Behind the TV screens
Diversified corporations own each of the four major network affiliates based in Medford. Each has multiple businesses and revenue sources designed to offset the swings in station revenue, as well as to pay for the high cost of purchasing new equipment required to remain competitive in today’s complex broadcast world.
KOBI (Channel 5, NBC) is the oldest TV station (1953) of parent company California Oregon Broadcasting Inc., owned and operated by Patsy Smullin. COBI owns TV stations in Medford, Klamath Falls, and Eugene. KOBI-TV serves the largest number of households of any of the Medford television stations due to serving via microwave 11 counties. COBI owns cable systems in central and eastern Oregon and operates a high-end digital production company that caters to corporate and other video clients. And while KDRV is the local news leader by most key ratings, Patsy Smullin is the face of the local broadcast industry.
KDRV (Channel 12, ABC) is the Medford flagship for Chambers Communications, based in Eugene. Founded and owned by Carolyn S. Chambers, Chambers operates ABC affiliates in Medford, Eugene, Klamath Falls and Bend, has cable interests and a production/post-production video unit similar to that of COBI’s, and owns the Oregon Sports Network. Since a management downsizing last summer, KDRV Market Manager Mark Hatfield’s corporate responsibilities have increased; he now oversees news and programming in Bend and Eugene as well as Medford.
KTVL (Channel 10, CBS) is owned and operated by Freedom Communications, which recently emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization. Freedom has myriad media and related interests, including the Orange County Register, the daily newspaper in Orange County, Calif., and seven other medium-to-small-market television stations. Where KTVL’s corporate owner once represented a substantial competitive edge due to its deep pockets, now that all its assets are on the auction block, KTVL’s future is uncertain. Bids for Freedom’s properties have been solicited but as of July 1, no media assets had been sold.
KMVU (Channel 26, Fox) is the Medford flagship for Fox Broadcasting. KMVU doesn’t do local programming; it contracts out its news programming to KOBI. In Eugene, the situation is reversed: the Eugene Fox station, KLSR, provides news content for KOBI’s sister station, KEVU. However, both stations are owned by COBI, KOBI’s corporate owner. Another revenue stream for Patsy Smullin’s media empire.