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Meredith sold the KCMO radio stations to Richard Fairbanks in 1983, but retained ownership of KCMO-TV.
On March 7 of that year, the company changed the station's call letters to KCTV (standing for ision, which also served as the station's on-air slogan from that year on until February 1994), based on the familiarity of the "TV 5" branding.
With Channel 4's contract with the network set to expire in five months, NBC quickly approached other area stations to replace WDAF-TV as its Kansas City affiliate.
It first entered into discussions with KCTV management about becoming an NBC affiliate.
It originally served as a primary affiliate of ABC and a secondary affiliate of the Du Mont Television Network, both of which had been affiliated with WDAF-TV (channel 4) on a part-time basis since that station signed on as the Kansas City market's first television station in October 1949.
The station originally operated from studio facilities located on East 31st Street in Kansas City, Missouri's Union Hill neighborhood.
The prospect of one of its strongest affiliates being courted by a rival Big Three network concerned CBS; New World planned to displace the network from stronger-performing VHF affiliates that the group had already owned or was in the process of purchasing in eight other markets to Fox, a situation that in most cases would force CBS to affiliate with either a former Fox affiliate or a lower-profile independent station.
Many of the NBC- and ABC-affiliated stations and – with the exception of Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix – some higher-rated independents it approached for deals rejected CBS' offers to move its programming to those stations as the loss of NFL rights hampered its choices of replacement affiliates, exacerbating its existing problem of having a program slate that skewed towards an older audience than the other major broadcast networks that aided in CBS' ratings slide to third place nationally.On September 8, 2015, Richmond, Virginia-based Media General announced that it would acquire the Meredith Corporation for .4 billion, with the intention to name the combined group Meredith Media General once the sale was finalized.The sale would have marked the first change in ownership for the station since it was purchased by Meredith in 1953 and would have put KCTV and KSMO-TV under common ownership with Media General's existing virtual triopoly in the adjacent Topeka market between NBC affiliate KSNT, Fox affiliate KTMJ-CD and ABC affiliate KTKA-TV.As part of the deal, Meredith agreed to affiliate KCMO-TV with CBS, as compensation for sister station KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona losing its affiliation with the network (KPHO became an independent station after CBS moved its programming to KOOL-TV (now Fox owned-and-operated station KSAZ-TV), from which it would re-assume the network's Phoenix affiliation 39 years later in December 1994).CBS moved its Kansas City affiliation to channel 5 from KMBC-TV (channel 9) in September of that year; KMBC, meanwhile, would assume the local rights to the ABC affiliation.It also relocated its operations across the Missouri-Kansas state line from its original studio facilities on East 31st Street to a new facility on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway, Kansas.