Retransmission Filings Fly

 Several TV station groups are becoming embroiled in retransmission battles with small carriers. Communications Corp. of America (ComCorp), Granite Broadcasting--both owned by Silver Point Capital--Malara Broadcast Group and Knight Broadcasting have filed counter-complaints with the FCC over retrans imbroglios.

ComCorp and Knight respectively own WGMB-TV and WVLA-TV, the Fox and NBC affiliates in Baton Rouge, La. The pair submitted a joint filing to the FCC, claiming that Trust Cable of Mississippi ignored negotiation overtures for a month, and then itself filed a complaint with the FCC against the stations saying it couldn’t respond because of Hurricane Gustav. The stations claimed Trust Cable “deliberately and brazenly ambushed” them.

Trust claimed station consultant Duane Lammers leveled a take-it-or-leave-it retrans ultimatum during Hurricane Gustav, but the stations countered that the offer was made more than two weeks before the hurricane hit.

ComCorp recently filed a similar counter-complaint on behalf of its station in El Paso, Texas, KTSM-TV, against Baja Broadband, alleging that the carriers are part of a conspiracy started by the American Cable Association to undermine retransmission consent. The ACA told Multichannel News the allegation was “an utter lie.”

Another counter-complaint was filed against Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative by Granite on behalf of KRII-TV in Chisholm, Minn., and by Malara on behalf KBJR-TV in Superior, Wisc. The filing said the co-op “abruptly terminated” negotiations “without cause… and then filed an utterly frivolous and wasteful FCC complaint against the licensees.
“Its tactics reveal that it had no sincere interest in reaching a retransmission agreement, but instead filed a baseless FCC complaint as a stalking horse for a broader political agenda.”