KARZ-TV, virtual channel 42 (UHF digital channel 44), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station located in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, as part of a duopoly with NBC affiliate KARK-TV (channel 4); Nexstar also operates Fox affiliate KLRT-TV (channel 16) and CW affiliate KASN (channel 38) under a shared services agreement with owner Mission Broadcasting. All four stations share studio facilities located on West Capitol Avenue in Downtown Little Rock, one block east of the Arkansas State Capitol; KARZ maintains transmitter facilities located on Shinall Mountain, near the Chenal Valley section of Little Rock.
The station first signed on the air on December 1, 1997 as KYPX, it operated as an affiliate of the Infomail TV Network (InTV), a network that primarily ran infomercials. The station was founded by Paxson Communications (now Ion Media Networks), which purchased the UHF channel 42 license from the owners of defunct station KVUT. The station became a charter owned-and-operated station of Pax TV (now Ion Television), when the network launched on August 31, 1998. Paxson sold the station to the Equity Broadcasting Corporation in 2001; after the purchase was finalized, channel 42 swapped affiliations with new sister station KKYK (channel 49, now KMYA-DT) and became an affiliate of The WB. The station's call letters were initially changed to KLRA-TV, but switched to KWBF after a few months. Its call letters referred both to The WB Television Network and its mascot, Michigan J. Frog (which was "retired" by the network in 2005). Additionally, the station was nicknamed "The Frog" during its later years under WB affiliation.
During its existence as KWBF, channel 42 served as the flagship station of Equity Broadcasting, which was based in Little Rock and had also acquired a second station shortly after its purchase of KWBF, KLRA-LP (channel 58, now KKYK-CD), which became the market's Univision affiliate. KWBF's programming was also relayed on low-power translator station KWBF-LP (channel 47) in Sheridan (there are no longer U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) records of that station).
In January 2006 (three years prior to becoming its sister station), the station made headlines when it decided to air the NBC comedy-drama series The Book of Daniel in lieu of NBC affiliate KARK-TV (channel 4), which declined to carry the program due to content that KARK station management found objectionable. Because of the controversial nature of the series, the station came under fire for their decision to carry the program and had to hire extra security after threats were made against the station. KWBF aired the program in its regular network timeslot (9 p.m. Central Time) on Fridays following WB primetime programming. The controversy over the station's carriage of the program soon became moot though as The Book of Daniel was canceled after three episodes (the series' remaining episodes were released online for streaming on [www.nbc.com NBC's website]).
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. KWBF was rejected for an affiliation in favor of UPN affiliate KASN (channel 38).
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against another upstart network that would launch at the same time that September, The CW (an amalgamated network that originally consisted primarily of UPN and The WB's higher-rated programs) as well as to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations. KWBF opted to sign an affiliation deal with MyNetworkTV, which launched on September 5; upon which, the station became known on-air as "My 42".
Nexstar Broadcasting ownership
On October 7, 2008, the station was acquired by Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group for $4 million. On December 8, Equity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to attempts by creditors to force the company into liquidation. The FCC approved Nexstar's purchase of KWBF on December 23; the sale closed on January 30, and Nexstar took control of the station on February 1, creating a duopoly with KARK. At this point, the station changed its call letters to the current KARZ-TV, and rebranded the station as "Z 42"; it also increased the station's transmitter power. Nexstar's purchase of the station was legally consummated on March 12, 2009. The base KARZ logo design was eventually extended to several Nexstar MyNetworkTV affiliates de-emphasizing their promotional connections to that service beyond carrying its programming.
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television reached an agreement to sell 22 of its 27 stations to Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. KLRT-TV and KASN were among the twelve that were sold to Nexstar. However, since Nexstar already owned KARK-TV and KARZ-TV and in order to comply with FCC regulations prohibiting common ownership between two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market, KLRT and KASN were instead transferred to Mission Broadcasting, a company which is involved in several local marketing agreements and joint sales agreements with Nexstar-owned stations in other markets where Nexstar itself is legally prohibited from owning multiple television stations. The FCC approved Mission's purchase of KLRT and KASN on December 10, 2012, and the deal was consummated on January 3, 2013. On February 2, 2013, the operations of KLRT and KASN were consolidated with KARK and KARZ at KARK's downtown Little Rock studios, making it the first instance in which four full-power television stations in one market, carrying affiliations with four of the six major English-language networks (NBC, Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV) were controlled by one company; and all four having been housed out of one facility.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|42.1||720p||16:9||KARZ-DT||Main KARZ-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
Under Equity ownership, KARZ-TV had simulcast former sister stations KKYK on digital subchannel 42.2 and KHUG-LP (an affiliate of the now-defunct LAT TV) on 42.3. This simulcast ended on February 1, 2009, when Nexstar assumed control of the station. In 2008, Equity struck an agreement to allow ABC affiliate KATV (channel 7) to temporarily transmit its programming on the station's 42.3 subchannel after KATV's transmitter tower in Redfield collapsed. Through PSIP, it was later remmaped to 7.1, KATV's over-the-air channel number.
KARZ-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 42, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 44. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 42.
From February 2009 to August 2012, KARZ aired MyNetworkTV programming on a one-hour delay from 8 to 10 p.m., originally due to the station's 7:00 p.m. newscast. Syndicated programs broadcast on the station include Seinfeld, Cops Reloaded, TMZ, Dish Nation, Extra and Cheaters. Occasionally as time permits, KARZ-TV may air NBC network programs whenever KARK-TV is unable to in the event of extended breaking news or severe weather coverage.
In January 2009, KARK began producing an hour-long prime time newscast at 7 p.m. for sister station KARZ-TV (this resulted in that station airing MyNetworkTV programming one hour later (from 8 to 10 p.m.) than most other affiliates in the Central Time Zone). This expanded to include an hour-long extension of its weekday morning newscast (originally airing from 7 to 9 a.m., before being reduced to 7 to 8 a.m.), which debuted in August 2010. The primetime newscast was canceled in 2011, and was replaced by a half-hour sports program produced in partnership with Fort Smith sister station KNWA-TV. All KARK-produced news programming on KARZ was dropped in January 2013, the morning newscast was moved to KLRT on February 4, 2013, shortly after Nexstar consolidated the news departments of KARK and KLRT.