FCC says KTUU corporate owners’ purchase of KTVA violated rules, proposes $518,283 fine

Federal regulators say the parent company of KTUU Channel 2 News “willfully and repeatedly” violated a prohibition against a single entity owning the top two television stations in a market when it purchased KTVA Channel 11 and acquired its CBS network affiliation last year.

The FCC has proposed fining KTUU’s owner, Gray Television, $518,283.

In a liability notice published Wednesday, the FCC cited a rule that says no single company is allowed to own more than one of the top four full-power stations in any market. The “Local Television Ownership Rule” exists to “promote competition and a diversity of viewpoints in local markets,” the FCC said.

The FCC alleges Gray broke that rule when it acquired CBS affiliate KTVA Channel 11 from GCI in 2020 and began broadcasting the program schedule that used to air on KTVA on the full-power station KYES, giving the company control of the two leading broadcast stations. KTVA went off the air in September 2020.

Gray was in violation of the rule from the day it acquired KTVA’s CBS affiliation — July 31, 2020 — until March 3, 2021, when it moved CBS programming to its low-power translator station and aired a simulcast of that programming on a KTUU digital subchannel, according to the notice.

The fine proposed for Gray Television is the statutory maximum, the FCC notice said.

It’s not clear what the FCC action against Gray Television will mean for KTUU going forward. Station general manager Nancy Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Gray, headquartered in Atlanta, owns TV stations in 94 markets nationally. The company is supposed to pay the fine within 30 days. It can also appeal.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.