ZGS Communications Seeks Carriage Help from FCC

Says DirecTV deal should precede any AT&T merger
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Minority broadcaster ZGS Communications (Telemundo stations) has told the FCC that carriage of its Spanish-language TV stations should be a prerquisite for approving the AT&T merger, which the FCC is expected to approve within the next couple of weeks.

In a letter to the FCC, ZGS CEO Ron Gordon said that DirecTV has not agreed to carry its minority-targeted programming in various key markets, saying it is an outlier among cable, phone and satellite carriers in that regard.

ZGS did not take a position on the deal, other than to say the FCC should tie ZGS carriage to it.

DirecTV declined to comment on the letter.

Gordon told the commission, which sources say is wrapping up its package of conditions that will make the deal acceptable, that the FCC should either strongly urge DirecTV to address ZGS' long-standing carriage request.

"[T]he commission should broker a mutually acceptable settlement between DirecTV or DirecTV successor AT&T and ZGS, contemplating retransmission of ZGS' stations in every market prior to federal approval of the proposed merger."

The stations at issue are Class A low-powers that do not have must-carry rights. DirecTV does carry a ZGS station (El Paso) per must-carry requirements, and the national Telemundo network.

"The issue for us is that the Latino community in many of our markets is denied access to its local stations," Gordon told B&C/Multichannel News. "In all fairness the Hispanic community should have its local stations in the DirecTV line-up, especially when we are the local source for news and information, emergency notices, civic engagement, community outreach, etc. Class A is a very poor excuse to deliberately deny the Hispanic community local service." 

ZGS is a member of TVFreedom, a coalition of stations arguing that if there are problems with the station carriage regime, it is with recalcitrant MVPD's, not with the regime itself.

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