KTUU-TV is still absent from the televisions of GCI cable customers, but there may be light at the end of the tunnel for those awaiting its return.
On Friday, KTUU and GCI each announced “substantial progress” in negotiations to settle their dispute. The announcements also stated that Juneau and Southeast Alaska will avoid having their KTUU signal turned off until Dec. 6.
The deadline for Southeast broadcasts of KTUU was Friday, but the switchoff has been postponed two weeks to allow talks to continue.
“Substantial progress is being made on a comprehensive agreement,” said KTUU marketing director Brad Hillwig in a statement. “We are optimistic that a deal will soon come to pass, and we look forward to once again serving all Alaskans without interruption.”
Optimism may or may not be warranted as KTUU and GCI continue negotiations behind closed doors. Before GCI turned off KTUU’s signal to 7,000 rural Alaskans — including those in Kodiak — the deadline was extended two weeks.
That extension failed to result in a long-term deal.
KTUU remains unavailable to GCI customers in Kodiak, who must stream NBC programming online, switch to satellite TV or pick up NBC signals using an antenna.
The dispute between KTUU and NBC is ostensibly over carriage fees — the money a station can charge a cable provider. Other factors are troubling negotiations, however.
This month, the Federal Communications Commission approved GCI’s purchase of NBC affiliates in Sitka and Juneau as well as KTVA-TV, Anchorage’s ABC affiliate. KTVA will unveil its new multimillion-dollar GCI-funded studio on Dec. 2, and KTUU is among several Alaska broadcasters that claim GCI now has monopolistic powers.
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