Effective at midnight on November 8th, GCI removed KTUU-TV programming from its rural Alaska cable systems. This unprecedented move leaves approximately 7,000 cable subscribers without Channel 2 News broadcasts and NBC entertainment and sports programming on GCI cable.
GCI imposed a November 8th deadline for removing KTUU-TV’s signal in rural Alaska, despite KTUU-TV’s repeated offers of free carriage through 2014. “The bottom line is that its GCI’s doing and GCI’s decision,” says KTUU-TV marketing director Brad Hillwig. “GCI has chosen to unnecessarily put Alaskans in the middle of a complex negotiation that only impacts 2015 and beyond. We offered our signal for free through 2014 and GCI chose to reject that offer. We’re disappointed because it limits choice in rural Alaska.”
The action comes at a time when GCI is entering the television news business by launching its own news product on KTVA in Anchorage. “That GCI appears intent on launching its own news product while simultaneously restricting access to KTUU-TV and Channel 2 News should cause Alaskan’s serious concern,” Hillwig stated. “KTUU-TV welcomes competition from all news outlets, including GCI’s own news products. However, we find these types of anti-consumer and anti-competitive tactics to be quite troubling.”
During negotiations, GCI also threatened to end KTUU’s ability to distribute its programming on the Alaska Rural Communications Service (ARCS) on November 15th, by removing its signal from the satellite that feeds the popular rural network. The threat came despite numerous assurances from GCI officials that ARCS would continue to be a viable resource for Channel 2 News viewers in rural Alaska in the event of a GCI cable blackout.
The affected communities are: Barrow, Bethel, Cordova, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, North Slope, Valdez, Adak, Akutan, Anaktuvuk Pass, Whittier, Galena, Unalaska, King Salmon, Kaktovik, McGrath, Nikolski, Chugach McKinley, Skagway, and Tanana.
Viewers in these communities may also receive KTUU-TV on Dish Network, DirecTV and on the ARCS network. Channel 2 News is also available on Airwave -- a free live streaming and on demand mobile application available on iOS and Andriod.
The failed negotiations also mean that southeast Alaska and Juneau may soon be without Channel 2 News, although the two parties agreed to extend the current agreement until November 22nd in order to discuss the terms of carriage going forward. If a deal is not reached by the deadline, Juneau and southeast residents would lose Channel 2 News on KATH-TV and KSCT-TV. GCI recently finalized its acquisition of KATH-TV in Juneau and its sister station KSCT-TV in Sitka, along with KTVA-TV in Anchorage. Prior to GCI’s acquisition of KATH-TV, KTUU-TV supplied Channel 2 News broadcasts to the Juneau station in a decade-old agreement with the former owners.
Brad Hillwig, Marketing Director KTUU-TV 762-9203 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.