Alaska Rural Communications Service

The Alaska Rural Communications Service (ARCS) is a statewide network of low-powered television stations, serving 235 communities throughout the Alaskan Bush areas. Developed in the late 1970s, the network is based in Anchorage, Alaska, and is operated by Alaska Public Media.[1][2] Programming is beamed via satellite to the rural transmitters owned by the Alaska state government.

Alaska Rural Communications Service
Statewide Alaska,
outside Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau
United States
ChannelsDigital: Various, see below
Virtual: Various, see below
Affiliations.1: ABC (via KYUR)
CBS (via KAUU)
Fox (via KTBY)
Syndicated programming (via KAUU-DT4)
NBC (via KTUU)
.2: PBS (via KAKM)
.4: 360 North
OwnerState of Alaska
(transmitter owner)
OperatorAlaska Public Media
KTVA (CBS, 19??–2020)

Low powered television broadcasts began in 1959, with a transmitter in the Suntrana-Healy area. In 1972, the Alaskan Public Broadcasting Commission (APBC) received FCC permission to test the use of videotapes to bring television to areas of Alaska with no ability to access terrestrial repeaters; tests began in three villages the next year. Alaska's state legislature then provided funding to the state's Office of Telecommunications to lease a satellite transponder and modify existing telephone earth stations for television in 1976. The first satellite-fed television transmissions began on January 15, 1977 in Tenakee Springs. A Telecommunications Committee under the Alaska Federation of Natives selected programming for the new service, the committee became known as the Rural Alaska Television Network (RATNET). In 1995, after state funding cuts, Bethel Broadcasting, Incorporated, operators of KYUK, assumed responsibility for the service.[3] Control of ARCS passed from Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc. to Alaska Public Media, which also operates Anchorage's PBS member station KAKM, in 2021.[1]

Programming on ARCS is a selection of shows from the four commercial broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox) and syndication, via the Anchorage stations; plus PBS programming from KAKM and other PBS members in the state; occasionally, ARCS produces some of its own programming (including local sports coverage). Anchorage stations provide their programming to ARCS free of charge with the condition that advertising is allowed to remain.

There is currently no CW programming available on ARCS (nor did it air programming from The WB), and though in the past the network carried MyNetworkTV programming from KYES-TV (and previously, UPN), it has not since its 2009 conversion from a network to an all-repeat programming service; it did carry other syndicated programming from that station, mainly on weekends, until KYES-TV took over the CBS affiliation from KTVA on August 1, 2020 (KYES-TV's former programming shifted to its fourth subchannel and will continue to air on ARCS on weekends). In late February 2021, KYES's call letters were changed to KAUU, to complement sister station KTUU.

Even though much of ARCS' programming contains commercials, the operation of ARCS is partially funded by donations from its viewers, just like member stations of PBS, as well as those of the Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Many of ARCS' stations which were in analog were converted to digital broadcasting as part of the FCC mandated digital television transition which was originally scheduled for July 13, 2021 for low-power TV stations as well as translator stations in Alaska. The network flash cut its transmitters once the transition is completed, shutting down its analog transmissions and switching on their digital transmitters at the same time. This has also allowed ARCS to add new subchannels, including 360 North, First Nations Experience, and UAF TV via Alaska Public Media's KAKM-TV.[4]

In June 2021, the FCC granted a waiver for the service to continue analog television service on 15 of its transmitters until January 10, 2022 so that they could continue to complete the upgrade of its low-powered stations to digital. The FCC cited Alaska's climate and short construction season, the remoteness of the transmitter sites in question, and the fact that all the transmitters represented the sole over-the-air television service in each of the communities involved.[5][6] Another application to extend the construction permits on several other ARCS transmitters was submitted on January 10, 2022; as of February 2022, the application is under review.[7]

List of stationsEdit

As of June 2021, the ARCS had 169 station licenses, of which 106 were operational.[6] The ARCS is seen on the following low-powered television stations:


  1. ^ a b Maguire, Sean. "Alaska Public Media will begin operating ARCS on Friday, but digital conversion is currently on hiatus". Alaska's News Source. Archived from the original on 2020-12-30. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  2. ^ "Alaska Rural Communication System". Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  3. ^ Hudson, Heather E. (2015). Connecting Alaskans : telecommunications in Alaska from telegraph to broadband. Fairbanks, AK. ISBN 978-1-60223-269-3. OCLC 922640765.
  4. ^ "Digital Multichannel: The Evolution of ARCS". Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc.
  5. ^ Winslow, George (June 22, 2021). "FCC Gives Alaska LPTVs More Time for Digital Transition". TVTechnology. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "FCC Extends Analog Termination Date for 15 TV Translators in Alaska". Federal Communications Commission. 2021-06-21. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  7. ^ "Licensing and Management System". Retrieved 2022-02-11.

External linksEdit