The road has been long and rocky for KNMZ-TV, a Santa Fe independent television station that filed for bankruptcy this summer and is now on the brink of being sold to a Las Vegas, Nev.-based broadcasting company.Started back in 1977 by a group of local investors determined to bring a Santa Fe-oriented station into an Albuquerque-dominated television market, KNMZ, or KSAF as it was originally named, seemed jinxed from the beginning.
For a variety of reasons, including a Federal Communications Commission ruling that a Santa Fe television station could not place its transmitter tower on Sandia Crest beside the transmitter towers of the Albuquerque television stations, it took almost seven full years for Channel 2 to simply get on the air.
When Channel 2 did finally make its debut, on Halloween Night in 1983, the fanfare and high hopes that accompanied its opening were tainted for insiders by the knowledge that the numerous delays and unforeseen expenses leading up to the inaugural had already put the station in serious financial trouble.
The first sign that all was not well came a mere four months into Channel 2’s first year of operation, when a costly hour-long news program had to be canceled to keep the station afloat. Then began a series of programming, promotional and advertising strategies all designed to make the station profitable in a hurry. But none of them worked. The bottom line remained the same: The station was losing money, lots of it, at an alarming rate … All discussions of who was to blame, of what was going wrong and what should be done became moot this past summer, when Channel 2 Associates, the present owner, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to seek relief from its many creditors and to put its financial house in order.
Last fall, a tentative agreement with a Las Vegas, Nev.-based broadcasting company was reached an agreement that will become official if the FCC approves.
Santa Fe’s first and only television station: It was a bright dream that faded fast.