HELENA (AP) - Helena area residents are going to have to pay to continue watching "The X-Files," "The Simpsons" and "COPS."
A lack of advertising revenue to support KMTF television led its owners to shut down the FOX station, effective at midnight Saturday, said Ralph Toddre, vice president of Sunbelt Communications. Sunbelt owns KTVH television in Helena and managed its sister station, KMTF.
"The loss (in revenue) of this station was just tremendous," he said Friday. "People didn't watch it, apparently."
KMTF will switch to broadcasting the family oriented PAX-TV programming, and about 10 people will lose their jobs.
AT&T Broadband plans to add FOX programming to its expanded basic cable package, which costs about $33 a month.
"We felt we owed it to our customers," said Tom Glendenning, general manager of AT&T Broadband. "We want to keep our customers."
For the past three years, KTVH, an NBC affiliate, and Sunbelt Communications have been subsidizing KMTF, Toddre said.
Under Federal Communications Commission regulations, a management company cannot manage two TV stations in one market because it inhibits competition, but FCC rules do allow for temporary exceptions for start-up stations.
The FCC recently told the owner and manager of KMTF that it had to either separate the station from Sunbelt or close down by August.
The shutdown was not a surprise to FOX-10's staff because they knew the advertising revenue was low, Toddre said.