FCC Grants Sale of ACME Stations, Denies TWC Petitions - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Grants Sale of ACME Stations, Denies TWC Petitions

TWC argues it would give LIN too much leverage in retrans agreements
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The FCC has approved the sale of two ACME stations in Wisconsin
and Ohio to LIN
and to an owner whose station is being run by LIN.

The FCC April 8 approved the sale of CW affiliates
WCWF(DT) Green Bay-Appleton, Wis.,
and WBDT(DT), Dayton, Ohio,
to LIN. The first to LIN
under a failing station waiver--LIN has
already been operating it under a shared services agreement--and the second to WBDT
Television, LLC, which LIN has also been
running under a shared services agreement and where LIN
already own WDTN.

TWC had argued, in part, that the deals should not go
through because the resulting duopoly and combination of ownership and
management would give LIN too much leverage
in retrans agreements, since LIN had
signaled it planned to combine retrans negotiations for the paired
stations. In addition, WCWF and WBDT had previously been must-carry
stations.

The FCC concluded that WCWF had met the FCC definition
of failing station, and that bargaining collectively for the
station's retrans payments did not violate FCC rules. It also concluded
that the WBDT sale broke no FCC rules, and that TWC's claims of
potential harm from the combined negotiation as speculative. "Despite its
claims to the contrary, it is apparent that TWC's real concern is its
desire for reformation of the must-carry and retransmission consent
process."

Time Warner Cable, along with others, have petitioned the
FCC to change its rules and forbid such negotiations, but the FCC pointed out
that it has yet to act on the petition and the issue needs to be resolved
there.

"There is no legal basis to impose the constraints that TWC proposes
on the stations in their retransmission consent negotiations in the context of
this proceeding.

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