NBC Montana

NBC Montana is a regional network of three television stations in western Montana, all affiliated with NBC.

NBC Montana
TypeBroadcast television network
BrandingNBC Montana
MeTV Montana (DT2)
SloganWorking for You
HeadquartersMissoula, Montana
Broadcast area
Western Montana
OwnerSinclair Broadcast Group
Launch date
July 1, 1954 (1954-07-01)
Picture format
1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
AffiliationNBC (secondary until 1965)
AffiliatesSee list
CBS (1954–1965)
ABC (1954–1975, 1984–1991)
DuMont (1954–1956)
CBS (1965–1966, 1976–1984)
PBS (per program, 1976–1984)
This TV (until 2013)
Official website

The flagship station is KECI-TV in Missoula, broadcasting on virtual and VHF digital channel 13. It includes two semi-satellites: KCFW-TV (channel 9) in Kalispell and KTVM-TV (channel 6) in Butte. It also serves Bozeman via Class A translator KDBZ-CD (channel 29), which directly repeats KTVM. All stations are owned and operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The stations air the same programming most of the time, but KCFW and KTVM air their own commercials and legal identifications, as well as partially separate local newscasts.

The combined signal of the three full-power stations and numerous low-power transmitters provides at least Grade B coverage of approximately 45 percent of the state. The stations reach an estimated 200,000 households. The coverage area stretches from Salmon, Idaho, through Helena to Bozeman in the east. It also includes parts of southern Alberta, Canada near the U.S.–Canada border.

KECI's studios, which house master control and internal operations for all three stations, are located on West Main Street in downtown Missoula. KCFW is based on 1st Avenue in downtown Kalispell, while KTVM is based on Dewey Avenue in Butte.


KECI hit the airwaves on July 1, 1954 as KGVO-TV, owned by Montana broadcasting pioneer Arthur Mosby along with KGVO radio (1290 AM). Originally, the station was a primary CBS affiliate, owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with CBS radio, but also carried programming from ABC and DuMont;[1] it would lose DuMont when the network shut down in 1956. On December 1, 1956, the station's studios moved from its transmitter location to its radio sister's studios on West Main Street in downtown Missoula, and concurrently changed its call letters to KMSO-TV.[2] By 1957, KMSO had added a secondary affiliation with NBC.[3] Mosby sold KGVO radio to Dale Moore in 1959,[4] but held on to KMSO until 1964, when Moore bought channel 13 as well;[5] upon taking over, he changed its call letters back to KGVO-TV.

KGVO-TV switched its primary affiliation to NBC in 1965, though it still carried some CBS programming.[6] Then in March 1966, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) combined Missoula and Butte into a single television market, and KGVO became the combined market's primary NBC affiliate; the station retained a secondary ABC affiliation but ceded CBS to Butte's KXLF-TV.[7] The station would eventually share ABC programming with KPAX-TV (channel 8), which signed on in 1970 as a satellite of KXLF. Channel 13 also offered a few PBS programs, particularly Sesame Street, from 1976 until KUSM (channel 9, now part of Montana PBS) in Bozeman signed on in 1984. Also in 1976, KGVO began sharing CBS programming with KPAX when that station took on a primary ABC affiliation;[8] the change was reversed in 1984, after which the stations again split ABC programming in off-hours,[9] an arrangement that ended when KTMF (channel 23) signed on in 1991.

Channel 13 took its current calls in 1978,[10] after Moore's Western Broadcasting Company sold the station to Eagle Communications, a partnership of Advance Corporation (then owner of KFBB-TV in Great Falls) and Sullivan Productions, for $6.5 million.[11] Although the sale separated the station from KGVO radio, KECI-TV is still based in the West Main Street studio. Precht Communications, a sister company to Sullivan Productions, acquired full control of Eagle Communications by 1981.[12] In 1997, Precht sold the station to Lamco Communications, who in turn sold their stations to Bluestone Television in 2004.[13] Bonten Media Group acquired the BlueStone stations in 2007.[14]

KCFW signed on in 1968 as a semi-satellite of KGVO-TV. It is the only full-power station in the Flathead. KTVM was added in 1970, also as a semi-satellite of KGVO-TV. The Bozeman repeater signed on in 1990 as K42BZ. In 2014, it was upgraded to Class A status as KDBZ-CD.

On April 21, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced its intent to purchase the Bonten stations for $240 million.[15] The sale was completed September 1.[16]


Main stations

Station City of license Channels
(VC / RF)
First air date Call letters’
ERP HAAT Transmitter coordinates Facility ID Public license information
KECI-TV Missoula 13 (PSIP)
13 (VHF)
July 1, 1954 (1954-07-01) Eagle
41.3 kW 610 m (2,001 ft) 47°1′4″N 114°0′50″W 18084 Profile
KCFW-TV Kalispell 9 (PSIP)
9 (VHF)
June 10, 1968 (1968-06-10) Kalispell
Columbia Falls
(the three largest towns in its broadcast area)
2.5 kW
17 kW (CP)
850 m (2,789 ft)
67 m (220 ft) (CP)
48°0′48″N 114°21′58″W 18079 Profile
KTVM-TV Butte 6 (PSIP)
6 (VHF)
May 12, 1970 (1970-05-12) TeleVision
19.2 kW 591.3 m (1,940 ft) 46°0′27″N 112°26′33″W 18066 Profile
KDBZ-CD Bozeman 6 (PSIP)
29 (UHF)
1992 (1992) D BozeMan 15 kW 235 m (771 ft)
206.7 m (678 ft) (CP)
45°40′24″N 110°52′5″W 18083 Profile


KECI logo used until 2014.
KCFW logo used until 2014.
KTVM logo used until 2014.

Digital television

Digital channels

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[17][18][19]
13.1 / 9.1 / 6.11080i16:9KECI-DT / KCFW-DT / KTVM-DTMain programming / NBC
13.2 / 9.2 / 6.2480i4:3ME-TVMeTV
13.3 / 9.3 / 6.3Movies!Movies!

Analog-to-digital conversion

All stations shut down their analog signals on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital channel allocations post-transition are as follows:[20][21]

  • KECI-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13; the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 40 to VHF channel 13.
  • KCFW-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9; the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 38 to VHF channel 9.
  • KTVM-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6; the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 33 to VHF channel 6.

Notable former on-air staff


  1. 1955–56 Telecasting Yearbook-Marketbook (PDF). 1955. p. 170. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  2. "KGVO-TV Changed to KMSO-TV; Station Moves Into New Studios" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. December 3, 1956. p. 94. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  3. 1957–58 Telecasting Yearbook-Marketbook (PDF). 1957. p. 164. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  4. "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 28, 1959. p. 98. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  5. "Sale of KMSO-TV approved by commission" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 14, 1964. p. 10. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  6. 1966 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). 1966. p. A-34. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  7. 1967 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). 1967. p. A-40. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  8. Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 (PDF). 1977. p. B-116. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  9. Broadcasting/Cablecasting Yearbook 1985 (PDF). 1985. p. C-36. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  10. "Call Letters" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 20, 1978. p. 84. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  11. "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 11, 1978. p. 41. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  12. Broadcasting/Cablecasting Yearbook 1982 (PDF). 1982. p. A-38. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  13. Holien, Mick (January 15, 2004). "Missoula's KECI among 12 stations sold in Lamco acquisition". The Missoulian. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  14. "Bonten Closes on $230M BlueStone Buy". TVNewsCheck. June 5, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  15. "Sinclair Buying Bonten Stations For $240M". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  16. Consummation Notice, CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved 6 September, 2017.
  17. RabbitEars TV Query for KECI
  18. RabbitEars TV Query for KCFW
  19. RabbitEars TV Query for KTVM
  20. "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  21. FCC-07-90A1
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