|Channels||Digital: 29 (UHF)|
|Affiliations||Dark (to become PBS)|
(donation to Montana State University pending)
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|Founded||July 23, 1996|
|First air date||August 15, 1998|
|Call letters' meaning||MonTana
Fox (former affiliation)
|Former callsigns||KAQR (1996–1997)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
10 (VHF, 1998–2009)
|Former affiliations||Fox (1998–2001)
UPN (secondary, 1998–2001)
Pax TV (2001–2005)
The WB (2005–2006)
The CW (2006–2015)
|Transmitter power||43.4 kW|
KMTF is a television station in Helena, Montana, broadcasting locally on digital channel 29 (virtual channel 10). KMTF is owned by Gray Television, who also owns NBC affiliate KTVH-DT. The station is currently dark in preparation for being donated to Montana State University, who intends to relaunch the station as part of its Montana PBS system under the KUHM-TV call sign.
The station was originally granted its construction permit on July 23, 1996; on September 16, it was assigned the call letters KAQR. On October 1, 1997, the station changed its call letters to KBCC; on March 27, 1998, channel 10 took on the KMTF call sign. On August 15, 1998, the station started broadcasting as the local Fox affiliate; KMTF also had a secondary affiliation with UPN. On July 1, 2001, due to low ratings and revenue, the station dropped the Fox affiliation and became an affiliate of Pax TV; area cable systems quickly added Foxnet to their lineups to continue carrying Fox programming. After KMTF's affiliation agreement with Pax TV expired in July 2005, the station switched to The WB; the switch made Helena the eighth market in which The WB 100+ Station Group (a predominantly cable-only service that brought WB programming to smaller markets) was seen on an over-the-air station. In September 2006, KMTF became the affiliate for The CW and become part of The CW Plus, the successor of The WB 100+ Station Group.
For most of its time as a commercial station, KMTF was owned by Rocky Mountain Broadcasting Company, which was 51% owned by Uhlmann/Latshaw Broadcasting (itself jointly owned by The Uhlmann Company and Latshaw Enterprises until early 2014, when Uhlmann bought Latshaw's stake) and 49% owned by Meridian Communications; a $60,000 purchase of Uhlmann/Latshaw's stake by Meridian, proposed in 2006, was dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on November 4, 2014. From October 13, 1999 until August 15, 2005, Sunbelt Communications Company (now known as Intermountain West Communications Company), owner of NBC affiliate KTVH (channel 12), programmed KMTF under a time brokerage agreement; the agreement had been assigned to Sunbelt by Meridian, who had operated KMTF since its 1998 launch. Concurrent with the termination of the time brokerage agreement, Sunbelt entered into a joint sales agreement with Rocky Mountain, supplemented on August 30 with a shared services agreement. Through Meridian, KMTF's ownership included the daughter of IWCC's owner and founder. The arrangement was set up in such a way so as to circumvent FCC rules regarding ownership of competing stations by the same entity. However, as the original time brokerage agreement was made after November 5, 1996, it was not grandfathered after the FCC began to consider such agreements in excess of 15% to be attributable, and was thus required to be unwound by August 6, 2001; on October 9, 2014, IWCC agreed to contribute $40,000 to the United States Treasury to settle the FCC's investigation into the time brokerage agreement.
On May 7, 2014, Intermountain West Communications Company announced that it would sell KTVH-DT to Gray Television. As part of the deal, Gray concurrently acquired KMTF outright through a failing station waiver. The sale was completed on December 1.
On July 1, 2015, Gray announced that it would sell KTVH to Cordillera Communications, which owns CBS affiliate KXLH-LD (channel 9). KMTF will be concurrently donated to Montana State University for integration into the Montana PBS system. The following day, KMTF dropped its CW affiliation and went dark; CW programming now airs on a subchannel of KTVH. Montana State University will change the station's call letters to KUHM-TV after the donation is completed.
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