WASHINGTON—In a filing with the FCC, Comcast is asking the agency to rule that Nextstar is violating the ownership cap on stations because it has not actually divested control of WPIX in New York.
Nextstar was required to sell stations as part of its acquisition of Tribune and sold WPIX to Mission Broadcasting in 2020.
In the filing Comcast’s attorneys asked that the FCC “issue a declaratory ruling that Nexstar Media Group, Inc. is attributed with New York City station WPIX-TV (“WPIX”), under either a de facto control analysis or the more generalized `influence’ standard underlying the broadcast attribution rules, and thus is in violation of the national television ownership rule’s national audience reach limit.”
The filing also argued that “Nexstar’s divestiture of WPIX as ordered by the Commission has proven to be a sham in violation of the condition in the Nexstar/Tribune Order,” requiring Nextstar to divest stations and that “remedies are necessary and appropriate to bring Nexstar into compliance with the 39 percent cap on national audience reach.”
Comcast is in the middle of a retransmission consent dispute with Mission Broadcasting and the filing stressed that “it is critical that the Commission act promptly on this Petition for Declaratory Ruling,” because “Nexstar has asserted retransmission consent and other broad rights over WPIX, contrary to Nexstar’s express representations to the Commission during the Nexstar-Tribune transaction that it would (1) divest WPIX to stay under the national ownership cap and (2) not provide any services for the station post-transaction.”
“Aside from undermining the FCC’s divestiture condition and violating the national ownership rule,” the petition also argued that “if Nexstar has its way, Comcast’s retransmission consent fees for WPIX would increase dramatically” and that “such added costs would ultimately be borne by Comcast customers.”
The petition is available here.
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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