The Jonesboro television market just got a little more crowded with the announcement this weekend of a new FOX affiliate in Northeast Arkansas.
The station, KJNB, is now on the air broadcasting on Channel 39 from Walnut Ridge, chief operating officer Mike Reed told Talk Business and Politics by email Sunday.
The Mississippi-based group, Waypoint Media, is also working to build a second station to broadcast the signal on channel 42 in downtown Jonesboro.
Reed said the station is working to complete its studio in downtown Jonesboro and is hiring staff for news, weather, sports and advertising.
“Jonesboro is one of the few markets remaining in the U.S. that is under-served by television stations. It is ranked market size 181 out of 212 TV markets which is a sweet spot for our company that owns stations in markets 167, 175, 176, 181, and 189,” Reed said in an email. “KAIT (the ABC affiliate) has been the only station serving Jonesboro until now. This is very rare for a market the size of Jonesboro. Because Jonesboro is ‘short-spaced,’ meaning it is squeezed between Memphis, Little Rock, and Cape Girardeau, there were no other full power station licenses available in the Jonesboro DMA.”
Reed and business partner Bill Christian said they have been able to secure deals with several cable providers in the region to broadcast their signal.
“Our company secured the FOX affiliation agreement by showing that we can cover 93% of the market or more with cable and satellite and over-the-air penetration. We are at a little over 75% penetration right now and once DirecTV begins carriage of our station at the end of this month, we will have achieved 93% coverage,” Reed said.
“This is important to Jonesboro for a multitude of reasons, but the largest reason is that Jonesboro will have a sense of its own identity through the local TV stations rather than being an unserved community by the Memphis TV stations. Memphis advertisers on those stations will no longer solicit the consumer spendable income from the Jonesboro market because their advertisers will no longer reach those households on TV. Jonesboro businesses will now have an affordable in-market advertising solution to get their messages out to viewers in the Jonesboro market about their products and services. KAIT will have competition for those advertisers which will make pricing more affordable and the programming will get better as we all try to do our best to serve the viewers in our market,” he added.
Reed noted that the work to move into the Jonesboro market has been supported.
“We have been working behind the scenes for three years to convert this dream to a reality, and last week we officially launched,” Reed said. “We have been overwhelmed already by the outpouring of viewers, cable and satellite providers and local business people who are welcoming us with open arms.”
The company also owns 11 other television stations in Mississippi and Tennessee it and started an NBC affiliate in Jackson, Tenn., last fall, Reed said.
The new station’s goal will be local in scope.
“Our focus will be on the 50-60 mile radius of Jonesboro and we will serve those communities with local programming, local community service efforts and local sports and entertainment. We are big on giving back to the communities that we serve and look forward to making that impact on Jonesboro and the surrounding communities,” Reed said.
The announcement is the second major announcement by a television station in Jonesboro this year. KAIT, which started as an independent station in 1963 and became an ABC affiliate in 1965, announced earlier this year that their 8.2 channel would become an NBC affiliate.
KAIT also serves as a content partner for Talk Business and Politics.
The 8.2 station airs NBC programming as well as the news broadcasts of WMC-TV in Memphis (the NBC affiliate there) and local news updates from KAIT.
The vast majority of Northeast Arkansas is also covered by the Memphis television market, which also includes longtime staples like ABC affiliate WATN, CBS affiliate WREG and FOX affiliate WHBQ.
By adding the FOX affiliate in Jonesboro, many providers will likely drop WHBQ from their cable lineups.
Reed said the change would give the Jonesboro market and his station an opportunity to grow.
“Adding this new local station may be seen at first as losing the FOX station from Memphis, but if viewers will be patient while we grow and build the station, we will provide valuable competition in the market and a valued service for Jonesboro,” Reed said. “Jonesboro will become less dependent on Memphis for its news, weather and information and become even stronger economically as viewers receive in-market commercials about products and services in the Jonesboro area instead of commercials enticing Jonesboro residents to shop for products and services in the Memphis market.”