Allbritton: ‘Ample Evidence' of Shentel's Bad Faith

Calls cable company's opposition to FCC petition "odd mixture of novel and ill-formed legal theory"
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Allbritton has fired the latest volley in the
ongoing retrans battle with small cable company Shenandoah Telecommunications
(Shentel).

In
a filing with the FCC, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, Allbritton,
defending its earlier petition to the FCC to force Shentel to put WJLA
Washington back on its system
,
says that the record indicates Shentel negotiated in bad faith, and that
Shentel's opposition to the petition, filed last week, is an "odd mixture
of novel and ill-formed legal theory," and alleged "facts, that literally
cannot all be true."

Allbritton
said that WJLA had been unavailable to Shentel subscribers because the cable
company had only pretended to negotiate then withdrew an offer WJLA had
accepted and refused to proffer a new one, "refusing to accept its own
proposed terms -- while piously, gallingly, and disingenuously claiming it did
so to protect its subscribers from 'egregious rates' that it, in
fact, proposed," said Allbritton.

In
countering Shentel, Allbritton says that it is the Communications Act, not the
common law of contracts, under which the company was acting in bad faith, that
the company essentially admits to having violated the FCC's notice requirements
to subs, and that it demonstrates a pattern of behavior -- including not telling
the truth -- that the FCC needs to investigate further and levy a fine both for
bad faith negotiations and for "apparent false statements" to the
FCC.

The
FCC currently has an open proceeding in which it has proposed clarifying just
what constitutes good faith bargaining, but Allbritton suggests the case
against Shentel is cut and dried and that immediate redress is "uniquely
required" because Shentel subs are being denied "long-relied-upon
WJLA programming.

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