Fresno's first TV station signed on the air on June 1, 1953, as KMJ-TV. The station was originally owned by the McClatchy family, whose assets included local radio station KMJ (580 AM) and three "Bee" newspapers in California, in Fresno, Sacramento and Modesto. The station has been an NBC affiliate since its sign-on, due to KMJ radio's longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network, although in its early years it also shared the CBS affiliation with KJEO-TV. Channel 24 is one of two commercial television stations in the Fresno market that has never changed its network affiliation (alongside KMPH-TV (channel 26), which has been affiliated with Fox since October 1986). KMJ-TV was the first station in the market to use color film and the first to transmit network programming in color in 1954.
In 1981, McClatchy exited from television broadcasting to focus on its newspaper properties; it sold KMJ-TV to San Joaquin Communications, which changed the station's call letters to KSEE on February 27 of that year (McClatchy continued to own KMJ radio until 1987). San Joaquin Communications, in turn, sold KSEE to the Meredith Corporation in 1984. Meredith subsequently sold the station to Granite Broadcasting, in a deal that included CBS affiliate WTVH in Syracuse, New York, on December 27, 1993.
On February 6, 2013, Granite sold KSEE's non-license assets to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, with Nexstar also intending to purchase KSEE's license following Federal Communications Commission approval; in the interim, Nexstar operated the station via a time brokerage agreement. The deal made KSEE a sister station to CBS affiliate KGPE (channel 47), which Nexstar had just acquired from Newport Television. Normally, duopolies between two "Big Four" affiliates, let alone "Big Three," would not be allowed because those stations are usually the four highest-rated stations in a market, which FCC regulations do not allow any common ownership of. However, according to Nielsen, in 2013 KGPE was ranked as the fourth highest-rated station in the market and KSEE fifth, after KFSN (ABC), KFTV (Univision), and KMPH-TV (Fox), allowing a duopoly to be formed between the stations. This marked the second instance (after the Gannett Company purchased ABC affiliate WJXX in Jacksonville, Florida, creating a duopoly with that market's NBC affiliate WTLV, in 2000) in which a single company owns a duopoly involving two stations that are affiliated by a Big Three television network; and is also Nexstar's first true Big Three duopoly (Nexstar's other Big Three duopolies are virtually formed, in which the other station is owned by Mission Broadcasting). The merger was approved on April 17, and completed by May 31.
Following the merger, KGPE and KSEE announced that KGPE's operations would be consolidated into KSEE's facilities by the end of the year, from its longtime studio facility on First Street (across the street from Fashion Fair Mall). New high definition-capable studios were built for the two stations, and the KSEE Building was renamed the McKinley Media Center.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
KSEE formerly carried "KSEE 24 Weather Plus," a 24-hour weather service which was originally affiliated with NBC Weather Plus and then switched to The Local AccuWeather Channel after Weather Plus ceased operations in November 2008; the subchannel was replaced with a standard-definition simulcast of KSEE's main channel in October 2013.
KSEE shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 38. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 24.
As part of the SAFER Act, KSEE kept its analog signal on the air until June 26 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
Syndicated programs broadcast by KSEE include The Insider, The Queen Latifah Show, Dr. Phil, Inside Edition and Access Hollywood. KSEE clears the entire NBC programming schedule; however, it airs the Saturday edition of Today one hour earlier than the program's recommended 6:00 a.m. timeslot and pre-empts the Saturday and Sunday editions of NBC Nightly News.
In 2004, KSEE debuted a medical discussion program titled MedWatch, which aired Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m.; the program, hosted by longtime anchor Cindy Suryan, focused on medical and health topics as well as breakthroughs in medical technology, it was canceled in 2009. In September 2007, KSEE debuted an hour-long business/entertainment show Central Valley Today; originally airing at 11:00 a.m., the program moved to 3:00 p.m. on October 30, 2013; the program is hosted by Alex Delgado and former KSEE anchor Lindsey Pena (Monique Soltani, founder of Wine Oh TV, served as the program's original co-host).
KSEE presently broadcasts 23½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and a half-hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); unlike most NBC affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, the station does not broadcast a newscast in the 5:30 p.m. timeslot on weekdays (the station instead fills that half-hour with NBC Nightly News, which in turn airs one hour earlier than most of NBC's Pacific Time Zone affiliates) nor does it carry early evening newscasts on weekends. In addition, the station produces the public affairs program The Maddy Report, which airs Sunday mornings at 5:30 a.m. For much of the time since the mid-1980s, KSEE's newscasts have been in second place in the ratings, behind longtime first-place finisher KFSN-TV (channel 30).
In January 2000, KSEE debuted an hour-long newscast on Saturday mornings, which ran from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m.; the program was canceled in May 2008, and was replaced with paid programming. On September 3, 2002, KSEE launched a half-hour 4:00 p.m. newscast; the program was discontinued after the March 11, 2011 broadcast, and was replaced three days later by a half-hour lifestyle and news program called We Are Fresno Live. In September 2005, KSEE debuted the sports discussion program Sports Central, which provided in-depth reports about local and national sports; the program was canceled in 2011.
On July 31, 2006, the station began producing a half-hour primetime newscast at 10:00 p.m. for MyNetworkTV affiliate KAIL (channel 53, now on channel 7); the program, which aired only on Monday through Friday nights was canceled on September 11, 2009, due to low ratings. In August 2007, the station also debuted The Bulldog Insider (which currently airs Sundays at 6:30 p.m.), featuring reports on California State University and Fresno State University athletics. In the late 2000s, KSEE became the first television station in the Fresno market to expand its weekday morning newscast to 4:30 a.m.; however on January 3, 2011, KSEE Sunrise was scaled back to two hours, reverting to a 5:00 a.m. start time. On September 21, 2009, KSEE debuted a half-hour 7:00 p.m. newscast.
In April 2013, prior to the merger of KSEE and KGPE's news departments, the two stations began sharing reporters and photographers, but continue to maintain separate on-air talent. KSEE relaunched its newscasts on October 30, 2013 with a format described by the Bee as featuring "family matters, safety, health, money, community, faith, education, agriculture and other similar topics." The station also canceled We Are Fresno Live and the 7:00 p.m. newscast, though KGPE introduced a newscast in the 7:00 p.m. timeslot with its concurrent relaunch earlier on October 9; KSEE moved its midday newscast one hour earlier from noon to 11:00 a.m. and expanded it to one hour.Mike Hill - weekend sports anchor/reporter (1995-1997; now with Fox Sports 1)
Raj Mathai - weekend sports anchor/reporter (1997–1998; now evening anchor at KNTV in San Jose)
Catherine Mylinh - anchor/reporter (2005-2008)
Pablo Pereira - reporter/fill-in news and weather anchor (1991-1995; now chief meteorologist at KTTV in Los Angeles)