GCI television customers remain blocked from popular programming

GCI & Coastal Television remain at impasse regarding FOX, ABC & CW programming
ABC, FOX and CW networks pulled from GCI TV plans in Alaska.
ABC, FOX and CW networks pulled from GCI TV plans in Alaska.(none)
Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 12:55 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The FOX network will cover two of the four NFL playoff games this weekend and for GCI TV subscribers, they’ll have to find other ways to watch them. That’s because right now, contract talks between GCI and Coastal Television and Vision Alaska, who manage the programming for ABC, FOX and the CW Network, are still ongoing. Without a new contract, GCI is not allowed to carry the channels.

“Sometimes negotiations don’t go as smoothly as hoped,” GCI Senior Director of Corporate Communications Heather Handyside said. “This is one of those cases.”

Handyside says talks started back in July of 2020 in order to try to prevent something like this. The early jump hasn’t led to any deal or even near a deal.

“In December when we realized we probably were not going to come to an agreement we reached out and proposed an extension which allows us to continue to provide programming even if we don’t have a signed contract,” Handyside said. “Unfortunately Coastal and Vision Alaska rejected that offer, and as a result, we had to pull that programming.”

That’s not the same story Coastal Television and Vision Alaska is sharing.

“We want to be on, absolutely we want to be on,” Coastal Television Chief Operating Officer Scott Centers said. “We offered an extension with them on January 1st. We agreed to an extension and they are the ones that took us down.”

Centers said negotiations between the two sides became personal.

“Both of our negotiators were speaking back and forth and between the two of them, they got a little personal with each other and their guy hung up. Next thing you know we’re off the air.”

Centers said that as soon as the programming plug was pulled, GCI customers started a petition to get the channels back. In a nutshell, the negotiations boil down to money.

“Right now its hinging on costs,” Handyside said. “GCI already pays millions of dollars to provide content for those three channels, we’re proposing in a new contract to pay millions more and that just hasn’t satisfied the partners across the table just yet.”

Centers says that’s because GCI is trying to lowball Coastal Television and Vision Alaska.

“We’ve been in constant contact since January 1st,” Centers said. “We’re at an impasse right now until GCI drops its demand for 30 percent reduction which would absolutely bankrupt our small Alaska business.”

One thing both sides do agree on is that a deal will get worked out.

“We’re inching ever closer and we hope to have a resolution soon,” Centers said. “It’s not us its GCI we’re having problems with. It’s up to GCI.”

Unfortunately, it might happen when the football season ends.

“I get it that people are frustrated,” Handyside said. “GCI employs almost 2,000 Alaskans. We love that content and programming. I’m a huge football fan and so we miss that too and we feel its important that our customers know there are other ways to get that content.”

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