Montana Television Network

The Montana Television Network (MTN) is a statewide network of CBS affiliates in the U.S. state of Montana. It also includes one NBC station. All but one of these stations are owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. Five of the full-powered MTN stations—KTVQ, KXLF, KRTV, KPAX, and KTVH—carry programming from The CW Plus on their digital subchannels.

The MTN CBS affiliates each identify as separate stations, but use a two-way microwave system to share news stories. They are branded as "Montana's News Leader".


MTN can be traced back to 1955, when Montana broadcasting pioneer Joe Sample, owner of KOOK-TV (now KTVQ) in Billings, began sharing programs with KXLF-TV in Butte. KXLF had signed on three months before KOOK in 1953. KFBB-TV in Great Falls and KMSO-TV in Missoula (now KECI-TV) then began sharing programs with KOOK and KXLF in 1958. KXLJ-TV in Helena (now KTVH) signed on as a satellite of KXLF in 1958.

The five stations joined two Idaho stations, KID-TV in Idaho Falls (now KIDK) and KMVT in Twin Falls- to form the Skyline Network.[1] KXLJ exited the network in 1960, leaving it without a node in the capital. KMSO-TV left in 1964, leaving the network without a Missoula outlet. In 1966, KFBB left and Sample bought Great Falls' other station, KRTV.[2]

The Skyline Network stations were originally NBC affiliates but added CBS as a secondary affiliation shortly after the network launched.[3] By 1960, the network had made CBS as the primary and NBC as the secondary affiliate.[4] By 1969, however, affiliation changes made the network unworkable, and it shut down in September.[5] In October, Sample reorganized the network as the Montana Television Network, comprising his three Montana stations. He bought KXLF in 1960[6] and added KPAX-TV in Missoula as a semi-satellite of KXLF.

Sample owned the stations as part of his Garryowen Corporation until he sold them to SJL Broadcasting in 1984, who in turn sold them to Evening Post Industries in 1994. Evening Post ran the stations as part of its Cordillera Communications subsidiary. Combined, the stations and their translators reach 89% of Montana as well as portions of Wyoming. In 2015, Cordillera purchased KTVH-DT in Helena and its Great Falls satellite, KBGF, from Gray Television.[7] The deal reunited KTVH with KTVQ and KXLF. The station, then known as KXLJ-TV had been a satellite of KXLF from its sign-on in 1958 to 1962. It made KTVH a sister station to KXLH-LD, a Helena-based full-time repeater of KRTV. On October 29, 2018, Cordillera announced the sale of the MTN stations to the E. W. Scripps Company as part of a $521 million deal to sell 15 of the 16 television stations that Cordillera owned to Scripps. The deal was completed on May 1, 2019.[8]

MTN-owned stations

CBS affiliates

NBC affiliates

MTN-affiliated station


  1. "Idaho-Montana Group Form Six Station Tv Network" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 11, 1958. p. 68. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  2. "1963 - History of radio broadcasting in Montana - Ron P. Richards". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. "Network Shorts" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 15, 1958. p. 44. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  4. 1960 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). 1960. p. A-64. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  5. "Stations' changes bring end to Skyline network" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 29, 1969. p. 46. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  6. "Three outlets set up Montana TV network" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 27, 1969. p. 54. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  7. Press, Associate. "Cordillera Communications purchases KTVH in Helena". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  8. "Scripps closes its acquisition of 15 television stations from Cordillera Communications". Retrieved 2019-05-01.
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