Some local Fox affiliates cut off service to GCI customers in November. Fox programming was restored to Fairbanks in December. Southeast just got the channel back on New Year’s Eve, but not everyone knows that.
PRIVETT: I haven’t even turned on the channel to look.
LEFFLER: Let’s check.
PRIVETT: Let’s check it out.
PRIVETT: That’s sweet I didn’t realize that.
That’s Reme Privett. He owns Rayme’s, which is one of three bars in Wrangell.
PRIVETT: I had five customers come in and they said ‘Can we watch the Seahawks game?’ and I said ‘not here.’ I said ‘it pains me to tell you this, but you have to go to the Totem.’
The Totem being one of the other bars in town. It has Direct TV, which carried those games.
Not having your pick of NFL broadcasts isn’t good for a bar that makes a point of being open on Sundays.
PRIVETT: But a lot of times they also do the bigger college basketball games and college football games, so that’s what we’re missing out on.
GCI is negotiating contracts with programmers Vision I, Vision II and Coastal Alaska who license affiliate FOX, ABC and CW programming to markets all over Alaska.
An extension through January restored the fox programming. It also kept costumers from losing ABC and CW channels, according to GCI spokeswoman Heather Handyside.
She says the programmers tripled their rates. Handyside says prices increase every year, but not that much.
HANDYSIDE: We didn’t want to set a precedent, and we certainly didn’t want to pay those rates and eventually pass it on to our customers.
The programmer Coastal Television did not reply for comment by deadline.
Now, Handyside says both sides are much closer to finalizing contracts.
HANDYSIDE: GCI will still likely have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more for this programming, but we feel that is consistent with other comparable programs. So, we will likely negotiate a contract in that neighborhood.
Handyside says customers will not see higher cable bills at this point. But that could change if programming rates continue to increase.