FCC Grants Market Mods for Three TV Stations

The FCC has granted a request by two so-called orphan counties and three West Virginia TV stations to modify their satellite markets so they can get carriage to West Virginia viewers who, due to the configuration of the local Nielsen DMA, had been only able to get Pennsylvania stations.

The Media Bureau granted both market modification petitions, which came from the so-called "orphan counties" of Monongalia and Preston, W.Va., with the support of station owners Nexstar and Gray Television. Those counties are in the Pittsburgh DMA.

An orphan county is one whose residents have to get their satellite TV primarily from another state, which in this case meant local news, sports and political programming from Pennsylvania rather than West Virginia.

The West Virginia stations getting carriage in the two counties are WDTV, WBOY and WVFX.

The latest reauthorization of the STELA satellite television license law allowed for satellite carriage market modifications, which had previously only applied to cable.

The petitions to modify the markets were unopposed, and satellite carriers DirecTV and Dish Network indicated the change was feasible, the FCC said. The FCC agreed, saying, "We find that it is technically and economically feasible for both Dish and DirecTV to provide each of the stations to the entirety of the counties."

Infeasibility is one of the issues that could mitigate against granting such petitions. Dish said it can provide both standard and high-definition versions of the stations to both counties, while DirecTV said it could only deliver HD versions.

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.