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Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Senator Asks FCC to Consider Effects of Service Agreements Before Approving Deals

FCC_304Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV has asked FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to delay ruling on upcoming station group mergers until the Government Accountability Office can complete its report on shared service agreements.

The request covers recent Sinclair and Nexstar purchases as well as the merger between Gannett and Belo.

TVNewsCheck reports the Democratic senator from West Virginia wrote, “Given the current questions about the impact of SSAs on the broadcast landscape the FCC should approach each of the pending transactions cautiously. While I am not taking a position on any particular transaction, I believe that the FCC should collect all information necessary to understand the scope and effect of the SSAs envisioned by the deals.” Read more

TWC and American Cable Association Ask FCC to Stop Mission’s Binghamton Station Buy

FCC_304Time Warner Cable and the American Cable Association are asking the FCC to deny Mission Broadcasting’s purchase of two Stainless Broadcasting stations in the Binghamton, NY, market.

In the petition, the two point out the deal, through sharing agreements with Mission, would essentially give Nexstar Broadcasting control of three of the four stations affiliated with major networks in that market.

As in similar petitions, the ACA is primarily looking to prevent station groups from gaining leverage when it comes to renegotiating retransmission deals and points a finger directly at Nexstar CEO Perry Sook for saying so, “Indeed, Nexstar’s CEO has acknowledged that a central rationale for the Mission-Stainless transaction is to use the leverage afforded by the combination of top-ranked stations in Binghamton to garner increased retransmission consent fees.” Read more

Media General Asks FCC to Take Sides in Retrans Negotiations with DISH Network

media general_dishThe growing animosity between DISH Network and Media General is now being played out in front of the FCC after Media General filed its own complaint with the Commission saying DISH is abusing the process in its battle over retransmission fees.

DISH Network filed a complaint with the FCC on October 18, asking the FCC to force Media General to negotiate in good faith after negotiations with the station group that started on October 1 stalled. DISH claimed Media General didn’t talk to them for 11 days.

Media General has now filed its own complaint with FCC asking the Commission to dismiss DISH’s complaint and “refer DISH to the Enforcement Bureau for consideration of the appropriate actions for DISH’s abuse of the Commission’s processes and for its misrepresentations to and lack of candor before the Commission.” Media General is also asking DISH to pay its attorney’s fees for responding to what they call a frivolous complaint.

The blackout affects DISH customers in 17 markets including Columbus, OH, Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL, and Hattiesburg, MS.

[TVNewsCheck]

FCC Fines Kentucky Station $39K for Using EAS Tone in Commercial

FCC_304The FCC is putting its foot down in response to what it says is an increase in the use of false emergency alert system tones used on air.

Yesterday, the commission announced it took action against both Turner Broadcasting and Bowling Green, KY, NBC and CBS duopoly WNKY “for apparent misuse of the actual Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones or close simulations of those sounds.” It also issued an Enforcement Advisory to stop the use of EAS alerts to grab attention in commercials or shows when there is no emergency.

“Today’s enforcement action sends a strong message: the FCC will not tolerate misuse or abuse of the Emergency Alert System,” said Enforcement Bureau acting chief Robert H. Ratcliffe. “It is inexcusable to trivialize the sounds specifically used to notify viewers of the dangers of an incoming tornado or to alert them to be on the lookout for a kidnapped child, merely to advertise a talk show or a clothing store. This activity not only undermines the very purpose o f a unique set of emergency alert signals, but is a clear violation of the law.” Read more

FCC Gives Denali Media OK to Buy Alaska Stations Over Local Broadcasters Objections

GCI_logo_-_AgencyDenali Media has been given the go-ahead from the FCC to buy three Alaska TV stations despite opposition from four Alaskan station groups.

According to one of the stations involved, Denali, a subsidiary of Alaska’s cable giant General Communications, Inc., is expected to complete its purchase of Anchorage CBS affiliate KTVA, Sitka NBC affiliate KSCT and Juneau NBC affiliate KATH within days.

The Alaska Dispatch reports, Andy MacLeod, general manager for Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU one of the stations fighting the sale, told employees in an email following the ruling, “We’re disappointed in the FCC ruling and we, along with the other Alaska broadcasters, will assess our legal options moving forward.”

A main concern for the media entities that wanted to block GCI/Denali was the concept of a dual monopoly. GCI has what some view as a near-monopoly on the distribution of news, information and entertainment through its statewide cable systems. Jumping in now as a producer of that programming in the form of Denali Media stands to make GCI even more dominant as a common owner of both a cable system and broadcast television stations. The fear of what that would look like if GCI was ruthlessly anticompetitive motivated many Alaska broadcasters to seek protection from the potential threat through regulatory restrictions. Read more

FCC Set to Allow More Foreign Investment in Local TV

FCC_304In its November meeting, the FCC said it will consider opening up local radio and TV stations in the US to more foreign investment.

Acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a statement, “Today, I circulated a declaratory ruling that clears the way for increased access to capital and potential new investors for the broadcast sector. Approval of this item will clarify the Commission’s intention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposed transactions that would exceed the 25 percent benchmark that restricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcast licenses.”

According to the Minority Media & Telecom Council, the proposal would help minority broadcasters. “Relaxation of the rules would provide new sources of capital for all broadcasters and, especially, minority broadcasters to grow their operations in this country.” The council also said it believes the move would open up American investment in foreign countries.

Commissioner Ajit Pai said he thinks the proposal modernizes “the agency’s approach to foreign investment in the broadcasting business.” Pai added, “Under our rules, a foreign company can indirectly hold more than a one-quarter stake in our nation’s largest wireless carriers, cable operators, cable programmers, and Internet backbone providers. Yet that company cannot own a similar interest in a single radio station in rural Kansas.”

FCC Proposes Change That May Affect Big Station Groups

FCC_304AdWeek reports the Federal Communications Commission has voted to start looking at changing the way it counts television stations against the total national ownership cap.

Right now, a station’s value is based on whether it’s VHF or UHF. According to the FCC, UHF stations “count less than TV stations on VHF channels.” Some argue station groups like Sinclair are taking advantage of that rule in their recent station acquisitions.

Commissioner Ajit Pai argued the change might put a stop to future deals.

First, Pai suggested that the discount should not be eliminated without reviewing the 39 percent ownership cap, which is as dated as the UHF discount and hasn’t been reviewed by the FCC since 2002. He also took issue with how the FCC proposed to grandfather the rule to Sept. 26, the same day the FCC proposed, but did not pass the rule.

“It’s not the law of the land now, but the grandfathered clause tells the marketplace to behave as if it’s already been eliminated, making the rulemaking process a reality before it’s voted,” Pai said. “It would dampen the market for broadcast stations and depress value.” Read more

FCC Stepping In to Resolve Time Warner/CBS Dispute

Bloomberg is reporting the Federal Communications Commission has stepped in to resolve the long running dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS.

“The commission is engaged at the highest levels with the respective parties and working to bring the impasse to an end,” agency spokesman, Justin Cole said. “We urge all parties to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so consumers can access the programming they rely on and are paying for.”

According to AdWeek, the dispute has left more than 3 million cable subscribers without CBS shows. The dispute over retransmission fees has stretched into its 26th day and includes major markets such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Though it remains to be seen just what the FCC is doing to end the impasse, the news of its involvement comes after the commission’s acting Chair Mignon Clyburn said she was “really distressed” over the dispute.

Bloomberg also reports a Time Warner spokesperson told them company executives have updated the commission on the status of negotiations twice in the last seven days. They said CBS declined to comment.

WTHR Wants to Boost Signal After Viewer Complaints

WTHR has asked the FCC if it can boost the output of its transmitter after hearing complaints about its over the air signal.

The Indianapolis Business Journal said the station filed the request in June after receiving complaints from more than 40 viewers, “since WTHR has transitioned to [digital], viewers have repeatedly complained that they experience reception problems when trying to view WTHR’s broadcasts.”

WTHR went as far as sending engineers to viewers’ homes to measure signal strength. It also has incrementally dialed up power on two previous occasions in an attempt to remedy reception problems since the 2009 digital transition.

Phil Bremen, an associate professor in the Telecommunications Department at Ball State University, told the IBJ the increase in power for the signal makes sense, “In a business where margins keep shrinking, nobody wants to give up any viewers by default.”

[TVNewsCheck]

Station Groups Remind FCC to Keep Wireless Mic Channels After Spectrum Auction

Expressing concern for what they see as “little or no apparent effort” to  protect the current spectrum broadcasters use for wireless mic frequencies, several station groups including Nexstar, Sinclair and FOX Television Stations have asked the FCC to keep them in mind when it undertakes its upcoming spectrum auction and subsequent channel repack.

“We urge you to preserve the two channels set aside for wireless microphone use in each market so that we can continue to provide Americans with an essential public service,” the broadcasters wrote in a letter to acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. “Without interference-free wireless microphones, newsgatherers simply would lack a reliable way to deliver the live, breaking news that all Americans – regardless of the medium they interact with – find important in their daily lives.”

The letter asks the Commission to maintain two channels per market for wireless mic transmissions. “To be clear, we are not seeking any new accommodations or set asides; rather, we are asking only that the Commission preserve the status quo so that we can be assured of having a place to operate post-auction.”

The letter ends by letting the FCC know emergency coverage like that seen in the Boston Marathon bombings, the tornadoes in Oklahoma and Superstorm Sandy may not be possible without the availability of clear wireless channels,  “The Commission should not take lightly the risk of interference depriving consumers of audio from breaking news and emergency events.”

[TVNewsCheck]

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