The American Cable Association has filed a petition at the
FCC to deny the sale of an ABC affiliate in Topeka,
Kan., saying that the deal could give the
new owner too much control over retrans negotiations in the market.
The group wants the FCC to block the sale of ABC affiliate
KTKA-TV Topeka to PBC Broadcasting. It points out that Topeka's NBC
affiliate and FOX affiliate are owned by New
Vision Television, which has shared services agreements with PBC
Broadcasting in Youngstown, Ohio, and Savannah, Ga. ACA is concerned that
the sale will create a "virtual triopoly" in Topeka and
"coordinate" retransmission negotiations for three of the Big four
ACA says five small cable operators providing service
in Topeka, all with retrans deals with KTKA expiring at the end of
this year, have filed declarations of support for the petition.
If the FCC does approve the deal, says ACA, it should do so
with a "narrowly-tailored, transaction-specific condition that would
prevent the newly acquired ABC station from jointly bargaining retransmission
consent with another major TV station in the Topeka
designated market area."
ACA has long argued that retrans negotiations
jointly bargained under shared services agreements and duopoly ownership are
not in the public interest because they drive up retrans costs, which are
then passed along to the consumer in the form of higher rates.
That is one of the issues ACA wants the FCC to examine
as part of its retrans reform rulemaking.