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KAAL-TV to build facility

Austin-based KAAL-TV Channel 6 is planning to shift its base and build a new television station facility in Rochester.

KAAL General Manager David Harbert announced the project to staff on Monday, according to KAAL 5 p.m. newscast producer Ken Quattrin.

Harbert told staff that KAAL-owner Hubbard Broadcasting of St. Paul has signed a deal to build a state-of-the-art facility near TJ Maxx Plaza in southwest Rochester, Quattrin says in a Facebook post. He told employees that plans for this have been in the works for several years.

Harbert also said that KAAL will keep its Austin studio to cover that area, Albert Lea and northern Iowa, Quattrin says.

Neither Harbert nor Hubbard Television Group President Rob Hubbard were available this morning to comment on the project.

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KAAL has been expanding its footprint in in this area in an effort to challenge KTTC-TV, the long-time market leader, for a number of years. In 2008, it spent $500,000 to upgrade its Rochester office at 2720 Superior Drive N.W.

At that time, Hubbard said, "In the history of that marketplace, I think you'd see we've been under-covering Rochester. It is our intention to fully cover the market without taking anything away from other areas."

Nielsen ratings rank the Rochester-Austin television market as the 153rd largest in the U.S. It grew from 143,000 households in 2013 to 145,00 in 2014. While the market includes many communities like Albert Lea and Mason City, Iowa, it is the growing Rochester area that is the most sought after by broadcasters.

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