Lafayette, Broadcasters Settle Retrans Squabble

A start-up municipal cable system in Lafayette, La., has settled its retransmission-consent dispute with two local broadcasters and the consultant Duane Lammers.

Last Friday, the Lafayette Utilities System asked the Federal Communications Commission to dismiss the complaint that the overbuilder filed Oct. 24 against Communications Corp. of America, White Knight Broadcasting and Lammers.

“The parties have entered into a mutually satisfactory settlement,” the attorney representing LUS, James Baller, said in a Dec. 5 letter to the FCC.

Baller declined to comment Monday on the terms and conditions of the settlement, saying they were confidential.

“It is a satisfactory outcome for Lafayette,” Baller said.

LUS is set to launch a $110 million fiber-to-the-home video service in January, and in a 28-page complaint to the FCC had accused ComCorp, its consultant Lammers and White Knight of failing to negotiate retransmission-consent deals for several stations in good faith. The broadcasters had denied the charges.

LUS had alleged that the broadcasters had made “take-it-or-leave-it” offers for carriage of their stations; refused to consider anything but cash compensation; tried to force the new service to carry a low-power station and an out-of-market station, Baton Rouge’s WVLA-TV, in order to get carriage of a local Fox affiliate, KADN-TV; and was demanding “exorbitant” license fees for the low-power and out-of-market station.

Attorneys for ComCorp and White Knight told the FCC in November that the LUS complaint was “frivolous” and was “rife with unfounded and spurious allegations.”

ComCorp’s attorney, Ray Bender declined to comment Monday. Lammers and the attorney for White Knight, Stuart Shorenstein, couldn’t be reached for comment.