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A state network in the United States broadcasting industry is a term which refers to a miniature television network serving an entire state or multiple states. State networks are common with stations aligned with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), however there are a few state networks that are affiliated with a commercial broadcasting television network.
A state network consists of a flagship station, plus satellite stations and translators that simulcast the main parent station's television programming either as a complete and direct simulcast or a partial simulcast of the main station's broadcast programming. Under U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, the parent station in a commercial state network and all of its satellites are counted together as one station, rather than individual stations.
Educational state networks are common in many states where most of the cities aren't large enough to support a standalone station. Commercial state networks are common in rural markets covering large swaths of territory.
When the Alabama Educational Television Commission was formed in 1953, it was well aware that Alabama was still very rural, with the exceptions of Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile. Most of the state was too thinly populated to support a standalone educational television station. Wanting to ensure that the entire state would receive educational programming, the Commission requested construction permits for four stations, all of which would air the same programming at all times. In January 1955, WTIQ in Talladega, Alabama signed on as the nation's ninth non-commercial educational television station. In April, WBIQ in Birmingham, also owned by the AETC, signed on. This was the beginning of Alabama Educational Television (now Alabama Public Television), the first operational educational television network and the first state network in the United States. It made its first broadcast as a network shortly after WBIQ signed on. Twenty-five other states have started public television networks, all based on Alabama's model.
In 1959, NBC affiliate KCKT in Great Bend, Kansas, signed on a satellite station, KGLD, channel 11 in Garden City. The two stations became known as the "Tri-Circle Network". They were joined in 1959 by KOMC-TV in Oberlin, thus creating the first true commercial state network. Then in 1962, the FCC collapsed central and western Kansas into the Wichita market. This created the largest television market in the nation in terms of land mass, stretching across 70 counties in Kansas and far southern Nebraska. KCKT's owner, Central Kansas Television, then bought Wichita's KARD-TV and combined it with its existing three-station network. The new group was known as the Kansas State Network, based at KARD. In 1983, KARD changed its call letters to KSNW, KOMC changed its calls to KSNK, KCKT changed its calls to KSNC, and KGLD changed its calls to KSNG as KSN sought to help its viewers think of its four stations as part of one large network. Two other stations, KTSB in Topeka and KTVJ in Joplin, Missouri; joined the network as partial satellites not long after and changed their callsigns to KSNT and KSNF, respectively. In the early 1990s, then-owners SJL Communications ended KSNT and KSNF's microwave link to KSNW due to cost reasons and began operating their own schedules, though KSNF continues to refer to itself to this day as "KSN16".
Often, the satellite stations of a commercial state network will place local news inserts over some portions of the parent station's newscasts. For years, many of them aired separate full-fledged newscasts of their own, though due to budget concerns this is less common. Additionally, the satellites usually air separate local commercials from those of the parent station.
Some state networks use broadcast callsigns that differ by only one letter between stations. Alabama stations have WxIQ (where x is letters A through I), while North Carolina stations use WUNx (where x is a letter that is random, or is relevant to a location in its broadcast range).
List of state networks
- KAKEland Television Network - statewide simulcast on three stations in Kansas, plus two repeaters. KAKE in Wichita is the anchor. Included are KUPK, Garden City, and KLBY, Colby. This is a network of ABC stations.
- Kansas Broadcasting System - statewide simulcast on four stations. KWCH-DT in Wichita, is the flagship. Affiliates are KBSD-DT, Dodge City, KBSH-DT, Hays, and KBSL-DT, Goodland. This is a network of CBS affiliates.
- Kansas State Network (KSN) - statewide simulcast on four NBC stations as explained above plus one NBC repeater in Salina.
- Fox Kansas - statewide simulcast on three Fox stations, plus two repeaters. KSAS-TV in Wichita is the flagship. Affiliates are KAAS-TV in Salina and KOCW in Hoisington.
- KELOland Television Network - statewide simulcast on four stations in South Dakota. KELO-TV, Sioux Falls is the anchor. KDLO-TV, Florence/Watertown, KPLO-TV, Reliance/Pierre and KCLO, Rapid City, South Dakota are the affiliates of the in-state CBS network. Although Rapid City is in the Mountain Time Zone, KCLO broadcasts on Central Time, which means its prime-time lineup airs from 6-9 p.m. instead of 7-10 p.m.
- KX Television - regional network of CBS affiliates, owned by Reiten Television, in central and western North Dakota. KXMB-TV in Bismarck is the flagship, simulcasting programming on KXMC-TV in Minot (which airs separate local newscasts from KXMB), KXMA-TV in Dickinson, and KXMD-TV in Williston. With a joint sales agreement to operate Forum Communications' ABC affiliates KBMY / KMCY, the KX stations also share news and sports resources with Forum's eastern ND ABC stations WDAY-TV in Fargo and WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks.
- Montana Television Network - statewide network of CBS affiliates, all but one are owned by the Evening Post Publishing Company: KTVQ - Billings, Montana, KRTV - Great Falls, Montana and its repeater, KXLH-LD - Helena, Montana, KXLF-TV - Butte, Montana and its repeater, KBZK - Bozeman, Montana, KPAX-TV - Missoula, Montana and its repeater KAJJ-CA - Kalispell, Montana. The sole private affiliate is KXGN - Glendive, Montana.
- NBC North Dakota - statewide network of NBC affiliates, owned by Gray Television. KFYR-TV in Bismarck is the flagship, simulcasting programming on KMOT in Minot, KQCD-TV in Dickinson, and KUMV-TV in Williston. KVLY-TV in Fargo, while broadcasting a different programming schedule, shares news and sports personnel with its western ND NBC sister stations.
Note: Most are PBS member stations unless otherwise noted.
- Alabama Public Television - statewide simulcast on nine stations
- AlaskaOne - statewide simulcast on three stations; replaced with Alaska Public Television
- Arkansas Educational Television Network - statewide simulcast on eleven stations
- Rocky Mountain PBS - statewide simulcast on five stations in Colorado
- Connecticut Public Television - statewide simulcast on four stations
- Georgia Public Broadcasting - statewide simulcast on nine stations
- PBS Hawaii - statewide simulcast on two stations, plus repeaters
- Idaho Public Television - statewide simulcast on five stations
- Iowa Public Television - statewide simulcast on nine stations
- Kentucky Educational Television - statewide simulcast on sixteen stations
- Louisiana Public Broadcasting - statewide simulcast on six stations
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network - statewide simulcast on five stations
- Maryland Public Television - statewide simulcast on six stations
- Mississippi Public Broadcasting - statewide simulcast on eight stations and two repeaters
- Montana PBS - statewide simulcast on four stations and several repeaters
- NET Television - statewide simulcast on nine stations and several translators in Nebraska
- New Hampshire Public Television - statewide simulcast on three stations
- NJN/NJTV - statewide simulcast on four stations in New Jersey
- Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) - statewide simulcast on four stations and several repeaters in Oklahoma
- Oregon Public Broadcasting - statewide simulcast on five stations. The PBS outlet serving Southwestern Oregon, Southern Oregon Public Television, is not part of the network, though it carries some OPB programs.
- Prairie Public Television - statewide simulcast on seven stations in North Dakota
- Smoky Hills Public Television - simulcast on four stations and a series of translators in Western Kansas. Although this network covers most of the Wichita market, the Wichita PBS affiliate, KPTS, is not a part of the network. Topeka's PBS station, KTWU, is also not a part of the network.
- South Carolina ETV - statewide simulcast on eleven stations
- South Dakota Public Broadcasting - Statewide simulcast on nine stations and several repeaters
- UNC-TV - statewide simulcast on 12 stations plus repeaters in North Carolina
- Vermont Public Television - statewide simulcast on four stations
- West Virginia Public Broadcasting - statewide simulcast on three stations, plus repeaters
- Wisconsin Public Television - statewide simulcast (except the Milwaukee market) on six stations, plus repeaters. Milwaukee Public Television, serving the Milwaukee market through its two stations, carries some WPT programming.
- Wyoming PBS - statewide simulcast on three stations, plus repeaters