GCI Drops KTUU-TV from 22 Communities in Broadcast Dispute

POSTED: 11:32 AM AKST Dec 24, 2013    UPDATED: 01:20 AM AKST Nov 09, 2013 

An ongoing contract dispute between GCI and KTUU-TV reached its Nov. 8 deadline, resulting with GCI dropping KTUU-TV from 22 communities.

Since September, GCI and KTUU-TV have been in negotiations over the carriage of KTUU-TV’s signal on GCI rural cable systems.

NBC entertainment, sports and Channel 2 News, have been affected in Adak, Akutan, Anaktuvak Pass, Barrow, Bethel, Cordova, Galena, Kaktovik, King Salmon, McGrath, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Kuparuk, Nikolski, Nome, North Slope BP, Shemya, Skagway, Tanana, Unalaska, Valdez and Whittier. 

“KTUU, unlike other broadcasters, is not paying its fair share for getting its signal from Anchorage to your community,” GCI said in a statement. “They want to leave GCI holding the bill while they collect increased advertising revenue.”

“The bottom line is that its GCI’s doing and GCI’s decision,” Brad Hillwig, KTUU-TV marketing director, said in a statement. “GCI has chosen to unnecessarily put Alaskans in the middle of a complex negotiation that only impacts 2015 and beyond.

“GCI will replace the KTUU programming in most affected communities where it offers cable service with the Starz Kids and Family network beginning Saturday, Nov. 9,” David Morris, GCI spokesperson, said. “In Kuparuk and the North Slope the programming will be replaced by WGN, a CW-affiliated station based in Chicago, Illinois.”

“Viewers in these communities may also receive KTUU-TV on Dish Network, DirecTV and on the ARCS network,” KTUU-TV said. “Channel 2 News is also available on Airwave -- a free live streaming and on demand mobile application available on iOS and Andriod.”

According to GCI, there will be limited NBC programming available on Alaska Rural Communications Service (ARCS) in select communities. KTUU-TV alleged that GCI threatened to end KTUU’s ability to distribute programming via ARCS, despite numerous assurances.

On Friday evening, both parties agreed to extend the current agreement for carriage of Channel 2 News newscasts on KATH-TV in Juneau and KSCT-TV in Sitka until November 22.

On October 30, the Federal Communications Commission granted Denali Media Anchorage, Corp’s, a GCI subsidiary, acquisition of three TV stations, including KATH-TV in Juneau, KSCT-TV in Sitka and KTVA-TV, the Anchorage CBS affiliate.

This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.