FCC Denies Broadcaster Complaint Against DirecTV Distributor

The FCC has rejected a pair of broadcasters' complaints against a company delivering TV stations to college students but says it could refocus their complaint at DirecTV if they still have a bone to pick.

The owners of WSEE and WICU, Erie, Pa., had complained that Campus Televideo (CTV) has been retransmitting their signals to Edinboro University without either retransmission consent or a right of subdistribution.

The FCC's Media Bureau dismissed the complaint on the grounds that Campus Televideo was acting as an agent of DirecTV—AT&T told the FCC that CTA "is an authorized sales agent for DIRECTV’s programming services, and that DIRECTV directly provides the programming services including the Stations to Edinboro University," according to the bureau.

The FCC pointed out that DirecTV has to pay SJL license fees related to commercial customers per their retrans deal.

The stations said that some of the stations being made available to students violated network nonduplication rules, but CTV countered that that was between DirecTV and the stations, not the university or CTV. The FCC agreed.

"CTV is merely acting as an authorized sales agent for DIRECTV’s programming services," said the bureau. "Accordingly, there is no merit to the Complaint alleging that CTV is retransmitting and granting subdistribution rights for the Stations without consent."

As to any alleged violation of retransmission consent rules or network nonduplication rules, the bureau said, "any complaint should be directed against DIRECTV and not its sales agent CTV."

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.