After months of wrangling, Anchorage NBC affiliate and cable provider GCI have reached a carriage agreement that puts the station back on KATH in Juneau and KSCT in Sitka. The two Southeast stations and Anchorage CBS affiliate KTVA were purchased by GCI last year.
KTUU President and General Manager Andy MacLeod says he’s glad Channel 2 News will return to the Southeast airwaves.
In November, GCI dropped the KTUU signal on its rural cable system, leaving about 7,000 households without access to NBC programming, except what was carried on ARCS, the state-operated channel.
In December, GCI removed KTUU’s flagship news program, Channel 2 News, from the Sitka and Juneau stations, affecting both cable and satellite subscribers. GCI temporarily replaced the Channel 2 newscasts with a program called One America News.
The KTUU signal was restored Thursday in rural Alsaka. GCI says Channel 2 News will back on the airwaves in Southeast within a few days.
While the two companies had agreed on rates in December, the dispute centered on what would happen if KTUU ever acquired another station.
MacLeod says the station is satisfied on that front.
What we got is working with GCI, and they got the same thing. We got a provision that allows us to build our business into the future, unrestrained. So, that’s a significant thing.
McCleod says the agreement comes at a good time for Southeast viewers who want to watch the winter Olympics, carried exclusively by NBC. KTUU has two news reporters in Sochi, Russia, following Alaska’s Olympic athletes.
The negotiations between GCI and KTUU began when GCI bought the three television stations. GCI spokesman David Morris says it is characteristic of disputes across the nation between cable and content providers.
“So, will this happen again in Alaska? We sure hope not, we’re trying to figure ways out to make it not happen. But the way it’s set up right now, if you don’t have a company, whoever your provider is, who says no to some of these demands, then things will spiral completely out of control,” Morris says.
The new agreement covers about three years, so Alaskans shouldn’t expect any disruptions to NBC programming through at least 2017.
GCI recently announced subsidiary Denali Media Holdings is buying three CBS affiliates in Southeast: KXLJ in Juneau, KTNL in Sitka and KUBD in Ketchikan. The stations are owned by Ketchikan TV of Evergreen, Colo. The purchase must still be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.