On GCI purchase of KATH
w-gregg.juneau.ak.us/2013/2013b22-kath - Permalink
- Home. Apparently, comments should say that one
is an actual viewer; that a copy has been sent to KATH (1107 West 8th StreetSuite 2, Juneau, AK 99801); and that the information
is true. The original and two copies should be received by the FCC
by Mar. 4.
By Walter Gregg,
a concerned viewer P.O. Box: 21693 Juneau, Alaska99802 retL "at"
License Renewal Processing Team Video Div., U.S. FCC 445 12th Street
SWRoom 2-A665 Washington, DC20554
I am a regular viewer of the on-air signal from KATH-HD, as they
identify themselves, here in Juneau, Alaska. KATH-HD broadcasts on
virtual channel 5 (carrier 35). (They're also on cable channel
15/STDV and 652/HDTV, but I don't have cable.) They currently carry
live NBC programming (e.g., Tonight Show w/Leno) in high definition
(1080i) format. I have never been a sports fan, but it was truly
stunning to see the Olympics over the air in high definition.
Finally, I saw a real benefit to the digital TV transition. We once
had only one over-air station, in black and white and tape-delayed.
If you didn't have cable TV, you basically had no service. Now, for
the first time in the history of Alaska's capital city, all major
networks (PBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS) are represented over-the-air.
Cable TV is no longer a necessity. Competition finally arrived,
thanks to digital TV. I obviously have a major personal interest in
the continued availability of the major network programming
over-the-air. What happens to KATH-HD matters to me.
Application. The current licensee of KATH-LD, Dan Etulain
(North Star Television Network), has filed an application to
reassign the license to Denali Media Southeast, Corp. This is a
subsidiary of GCI, Alaska's dominant Cable TV company. GCI, through
their subsidiary, is planning to purchase a number of Alaska
stations including KATH-HD (NBC Juneau) and KTVA (CBS
concerns. GCI has provided no assurances of continued
over-the-air availability of NBC or CBS programming. In fact, their
news release indicated that they want to re-brand the stations,
transforming them into a news and entertainment leader, a statewide
platform for news and information, as well as providing unique
content. News articles suggest this is connected with GCI's
existing cable channel 1. This certainly implies the end of the
current programming. The entire transaction raises a number of
The reassignment may be anticompetitive. GCI
lost about 6,000 cable subscribers in Alaska during 2011 through
March 2012. Clearly, they're feeling the bite of competition.
Free, over-the-air programming is part of that competition. Is it
an acceptable response to competition to buy it up and snuff out
the on-air programming that viewers are only now coming to realize
is available? Juneau would apparently stand to lose both over-air
NBC and CBS. (Our over-air CBS is relayed from KTVA Anchorage,
which GCI is also purchasing, and for which I have filed a separate
Cable TV may be an unaffordable alternative to
on-air programming. Stand-alone basic cable in Juneau currently
costs hundreds of dollars a year ($270/year for one set, per a GCI
telephone representative). But free, over-air major network
television has been one of the things everyone could share, for
better or worse. If the transaction is allowed and GCI terminates
existing on-air NBC and CBS programming, it becomes simply
unavailable to many in the community. It is difficult to see how
this serves the public interest, convenience, or necessity.
Tek-Pal Antenna DTV Remote
GCI does not support the use of digital cable-ready sets for basic
cable without a converter box. They provide no PSIP (virtual
channel) signals. Basic programming can be received, but in random
channel order which may change without notice. GCI does not even
provide a channel map for this setup. The simplicity of using a
simplified remote such as the Tek Pal with a digital cable-ready
set is thus impractical.
GCI Cable DTV Remote
GCI instead expects everyone to rent a cable converter box -- one
per set. But the universal remote provided is inaccessible to those
with cognitive disabilities, vision disabilities, and manual
dexterity issues. It is simply far too complex. If the
transaction is allowed and GCI terminates existing on-air NBC and
CBS programming, it becomes effectively unavailable to viewers who
cannot cope with the added complexity of cable. Again, it's hard to
see how this serves the public interest. By no stretch of the
imagination can it be called convenient or necessary.
Purported public notice was published in the Juneau Empire, but
it does not give the facility ID or application number, it does not
state that interested viewers have a right to comment, it does not
give a deadline for commenting, and there is no contact information
-- only the transmitter location. (That happens to be the
mailing address as well, but few readers would know that.)
I wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org on February 1 and sent a followup
fax on February 11. This is where we are supposed to be able to
get information on the commenting procedures, where to find further
information, and so forth. Yet to date I have received no reply by
email, phone, or postal mail. It transpires that the FCC published
public notice of the license transfer in the daily digest dated
January 30. That document contains no reference to a right to
comment or procedures to do so either. There is at least some doubt
over the validity of public notice that omits such information
particularly when compounded by the lack of response to a specific
inquiry about the matter.
I object to the
reassignment of license at this time. Given the above concerns
and the lack of detailed programming plans from GCI, I object to
the reassignment of the license to their subsidiary Denali
Communications Southeast, Corp. Assurances that existing network
programming will continue would make a difference to me, and might
be possible if they choose to transmit multiple channels. More
meaningful public notice would also make a difference. But in the
absence of that, I'm opposed to the license transfer. I don't think
it serves the public interest and I am far from certain that public
notice requirements have been met.
Station copy. I
certify that a copy of this letter has been mailed to KATH-LD, 1107
West 8th Street Suite 2, Juneau, 99801.
True information. I
certify that the statements made in this letter are true to the
best of my knowledge and belief.
Existing broadcasters also view on-air reception as less
critical so long as cable reception is uninterrupted. For example,
theCW, the third subchannel of KJUD (virtual 8, carrier 11) has
been unavailable on-air to most sets since at least June 2, 2012.
Similarly, 360 North, the third subchannel of KTOO (virtual 3,
carrier 10) has been unavailable on-air to most sets since at least
February 10, 2013. Emails to Walter Gregg from Ed Youmans, KJUD
Directory of Engineering (Jul. 6, 2012) and Bill Legere, KTOO
Station Manager (Feb. 2013) have confirmed that both stations are
having over-air PSIP (virtual channel) problems and that the fix
may be some way down the road. Because they're available on the
cable, the on-air signal is not considered critical. The cable
company has even less incentive to maintain on-air
Notice (KATH-LD) published February 6, 2013 in the
Juneau Empire, page B7.
eMail from Walter Gregg to email@example.com , Feb.
1, 2013, inquiring about GCI cable TV's proposed purchases and
requesting information on when the public would have an opportunity
to learn more and to comment. The message was sent via gMail. It
did not bounce, but no confirmation or reply was ever received via
email (I did check the spam folder) and no postal reply was
Fax from Walter Gregg to the FCC tvinfo section at
1-202-418-2827 on February 11, 2013, inquiring about the same
matter and requesting a timely response. An automatic fax
confirmation of successful transmission was received, but no
response of any kind was has been received to date.