Alaska telecom company GCI is leaving the television broadcast business to focus on other operations after completing a deal that will give an Atlanta company control of the two leading TV broadcast stations in the state, GCI announced Friday.
The deal means the two local TV news stations in Anchorage will be controlled by Gray Television, according to Becky Windt Pearson, a spokeswoman with GCI.
Gray will operate two distinct news operations, though they will be owned by the same parent company, Windt Pearson said.
Gray Television already owns KTUU, the NBC-affiliated TV station in Anchorage.
As part of the deal, which involves GCI subsidiary Denali Media Holdings, Gray will purchase most of the assets of Anchorage CBS station KTVA.
But Gray has already moved KTVA’s broadcast program schedule to KYES-TV Channel 5 in Anchorage, which it also owns, GCI said. Cable programming will move over the next month to KYES.
GCI will retain the KTVA license and transmission facilities.
GCI is not yet certain what it will do with those assets, Windt Pearson said.
Gray operates TV stations and digital properties in more than 90 television markets, the company says.
Nancy Johnson, vice president and general manager of KTUU/KYES, declined to discuss the announcement.
“It’s GCI’s story to tell today,” she said by email.
Ownership of two television stations by the same company in the same market area comes with federal restrictions, Windt Pearson said.
But the deal is allowed under an exception by the Federal Communications Commission because KTVA was struggling financially in recent years and GCI could not find a buyer after a competitive search, she said.
“Because the operating losses at the station threatened the capacity of the station to continue to operate, it was possible to sell the assets to Gray,” Windt Pearson said.
KTVA officials did not immediately provide comment Friday.
Denali Media Holdings on Friday also sold its three CBS stations in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan to Gray Television.
Denali Media also sold NBC-affiliate stations in Juneau and Sitka, KATH and KSCT, to Gray Television.
Windt Pearson said the agreement involving the NBC affiliates required FCC approval, and that has previously been granted. Sale of those stations was announced in May.
The remainder of the transaction does not require FCC approval, she said.
The sales will allow GCI to focus on providing data, mobile, video, voice and managed services, the company said in a statement.
Windt Pearson said Denali Media Holdings in Anchorage employs about 70 people, including those who have worked at KTVA. Denali Media employees were notified of the change on Friday, she said.
About 12% of those employees are involved in cable advertising sales. They will move over to GCI to perform the same work there, she said.
The remaining employees at Denali Media Holdings “will have the opportunity to apply with Gray Television as they staff up local news operations” and other operations, she said.
GCI’s human resources department will work with those who want to work with GCI, or who can’t find employment with Gray or choose not to work there, she said.
Severance packages will be available for those who ultimately don’t find work with GCI or Gray, she said.
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