KTVF is an NBC affiliate television station serving Fairbanks, Alaska. KTVF is owned by Chena Broadcasting, LLC, but is operated by Tanana Valley Television Company, owner of Fox affiliate KFXF and CBS affiliate K13XD. Its transmitter is located on Ester Dome, while its studios are located on International Drive in downtown Fairbanks.
The station signed on the air in February 1955 as the first television station serving what at the time was the smallest television market in the United States. The station was a CBS affiliate until April 1, 1996.
While primarily a CBS station, KTVF also served as secondary affiliates for ABC from 1971 to 1985 (when it aired some of ABC's top-rated shows like Marcus Welby, M.D., Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, and Eight is Enough as well as Wide World of Sports, Super Bowl XIX and the Academy Awards) and NBC from 1985 to 1996. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. In 1967, months after the Chena River flood temporarily knocked them off the air, KTVF rebuilt their studios in the Northward Building (where they still remained until 1990) and returned to the air, this time broadcasting in color.
In 1996, KTVF switched affiliations, from CBS to NBC. The reason for the network switch was that rival station KATN—which had NBC affiliation since signing on a couple weeks after KTVF but had been primarily with ABC since 1984—would be merged with two other ABC stations in Anchorage and Juneau to form ABC Alaska's SuperStation, and that NBC was the dominant network by the 1995-96 season while CBS was in third place. KTVF also carried UPN programming on the weekends from 1995 to 2000. KFXF aired a few CBS shows until K13XD signed on in August.
KTVF was founded by Alaska broadcasting pioneer Augie Hiebert and his company, Northern Television. It was thus a sister station to KTVA-TV in Anchorage. Hiebert retired in 1997, and his family sold the station to The Ackerley Group in 1999. Ackerley merged with Clear Channel Communications in 2001. Clear Channel sold its entire television division, including KTVF, to Newport Television in 2007.
In June 2003, Media News Group, owner of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, announced that it would exercise an option to purchase KTVF. The seven-year option, pending removal of the FCC's restrictions on newspaper/broadcast ownership, was granted to Media News in 1999 when Northern Television sold the station to Ackerley. The FCC eliminated this rule on June 3, 2003, but implementation was stayed pending the outcome of litigation. Media News' purchase attempt never materialized; the seven-year option period expired in 2006 without renewal.
KTVF began airing high definition programming from NBC on February 12, 2010, at the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver; full HD broadcasting (both NBC and syndicated) would follow on May 31, 2012.
On September 29, 2010, the FCC granted KTVF a construction permit for a fill-in translator on their former analog allotment channel 11. The translator will serve sections of the Fairbanks area.
Newport announced the sale of KTVF to Chena Broadcasting, a local company owned by Michael Young, on October 13, 2011. Young had previously owned a partial stake in Tanana Valley Television, owner of KFXF and K13XD; that company will take over KTVF's operations under a shared services agreement upon the deal's completion. The sale of KTVF to Chena Broadcasting was consummated in March 7, 2012—resulting in all of Fairbanks' commercial stations being operated by just two companies.