Reported Kiro Swap Would Mean Network Changes

A published but unconfirmed report says A.H. Belo of Dallas will trade KIRO-TV (UPN) for television stations in the smaller markets of Phoenix and Austin, Texas, setting into motion network-affiliation changes in the Seattle market.

Citing unnamed sources, Broadcasting & Cable magazine this week says the Fox station group of News Corp. in Los Angeles will acquire KIRO in the trade and move Fox programming from KCPQ-TV (Fox) to KIRO.

If Fox acquired KIRO, United Paramount Network programming would need a new home in Seattle.

That could be KTZZ-TV (WB), according to the Broadcasting magazine report. Viacom's Paramount station group is said to be a leading candidate to buy KTZZ-TV (WB). If that happened, The WB Network would need a new station in Seattle - perhaps finding its way onto KCPQ, completing a three-way network-affiliation switch.

KIRO is being sold by Belo because it is acquiring Providence Journal Co., the parent of KING-TV (NBC). Federal law prohibits ownership of more than one TV station per market.

KTZZ is being sold by Dudley Communications of Wausau, Wis. And just recently, Gaylord Communications of Nashville announced it will sell KSTW-TV (CBS) to Cox Communications of Atlanta.

Belo, Fox and Paramount officials could not be reached for comment today. Local station managers said they have heard nothing to lend credence to the KIRO report.

But the scenario makes sense. The same Belo-Fox rumors are

circulating in Phoenix, where Fox owns KSAZ-TV.

Fox also owns KTBC-TV in Austin. That station would well complement Belo's WFAA-TV (ABC) in Dallas and KHOU-TV (CBS) in Houston. Belo emphasizes news on its stations, so adding a third property in Texas, in the state capital, would be attractive.

Fox has long been rumored to be interested in owning a station in Seattle - especially one with a strong news operation, now that the new Fox News Channel is up and running and relies heavily on local affiliates for domestic news.