The cable operator and trade group ask the FCC to reject Mission's $15.25 million purchase of Stainless Broadcasting’s two Binghamton, N.Y., stations, claiming that Nexstar Broadcasting will end up with “de facto control over three of the Big Four broadcast signals and four of the six national broadcast network affiliates” in the market.
TWC, ACA Fighting Mission’s Binghamton Buy
Time Warner Cable and the American Cable Association have petitioned the FCC to deny Mission Broadcasting’s $15.25 million acquisition of Fox affiliate WICZ and MNT affiliate WBNP-LP in Binghamton, N.Y. (DMA 157), from Stainless Broadcasting.
In a petition filed at the FCC on Thursday, TWC and ACA alleged that the transaction, if approved, would give Nexstar Broadcasting Group — “which effectively controls Mission through a series of ‘sharing’ agreements — de facto control over three of the Big Four broadcast signals and four of the six national broadcast network affiliates in the Binghamton, N.Y., DMA,” the petition said.
The cable representatives said that they were particularly concerned that the transaction would enable Nexstar combine or coordinate retransmission consent negotiations for three of the Big Four network affiliates in Binghamton.
“As a result, the transaction threatens to drive up retransmission consent fees to even more unreasonable levels and to increase the impact of broadcast programming blackouts in Binghamton,” the petition said.
Nexstar already owns the ABC affiliate, WIVT, and multicasts the signal of the local NBC affiliate, WBGH-CA, the petition said, adding: “Despite the nominal separation between Nexstar and Mission, the parties’ sharing agreements and public disclosures leave no doubt that Mission’s sole reason for existing is to enable Nexstar to aggregate market power in DMAs in which it operates.”
The petition asks the FCC to deny the transaction or “in the alternative, condition approval on a requirement that Mission refrain from coordinating retransmission consent negotiations with any non-commonly owned broadcast affiliates” in the market.
A Nexstar representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
TWC, ACA and DirecTV also filed a petition to deny seeking to block Gannett’s proposed $2.2 billion acquisition of Belo, alleging that the transaction would give Gannett “new virtual duopolies and facilitate coordinated retransmission consent negotiations” in St. Louis, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.
ACA has also asked the FCC to deny Sinclair’s $985 million acquisition of Allbritton Communications — as well as Sinclair’s $90 million acquisition of New Age Media’s eight TV stations — on similar grounds.