Alaska Ear: War between KTUU and KTVA, fun has begun

SCREEN GRAB . . . Well darlings, the Omniscient Orifice predicted that war between KTUU-Channel 2 and KTVA-Channel 11 would be fun, and now the fun has begun:

The new KTVA News signed on at 5 p.m. last Monday with its Star-Trekky set and shiny new staff. At the same time, in an amazing coincidence, the KTUU newscast vanished from cable screens around the city -- some complicated technological glitch that apparently affected only the transmission of Channel 2.

(Earwigs will recall that GCI, the cable company, now owns Channel 11.)

OMG, Facebook shifted into overdrive and earwig Mary Cantil called twice. Really darlings, people are so suspicious.

KTUU News Goddess Maria Downey tried to soothe angry viewers:

"Hopefully this will be corrected very soon so you can watch Nightly News and the NewsHour. I know some of you are asking, 'Why just Ch. 2' ... sorry ... can't answer that ...' "

Two days later, GCI ran a full-page ad in Your Favorite Good Morning Newspaper. It had something to do with why GCI is or isn't beaming KTUU to all the places it used to. Ear has no idea who's right or wrong, but is pretty sure it's all about money.

KTVA's new set is impressive, except for the reflection of the anchors' chests on the glistening desktop.

Meanwhile, Ear clings to the archaic belief that competition between news organizations is a good thing.

PLUS . . . Looks like Channel 11 is sending Rhonda McBride to Juneau to cover the legislative session. That's a good thing. (Yes, they poached her from Channel 2.)

PLEASE, NOT YET . . . Earwigs say the Senate Majority Caucus is having its pre-session retreat next week, but odds are they're not retreating far enough for us to avoid them. The main topic is reportedly how to prioritize things now that the oil tax break has worked so well -- for the oil companies. The Republicans no doubt will find a painless way for all of us to make do with billions less in state revenues.

HELP WANTED . . . Word is the Governor's Office is having trouble filling the big vacancy at the Department of Administration. Commissioner Becky Hultberg is leaving this month for a better-paying gig as director of the state hospital association.

Administration is one of those departments where the commissioner really has to work: keep track of state employees, negotiate with unions, supervise procurement, telecommunications & IT services, plus the ever-popular risk and pension management.

If you're looking for an 80-hour-a-week job in Juneau dealing with labor leaders and politicians during an election year, give Mike Nizich a call.

MAYBE . . . Our other U.S. senator, the one not running for re-election next year, is trying to make it abundantly clear that she will run in 2016.

Sen. Lisa, beset by rumors she can't survive a closed Republican primary, has begun raising money to do just that. A get-together at Bill & Michelle Bittner's on Wednesday featured the checkbooks of Dan Coffey, Ralph Samuels, Tim Sullivan, Mike Heatwole, Mary Hughes, Andy Eker, Chris Birch, Henry Penney and other notables.

ON THE MOVE . . . Former Juneauite Kate Williams is Sen. Lisa's new legislative director in D.C. Once an Anchorage lawyer, Williams previously worked for Sen. Ted Stevens and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

A QUESTION . . . The Ketchikan Daily News reported that the state ferry system's "first female captain made her inaugural voyage" on the Lituya on Thursday.

Whoopie and all that, but is Ear the only one who finds it weird we're still recording such "firsts?" By 2013, we should have had women captains for years.

Just sayin'.

GPS? . . . Did the last liberal in Alaska die Tuesday in Fairbanks? (The wimpy word these days is "progressive.") In any case, we're talking about former legislator (1983-92) Niilo Koponen. Niilo was one of those politicians who was the subject of stories -- fun stories.

For instance, it's a fact that he drove his staff crazy by taking long walks around Juneau, talking to whoever he met. It's legend that his staff successfully planted a tracking device on him and he never figured out how they could always find him when they needed to. (Ear doesn't believe it).

COME ON UP . . . The travel web site this week published its 2013 list of "Destinations on the Rise." Anchorage came in No. 2. Ear isn't sure what it means, or just how flattered we should be. Other "winners" were Destin, Fla., Galveston, Tex., Moab, Ut., and Brooklyn, NY.

Compiled by Sheila Toomey Message Sheila at 257-4341 or