seinfeld" based on their content. They'll most likely air the episodes in late-night.
And there will be the occasional made-for-TV movie that Ch. 5 will pre-empt because of its content - just as it does now with some CBS movies.
Due to syndicated programming commitments, KSL probably won't air "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" or "Later with Greg Kinnear" at least until next fall - but that's purely due to other programming contracts.
That's it. No big deal.
TRYING TO FORGET: Gee, do you suppose the new CBS owners of KUTV will find out about the snide, derogatory, on-air comments Ch. 2 anchorman Terry Wood made about David Letterman when the "Late Show" premiered last year?
At CBS, nobody crosses Letterman.
BOLD PREDICTION: If (when) KSL becomes an NBC affiliate, Ch. 5 will change the name of its early morning news show from "Eyewitness News This Morning" to "Eyewitness News Today."
OK, so that's not exactly going out on a limb.