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Media Bureau orders Time Warner Cable to carry WBBZ for Buffalo market subscribers

The FCC Media Bureau, on Aug. 10, granted a request from the licensee of WBBZ-TV serving the Buffalo, NY, DMA to compel Time Warner Cable to carry the station’s signal — in both analog and digital form — to subscribers throughout the market.

A complaint filed by ITV, licensee of the independent television station, told the agency that of the 10 counties covered in the Buffalo DMA, Time Warner carried the station in two.

Filing in opposition, Time Warner asked the commission to dismiss the complaint, but in the event that it sided with ITV and compelled the cable operator to carry the station’s signal that WBBZ should be required to supply the equipment necessary to ensure its headends receive good quality signal. The cable operator also asked that if the complaint were granted that it only be required to deliver WBBZ in digital format to subscribers.

In a reply, the WBBZ licensee said it was willing to pay for and provide the equipment needed at the headends to receive the station’s signal “as a prerequisite to carriage” by Time Warner. The licensee, however, did not accept Time Warner’s request to only provide digital format carriage.

The Media Bureau said it granted ITV’s request and ordered Time Warner to carry WBBZ in the Buffalo DMA “provided that WBBZ provides a good-quality signal to TWC’s headends, or, if necessary, provides the equipment to do so at ITV’s expense.”

Regarding Time Warner’s obligation to provide both analog and digital format signals, the Media Bureau said that although the FCC’s viewability rules mandating a cable operator to provide both analog and digital signals to subscribers of must-carry stations sunset on June 12, 2012, for hybrid cable system operators the commission adopted a rule requiring must-carry stations must be carried to all analog cable subscribers till Dec. 12.

The Media Bureau gave Time Warner 60 days to begin carrying WBBZ-TV from the time ITV delivers a good quality signal to the cable operator’s principal headends.