Alaska communications giant General Communication Inc. (GCI) has purchased three Alaska television stations through a subsidiary company, Denali Media Holdings. The purchase includes the CBS affiliate KTVA-TV in Anchorage, and NBC affiliates KATH-TV in Juneau and KSCT-TV in Sitka.
"Our intention is to invest our resources and transform KTVA, KATH and KSCT into a news and entertainment leader unparalleled in Alaska," said GCI President Ron Duncan.
The long-term goal is added value for its media strategy, building on a television presence it has already established through its existing cable channel 1. "We look at these purchases as the first step toward providing a new statewide platform for news and information, as well as providing unique content and value for GCI's video subscribers," Duncan said.
To achieve the lofty goal, GCI has hired as a consultant longtime Alaska newsman turned media and advertising mogul, John Tracy, a former news director of Anchorage's KTUU, which has become nationally known for its excellence in journalism and superior ratings.
"I'm convinced there is opportunity and room in the market for another competitive news station," Tracy said late Friday after the announced sale.
Tracy still has strong ties to KTUU and admits it's an unusual position to be in -- building a new empire to compete with one he'd already built -- but says it's GCI's ability to reach his inner newsman's heart with vision and the financial capacity to achieve it that got him roped back into the business. "If there's anybody willing to invest in quality news for Alaska, they have my interest," he said.
The GCI purchase will make KTVA the only major network affiliate locally owned and operated in Anchorage.
As for what the newly announced purchase means for employees and viewers of the stations, in the short-term, not much is expected to change.
"It's in our interest to have the best news crew that we can down the road, I just don't think that there's going to be any immediate changes," GCI communication director David Morris said.
With the goal being a full HD station in KTVA, the transformation will require considerable investment and very likely a totally different studio, he said.
The deal isn't expected until early 2013, allowing time for closing to take place and to obtain final approval from the FCC.