Santa Rosa TV station KFTY is being sold to an Oklahoma broadcasting company, but viewers won't see any change, station officials said Thursday.
"It's going to be business as usual," said John Burgess, general manager at the station.
High Plains Broadcasting will pay $1 million for KFTY's broadcast license, according to a sale agreement filed with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is expected to approve the deal in a few months.
Under its terms, KFTY's current owner, Newport Television, will continue to operate the station and retain ownership of KFTY's studio on Mendocino Avenue in downtown Santa Rosa.
High Plains will control the station's content and pay Newport to manage it, said John Grossi, a vice president at Newport, which is based in Kansas City, Mo.
"High Plains told us they have no plan to change the format," said Grossi.
James Martin, president of High Plains, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Based in Kaw City, Okla., High Plains owns 16 stations in California, Utah, Wyoming, Texas and Florida.
KFTY's 17 to 19 employees will keep their jobs, Burgess said. Most will continue to work for Newport, but several will become employees of High Plains, he said.
It's the second time since 2007 that Newport has had a deal to sell KFTY. Previously, Newport applied to the FCC to sell the station to Florida-based LK Station Group, and the deal was set to close last year.
But LK, which operates Spanish-language stations in several western states, couldn't obtain financing and the sale fell apart, according to Newport.
The planned sale to LK had prompted speculation that KFTY would adopt a Spanish-language format.
Newport acquired KFTY from Clear Channel Communications in 2007 as part of a $1 billion deal for 56 Clear Channel TV stations.
But Newport's corporate parent, Providence Equity Partners, was required to sell KFTY and several other stations because of FCC rules that restrict a broadcaster's ownership of multiple stations in the same media market. Providence Equity holds a large stake in the Spanish-language station Univision, which has a station in the Bay Area.
Also known as TV50, KFTY moved from its Channel 10 slot on Comcast's cable lineup in 2007 to become Channel 199 on the cable provider's Bay Area digital network.
The station lost thousands of North Bay viewers who don't get digital or satellite TV. But it gained more viewers throughout the Bay Area, Burgess said.
KFTY also dropped most of its local news programming in 2007. It now broadcasts syndicated programming including "Everybody Loves Raymond," "The People's Court," "Judge Judy," "Frasier," "The Insider," "ET" and "Armstrong & Getty," a televised radio program. It also offers hourly news and weather headlines.
KFTY was founded in 1981 by Wishard Brown, former publisher of the Marin Independent Journal. He sold the station in 1990 for $2.25 million to Gary Heck of Korbel Champagne Cellars. Heck sold the station six years later to The Ackerley Group for $7.8 million.
The Ackerley Group was acquired by Clear Channel in 2001.
You can reach Staff Writer Steve Hart at 521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.