By KTVA Alaska

12:45 AM October 31, 2013

FCC approves sale of KTVA, two outheast stations to GCI subsidiary Denali Media

ANCHORAGE—The sale of KTVA CBS 11 News to Denali Media, a subsidiary of Alaska cable giant GCI, was approved by the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday.

Wednesday, Denali Media management said the acquisition of KTVA should be complete within days.

The sale was first announced last November. For the past several months, Denali Media has been building a new facility in East Anchorage, even as other media organizations in Alaska objected to the deal. A group of nine television licensees in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Sitka—collectively referred to as “Alaska broadcasters” in the ruling—filed several petitions and motions to deny the sale with the FCC.

“Alaska broadcasters” argued that GCI, as the owner of “over 70 percent of the consumer broadband connections in Alaska,” would have “the ability and incentive” to block content from other channels. The FCC found that GCI’s purchase of three stations “”simply does not raise any of the issue regarding access to content that were raised” in similar cases that saw cable companies acquire broadcast stations.

GCI countered that investing in three stations—KTVA in Anchorage, KATH in Juneau, and KSCT in Sitka—creates more competition in Alaska, and argued the sale serves the public interest.

Ultimately the FCC rejected all the objections filed by “Alaska broadcasters” and approved the sale. The ruling found the sale “was consistent “with the public interest, convenience and necessity.” The FCC further called objections to the sale “speculative” or otherwise “unsupported.”

Denali Media General Manager Gary Donovan said that, after nine months of review, the FCC’s approval comes as a big relief.

“[After a long] gestation period, we’ve finally given birth to a dream we’ve had for a long, long time,” Donovan said. “What it means for the community, I think, is another very viable news voice in this community.”

Denali Media News Director Bert Rudman said the approval is a good thing for Alaskans looking to stay informed.

“We’re hoping, really, that people who have decided not to watch local television for a variety of reasons are going to tune back to KTVA 11, and really [KTUU] Channel 2, to see that competition raises all boats … competition in this market is going to improve journalism in the Anchorage area, and for people who are watching around the state.”

Donovan said Denali Media is planning roughly a month for the transition once the sale is finalized. He said that should allow viewers to see the new face of Channel 11 on the air shortly after Thanksgiving.