Cable provider GCI reaches extension with network affiliates

ANCHORAGE — Alaska cable and internet provider GCI reached a contract extension that will keep ABC, CW and Fox on its cable packages at least through January.

 

GCI and the owners of local network affiliates agreed on the extension amid ongoing negotiations over cost increases, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.

ABC and CW would’ve been removed from GCI service statewide on Jan. 1 without the extension. Fox would have been removed on Jan. 15.

Fox programming includes the upcoming National Football League playoffs.

“The negotiations aren’t final and we’re not out of the woods yet but we are making good progress,” GCI said in a statement.

GCI Spokeswoman Heather Handyside said the provider offers 450 channels in Anchorage and negotiates new contracts for each of them. Cost increases on contracts are usually between 5 percent and 20 percent, but GCI said the ABC, CW and Fox affiliate owners requested a 300 percent increase.

“We do it successfully all the time,” Handyside said. “But every so often there is a programmer or broadcaster and we can’t meet their rates. It’s out of balance when compared with other stations that we pay. We do get into these very tense negotiations. And sometimes it takes a while.”

Matanuska Telephone Association, which also offers television cable packages, has had the same price issues in renegotiating its contracts. Association President Michael Burke said the company stopped airing Fox on Jan. 1.

In price negotiations, the company was counter-offered larger prices each time it negotiated, Burke said.

“We’re open to putting them back on at a reasonable price, but for now we’ve lost the ability to keep the channel,” Burke said.

In Juneau, the contract extension allows those channels to resume broadcasting, according to information obtained by the Juneau Empire. The Juneau Fox TV affiliate stopped transmitting to GCI in November, leaving capital city residents without access to the channel except by antenna or satellite TV.

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