Alaska TV companies trade misleading insults
The fight between GCI cable and the Georgia company that calls itself "Your Alaska Link" and has the rights in Alaska to ABC, CW and Fox programs is irritating, with each side accusing the other of being from Outside and trying to rip off Alaskans.
(Those of you who are not from Alaska should know that everyplace that is not in Alaska is Outside. Tradition holds that it is bad to be from Outside, though a majority of the Alaska population hails from Outside.)
GCI has the edge on its connections to Alaska, but not for long. GCI has been sold to Liberty Interactive, with a GCI shareholders vote set for Feb. 2 on the $1.1 billion deal.
"Your Alaska Link" is owned by Vision Alaska II LLC, which is 99 percent owned by William Fielder III, a lawyer from Cumming, GA., according to the corporate registration with the state. The company's main link to Alaska is its name. Stephen C. Brissette, a North Carolina lawyer, has 1 percent of the LLC.
GCI and Fielder have battled in the past. In 2013, Fielder opposed GCI's attempt to buy KTVA in Anchorage and stations in Juneau-Sitka. In an FCC filing, Fielder said that GCI tried to buy KTBY from him and one company official claimed that GCI wanted to create a news operation "that would be favorable to GCI's corporate interests."
The negotiations between the two firms have devolved into public insults about which company cares about Alaskans and which is up to no good.
GCI says Fielder's company wants a 300 percent increase in what it charges to retransmit ABC, Fox and CW programs, which GCI says is robbery. The Georgia company says GCI has been overcharging Alaskans for years.
The latest chapter is a video posted by the Georgia company that calls upon Alaskans to "rise up" and stop the GCI "monopoly train" and a plea from Scott Centers, KTBY general manager, to "stand up against the bully."