Gavel to Gavel Alaska provides coverage of all three branches of state government on a full-time statewide public affairs television channel and online. The service reaches almost every Alaskan on broadcast TV channels in Anchorage (KAKM), Juneau (KTOO) and Bethel (KYUK) and most of the cable television systems in Alaska, including every GCI Cable market in the state. Gavel Alaska is also on Dish Network and DirecTV, and streamed live on the web.
Gavel to Gavel Alaska has been televising the meetings of the Alaska Legislature since 1995.
Both the House and Senate were reluctant to grant permission – the leaders were worried that live TV coverage would lead to grandstanding and disrupt the legislative process. But ultimately, with strong editorial support from all of the state’s major newspapers, Gavel to Gavel Alaska went on the air at 9:30 a.m., April 3, 1995.
And as soon as it started, the legislature promptly called for a 5-day recess.
Undaunted, and with great response from the viewing public, we laid plans for full session coverage starting in January 1996. The model we developed in 1996 is still in place today: we provide live, unedited, start-to-finish coverage of House and Senate floor sessions, committee meetings and major public policy events.
In 2001 we started live web streaming of the Gavel to Gavel television channel and began offering live audio streams of committee meetings. The online service has expanded to include live video streams and on demand video of almost every legislative meeting.
In 2007, we expanded from session-only coverage to a year-round public affairs channel called 360 North. When the Legislature isn’t in session, the channel airs Alaska public affairs programs.
Gavel Alaska is a project of KTOO, the public media organization in Juneau. KTOO as an institution dates back to January of 1974, when KTOO-FM signed on the air at 10 watts from a small room in the local high school. As public broadcasting started to grow in Alaska in the 1970s, the organization expanded into television in 1978, with the launch of daily legislative coverage and KTOO-TV.
Since 2012, Gavel Alaska has received a grant of $98,800 from the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, a State of Alaska board appointed by the governor to administer state funding for Alaska’s public radio and television stations. KTOO also receives other state grants from the APBC to support Juneau’s local public broadcasting services.