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Buckeye Cable System Sues Raycom Over Retrans

Buckeye Cable System filed a lawsuit against Fox affiliate WUPW and its owner, American Spirit Media, as well as Raycom Media, owner of WTOL Toledo.

The suit stems from a disagreement over whether Buckeye should pay more to air WUPW's signal. Allan Block, chairman of Buckeye Cable parent Block Communications, said the cable operator has a "legitimate legal question" regarding retrans rates in Toledo. "It's a very legitimate question, and the only way to resolve it is to get the court to weigh in," he said.

American Spirit acquired WUPW from LIN in March and entered into a shared-services agreement with WTOL. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that WTOL and WUPW are separate entities, reports the Blade, and says Buckeye Cablevision's contract with Raycom for WTOL does not mean that it must pay the same fee to broadcast WUPW's signal.

"Buckeye believes WUPW is not covered by that agreement," Buckeye's Toledo attorney Keith Wilkowski told the Toledo Blade. "The amount Buckeye agreed to pay WTOL for retransmission consent is based on the high audience ratings of WTOL. WUPW's ratings are not that high, and so value to Buckeye's customers is less."

Bob Chirdon, WTOL's general manager, did not comment to the newspaper.

WTOL is a CBS affiliate and a powerhouse in DMA No. 74.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.