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Carlini: KNOP will remain strongTell North Platte what you think
 
Courtesy Photo­Image
Photo by George Lauby
Lewys Carlini
Photo by George Lauby
The two stations set up cameras at a recent school board meeting.

KNOP-TV station manager Lewys Carlini does not expect any dramatic changes at the longtime station for west central Nebraska, despite the fact that KNOP's parent company is changing.

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In a deal announced in November, Gray Television, Inc. of Atlanta is buying Hoak Media, KNOP's parent company, pending federal approval. Gray Television already owns Channels 10-11, the station that recently moved into North Platte, leading to speculation that KNOP would be closed if the deal is completed in coming months.

But Carlini said KNOP has contracts with major networks for existing programs that extend through next year. And, if necessary, he intends to fight to keep some of the local coverage for which the station is well-known – including Hometown Heroes, Friday Night Sports Heroes, Jacque Harms’ Newsmakers, live broadcasts of the Nebraskaland Days parades, candidates' debates and many other programs.

“You don’t see that kind of community service from other stations,” he said. “I don’t know of any plans to eliminate it, and we are going to fight to keep it if it comes to that. That’s part of our heritage. It is what we are bonded with. There is a lot of work and a lot of demand for it.”

Also, Carlini noted that KNOP’s current owners, Hoak Media, recently renovated the entire newsroom set of the station, upgraded cameras and weather graphics to the best models, and added 40 new high-efficiency studio lights that only consume as much electricity as two of the old lights.

The new equipment debuted in late November.

“They (Hoak Media) have made lots of investments (here),” Carlini said. “Some of the staff dynamics might eventually change, but until we know more, it’s certainly business as usual!”

Carlini said Channels 10-11 in North Platte are currently “low power” broadcasters and the addition of KNOP will give them access to higher power. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean either station will be seen in the future on Dish TV in Frontier or Dawson counties, he said. Current licensing agreements do not allow KNOP to broadcast in those counties.

Gray is also buying KIIT, a Fox station in North Platte that is closely affiliated with KNOP.

If approved, the deal could be complete in February. However, it could take at least until April before the new owners take over.

KNOP-TV first went on the air in 1956, owned by a group of North Platte businessmen. In 1968, the station was purchased by a trio that included Lewys' father, Ulysses A. Carlini Sr., Richard F. Shively and Harold O. Shively, who also owned KHAS-TV in Hastings.

Richard Shively, who owned 72 percent of the KNOP company, died in 2005, and Hoak Media purchased KNOP and KHAS at that time.


Background

The purchase of KNOP is part of an 18-television station deal announced by Gray Television, Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., the owners of 10-11.

Gray also owns WOW-TV in Omaha and is working on a deal to buy KHAS-TV in Hastings. Most of the other stations involved in the package are located in the Dakotas and Colorado, the announcement said.

Channels 10&11 are relative newcomers to North Platte. The station opened for business in September on the downtown bricks at the corner of Fourth and Dewey. The company has served the Lincoln-Grand Island areas for 50 years, known by its call letters KOLN-KGIN.

Gray will pay $335 million in cash, plus a working capital adjustment, for 15 of the stations it is buying, including KNOP, the announcement said.

If the deal is approved as expected, Gray will own 129 channels in 39 television markets in the U.S. and reach 7.33 percent of television households, the announcement said.


This information was published in the Nov. 27 print edition of the Bulletin.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 12/18/2013
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