KAUT-TV, virtual channel 43 (UHF digital channel 40), is an independent television station located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, as part of a duopoly with NBC affiliate KFOR-TV (channel 4). The two stations share studio and transmitter facilities located on East Britton Road (U.S. 77) in the McCourry Heights section of northeast Oklahoma City.
Additionally, KAUT has an informal secondary affiliation with Antenna TV, select programs are simulcast with KFOR-TV digital subchannel 4.2, the network's full-time Oklahoma City affiliate. On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications channel 16 and AT&T U-verse channel 43 in standard definition, and in high definition on Cox digital channel 716 and U-verse channel 1043.
The station first signed on the air on September 24, 1980; it was the sixth commercial television station and fourth UHF outlet to sign on in the Oklahoma City market --after KGMC (channel 34, now CW affiliate KOCB); KOKH-TV (channel 25, now a Fox affiliate); and KTVQ (which originally occupied the channel 25 frequency from 1953 to 1956). It was founded by Golden West Broadcasters (owned by actor and Oklahoma native Gene Autry), which at the time also owned KTLA in Los Angeles. The station's original studios were located at 11901 North Eastern Avenue, north of Oklahoma City's Britton section. Operating as an independent station, KAUT originally ran a local rolling news format, branded as Newswatch 43, daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Nighttime hours were filled by Golden West's over-the-air subscription service VEU, which initially signed on at 5:00 p.m. before having its start time moved to 7:00 p.m. after news programming was expanded by two hours a few months after KAUT's debut.
Newswatch 43 was discontinued in late 1981; KAUT temporarily replaced it with older feature film westerns – most of which had starred Autry – during the daytime hours. In early 1982, the station debuted TMC 43, a local afternoon dance program that ran from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Hosted by local personality "Boogie Michaels", the show's first episode only had 12 dancers, increasing sharply to 117 by the end of the week, and then to more than 300 kids were dancing in two large rooms by the following Friday. Shortly afterwards, the show began issuing tickets to some of the more popular dancers such as Marty Melton, Tanya Eli and Robyn Church, with all dancers being required to bring a date. At the same time, the station also debuted the country dance show Oklahoma Country Live, which was broadcast from a local bar and aired following TMC 43. Both shows were canceled by that fall after eight months. In the case of TMC 43, mothers picketed KAUT to keep the show on the air, with the spokeswoman for the picketers, Carolyn Pierce, pointing out the show's contribution to the local community by keeping teens off of the street. The final TMC 43 broadcast hosted around 250 teens as Michaels read letters from heartbroken teens and parents.
Some drama series and sitcoms were also added to the schedule. VUE was dropped in 1983; the station then began filling nighttime hours with programming from the Financial News Network (which would merge with CNBC in 1989) and the syndicated newscast Independent Network News. FNN programming was dropped later that year, and replaced by additional primetime movies and drama series. In 1984, cartoons joined the station's morning lineup and additional sitcoms were added during the evening. On June 11, 1985, Golden West sold KAUT to Rollins Communications.
The station became a charter affiliate of the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company on October 9, 1986; it was still effectively programmed as an independent as Fox's sole offering at launch was the late-night talk show The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, and did not carry primetime programming until April 1987. More afternoon cartoons, along with a locally produced weekend late night home shopping program, Midnight Shopper, were added to the lineup. In 1986, Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting to form Heritage Media. In 1987, Pappas Telecasting Companies drafted a proposal to purchase KOKH, in which the programming inventories of both KAUT and KGMC, and the market's Fox affiliation would migrate to channel 25. The proposal would have had Seraphim Media-owned KGMC affiliate with the Home Shopping Network and acquire some religious programs, while Heritage would sell KAUT to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, which would convert it into an educational station. This deal would fall apart in 1988. Due to uncertainty over the station's future, 16 employees left KAUT to work at other Heritage-owned stations, and the station's sales department also saw a reduction in advertising purchases. All three stations continued to compete against each other with their own general entertainment schedules.
As a PBS member station
In a deal similar to the aborted Pappas proposal, Heritage Media sold KAUT to OETA, and acquired KOKH in 1991. Channel 43 then became a PBS member station on August 15, 1991--the city's second non-commercial educational station after OETA flagship KETA-TV (channel 13)--while the station's Fox affiliation and syndicated programming migrated to channel 25, in addition to 30 employees, and other equipment and intellectual property from channel 43. The following year, the station's callsign was changed to KTLC to reflect its new branding as "The Literacy Channel" (a relatively contradictory brand as the station's programming, while educational in form, was not entirely focused on literacy). As a PBS station, it aired fitness programs (such as Body Electric, Homestretch and Sit and Be Fit) on weekday mornings from 7:00 to 8:30, instructional programs and select PBS series (including The NewsHour) during late evenings, and children's programs from the mid-morning to early evening hours (differing from other PBS stations that usually limit children's shows to daytime hours). Much of KTLC's PBS programming during this period consisted of same-day rebroadcasts from OETA.
Channel 43 scaled back its daily broadcasting hours under OETA ownership down to 6:00 a.m. to midnight (mirroring the broadcast day that the OETA network itself programmed on Sunday through Thursdays at the time). In 1995, OETA substantially reduced KTLC's weekend schedule to 4:00 p.m. to midnight. Local cable providers ran other networks over KTLC's designated channel slot during the station's off-hours at this time – such as QVC on Cox Cable channel 13; that slot suffered from interference due to the fact that KETA's analog signal over-the-air had broadcast on the same frequency, Cox moved the station to channel 16 in 2007 as a result of this issue. The difficulty in running two stations in the Oklahoma City market eventually resulted in OETA deciding to put channel 43 up for sale in the fall of 1997.
As a UPN affiliate
In July 1997, the Sinclair Broadcast Group signed an affiliation agreement to switch KOCB and four other stations affiliated with the United Paramount Network to The WB; KOCB switched to The WB on January 25, 1998, leaving the Oklahoma City market without a UPN affiliate for the next six months. Scrambling to find a new affiliate in the market, the Paramount Stations Group (owned by UPN co-parent Viacom) agreed to purchase KTLC from OETA on January 8, 1998 for $23.5 million; OETA used the proceeds from the sale to fund the construction of its digital broadcast transmitter. The sale was possible because channel 43 was still a commercial license.
Paramount reverted channel 43 back to a general entertainment station as the market's new UPN affiliate at 5:00 a.m. on June 19, 1998; its callsign was also changed to KPSG (named after its new owner). The station had intended to join UPN on June 1, however the switch was postponed to June 13, and then again to June 19 due to technical difficulties unrelated to a tornado outbreak that hit central Oklahoma on the evening of the 13th. Through Viacom's ownership stake in UPN, channel 43 became the first owned-and-operated station of a major commercial broadcast network in Oklahoma. OETA agreed to sell channel 43 to Paramount on the condition that KPSG run eight-hour weekend simulcast blocks of OETA's March and August pledge drives for five years, and air PBS educational shows each weekday from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. after joining UPN; the remainder of the schedule consisted of off-network classic sitcoms, cartoons and movies. That fall, channel 43 became a general entertainment station full-time. After founder Gene Autry died from lymphoma in October 1998, the station reverted to its former KAUT call letters in his honor (this time, with a "-TV" suffix added) on November 18. PBS programming stopped airing on the station in 2001.
Classic sitcoms were gradually replaced with talk shows and court shows; cartoons were phased out by the fall of 2003, after UPN discontinued the Disney's One Too children's block. On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate into two companies amid stagnation of the company's stock price; CBS, UPN and their owned-and-operated stations, Showtime Networks and other "slow-growth" businesses owned by Viacom became part of the new CBS Corporation. In the meantime, CBS chose to sell KAUT to The New York Times Company, creating a duopoly with NBC affiliate KFOR-TV (channel 4).
As a MyNetworkTV affiliate
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment unit (the division that operated The WB) announced that they would dissolve UPN and The WB, and move some of their programming to a newly created network, The CW. Nearly one month later on February 22, 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. KAUT was erroneously mentioned as The CW's Oklahoma City charter affiliate in the network's initial station list, despite the fact that CBS had already sold the station. On May 2, The CW signed an agreement with Sinclair to affiliate with KOCB. The day before, KAUT became one of a handful of UPN affiliates not owned by Fox Television Stations to remove on-air brand references to UPN – rebranding as simply "43" – and cease promotion of the network's programs. For months, it was unclear whether KAUT would become an independent station once again or join MyNetworkTV. In an email sent by station management on August 22, just two weeks before the network launched, KAUT was confirmed to be Oklahoma City's MyNetworkTV affiliate.
KAUT opted to brand as "OK 43", instead of following the "My (channel number)" branding conventions that MyNetworkTV outlined for its affiliates as per a promotional video that aired on New York City flagship WWOR-TV. This was accompanied by a marketing campaign focusing on the station's history and origins with Gene Autry. With the affiliation, KAUT became one of the few stations in the United States to have been affiliated with both Fox and MyNetworkTV (both now operated by 21st Century Fox).
On January 4, 2007, The New York Times Company sold its nine television stations (including KAUT and KFOR) to Local TV, a holding company operated by private equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners; the sale was finalized on May 7. On April 11, 2011, KAUT rebranded as "Freedom 43 TV", an approach made to cater to, according to a statement by KFOR/KAUT president and general manager Jim Boyer, "all Oklahomans who believe in faith, freedom and patriotism," specifically the large military population in the Oklahoma City market. KFOR-produced newscasts on the station were tweaked to include stories and profiles of interest to conservatives and the military community.
Return to independence
On June 20, 2012, independent station KSBI (channel 52) announced in a promo for its Fall 2012 programming slate that was uploaded on its YouTube channel that it would join MyNetworkTV on September 17. The last MyNetworkTV program to air on KAUT was a repeat of Monk on September 14, 2012. KAUT-TV formally reverted to an independent on September 17, 2012, with off-network syndicated sitcoms replacing MyNetworkTV programs during the 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. timeslot. On September 16, KAUT began running select classic television programs provided by Antenna TV, which airs mainly on digital subchannels in most of the network's markets (including locally on sister station KFOR-TV, which retained its full-time affiliation with Antenna on its 4.2 subchannel), in certain timeslots (weekday programs from the network were relegated from daytime to the overnight hours in November 2012, and were then cut to weekends only in late December 2013). In KAUT's case, the programs are simulcast from Antenna TV's national feed to compensate for current-day syndication rights.
On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that its stations would be acquired by the Tribune Company for $2.75 million. Upon the sale's December 27 completion, KAUT became Tribune's first independent station since the January 1995 launch of The WB (it also reunited KAUT with former sister station KTLA, which Golden West sold in 1983 to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which then sold it to Tribune in 1985).
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|43.1||1080i||16:9||KAUT-DT||Main KAUT-TV programming|
This TV is on Cox digital Channel 220.
KAUT-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 43, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 40, using PSIP to display KAUT-TV's virtual channel as 43 on digital television receivers.
Syndicated programs broadcast on KAUT-TV include Maury, Crime Watch Daily, Inside Edition, Everybody Loves Raymond and How I Met Your Mother. KAUT may occasionally take on the responsibility of running NBC network shows in place of regular programming in the event that extended breaking news or severe weather coverage is carried on KFOR (the first such instance of this occurring was on May 21, 2013, while KFOR-TV ran extended coverage of the aftermath of an EF5 tornado that struck Moore).
Since 2004, KAUT has been the broadcast home of Oklahoma Sooners men's and women's college basketball games produced through the Sooner Sports Network, and until 2011, ran Sooners-related basketball and football coaches shows. From January 2006 to May 2008, KAUT broadcast the weekly sports wrap-up program Oklahoma High School Sports Express (hosted by former KFOR sports reporter Van Shea Iven); that program moved to KOKH-TV in August 2008. Channel 43 also broadcast select Texas Rangers games produced by KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth during the 2007 Major League Baseball season (these rights have resided with KSBI since 2012).
KFOR presently produces 12½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for KAUT (consisting only of 2½ hours on weekdays); the station does not currently broadcast any news programming on weekends. In addition to airing local newscasts produced by KFOR-TV, it also will take on the responsibility of simulcasting KFOR-TV's severe weather coverage in place of regular programming in the event that a tornado warning is issued for any part of the station's main over-the-air broadcast area. From July 2004 to September 2010, the station ran the syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz, initially airing from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m.; the third hour of the program was dropped after Rise & Shine debuted (The Daily Buzz moved to KSBI in February 2011; KAUT now airs second runs of syndicated programs seen on KFOR during the early morning timeslot).
Locally produced newscasts returned to KAUT after a 25-year absence once The New York Times Company assumed control of the station; on June 5, 2006, KFOR-TV began producing a weeknight 9:00 p.m. newscast for KAUT to compete against KOKH's in-house primetime newscast, which debuted ten years earlier in May 1996. KAUT began producing a two-hour extension of KFOR's weekday morning newscast on September 8, 2008 (under the title Rise and Shine Oklahoma), to compete with KOKH's then-three-hour weekday morning newscast (which has since expanded to five hours) that debuted in April 2007. On July 12, 2009, KFOR became the first station in the market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; the KAUT broadcasts were included in the upgrade, and converted on July 14. With the rebranding as "Freedom 43" in April 2012, production of KAUT's newscasts moved from KFOR's main news set to a secondary set (that is designed to resemble army barracks) at the Britton Road facility shared by the two stations; the station also incorporated feature reports focused on Oklahoma's military community during its evening newscasts.
Notable news team members
- Linda Cavanaugh – general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
Other locally produced programs
The station runs a rebroadcast of KFOR-TV's political discussion program Flash Point at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings (two hours after its initial broadcast on KFOR). KAUT also produces 2 Movie Guys, a Saturday primetime movie presentation that features comedic wraparound segments included before and after commercial breaks; the program is hosted by Lucas Ross (who also serves as social media correspondent for Rise and Shine) and Ryan Bellgardt (who also serves as the station's continuity announcer). Ross and Bellgardt also appear together on the Friday edition of Rise and Shine, providing reviews for movies being released in theaters that week. Since 2009, Ross and Bellgardt are also featured in half-hour annual 2 Movie Guys holiday specials that are broadcast each Christmas Day in place of newscasts on KAUT and KFOR (which both preempt all regularly scheduled newscasts airing between 7:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on that day).
Other locally produced shows air on KAUTV including Final Descent Outdoors, a local hunting TV show that airs at 5:30am and 10:00am on Sunday mornings. Final Descent Outdoors is nationally syndicated airing on other national networks as well. Final Descent is however locally produced in Oklahoma City.
Local program hosts
- Flash Point