The Federal Communications Commission has approved the sale of Anchorage television station KTVA and two stations in Southeast Alaska to communications company GCI.
Transfer of the licenses had been challenged by several Alaska broadcasters. Theyargued that ownership of over-the-air network affiliated stations by the same company that dominates Alaska's cable and internet market would create an anti-competitive situation, with GCI in a position to deny a competitor access to its cable system or to dictate onerous conditions for carrying the competitor's programming.
The commission dismissed all objections, referring to them as "speculative," and concluded that granting the application "will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity."
CBS affiliate KTVA was the first television station in Alaska. August "Augie" Hiebert the station on the air on Dec. 11, 1953 and sold it in 1997. It is currently owned by Affiliated Media, part of Denver, Colo.-based MediaNews Group.
In addition to the objections raised by Anchorage stations KTUU, KTBY and KYUR, among others, the transfer was delayed by the partial shutdown of the federal government in October. During that time the FCC suspended all non-emergency business.
"It took a long time to get a (10)-page order out," said GCI spokesman David Morris. "We've been waiting for approval every week."
The buyer and seller still need to close the financial aspects of the transaction, Morris said. He expects that action to take place over the next few days after which GCI will formally take ownership. No determination has been made concerning when the new owner will broadcast its first newscast or other local programming, he said.
GCI subsidiary Denali Media Anchorage will operate KTVA. The panhandle stations -- KATH in Juneau and KSCT in Sitka -- will be operated by Denali Media Southeast.
Reach Mike Dunham at email@example.com or 257-4332.
By MIKE DUNHAM