AT&T: FCC's Max Retrans Smackdown Should Stand

AT&T says that a recent court decision throwing out its civil suit against Max Retrans for violating a nondisclosure agreement does not undermine an FCC ruling that a number of TV station groups now represented by Max Retrans had not negotiated in good faith, a violation of FCC rules.

Rather than "fatally undermining" the FCC decision, AT&T responded in an FCC filing, the court ruling actually reinforces the basic problem, that "Mr. Lammers [the retrans negotiator] made not a single offer or proposal, formal or informal, that could have resulted in the carriage of the Defendant Stations, even if accepted unchanged by AT&T.”

The FCC had upheld an AT&T complaint against a number of TV station groups and Max Retrans for failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith.

The complaints were filed last June against Deerfield Media, GoCom Media, Howard Stirk Holdings, HSH, Mercury Broadcasting, MPS Media, KMTR Television, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting, all of which the FCC said failed to meet its standard for good faith negotiation. All the groups were represented by Duane Lammers of Max Retrans.

But a judge had subsequently dismissed with prejudice (meaning the case could not be re-filed) the lawsuit filed by AT&T against Lammers and Max Retrans, saying that the broadcast TV consultant headed by former Nexstar Media chief operating officer Duane Lammers did not violate a 2016 nondisclosure agreement.

The stations told the FCC this week that the court decision had dealt a fatal blow to its previous decision. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.