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Great Falls, Montana
United States
Branding ABC Montana (general)
ABC Montana Local News (newscasts)
Fox Montana (DT2)
Slogan Your Local News Leader
Channels Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels 5.1 ABC
5.2 Fox/MyNetworkTV[1]
Translators KHBB-LD 21 Helena
Affiliations ABC (secondary until 1966)
Owner Cowles Publishing Company
(Cowles Montana Media Company)
First air date March 21, 1954 (1954-03-21)
Call letters' meaning Duplicated from radio:
F.A. Buttrey Broadcast Inc.
(original owners of radio station)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
5 (VHF, 1954-2009)
Former affiliations CBS (1954-1969; secondary from 1966)
NBC (secondary 1954-1958, 1969-1986)
DuMont (secondary 1954-1955)
PBS (secondary Sesame Street, 1969-?)
Transmitter power 31 kW
Height 143.3 m
Facility ID 34412
Transmitter coordinates
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile

KFBB-TV is a full-service television station in Great Falls, Montana, broadcasting locally on digital VHF channel 8 as an affiliate of ABC. Founded March 21, 1954, the station is owned by Cowles Publishing Company. It broadcasts from a transmitter at its studios on Old Havrne Highway in Black Eagle. KFBB-TV also operates a semi-satellite for the Helena area, KHBB-LD channel 21 (UHF). Both stations offer Fox via their digital subchannels (until 2009, only KHBB did so, as Fox programming in Great Falls was seen on KLMN[2][3]) KFBB-TV is also repeated on several translators. KFBB


KFBB-TV began broadcasting on March 21, 1954. As the first television station in Great Falls, KFBB-TV was affiliated with all four major networks, and would broadcast programming from all three until KRTV signed on and took the NBC affiliation in October 1958. KFBB-TV continued to air CBS and ABC programming as a member of the Skyline Network (as the Montana Television Network was then called).

KFBB-TV/KHBB-LP logos, used through 2008.

At first KFBB-TV was owned by Wilkins Broadcasting along with KFBB radio (1310 AM, now KEIN), of which The Anaconda Company owned a 27.5% share. Anaconda, through its Fairmount division, controlled most of the major newspapers in Montana (although not the Great Falls Tribune) and was notorious for manipulating the state's political visions for its own needs. Then in 1959, Anaconda sold its media holdings to Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa. Because of anti-trust concerns, Lee decided to sell KFBB. The station was sold in 1962 to Harriscope Broadcasting, which in 1965 scored a deal for a primary ABC affiliation - Montana's first. The new affiliation took effect on February 1, 1966. Harriscope severed KFBB's links with the Skyline Network (which signed up with KRTV), and sold off KFBB radio in February 1969, but continued to run KFBB-TV, eventually selling it to Donald P. Nathanson in 1977. After affiliating primarily with ABC, the station continued secondary affiliation with CBS until that network switched to KRTV in 1969, and then started running NBC on a per program basis as late as December 1986, when KTGF signed on and took over the NBC affiliation.[4][5] KFBB also carried Sesame Street for several years, before Montana had a PBS service of its own.

KFBB's ABC affiliation allowed it to be carried on cable television systems in both Alberta and Saskatchewan; it even maintained a sales office in Saskatoon, as did Williston stations KUMV-TV and KXMD-TV. This arrangement continued until 1986, when KFBB was largely replaced by a satellite signal from WXYZ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Detroit.

An April 1981 application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requested transfer of control of the licensee corporation from owner Donald P. Nathanson to his estate, following his death.[6] In early 1982, the station saw a flurry of transfers that saw KFBB-TV moved, first from the Nathanson estate to Advance TV of California, then from Advance TV to Wooster Republican Printing Company of Ohio, which would operate the station through various holding companies (e.g., KFBB Corporation, KFBB LLC, Dix Communications).

KFBB-TV logo used from 2008 through 2012, the "5" in the logo survived until 2014.

In June 2003, Wooster Republican Printing made deep cuts in local news production, ending morning, noon and weekend newscasts. It retained KFBB until November 2004, when it was sold to Max Media of Montana. Max Media already owned KTGF in the market, and was forced to sell it in order to purchase KFBB-TV, as the Great Falls market was too small and did not have enough full-power television stations to allow a broadcast duopoly. In 2008, the station began using an on-air logo identical to the former logos of ABC affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio and CBS affiliate KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colorado — neither station is related to KFBB. In 2012, the station returned to the "ABC 5" branding (which had been used prior to 2006).

On September 30, 2013, the Cowles Publishing Company acquired Max Media's Montana television station cluster (KULR, and ABC affiliates KWYB/Butte, KFBB-TV/Great Falls, KHBB-LD/Helena and KTMF/Missoula) for $18 million.[7][8] The sale was completed on November 29.[9]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[10]
5.1 720p 16:9 KFBB-AB Main KFBB-TV programming / ABC
5.2 KFBB-FO Fox
MyNetworkTV (11:05 p.m. - 1:05 a.m. Monday - Friday)
Jewelry Television (overnights)

Analog-to-digital conversion

KFBB-TV received its digital television (DTV) allocation from the FCC in April 1997. Originally, KFBB-DT was to be on channel 39,[11] but in June 2001, the FCC agreed to change the allocation to channel 8,[12] and granted the permit to construct digital facilities on March 14, 2002. By the end of April 2002, the station was already on the air [13] and was licensed on November 1, 2002. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 8.[14] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5.

On August 9, 2006, the FCC granted "flash-cut" authorization to KHBB-LD, meaning that on or before August 9, 2009, analog station KHBB-LP would shut down and digital station KHBB-LD would commence broadcasting on channel 21. On November 27, 2008, KHBB closed its analog signal and began broadcasting in digital, with ABC programming on 21.1, and Fox programming on 21.2. Both subchannels are broadcasting at 720P High Definition. Currently, programming from MyNetworkTV (the Fox sister network) is seen in a delayed manner from 11:05 until 1:05 early the next morning.1 There is no local branding and/or logo indicating the secondary MyNetworkTV affiliation status aside from network promotions.


As an ABC affiliate, KFBB-TV airs most of the network schedule, including ABC Daytime and ABC primetime programs during the weekdays. Overnights are split between local programming, World News Now and America This Morning. KFBB-TV airs Nightline immediately following the late local news.

News operation

Of the three full-service television stations in Montana owned by Max Media, only KFBB-TV offers a significant schedule of local news. There are two half-hour local newscasts at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. and a 35-minute newscast at 10:00 p.m. each weeknight, plus half-hour newscasts at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. on the weekends. KFBB also produces a ten-minute nightly newscast for Max Media's other ABC Montana stations, KTMF in Missoula and Kalispell and KWYB in Butte and Bozeman. The newscast is called 10@10, and focuses on Montana sports and weather in the first ten minutes.

In February 2005, Max Media instituted a regional newscast, branded as Montana News Network, which was produced at KFBB. The regional newscast did not last long. KFBB was then rebranded NewsChannel 5, with a focus on "Live, Local, Late-Breaking Coverage." In addition to the morning weather cut-ins and its weeknight newscasts at 5:30 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts, the station soon added weekend newscasts back to the lineup.

In 2009, KFBB added staff to become the largest news team in central Montana. The newscasts took on a new slogan, "NewsChannel 5 is Everywhere", to capitalize on its reporting strength in Great Falls and its three bureaus. The weather segments took on the identity of "Pinpoint Weather", showcasing the station's award-winning customized forecasts for central and northern Montana. The station also increased its news production on the weekend, adding a 5:30 p.m. newscast, as well as the 10:00 p.m. weekend news already running.

On September 21, 2009, KFBB expanded further, adding a 5:00 p.m. newscast and moving the 5:30 newscast to 6:00 p.m., swapping with ABC World News. A full page ad in Signature Montana magazine in April 2010 highlighted the fact that KFBB has the most TV newscasts in the evening in the market.


KFBB-TV is rebroadcast on several translator stations throughout Montana:


  1. ^
  2. ^ , June 12, 2009.Great Falls TribuneToday's Digital Upgrade Will Leave Some in Area without Fox for a While," Richard Ecke,
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  8. ^ Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  9. ^
  10. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KFBB
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links

  • Official site
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for KFBB
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for KHBB-LD
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K07IC-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K07VA-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K09BX-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K10BK-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K12GP-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K13DU-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K13JO-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K13PZ-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K16GP
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K22LD-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K25HO-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K26LG-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K43DC-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K46GS-D
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for K51KO-D
  • BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KFBB-TV
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