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Cox Media Group Rejects ‘Suspect’ Cincinnati Bell FCC Complaint

Cox Media Group's logo as of 2020
(Image credit: Cox Media Group)

Broadcaster Cox Media Group (CMG) said it has “responded promptly” to outreach from Cincinnati Bell and rejects claims it has not been negotiating for retransmission consent in good faith or that it is demanding fees for the telco‘s broadband-only subscribers.

Cincinnati Bell had filed a formal retransmission consent complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against CMG-owned WHIO — the CBS affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, and the top station in the market — for allegedly failing to negotiate in good faith, as FCC rules require, by trying to charge a fee per over-the-top video streamer as well as per traditional cable subs.

CMG said it will respond to the complaint in an FCC filing, but wanted to make clear in the meantime that it rejected the complaint as “unequivocally false,” “calculated” and “suspect.”

Also: Telco Tells FCC CMG’s Retrans Fee is Bad Faith

For one thing, the broadcaster said, the complaint came less than three weeks after Cincinnati Bell responded to a December 2021 CMG document. In any event, “it is patently false that CMG is demanding that Cincinnati Bell pay for broadband-only subscribers,” CMG executive VP, television Paul Curran said. ”Indeed, CMG’s proposal specifically exempts broadband-only customers.“

“Curiously, Cincinnati Bell’s other complaint is that CMG’s proposal requests that Cincinnati Bell honestly portray its programming costs to subscribers rather than pretending that retransmission consent fees are a unique cost requiring a ‘surcharge,’ ” Curran said. “What they pretend is somehow ’bad faith’ is a good-faith belief in pro-consumer transparency and truth in cable billing. Cincinnati Bell can get a fair deal anytime it wants to actually engage in negotiations.”

Calling the move “blatant theatrics,” Curran said Cincinnati Bell “has concocted a frivolous set of claims into an FCC filing.” ■

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.