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State network

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State network

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.

Background

When the Alabama Educational Television Commission was formed in 1953, it was well aware that much of Alabama was too small 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

Commercial

This film, television or video-related list is ; you can help by .

Non-commercial educational

Note: Most are PBS member stations unless otherwise noted.

References

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