Posted on December 9, 2018, and last modified on 1 month ago.
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Since 1963, KAIT has proudly served the communities of NE Arkansas and SE Missouri (a.k.a. Region 8) from its KAIT-TV studios. In addition to ABC, NBC and syndicated programming, we produce 'Region 8 News' from a fully staffed newsroom originating 6 newscasts each weekday along with content for kait8.com, plus our Region 8 News, Weather, and Sports apps.
KAIT first signed on July 15, 1963, as an independent station, a venture of Fort Smith businessman George Hernreich. It has been affiliated with ABC since 1965.
Most television markets in the country received at least two VHF commercial channels. However, the Jonesboro market could only receive one VHF license because it was sandwiched between Springfield (channels 3 and 10) to the west, Memphis (channels 3, 5, 10, and 13) to the east, Cape Girardeau (channels 3, 6, 8, and 12) to the north, and Little Rock (channels 2, 4, 7, and 11) to the south. KAIT was fortunate to receive this license, and as a result, became the only television station to serve Jonesboro until KTEJ signed on the air in May 1976.
The Hernreich family sold the station to Channel Communications in 1984. That company, in turn, sold KAIT to Cosmos Broadcasting, the broadcasting arm of South Carolina-based insurer Liberty Corporation, in 1986. Liberty exited the insurance business in 2000, bringing the Cosmos stations directly under the Liberty banner.
Previous owner Raycom Media obtained the station in 2005 through its purchase of Liberty. For many years, KAIT also operated a low-powered translator station K11JW operating on Channel 11 in nearby Blytheville, Arkansas.
KATV (channel 7) and KARK (channel 4) and the signals of other Little Rock area VHF stations adequately covered parts of the KAIT viewing area before the digital transition. Several cable systems in the KAIT viewing area, including Jonesboro and Blytheville, have carried KATV for decades.
In compliance with syntax and must-carry regulations, some systems may blackout KATV and KARK when either station airs the same program as KAIT, usually during the daytime and primetime hours, except for breaking news, weather bulletins, and regularly-scheduled newscasts. Other cable systems in parts of the KAIT viewing area that are within in the Little Rock television market that also carries KATV, such as in Searcy and Heber Springs, carry both stations without restrictions.
KAIT has been digital-only since June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition VHF channel 9 to channel 8 for post-transition operations.
Sale to Gray Television
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, including KAIT, and Gray's 93 television stations) under the former's corporate umbrella.
The cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion – in which Gray shareholders would acquire preferred stock currently held by Raycom – will result in Gray's entry into Arkansas with KAIT. The sale was approved on December 20 and was completed on January 2, 2019.
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