The Federal Communications Commission handed down a proposed $20,000 fine Friday to mid-sized cable operator Cable One for “failure to provide” market protection to Nexstar Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate KSNF in Miami, Oklahoma, part of the Joplin, Texas, TV market.
The ruling follows a protracted carriage battle between Cable One and Nexstar that still isn’t resolved. Last year, in a squabble over retransmission consent, Nexstar pulled KSNF off Cable One’s systems, a tactic it has used in other Cable One markets and with other cable operators, including Cox. Nexstar is seeking compensation in exchange for its signals, something operators are resisting.
But even after Nexstar pulled its KSNF signal, Cable One customers in Miami, Okla., could still watch NBC because the cable operator was carrying Tulsa affiliate KJRH.
Nexstar says offering KJRH violated its network protections in the market and filed a request with the FCC to stop it. Cable One then asked the commission for a waiver. But, in September, the FCC ruled in Nexstar’s favor and ordered the cable company to block KJRH.
But viewers still aren’t seeing KSNF. The two companies are still at odds over retransmission and, according to Nexstar COO Duane Lammers, have not talked since February. Viewers in other Nexstar markets where Cable One owns cable systems are also at risk. Nexstar’s carriage deals with Cable One in some Oklahoma markets, Wichita Falls, Tex and Odessa, Texas, expire at the end of the year.
Cable One can appeal the FCC fine. While the money would not go to Nexstar, Lammers says it is a victory for local broadcasters. “This reaffirms protection for affiliates where cable operators attempt to water down our retransmission rights.”
At press time, Cable One had not returned calls for comment.