KSL-TV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 38), is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. KSL-TV is a television property wholly owned by Bonneville International, the for-profit broadcasting arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). KSL-TV maintains studio facilities located at the Broadcast House building in Salt Lake City's Triad Center, and its transmitter is located on Farnsworth Peak in the Oquirrh Mountains, southwest of Salt Lake City. The station has a large that extend its over-the-air coverage throughout Utah, as well as portions of Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

It is a sister station to KSL radio (1160 AM and 102.7 FM).

History

As a primary CBS affiliate

The station first signed on the air on June 1, 1949, operating from studios in the Union Pacific Building on Main Street. It was owned by the Deseret News, who also owned KSL radio (1160 AM and 100.3 FM, now KSFI). It originally operated as a CBS affiliate, owing to its sister radio station's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network. In addition to its primary CBS affiliation, the station also shared ABC programming with NBC affiliate KDYL-TV (channel 4, now KTVX). The two stations continued to share ABC programming until KUTV (channel 2) signed on in September 1954 as the market's full-time ABC affiliate. The station also broadcast some programming from the DuMont Television Network, and during the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[3]

A few months after its sign-on, KSL moved its operations to studio facilities at the Broadcast House on Social Hall Avenue. In 1952, a 370 feet (110 m) transmission tower was constructed on Farnsworth Peak to improve the station's signal coverage along the Wasatch Front and into Tooele County. It also began building a massive translator network that eventually stretched across five states, and now claims the largest signal coverage of any station in the United States.

KSL-AM-FM-TV operated as a division of the Deseret News until 1964, when Bonneville International was formed as the parent company for the LDS Church's broadcasting holdings. Soon afterward, channel 5 began broadcasting its programming in color. In 1984, the station moved its Broadcast House facilities to the Triad Center.

As an NBC affiliate

On September 10, 1995, KSL-TV became an NBC affiliate, after the network sold KUTV (which swapped affiliations with what is now KTVX in 1960) to a partnership of CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting as part of a swap involving stations in Denver, Miami and Philadelphia. Initially, NBC sought to reaffiliate with KTVX; but after that station renewed its affiliation agreement with ABC, NBC then secured an affiliation deal with KSL-TV.

On January 14, 1999, a shooter entered the station's Broadcast House facility, allegedly looking for a KSL-TV reporter. Anne Sleater, an employee of another company that was housed in the building, AT&T Wireless Services, was shot during the incident and later died from her injuries. De-Kieu Duy, a 24-year-old female, was arrested in connection with the shooting. Duy was later found mentally incompetent to stand trial and is currently housed in the Utah State Hospital.[4]

In 2002, Bruce Christensen was named the president of KSL-TV; Christensen was a former president of PBS, the former dean of the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, as well as a former KSL-TV reporter. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, KSL-TV was very influential in bringing coverage and technology to NBC. The station heavily lobbied to NBC that the ceremonies be broadcast live.

In July 2010, KSL-TV entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with independent station KJZZ-TV (channel 14), after the LMA between that station and KUTV concluded after five years; the LMA was terminated in 2016, after KUTV's owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, purchased KJZZ.[5]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[6]
5.11080i16:9KSL-HDMain KSL-TV programming / NBC
5.2480i16:9COZI-TVCozi TV[7]
5.3thisTVThis TV

On January 1, 2009, KSL discontinued its affiliation with NBC Weather Plus on its 5.3 subchannel due to the service's discontinuation by NBC, and relaunched the subchannel as a locally-compiled automated weather channel, the Live 5 Weather Channel, which was one of the first local digital weather subchannels in the country to be presented in 480i widescreen. KSL-TV also carried Universal Sports on its 5.2 subchannel until it began to be exclusively distributed through cable and satellite television in January 2012; it was replaced by Live Well Network in 2013.[8] On January 1, 2014, KSL replaced Live Well Network with Cozi TV on digital subchannel 5.2.

Analog-to-digital conversion

KSL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[9] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 38,[10] using PSIP to display KSL-TV's virtual channel as 5 on digital television receivers.

Programming

In addition to locally produced news and sports programs, and syndicated shows, KSL broadcasts most of the programs seen on NBC's schedule; although it airs Today in two blocks – with Rachael Ray, a locally produced lifestyle program called Studio 5 and the station's hour-long noon newscast airing after the first three hours of Today – the fourth hour of the program then follows those programs.

Due to its ties to the LDS Church, KSL-TV also airs programs relevant to Mormonism, such as History of the Saints, Music and the Spoken Word and Mormon Times, and pre-empts regularly scheduled programming to carry the bi-annual LDS General Conference.[11] KSL-TV is one of the few remaining television stations in the United States that still "signs off" at night (though only nominally, because programming immediately continues afterward), doing so at 3:30 a.m. on Sundays.

As a CBS affiliate, KSL-TV aired the drama Picket Fences at 11 p.m. on Saturdays instead of 9 p.m. on Fridays in the mid-1990s. The station has also been known to occasionally preempt some programs due to content that station management deems objectionable (many of these preempted programs are picked up for broadcast on CW affiliate KUCW, channel 30). The station has in the past declined to air the short-lived sitcom Coupling because of its sexual content, as well as much of NBC's poker programming such as Poker After Dark (which has since been canceled due to legal complications) due to ownership, Church and viewership objections against gambling. KSL-TV also preempted The Playboy Club upon its October 2011 debut (replacing it with the locally produced newsmagazine We Are Utah, which resembles WCVB-TV/Boston's Chronicle in format),[12] on grounds that the series was "completely inconsistent" with the station's own mission and branding;[13] KSL sponsors the "Out in the Light Campaign," which educates people on problems associated with viewing pornography, and the station did not want to be associated with the Playboy brand, even though the program did not specifically focus on the magazine nor include any nudity.[14] The program aired on MyNetworkTV affiliate KMYU (channel 12)/KUTV-DT2 (channel 2.2) in its Monday 9 p.m. MT time slot[15] until NBC canceled the show after three episodes. KSL continued to air already filmed episodes of We Are Utah in the 9 p.m. slot until the October 31, 2011 premiere of Rock Center with Brian Williams.[16]

On August 24, 2012, KSL-TV announced it would not air The New Normal due to objections regarding the sitcom's storyline surrounding gay parenting, crude dialogue and potentially offensive characterizations. The New Normal instead ran on KUCW, which aired the show on Saturday nights, while KSL-TV aired the Live Well Network series My Family Recipe Rocks! in the sitcom's Tuesday timeslot.[17][18] In a twist, although the show was canceled after its first season in May 2013, The New Normal was the first NBC primetime show that KSL has declined to air since it joined the network in 1995, that lasted at least a full season (other primetime series that the station declined to air citing objectionable content have, by coincidence, been pulled by the network early on as the first cancellations in their seasons due to low viewership). On April 29, 2013, KSL-TV stopped airing Hannibal after four episodes, due to the drama's graphic violent content (by network television standards). The program moved to Saturdays following Saturday Night Live on KUCW (11pm Saturdays for the show's second season), while Hannibal's timeslot is now occupied by KSL In Depth, a weekly local news magazine program.[19][20] However, in May 2015, Hannibal was cancelled by NBC after two and a half seasons, the longest-running prime-time series not telecast on KSL-TV to be cancelled, and it is anticipated that KSL-TV may clear the entire NBC network schedule for the first time in station history.

The only preemption that did not necessarily involve objectionable program content was the long-running Saturday Night Live, which the station had preempted since joining NBC; the station carried all primetime "best-of" compilations, actor tributes, and documentary programming involving the series offered by the network, along with primetime repeats. KSL elected to keep its popular local sports discussion and highlight program, SportsBeat Saturday, with SNL airing on KUCW instead. However, in June 2013, after revealing that SportsBeat's viewership had declined in recent years (and was also being beaten by a similar sports show on KUTV), KSL announced that it would start airing SNL beginning in the fall of 2013.[21]

On September 4, 2013, KSL announced it was moving Days of Our Lives from 2 p.m. (NBC's designated alternate timeslot for the soap opera) to a late-night 1:05 a.m. timeslot starting on September 9. While the station's reasoning was not explicitly stated, it was speculated that a storyline involving openly-gay and romantically involved characters Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis prompted the move.[22]

Even with its tradition of screening possibly objectionable programs, some, such as The Book of Daniel (which was not shown by several other NBC affiliates, especially in Bible Belt states) and a paid political message criticizing the Iraq War (which featured Cindy Sheehan) have been aired by the station.[23][24]

News operation

KSL-TV presently broadcasts 25½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays, and 1½ hours on Saturdays and Sundays). Despite its roots in the Deseret News and its link to KSL radio, channel 5 was initially an also-ran in news. That changed in 1965, when the station poached sportscaster Paul James (better known as the voice of BYU football and basketball) and weatherman Bob Welti from KCPX-TV and teamed them with anchor Dick Nourse. Within a few months, channel 5 had rocketed into first place. It would be the dominant news station in Utah for most of the next 45 years, garnering some of the highest ratings in the country. Nourse, James and Welti would remain together until 1991, with Nourse staying on as top anchorman until 2007. In 2008, KSL-TV became the second television station in the Salt Lake City market (after KUTV, which converted in April of that year) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.

In November 2010, KUTV, long a distant runner-up, unseated KSL-TV in most timeslots, though channel 5 remained ahead at 10 p.m. However, in February 2011, KSL-TV lost the lead at 10 p.m. for the first time in recent memory. In December 2011, KSL-TV restored its lead in every time slot in the Nielsen ratings except one – the early morning news slot on Monday-Fridays (in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic), where the station finished in third place.[25] Since then, however, KSL-TV has dropped back to a distant runner-up behind KUTV in most time slots. According to media observers, channel 5's ratings slumped after Mark Willes became president of Deseret Management Corporation, the for-profit arm of the LDS Church and Bonneville's parent company, and abandoned the station's longtime focus on hard news in favor of "values-based" reporting. Willes was fired in 2012, but the station's ratings have yet to recover.[26]

It has used the slogan, "News Specialists" or "The News Specialists" in some variation or form since they were a CBS affiliate starting sometime around 1991.

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff

  • Craig Bolerjack - sports anchor (presently a play-by-play announcer with the Utah Jazz in addition to play-by-play for college and NFL football broadcasts by CBS Sports)
  • Jane Clayson - weekend anchor (later co-host of CBS's The Early Show)
  • Paul James - sports anchor (1965–1991, retired; part of Nourse/Welti/James team)
  • Whit Johnson - weekday anchor and reporter (now working for KNBC in Los Angeles)
  • Bruce Lindsay - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. anchor (retired May 23, 2012 after 38 years with KSL)
  • Jim Nantz - sports anchor (now the lead sports announcer for CBS Sports)[27]
  • Dick Nourse - weeknights at 10 p.m. anchor (part of Nourse/Welti/James team; retired November 27, 2007 after 43 years with KSL)
  • Ruth Todd - Saturday mornings, noon, then finally 10 p.m. anchor (moved to KTVX; now working for NuSkin as a spokesperson)

Translators

KSL-TV extends its coverage throughout Utah, plus parts of Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming, using a network of more than 115 community-owned translator television stations listed below.