The television station known statewide as Channel 2 will stay on the air in Juneau and Sitka through Dec. 6th, while the station and GCI Cable continue to negotiate carriage terms.
Channel 2 is the Anchorage NBC affiliate, KTUU, seen in Juneau on KATH and in Sitka on KSCT.
It was expected KTUU News would be taken off the Southeast stations Friday night if a deal wasn’t reached.
Now both companies say substantial progress toward a long-term agreement has been made, with the deadline extended to Dec. 6.
The two sides have been negotiating KTUU’s carriage on cable throughout the state since September. On November 8th, GCI pulled KTUU off cable in 21 rural Alaska communities, from Barrow to Skagway.
“We’ve heard from folks from rural Alaska as likely GCI has, who are upset about this, who want their programming back, who really just want to have access to a local news source that they’ve watched for years and years,” says KTUU Marketing Director Brad Hillwig.
He says the rural issue is back on the table as the companies look for a comprehensive agreement.
“The two sides are reporting substantial progress in talks on an overall agreement that would resolve issues in rural Alaska, Southeast Alaska and Anchorage for an extended period of time.”
KATH and KSCT television stations have been purchased by GCI. The Federal Communications Commission last month approved the license transfer to the cable company. At the time, GCI said Sitka and Juneau viewers would not see any changes in the short-term. But Channel 2 was still negotiating to keep its news on the stations.
If a long-term agreement is not reached, GCI Corporate Services Vice President David Morris says only Channel 2 News would be pulled from the Southeast stations.
He says the financial terms of carrying KTUU on the statewide cable has been one of the main sticking points.
“One of the sticking points also that we have is they’re wanting an exclusive arrangement to be the only NBC provider everywhere in Alaska outside of Juneau and Fairbanks,” Morris says.
If the two sides can reach a comprehensive agreement, Channel 2 News would remain on the Southeast stations, and about 7,000 rural cable subscribers would once again receive Channel 2 News and NBC programming.