KLKN, channel 8, is the ABC-affiliated television station in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States. It is owned by Citadel Communications (not related to the defunct radio station operator Citadel Broadcasting). Studios are located south of downtown Lincoln, while its transmitter is located in Utica, Nebraska.
Channel 8 was originally licensed to Albion, Nebraska, and began broadcasting December 3, 1964 as KHQL-TV, a satellite of KHOL-TV (now KHGI-TV) in Kearney and the Nebraska Television Network (NTN, later known as NTV) owned by Bi-States Company. The station served as the ABC affiliate for much of the Nebraska side of the Sioux City market. NTV Enterprises acquired the NTV stations in 1974; on June 4, the station's call letters were changed to KCNA-TV (for the largest towns in its service area, Columbus, Norfolk, and Albion).
Joseph Amaturo bought the NTV stations in 1979 in a deal funded by the sale of KQTV in St. Joseph, Missouri. Amaturo split KCNA from NTV on November 1, 1983 and relaunched it as Nebraska's first independent station, KBGT-TV (Big 8—named for the Big Eight Conference, of which the Nebraska Cornhuskers were a member). KBGT's programming during this time included movies, syndicated programming, newscasts (both locally produced and from CNN Headline News), and sports; it also operated 24/7, a rarity for small-market stations at that time. However, there weren't nearly enough viewers for an independent station to be viable. By 1986, massive financial losses compelled Amaturo to sell the station. Citadel Communications then acquired KBGT and turned it into a satellite of co-owned Sioux City ABC affiliate KCAU-TV; in January 1987, the call letters were changed to KCAN.
In the spring of 1996, Citadel moved the license to Lincoln, and on April 1 relaunched the station as KLKN. Before then, Lincoln was one of the largest cities in the country with only one commercial television station; KOLN had been the sole station in the state capital for virtually all of television era. Omaha's KETV had served as Lincoln's default ABC affiliate, and is still available on cable on most Lincoln-area cable systems, including remaining the default ABC affiliate on some smaller systems.
As the move of channel 8 to Lincoln left Albion without a television station, Citadel established KLKE (channel 24) on March 30, 1996 as a satellite of KLKN. KLKE was shut down on March 2, 2003 and its license returned to the Federal Communications Commission after determining that the cost of converting the station to digital broadcasting was prohibitive. KLKE's vacant transmitter is located near Elgin at . This has resulted in parts of northeast Nebraska, including O'Neill, Neligh, and Albion having no local over-the-air ABC signal; however, KLKN and KHGI remain available on cable and satellite in these areas, and KHGI currently operates a repeater in O'Neill.
KLKN's digital signal signed on August 31, 2002, operating on UHF channel 31 until the end of the station's analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009. It was the first digital television station in Nebraska.
The Lincoln market is one of the few in the country (Grand Rapids and Tampa Bay being others) where there are two competing ABC affiliates in the market, as the western portion of the market (Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney) continues to be served by NTV. Both KLKN and NTV are available on satellite in the market.
Until 2011, KLKN did not carry ABC World News Now. Instead, the station joined its fellow Citadel stations in signing off every night, making it one of the few remaining stations in the country to do so. However, many Lincoln area viewers could still receive World News Now via either KETV over-the-air or on cable, or NTV via satellite.
After the sale of WOI-DT, WHBF-TV and KCAU-TV to Nexstar Broadcasting Group was completed on March 13, 2014, KLKN and ABC affiliate WLNE-TV in Providence, Rhode Island are currently the only stations with a major network affiliation still owned by Citadel, along with independent WSNN-LD/Suncoast News Network in Sarasota, Florida.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||720p||16:9||KLKN-HD||Main KLKN programming / ABC|
On December 1, 2008, KLKN launched an affiliation with Retro Television Network on its DT2 subchannel and Time Warner channel 82 and Charter digital 398, alongside former sister stations WOI-DT in Des Moines and WHBF-TV in the Quad Cities. On January 16, 2012, KLKN, along with all Citadel stations (including WLNE-TV in Providence and KCAU-TV in Sioux City), began carrying Disney/ABC's Live Well Network, replacing the Retro Television Network on its subchannel and cable channels. In June 2014, it was announced that the Live Well Network would shut down in January 2015. On August 18, 2014, KLKN replaced the network with two networks geared towards each gender. Male-oriented Grit took over Live Well's space on 8.2 and female-oriented Escape was added to 8.3.
KLKN shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 31 to VHF channel 8. KLKN was one of about 30% of TV stations in the United States to broadcast its digital signal on high VHF channel assignment.
In December 2006, KLKN began using new graphics and Frank Gari's Eyewitness News (ABC O&O News Collection) music package, similar to its former sister stations KCAU-TV, WOI-TV and WHBF, but did not drop the Eyewitness News title. KLKN started airing its newscasts in high-definition on October 26, 2010.