Nexstar to FCC: ACAC Retransmission Consent Assertion Was Misleading

(Image credit: Nexstar)

Nexstar Media Group is pushing back at the FCC on ACA Connects‘ characterization of the broadcaster’s failure to reach a retransmission-consent agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative, which collectively negotiates for smaller operators, saying ACAC was misleading the commission.

The Federal Communications Commission had sought comment on how it had implemented the retrans buying groups and truth-in-billing provisions in the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019.

Also: Retrans Buying Group Provisions in TVPA Working, ACA Connects Says

ACAC, which represents smaller, independent cable operators, said that the buying group provision was generally working, with the exception of the failed Nexstar negotiation. It said that failure was in part because Nexstar ”at one point refused to negotiate unless NCTC agreed to forgo rights given buying groups under the FCC’s rules. To take just one example, Nexstar insisted that the negotiations be limited to NCTC members of a much smaller size than granted under the FCC rules.“

In comments filed this week, though, Nexstar said that was not the case, arguing that ACAC had provided “misleading facts” and pointing out that both the NCTC and Nexstar were party to nondisclosure agreements on proposed terms and pondering how ACAC, a nonparty, had gotten hold of the information, which in any event was not correct, it told the FCC.

Rather than insisting, Nexstar said it merely proposed that the deal cover operators with 50,000 subs or fewer, rather than the operators with 500,000 or fewer the TVPA allowed, in case some of the larger operators wanted to negotiate individually.

“Nexstar in no way intended to override the right of any statutorily eligible NCTC member to participate in the collective agreement,” the broadcaster told the FCC. “Rather, [the company] ‘bracketed in’ a lower subscribership benchmark [50,000] simply in recognition of the possibility that NCTC’s larger member MVPDs might prefer to continue to negotiate individual agreements directly with Nexstar.”

At any rate, said Nexstar, when NCTC said it wanted to stick with 500,000, Nexstar “promptly acquiesced” and subsequent proposals made that the cutoff.

“Nexstar and NCTC were unable to reach an agreement. However, the question of the size of participating members was resolved in NCTC’s favor on day two of the negotiations,” Nexstar said. ”Accordingly, contrary to ACA’s assertions, Nexstar never ‘insisted’ on limiting MVPD participation in its agreement with NCTC to fewer than the NCTC’s statutorily eligible members.”

ACAC declined comment. ■

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.