PBC Broadcasting of Topeka and Free State
Communications, the proposed buyer and seller, respectively, of KTKA-TV Topeka,
have told the FCC that its retrans rulemaking, not a station transfer, is
the place to address issues about negotiations for multiple stations in a
market and it must dismiss a cable operator effort to block the deal.
Meanwhile, those cable operators are undeterred and again called on the FCC to
just say no.
The broadcasters' response, which was filed at the FCC, was
in response to a petition to deny the sale filed by the American Cable
Association, which asked the FCC to deny the sale of an ABC affiliate saying
that the deal could give the new owner too much control over retrans
negotiations in the market.
ACA 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 affiliates.
But PBC/Free State counter that it is within current FCC
rules, which ACA does not dispute. "It is outrageous for ACA to
seek to import the substance of a rulemaking proceeding into the present
adjudication," they say, "and then ask the Commission to deny the
assignment application on the basis of a rule that does not exist."
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."
But PBC/Free State point out that the FCC does not
anticipate a future decision in order to provide relief, and says that since
the FCC has not taken any final action, "it must dismiss the
Undeterred, ACA President Matt Polka said that it
stands by the petition and the condition. "The party submitting a TV
station sale to the FCC bears the burden of providing by a preponderance of the
evidence that the proposed transaction, on balance, will serve the public
interest," he said in a statement. "The fact that PBC has not presented
any evidence that the KTKA sale is in the public interest and
that ACA has presented unchallenged evidence of the real public interest
harms provides ample support for the FCC to deny or condition the sale."