KLRT, KASN Sale Gives Nexstar A Stake in 4 Little Rock TV Stations

(A correction has been made to this story. See end of story for details.)

The sale of KLRT-TV, Channel 16, and KASN-TV, Channel 38, to Mission Broadcasting of Westlake, Ohio, effectively means Nexstar Broadcasting Group of Irving, Texas, is an owner of four television stations in Little Rock.

Here’s how that works:

Mission Broadcasting was named July 19 as buyer of KLRT and KASN from Newport Television of Kansas City, Mo. But everywhere Mission owns a station, it operates in conjunction with Nexstar, which already owns NBC-affiliated KARK-TV, Channel 4, and MyNetworkTV-affiliated KARZ-TV, Channel 42, both in Little Rock.

In its 2011 annual report, publicly traded Nexstar says its involvement in Mission is “deemed controlling financial interest.”

Nexstar spokesman Joseph Jaffoni described the Nexstar-Mission business arrangement to Outtakes as partnering “in every one of Mission’s markets.”

In July, Nexstar announced an agreement under which it will buy 10 TV stations from Newport Television while Mission buys the two Little Rock stations.

Perhaps KARK will begin to share news content and staff with KLRT and KASN.

Nexstar also owns KNWA-TV, Channel 24, in Fayetteville; KFTA-TV, Channel 24, in Fort Smith; and KTAL-TV in Texarkana and Shreveport.

Nexstar has also been selling advertising, providing engineering functions and producing news shows for Mission Broadcasting’s KTVE-TV in El Dorado and West Monroe, La.

The New York Times reported in May that station marriages with “shared services agreements” and “local marketing agreements” — sounding similar to the way Nexstar and Mission operate at KTVE — “became more commonplace … during the recession.”  

The Times story describes a Nexstar partnership between TV stations in San Angelo, Texas.

Such agreements can include shared employees and shared local news content, as well as reduced costs and less competition, according to the Times story.

Jaffoni, the Nexstar spokesman, said the Nexstar-Mission partnership looks different from market to market, but declined to be specific.

Mission President Dennis Thatcher did not return phone calls.

(Correction Dec. 12, 2012: In the story's third paragraph, we mistakenly did not include KARZ as one of the stations Nexstar owns in Little Rock.)