Fox’s low-caliber Idaho reload


FOX NetworksThe decision of one television group (and two licensees) to abandon Fox affiliations in two Idaho markets created opportunities for two other groups.

Fisher Communications just announced it will take the opening in Idaho Falls-Pocatello, created by the exit of KFXP-TV. Earlier, Neuhoff Communications picked up the affiliation in Twin Falls, abandoned by KXTF-TV. Both will begin their relationship with the network on 7/1/12.

KXTF in Twin Falls is owned by Intermountain West Communications Company, which is the former Sunbelt Communications. KFXP is owned by Compass Communications, but was under operated by Intermountain in an LMA. Both stations balked at paying the amount of reverse compensation Fox wanted.

Fisher snapped up the opening in Idaho Falls-Pocatello, and will use the combination of a digital low power station and a second digital stream on a full-power station to carry Fox programming.
KXPI-LP & KIDK.2 will be the network’s new home in the DMA. The stations will be segueing from an affiliation with MyNetworkTV and will be paired up with Fisher’s other major network affiliate in the market, CBS KIDK.

“Fisher is excited to expand its partnership with FOX and to serve the viewers and advertisers of Idaho Falls-Pocatello with premium programming such as American Idol and NFL football,” said Rob Dunlop, Executive Vice President of Fisher Communications.

Fisher owns television station in numerous western markets and radio stations in Seattle. This will be its second Fox affiliate – it also brings the network to viewers in Bakersfield CA.

Neuhoff Communications picked up the Twin Falls opening, and will place the network on its KTWT-LP, which will be abandoning CW to take advantage of the opportunity. Coincidentally, as with the Fisher arrangement, the Neuhoff arrangement will pair Fox with a CBS affiliate, in this case KMVT. Neuhoff has one other low power in the DMA.

Twin Falls is Neuhoff’s only television market. It has radio clusters in three Illinois markets, however, including Springfield, Decatur and Danville.

RBR-TVBR observation: LPTVs can be valuable. Both of these Idaho DMAs are likely to support a television duopoly without major finagling to get a waiver. And the type of waiver that usually works – the failed station waiver – rarely applies to a Big Four affiliate.

But low power stations are weightless when determining compliance with local ownership caps. In other words, Fisher and Neuhoff would likely be unable to have a CBS/Fox combo with two full power stations, but doing it with one full power and one low power is no problem.

The key for a low power station is to get MVPD carriage – LPTVs have no must carry rights to enforce. But with Fox and American Idol and numerous other offerings on its schedule, we suspect the two new affiliates will have no problem whatsoever getting on all of the local systems. Not only that, they should be able to command a little retransmission compensation as well.