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Topeka

Fire In Topeka Destroys Former WIBW Building

A fire in Topeka that destroyed the former WIBW building was intentionally set, according to the station’s website.

Fire broke out at vacant property around 5 p.m. yesterday evening. WIBW, the CBS-affiliate in Topeka, aired its first broadcast from the building in 1953 and shared the facility with a local radio station until 2001.

“There’s an awful lot of memories and history there,” former WIBW anchor Bill Kurtis told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Watch a report on the fire from yesterday’s WIBW evening news after the jump. Read more

KTKA, KSNT and KTMJ Combine Operations to Become Virtual Triopoly in Topeka

Three stations in Topeka — ABC affiliate KTKA, NBC affiliate KSNT and Fox affiliate KTMJ — have combined resources to form a virtual triopoly in the market, called Kansas First News. The switch became official with the first broadcast Saturday evening.

KSNT and KTMJ are owned by New Vision Television; KTKA was recently purchased, over strong protests by local cable operators, by PBC Broadcasting. New Vision and PBC entered into a shared services agreement to combine operational power of the three stations, similar to arrangements the two companies have in Savannah, GA and Youngstown, OH.

Staffers for KTKA, KSNT and KTMJ will share one newsroom and plan to expand news coverage to additional broadcasts that will debut this fall. “By combining resources, we will have more photographers and reporters in the field, along with three live mobile newsrooms, to provide the most comprehensive news, weather, and sports information in the market,” news director Nate Hill said in a statement.

Local cable operators were vocal in their opposition to the KTKA sale, saying a shared services agreement between PBC Broadcasting and New Vision Television will lead to higher retransmission fees in Topeka.

FCC Approves KTKA Sale, Stoking Fears of Virtual Triopoly in Topeka

The FCC approved the sale of KTKA in Topeka to PBC Broadcasting yesterday, saying the sale of the ABC-affiliated station was in the public’s best interest despite protests from the American Cable Association.

The ACA is fearful that the sale will lead to a virtual triopoly in the Topeka market. PBC Broadcasting has existing shared services agreements with New Vision Television in two other markets, and New Vision owns two stations in Topeka, leading cable operators to believe a similar deal will be struck after the KTKA sale. PBC Broadcasting has not commented on any plans for shared services agreements in the Topeka market. Such an agreement would drive up retransmission fees for cable operators.

The ACA has been heavily lobbying the FCC to deny or condition the sale, calling on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, among others, to help convince the FCC of their petition. The FCC yesterday denied the ACA petition and approved the sale, saying PBC Broadcasting is fully qualified to own KTKA.

Cable Operators in Topeka Ask Kansas Governor for Help with Pending KTKA Sale

Independent cable operators in Topeka sent a letter to Kansas governor Sam Brownback today, asking for his help in persuading the FCC to block or condition the pending sale of the market’s ABC affiliate, KTKA.

Cable operators are fearful that the sale of KTKA to PBC Broadcasting will lead to a partnership with New Vision Television — which currently owns two stations in Topeka — to form a virtual triopoly. New Vision Television and PBC Broadcasting have shared service agreements in two other markets — Youngstown, OH and Savannah, GA — which has led cable operators to believe that the two companies will strike a similar deal in Topeka.

The letter, signed by representatives of five cable companies in Topeka, asks Brownback — who sat on the Commerce Committee during his time as a US senator — to urge the FCC to block the sale of KTKA:

We know the FCC’s failure to act will lead to significant harm to our customers. On behalf of pay-TV viewers in Topeka, the FCC must be a cop against collusion and a bulwark against balckouts. We encourage you to take action immediately to either disapprove the Topeka Triopoly or approve it with meaningful consumer safeguards.

Read the full letter after the jump.

Read more

American Cable Association Urges FCC to Block Sale of Topeka’s KTKA

The American Cable Association is urging the FCC to block the sale of Topeka’s KTKA, asserting that the deal would drive up retrans fees.

In February, PBC Broadcasting agreed to buy ABC-affiliate KTKA, pending FCC approval. PBC Broadcasting currently has shared services agreements with New Vision Television in two markets–Youngstown, OH and Savannah, GA–where New Vision also owns stations. The SSAs create virtual duopolies in those markets and the ACA fears that the KTKA sale will lead to a virtual triopoly in Topeka, where New Vision currently owns the NBC- and Fox-affiliates.

“ACA is drawing the line in the Topeka market because based on empirical data from many local TV markets, we know that TV stations that jointly negotiate retransmission consent deals (especially the affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) charge pay television providers higher fees than stations that bargain on their own,” ACA president and CEO Matthew Polka said in a statement. “Consumers in Topeka will be injured by this deal.”

PBC Broadcasting Buys Topeka’s KTKA, Paving the Way for ‘Virtual Duopoly’

PBC Broadcasting has finalized a deal to acquire KTKA, an ABC-affiliate in Topeka, KS.

PBC Broadcasting, which owns Fox-affiliate WTGS in Savannah, GA and ABC-affiliate WYTV in Youngstown, OH, announced on Friday that it has agreed to terms with Free State Communications to buy KTKA and immediately begin managing the station’s advertising sales.

The deal is expected to be approved by the FCC in the second quarter of this year.

Of interest to the regulatory approval process, is PBC Broadcasting’s relationship with New Vision Television, which manages the company’s stations in  Savannah and Youngstown.  As TVNewsCheck points out, New Vision, the owner of WJCL in Savannah and WKBN in Youngstown, operates “virtual duopolies” in those cities.

New Vision also owns KSNT in Topeka, making another virtual duopoly possible.

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