Missouri TV station to be acquired by rival newspaper company, creating near monopoly on news

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The logo of KQTV. Photo: Heartland Media, LLC

The logo of KQTV. Photo: Heartland Media, LLC

A newspaper company announced on Thursday it would purchase a small television station in one of the smallest broadcast markets in the country as part of a move that would effectively allow one company to have a near monopoly on local news in that region.

The privately-owned News-Press & Gazette Company said it plans to acquire KQTV (Channel 2) away from Heartland Media. The company did not disclose how much it would spend to buy the station.

In a statement released on Thursday, News-Press & Gazette Company said it was “excited to bring [KQTV] under local ownership.” The move comes just three years after Heartland acquired the station from media conglomerate Nexstar Broadcasting Group.

“We have enjoyed working with the KQTV staff,” Bob Prather, the chief executive of Heartland Media, said in a statement. “The station is an even stronger market leader than when we purchased it. This is a unique opportunity for locally based ownership to continue the long tradition of KQTV’s service to its community.”

It was a stunning acquisition in one of America’s smallest media markets: KQTV is the only full-power broadcast television station in the St. Joseph region, which is listed as the ninth-smallest broadcast market in the nation. KQTV, the area’s ABC affiliate, competed for years with low-power broadcast stations owned by News Press & Gazette, including regional affiliates of CBS, FOX, NBC and the CW Network, as well as a cable-only news channel called News-Press NOW.

It was not immediately clear if News-Press & Gazette would shut down, divest or spin off some of the low-power stations. Some communities in the market also receive broadcast stations from Omaha, Nebraska via cable, while other towns can watch stations from Kansas City, Missouri the same way.

The deal is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission. If federal regulators approve the deal, it would be one of the rare instances where one media company owns all major broadcast affiliates in a single market.