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Carriage Discussions Stall, Southeast Alaska May Lose Access to Channel 2 News at Midnight

Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:05:46 PM AKST
Updated On: Dec 07 2013 10:55:56 AM AKST

UPDATE 12/7/2013 -- Effective at midnight on December 6th, GCI removed Channel 2 News and syndicated programming from KATH-TV and KSCT-TV in Juneau and Sitka, respectively. For more than a decade, KTUU-TV had delivered Channel 2 News and syndicated programming to Southeast Alaska under an agreement with the previous owner of KATH-TV. See below for information on what led to this action.

ANCHORAGE, AK(Posted 12/6/2013) Discussions to end GCI’s month-long blackout of NBC and KTUU-TV programming to rural cable subscribers and also provide continued access to Channel 2 News for Southeast Alaska viewers are scheduled to end today. No resolution is anticipated, and no other talks are immediately scheduled.

KTUU-TV had offered its signal for free to GCI in rural Alaska through 2014, and under a similar arrangement for GCI’s newly acquired stations in Southeast Alaska. GCI rejected the offer of free carriage through next year while negotiations continued and chose to remove KTUU-TV’s signal from rural Alaska on November 8th. GCI sought to tie both rural and Southeast Alaska into a multi-year contract that would also cover the Anchorage area.

The parties reached an agreement in principle on November 22nd on economic terms for carriage on urban and rural GCI systems. The agreement would also have continued carriage of Channel 2 News to Southeast Alaska viewers on KATH-TV and KSCT-TV, two NBC stations GCI purchased when it acquired the Anchorage CBS affiliate KTVA-TV.

Attorneys for both sides had been working to incorporate the agreement into a comprehensive four-year contract before a December 6th deadline, but the pact unraveled on a provision that would have restrained KTUU-TV’s ability to grow into the future.

“We’re disappointed and we know how frustrating this is for Alaskans who have unfortunately been caught in the middle of this dispute,” said Brad Hillwig, marketing director for KTUU-TV. “But we cannot allow ourselves to accept a deal today if it restrains our ability to serve Alaskans tomorrow.”

The key provision that derailed the agreement was language GCI sought that would obligate KTUU-TV to accept any agreement the cable/telecom operator had in place for any Alaska broadcaster KTUU-TV might seek to joint venture with in the future, either through shared service or purchase agreements.

“We are concerned that viewers are losing an independent news source,” Hillwig said. “Alaskans deserve a choice in news, and it should be made by viewers based on the merits of the content. It should not be decided by a cable TV provider.”

The next scheduled carriage discussions are for the Anchorage area market in 2014.

Contacts:

Brad Hillwig, Marketing Director KTUU-TV 762-9203 bhillwig@ktuu.com

About KTUU-TV

KTUU-TV’s early beginnings date back to 1953. Over the ensuing six decades, the station has built a reputation of excellence as Alaska’s most watched news source, producing more than 22-hours of news and sports content each week on television. Online, KTUU.com has become a digital news leader, and Channel 2’s mobile News and Weather applications are on the leading edge of mobile journalism in Alaska. Nielsen Media research shows that Channel 2 News products reach more than 89-percent of the adults who watch local news in a week, and more than 85-percent of those viewers watch Channel 2 News exclusively. That strong reach and brand loyalty are augmented by added distribution to the state’s capital and more than 244 rural communities throughout Alaska.