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MAYBE KUTV WON’T REMAIN AN NBC STATION FOR LONG

SHARE MAYBE KUTV WON’T REMAIN AN NBC STATION FOR LONG

The television affiliate rumor mill continues to grind on, this time with a scenario that involves two Salt Lake stations - KUTV-Ch. 2 and KSL-Ch. 5.

Remember, all of this is simply unconfirmed reports. And it's all fallout from Fox stealing a dozen affiliates away from ABC, CBS and NBC earlier this year and the resulting scramble by all the networks to improve and secure their station lineups.The trade publication Inside Media reports that NBC is the top contender to end up with CBS station WCAU in Philadelphia. (CBS has to unload WCAU because it signed an agreement with Group W, which owns another station in that city - the station that's currently an NBC affiliate.)

According to Inside Media, "The most likely scenario now on the table has NBC trading its stations in Miami, Denver and its newly acquired station in Salt Lake City for the Philly outlet."

If that comes to pass - and no one at CBS, NBC or KUTV can confirm any of this - Ch. 2 could become the CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City, presumably leaving KSL to affiliate with NBC.

"I haven't heard anything like this," said Rodney Brady, president of KSL owner Bonneville International. "There are so many trades included in the rumor mill that I won't believe any of them until they're actually completed."

Various station sales and trades are being effected in markets all across the country, and in this atmosphere a trade involving NBC, CBS and KUTV "sounds plausible," Brady said, "but it's nothing but speculation. We feel secure."

"The speculation about NBC and the TV station in Philadelphia has run the gamut," said Roger Ogden, the president of NBC's KCNC in Denver and the head of the team that's shepherding KUTV's transition to an NBC-owned station. "Two weeks ago the speculation was (a trade involving NBC's stations in) Washington and Miami for (CBS's station in) Philadelphia. As far as I know those are all rumors."

He didn't totally discount the reports that include Denver's KCNC and Salt Lake's KUTV, but said there was nothing concrete.

"This is a very dynamic world we live in these days. A lot of stations are changing hands," he said. "But I haven't heard anything about this."

There has been a good deal of speculation among industry insiders that NBC's purchase of KUTV was for the purpose of trading the Utah station in some other deal down the line - which may or may not involve CBS in any way.

(If CBS did end up with KUTV in a trade, it's possible that network could turn around and sell Ch. 2 and keep KSL as its affiliate.)

And, while NBC's purchase of KUTV won't be completed for about three months, that won't necessarily keep them from putting the station in play.

For example, the longtime ABC station in Memphis was sold twice last week. On Thursday, Comcorp Inc. completed its purchase of WHBQ for $43 million. On Friday, Comcorp announced it was selling the station to Fox - reportedly for more than $80 million.

The Inside Media report also mentions Bonneville's other station, CBS affiliate KIRO in Seattle. CBS lost its station in Dallas - a top 10 TV market - to Fox earlier this year, and is desperate to replace it. A number of reports have linked CBS to the Gaylord-owned station Dallas - and the Gaylord-owned station in Seattle/Tacoma.

According to Inside Media, a trade that includes Salt Lake's KUTV "would allow CBS to make a long-term affiliation agreement with Gaylord Broadcasting in Dallas and Seattle."

But Brady said his company has been in contact with CBS about the situation and that, at least in the immediate future, Bonneville is also secure in Seattle.

SITCOM FLIP-FLOP: "Frasier" won't battle "Roseanne" after all.

ABC confirmed widespread rumors that it's moving television's No. 1 show, "Home Improvement," to Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. to battle NBC's "Frasier," while "Roseanne" is moving to Wednesday at 8 p.m. (The shows that follow "Roseanne" and "Home Improvement," "Ellen" and "Grace Under Fire," are also swapping nights.)

The changes come on Sept. 20 and 21.

ABC obviously believes that "Home Improvement" will do better against "Frasier." And NBC has already announced that it will leave "Frasier" on Tuesdays.