Cablevision's fight with Meredith Broadcasting in Hartford has opened new fronts in St. Louis and Washington. The cable operator Monday asked the FCC to deny Meredith's bid to buy KMOV-TV St. Louis and to even look into whether it was fit to own any TV stations. But Cablevision's issue is across the country in Hartford.
Gannett is selling the station to Meredith--as part of a package deal--in response to an FCC mandate that it spin off that station to a third party, rather than to Sander Media, as part of Gannett's deal to buy Belo.
Cablevision also asked for the FCC to investigate whether Meredith is fit to be a broadcast licensee.
Cablevision's beef stems from its ongoing retrans impasse over carriage of Meredith's WFSB Hartford, Conn.
“Meredith Corp. is violating its public interest obligations with its CBS affiliate in Connecticut by blacking out CBS programming completely in one part of the state in order to reap fees in another part of the state where consumers already pay for another local CBS affiliate," Cablevision said in explaining its decision to ask the FCC to block the transfer. "In effect, Meredith is punishing an area it committed to serve in order to resolve a business dispute elsewhere. This is an unprecedented negotiating tactic that is harming the consumers Meredith pledged to serve, and these actions portend Meredith’s unwillingness to serve the public interest in the St. Louis market, were it to receive approval for a transfer of a broadcast license to operate KMOV-TV. Meredith’s application for FCC consent to transfer control of KMOV should be denied.”
“Cablevision’s assertions are untrue and reflect its lack of understanding of Connecticut television viewers,” Meredith said in a statement.
“WFSB is Connecticut’s leading news station and takes very seriously its commitment to serve ALL of Connecticut’s residents with unparalleled coverage of local news, politics, sports and events in communities throughout the state, including Fairfield County. Connecticut viewers have responded by consistently making WFSB the state’s most watched newscasts. WFSB covers every local community in the state, and does not distinguish based on the county in Connecticut where you reside.
“Other subscription television operators recognize the value of WFSB local programming and have entered into agreements to compensate us accordingly. However, Cablevision has refused to even negotiate, and is revealing its true colors by wasting time with baseless press releases meant to mislead Connecticut residents, as well as a nuisance filing in the St. Louis market, a jurisdiction where it doesn’t even serve any viewers.”