Montana Television Network
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MTN's earliest roots came in 1955, when Montana broadcasting pioneer Joseph S. "Joe" Sample, owner of KOOK-TV (now KTVQ) in Billings, began sharing programs with KXLF-TV in Butte (KXLF had signed on three months before KOOK in 1953). KFBB-TV in Great Falls and KMSO-TV in Missoula (now KECI-TV) began sharing programs with KOOK and KXLF in 1958, and KXLJ-TV in Helena (now KTVH) signed on as a satellite of KXLF in 1958. The five stations joined with two Idaho stations, KID-TV in Idaho Falls (now KIDK) and KMVT in Twin Falls, to form the Skyline Network.
KXLJ left the network in 1960, leaving the network without a node in the capital. KMSO-TV left the network in 1964, and the network was without a Missoula outlet as well. In 1966, KFBB left the network, and Sample bought Great Falls' other station, KRTV.
The Skyline Network stations were originally NBC affiliates, but added CBS as a secondary affiliation soon after it launched. By 1960, the network had switched its stations to CBS primary and NBC secondary. By 1969, however, affiliation changes made the network unworkable, and it shut down in September. In October, Sample reorganized the network as the Montana Television Network, comprising his three Montana stations (he'd bought KXLF in 1960). He added KPAX-TV in Missoula as a semi-satellite of KXLF.
Sample owned the stations as part of his Garryowen Corporation until he sold them to SJL Broadcasting in 1984, who in turn sold them to Evening Post in 1994. Evening Post runs the stations as part of its Cordillera Communications subsidiary. Combined, the stations and their numerous translators reach 89% of Montana, as well as portions of Wyoming.
On October 30, 2015, Cordillera officially purchased KTVH-DT in Helena and its Great Falls satellite, KBGF, from Gray Television. The deal reunites KTVH with KTVQ and KXLF; the station (then known as KXLJ-TV) had been a satellite of KXLF from sign-on in 1958 to 1962. It also makes KTVH a sister station to KXLH-LD, a Helena-based full-time repeater of KRTV.
Five of the full-powered MTN stations, KTVQ, KXLF, KRTV, KPAX, and KTVH also carry programming from The CW on their digital subchannels.
The MTN CBS stations identify as separate stations in their own right, but use a two-way microwave system to share news stories. They also brand as "Montana's News Station." All of the CBS stations (excluding KXGN) air Jeopardy! at 6 & Wheel of Fortune at 6:30.
(Owned by the Evening Post Industries)
- KTVQ - Billings, Montana
- KRTV - Great Falls, Montana
- KXLF - Butte, Montana
- KPAX - Missoula, Montana
- "Idaho-Montana Group Form Six Station Tv Network" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 11, 1958. p. 68. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- "Network Shorts" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 15, 1958. p. 44. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- 1960 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). 1960. p. A-64. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- "Stations' changes bring end to Skyline network" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 29, 1969. p. 46. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- "Three outlets set up Montana TV network" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 27, 1969. p. 54. Retrieved September 29, 2015.