GCI scratches KING-TV from cable lineup

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Seattle NBC affiliate KING-TV is being removed form the GCI cable lineup effective today, but customers can still catch their favorite NBC shows on Juneau's local NBC affiliate, KATH-TV.

Previously, GCI offered both channels; KING on channel 15 and KATH on channel 17. But when cable companies offer miuliple affiliates of the same network, the local broadcaster has precedence and can request that the distant affiliate be dropped, said GCI spokesman Terry Dunlap.

"We at GCI have absolutely no choice in this matter. The only thing we have an option to do is not carry and NBC programming at all, or we drop the Seattle feed," Dunlap said.

Charlie Ellis, vice president and general manager of KATH, said it's an issue of competition.

"We're competing for the same audience in that we carry the same shows at the same time," Ellis said. "In essence, we're competeing with ourselves, and we won't be competing with ourselves any longer."

Dunlap said GCI has heard from a number of customers who are unhappy with the change.

"Our customers do not want to see KING go away. The Juneau customers have a strong tie to Seattle because of the Mariners and the Seahawks, those guys are kind of our home teams," he said. "There's not much (sports) on King, but there was some."

Ellis said NBC does not carry professional baseball, football, basketball or hockey.

GCI subscribers still will have access to Northwest news through the Northwest Cable News Network.

KATH will move to channel 15, and has relinquished its rights to broadcast UPN programming such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Star Trek Enterprise" so that GCI can add Anchorage UPN affiliate HYES-TV to the lineup as channel 5.

"We hope that we still have a loyal audience base and that some of the people that haven't watched us over the past few years tune into KATH for the NBC programs they usually watch," Ellis said.

Masha Herbst can be reached at masha.herbst@juneauempire.com.

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