TWC Seeks To Head Off LIN TV Joint Retrans Negotiation

Time Warner Cable has asked the Federal Communications Commission to
deny the sale of two TV stations over the issue of joint 
retransmisison-consent negotiations, or put retrans conditions on the
sales if the agency does allow them.

In separate filings at the
FCC, Time Warner Cable asked the commission to "dismiss, deny, or
designate for hearing" the proposed sale of ACME Television's WCWF
Suring, Wis., to LIN Media, and the sale of ACME's WBDT Springfield,
Ohio, to Vaughan Media under which LIN would manage that station.

nation's No. 2 cable operator argued that the FCC should not grant the
hardship waiver for the sale of WCWF to LIN, which already owns a
station in the Green Bay-Appleton, Wis., DMA, or allow LIN to negotiate
retrans for both WBDT and WDTN, the NBC afiliate it already operates in
the Dayton, Ohio.

"Allowing multiple stations in a single DMA to negotiate retransmission-consent jointly, whether through a
waiver of the local ownership rules, as the Applicants seek here [with WCWF and WLUK], or through a local
agreement or similar arrangement...would compound the problems
afflicting consumers," wrote Time Warner Cable, which could include
potential service disruptions and price increases.

The MSO claimed that LIN has informed it that it will be seeking compensation for both WLUK and WCWF, the latter
which had been a must-carry station through a "master" retrans agreement that would cover stations in other DMAs.

The cable operator also said LIN has signaled that it will negotiate retrans for both WDTN and WBDT as part
of a transition plan that will morph into a joint sales agreement with Vaughn.
A LIN spokesperson was not available for comment at press time..

TWC argues that if the FCC allows the sales, it should put conditions on them, including preventing signals
from being pulled during retrans impasses and requiring arbitration of disputes.
Those are the same steps TWC and others are asking the FCC to make standard procedure as part of retrans
reforms they have sought in a petition for rulemaking.

has long argued that owners should not be able to jointly negotiate for
multiple stations in markets, whether their own or ones they operate
through various agreements.

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.