Fox Network Likely To Switch In Fort Smith

There's been a telling development in the fight for Fox Network affiliation between two Fort Smith television stations.

As we reported last week, Equity Broadcasting Inc. of Little Rock objects to Fox's decision to leave Equity's KPBI-TV, Channel 46, in favor of KFTA-TV, Channel 24. It claims that KFTA's former owner, Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. of Irving, Texas, and its new owner, Mission Broadcasting Inc., are working together to get around federal regulations that would prevent the move.

Equity's contract with Fox states that if Fox wants to switch to a high-power station — which KPBI is not — it has only to give Equity a 90-day notice to comply. If not, then Fox can find another station that can.

Now Rick Rogala, general manager of Nexstar-owned KARK-TV, Channel 4, in Little Rock, confirmed last week that KFTA recently began the build-out of its centralized master control in preparation for Fox, which all but officially puts an end to any speculation that the Federal Communications Commis-sion will stop the transfer.

Equity had hoped the FCC would see its argument that Nexstar and Mission are, in effect, one company and, as such, can't have more than one affiliation in a coverage area. Nexstar also owns the NBC affiliate in Fayetteville, KNWA-TV, Channel 51.