U.S. cable TV mogul John Malone’s Liberty Interactive Corp. announced a complex deal that would help eliminate its “tracking stock” structure, giving the company greater access to the equity market and flexibility to make acquisitions. The deal includes the purchase of Alaska-based telecom company General Communication Inc. for $1.12 billion, which will then be combined with Liberty Ventures, the holding entity for Liberty Interactive’s cable TV and other assets.
Score one for the new guy in Alaska’s brewing television war. The FCC has granted Denali Media, a subsidiary of Alaska telecommunications giant General Communications Inc., the go-ahead to buy CBS affiliate KTVA Anchorage and NBC affiliates KSCT-LP Sitka and KATH-LD Juneau. Other broadcasters in the state had urged the FCC to deny the sale, saying it could result in GCI being able to squash competitors by charging exorbitant rates, assigning unfavorable channel positions or bypassing local programming altogether.
A telecommunications company’s bid to offer TV content raises questions about fairness and monopoly.
Dennis Egan, a member of the Alaska Senate, has asked the FCC to take a deeper look at General Communication’s intent to purchase low-power KATH Juneau and KSCT Sitka. “I want to make it very clear that I have nothing against GCI. It is a great corporate citizen.” Egan said. “I’m just really worried about free over-the-air television. I just don’t know how it is going to work.”
Station owners in the state want the commission to deny General Communication Inc.’s Denali Media Holdings purchase of three stations, saying the deal “would result in the combination of ownership of television stations in two of the three television markets in Alaska with ownership of the largest, indeed in many cases the exclusive, provider of terrestrial cable and broadband service to much of Alaska’s population.”