KTAL-TV, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 15), is the NBC-affiliated television station serving Shreveport, Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex. It is licensed to Texarkana, Texas; as such, it is the only major network affiliate in the market that is licensed outside Louisiana. The station is owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group; Nexstar also operates Fox affiliate KMSS-TV (channel 33) and MyNetworkTV affiliate KSHV-TV (channel 48) under a shared services agreement with owners Marshall Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting respectively. KTAL maintains studio facilities located on North Market Street north of Downtown Shreveport, with a secondary facility located at the Central Mall (off I-30) in downtown Texarkana. Its transmitter is located in Vivian, Louisiana.

History

The station first signed on the air on August 16, 1953 as KCMC-TV; it had a 390-foot tower and 28,200 watts of power. The station was founded by Clyde E. Palmer, owner of the Texarkana Gazette and several other newspapers and radio stations across Arkansas and Texas as well as KCMC radio (740 AM and 98.1 FM, now KTAL-FM). The station originally operated as a primary CBS affiliate, although it also carried select programs from NBC, ABC and DuMont. In May 1954, the station's transmitter power output was increased to 100,000 watts. The station lost the DuMont affiliation when that network shut down in 1956. It was left as a hybrid CBS/ABC/NBC affiliate.

In 1960, CBS announced that it was dropping its affiliation with KCMC-TV since the signal of Shreveport-based KSLA-TV (channel 12) decently covered Texarkana. This would have forced KCMC-TV to fall back on its secondary affiliation with the then-weak ABC (which would not gain a major foothold in the Nielsen ratings nationally until the late 1960s) or become an independent station – neither of which was a viable option for such a small market. By this time, the Palmer properties had been taken over by Palmer's son-in-law, Walter E. Hussman, Sr. He persuaded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collapse Texarkana and Shreveport into a single television market. Hussman then built a new broadcast tower in Vivian – the second-tallest transmission tower in the South at the time.

In late 1960, the station changed its call letters to the current KTAL-TV. The call letters not only stood for channel 6's three-state service area – Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana – but also referred to the tower, which brought its signal into parts of four states; it simultaneously became the NBC affiliate for the enlarged Shreveport-Texarkana market. Shreveport's original NBC affiliate, KTBS-TV (channel 3), switched to ABC. For many years, the station was known as "K-Tal." In 1961, KTAL-TV moved most of its operations to a new studio on Market Street in Shreveport.

Palmer Newspapers was renamed WEHCO Media, Inc. in 1973; the company is now run by Hussman's son, Walter E. Hussman, Jr.. In 1975, the FCC ruled that WEHCO could not own both KTAL-TV and the Texarkana Gazette, but it won an appellate court decision in 1979 which stated that the FCC had misinterpreted its own rules. WEHCO thus retained KTAL until July 2000, when it sold the station to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group.

On April 24, 2013, Communications Corporation of America, owner of Fox affiliate KMSS-TV (channel 33) and also operates MyNetworkTV affiliate KSHV-TV (channel 45) under a time brokerage agreement, announced that it would sell its stations to Nexstar. Because Nexstar cannot legally purchase KMSS under FCC ownership rules as Shreveport has only eight full-power stations (the FCC requires a market to have at least eight unique owners once a duopoly is formed), and KTAL and KMSS are among the four highest-rated stations in the Shreveport market, KMSS was proposed to be sold to Nexstar partner company Mission Broadcasting, while KSHV was to be sold to a female-controlled company called Rocky Creek Communications. However, on June 6, 2014, Nexstar announced that it would instead sell KMSS-TV to a new minority-owned company Marshall Broadcasting (marking the company's first television station acquisitions) for $58.5 million.[2] And on August 5, Rocky Creek withdrew its application to acquire KSHV.[3] Nexstar will operate KMSS and KSHV under a shared services agreement, forming a virtual triopoly with KTAL, leaving Shreveport's six major commercial stations under the control of just three broadcasting companies (the Wray family owns KTBS, while KSLA-TV is owned by Raycom Media). The sale was completed on January 1, 2015.[4]

On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including KTAL-TV and KSHV-TV (Bounce TV and Grit are already available in the area on digital subchannels of KSLA-TV).[5]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[6]
6.11080i16:9KTAL-HDMain KTAL-TV programming / NBC
6.2480i4:3KTAL-SDEscape (Launch date TBD)

Analog-to-digital conversion

KTAL-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, 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 15,[7] using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.

Programming

Outside of the NBC network schedule, Syndicated programming on KTAL-TV includes: Judge Judy, Rachael Ray and Wheel of Fortune.

News operation

KTAL-TV presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition to its main studios in downtown Shreveport, KTAL operates a news bureau at its secondary studio facilities at the Central Mall in downtown Texarkana. The station rebranded from NewsChannel 6 to KTAL News in 2006, dropping the channel number from its branding, as several of Nexstar's stations had done around that time. In 2009, the station once again retitled its newscasts from KTAL News to the current NBC 6 News; thus, reincorporating its original analog (now virtual) channel number into its branding after a three-year hiatus.

KTAL began broadcasting its local newscasts in partial widescreen standard definition on October 27, 2010. In-studio and field cameras continued to record in 4:3 SD, with video footage being upconverted to a 16:9 widescreen format in the control room.

On April 2, 2012, KTAL debuted a half-hour weekday noon newscast titled Arkansas Today, produced by Little Rock sister station KARK-TV (anchor Mallory Hardin and meteorologist/co-host Greg Dee also appear on KARK's weekday morning newscast); the statewide newscast features news stories filed by reporters from all four Nexstar-owned NBC stations serving Arkansas as well as a sports segment produced by Fayetteville sister station KNWA-TV, focusing on University of Arkansas athletics, called Razorback Nation. KTAL also provides a weather insert for southwest Arkansas during the broadcast. In addition to airing on KARK, KNWA and KTAL, the program is also simulcast on KTVE/Monroe-El Dorado (the coverage areas of KTVE and KTAL include several counties in southern Arkansas (ten in KTAL's viewing area, fourteen in KTVE's), though both stations primarily serve parts of northern Louisiana and KTAL also serves parts of northeast Texas).[8]

On June 27, 2012, KTAL became the third (and last) news-producing station in the Shreveport-Texarkana market (after KTBS and KSLA) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.

Cable carriage

KTAL is available on cable in Shreveport through Comcast. The station is also carried on 85+ other cable systems in the Ark-La-Tex region. In 2005, Cable One's Texarkana system and Cox Communications' Bossier City system both pulled KTAL due to compensation disputes during renewal negotiations of the station's carriage agreements with both providers, citing KTAL/Nexstar's reported request to increase carriage fees for both providers to 10 cents per subscriber. However, viewers in areas served by CableOne and Cox continued to be able to view the station over-the-air or on satellite via Dish Network or DirecTV. KTAL has since returned to CableOne and Cox, after reaching confidential agreements with both companies (Cox later turned over its Bossier City service area to Suddenlink Communications).