To see the peacock, you’ll need a pair of rabbit ears.
On Friday, negotiations between cable provider GCI and Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU-TV failed to meet a GCI-imposed deadline. In response, Alaska’s largest cable television provider cut KTUU signals for 7,000 rural Alaskans, including those in Kodiak. Bethel, Valdez, Barrow, Nome and Dutch Harbor are also affected.
In Kodiak, GCI customers are receiving STARZ Kids & Family channel in place of KTUU.
KTUU’s local news broadcasts can still be received in Kodiak through the Alaska Rural Communications Service, but an over-the-air antenna is needed. Sunday Night Football is not aired on ARCS, but all games are streamed online at www.nbcsports.com.
The loss of KTUU comes as the channel and GCI negotiate carriage fees. These fees are charged by KTUU for its programming. Each satellite TV or cable provider must pay to carry KTUU, but GCI claims KTUU is asking too much.
“GCI has worked with KTUU to narrow the gap on rates, but KTUU insists on anti-competitive terms that disadvantage our customers and us,” GCI wrote in a statement on its website.
KTUU responded with a message of its own, claiming that GCI has cut KTUU’s signal in an attempt to compete with the station. “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,” KTUU marketing director Brad Hillwig wrote.
KTUU was among a group of Alaska TV broadcasters who protested GCI’s purchase of NBC affiliates in Sitka and Juneau and KTVA-TV, Anchorage’s CBS affiliate.
This month, the Federal Communications Commission overruled that protest and approved GCI’s purchase.
GCI spokesman David Morris said the purchase is beside the point — GCI began negotiations with KTUU before announcing its purchase.
KTUU has long let GCI carry its signal for free. Declining ad revenue, long the mainstay of broadcast networks’ budgets, means broadcast TV networks have begun to seek alternative sources of revenue, including carriage fees.
According to details first revealed to the Anchorage Daily News, the two sides remain far apart. KTUU is seeking a second channel to broadcast its content and the ability to carry a high-definition signal. KTUU would also like to stay on basic cable, even if federal rules change. Currently, local broadcasters are required to be on basic cable.
KTUU offered to give its signal away for free in 2014, but after that, it was seeking $2.5 million per year, plus free Internet and cellphone service, GCI spokesman David Morris told the Anchorage Daily News.
Outrage over the shutdown has spread over social media, with comments running slightly in favor of KTUU’s position. Overall, however, Kodiak residents appeared to agree that there was more than enough blame to go around: “When people can’t work out a compromise, they are both at fault,” one Facebook writer said.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.