From the ADN:
The Great Alaska Shootout has a new title sponsor, one that hopes for a return to the glory days when top-ranked college basketball teams and huge crowds filled Sullivan Arena. GCI and UAA have entered into a multiyear deal that makes GCI the primary sponsor of the Thanksgiving-week college basketball tournament held every year since 1978.
The Shootout brings in college basketball teams each year from all across the country to compete. It’s an annual budget of $700,000 to $750,000. GCI will help with the cash and will promote it heavily in its 40 retail stores across the state, and likely on its cable network.
And unlike in the past, UAA doesn’t plan on asking the state for money, which should make Brad Keithley happy.
Maria Downey, a longtime anchor with KTUU Channel 2 News, entered the fight on her Facebook page between her station and cable company GCI. GCI is threatening to black out the NBC affiliate in rural areas if the two can’t come to an agreement on fees that GCI would pay KTUU to carry its content, including the news show where Downey works.
On her Facebook page, Downey calls the fight “unfortunate,” declares KTUU a “trusted” news source, and urges readers to go to KTUU.com for more information.She also makes allusions to the fact that the fight is transpiring as GCI is trying to get a station up and running that would directly compete with KTUU.
Some of the information that she points readers to are strongly worded press releases from KTUU claiming that GCI is holding its rural viewers “hostage,” and that GCI is using rural viewers as a “negotiating tactic.”
There are, of course, two sides to this story, which Downey doesn’t mention. In a nutshell: KTUU is demanding that GCI pay the station $2.5 million for its content, which until now has been free. KTUU says that it’s offering GCI use of its content for free until Dec. 2014 and that GCI is trying to lock in agreements for too long.
Here’s Downey’s Facebook post in full:
Hey gang, I am out of town and staying off Facebook but I felt I needed to respond to all of the concerned posts from our friends in rural Alaska and the other communities about GCI dropping Channel 2 from cable in some areas. It’s unfortunate that our faithful viewers are caught in the middle of this issue when all you want is to find out what’s happening in your state through a trusted source . Channel 2 has even offered not to charge GCI for using “our product” on it’s cable until Dec. 2014 out of consideration for our viewers. For more on this issue you can go to ktuu.com. In the meantime I want to thank the hundreds of people we have heard from in support… From longtime viewers to officials and other respected journalists who have been expressing concern at a time when GCI is awaiting FCC approval to buy KTVA … We hope to keep coming into your homes everyday to share what’s happening around our state. Go to KTUU.com for more details and thanks again!”
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