SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Two of Sioux Falls' largest network affiliates have joined forces to operate as one brand.
Gray Television, the owner of KSFY-TV, purchased news station KDLT, merging the two news networks, according to the Argus Leader. Dakota News Now is set to go live Monday.
“We have two terrific news teams,” said Jim Berman, president and general manager for KSFY-TV. “The thinking was, ‘Let’s merge them together and create a super team.'"
Shortly after the Federal Communications Commission announced it would allow mergers between top-four stations on a case-by-case basis, regardless of whether they had been competitors for the same local audience, Gray executives were able to show federal officials the public benefits of the acquisition in bringing both Sioux Falls stations together.
“We looked for potential transactions where the benefits to the public would be overwhelming,” Robert J. Folliard III, Gray's vice president of government relations, said in an emailed statement. “KDLT was the perfect choice. Like many local media outlets, KDLT was struggling from intense competition from Internet, cable and satellite giants.”
The merger between KSFY and KDLT is believed to be the first to test the new regulations approved by the FCC.
“This is groundbreaking,” Folliard said. "By bringing KDLT into the fold with KSFY, we could use the combined over-the-air broadcast facilities for both stations to bring free, over-the-air television service to approximately 80,000 people in South Dakota that previously could not receive either ABC or NBC programming with an antenna.”
Combining the broadcasting infrastructure of both stations will allow the news to reach more of South Dakota, giving it a stronger presence in other markets.
Dakota News Now broadcasts will use a new team of anchors and reporters selected from both stations. Berman said he tried to avoid significant job cuts, but staff reductions were inevitable as part of bringing both news teams into one studio.
Most of the positions affected were part-time. Berman declined to give the specific number of jobs cut.
The combined newscast will air two hours of news each morning and three hours of news each evening, alternating between both channels.
The three-hour block isn't necessarily designed to be watched in a single setting; viewers can tune in to the channel and time slot that works best for them.
Berman is focused on the audience. He says the goal is to have as much unique content as possible for the viewers.