FCC Hands Alabama TV Station A Must-Carry Win Over Dish Network

The FCC on Thursday handed WGBP Opelika, Ala., a victory in its attempt to maximize distribution by satellite TV provider Dish Network, which had claimed the station was trying to game the rules in a way that might encourage other stations to copy. Acting on the station’s must-carry complaint filed last December, the commission’s Media Bureau agreed with WGBP that it was legally entitled to far broader carriage than Dish was willing to grant.

Alabama TV Station In Must-Carry Spat Tries Humor To Sway FCC Staff

WGBP has deployed just about every legal argument possible in an effort to win a carriage dispute with Dish Network. Now the station is trying a little humor with the FCC’s Media Bureau staff to get across its point that Dish is blurring the meaning of regulations that are clear on their face. “While these interpretations are clear and unambiguous, Dish effectively asks the Media Bureau staff to stand on one foot, put on a pair of oversized sunglasses, and spin around five times, to try to find a different meaning,” said Wiley Rein lawyer Ari Meltzer, counsel for WGBP owner CNZ Communications, in a Jan. 5 filing with the commission.

Dish Asks FCC To Dismiss Alabama Station’s Must-Carry Complaint

CNZ Communications, owner of WGBP Opelika, Ala., claims that under FCC precedent, Dish needs to carry the station throughout the entire Atlanta, Ga., and Columbus, Ga., DMAs. CNZ filed a complaint with the FCC on Dec. 11 seeking full carriage in both markets. Yesterday, Dish asked the FCC to deny the complaint, saying it was “based on a misreading of the relevant statute, regulations, and FCC precedent.”

WGBP Files Must-Carry Complaint Against Dish

The Opelika, Ala., NBC LX Home affiliate owner, CNZ Communications, has turned to the FCC to resolve a carriage dispute with Dish Network. Satellite TV providers like Dish have a legal obligation to carry local TV signals, but CNZ Communications claims Dish has declined to carry the station in all areas where WGBP believes it deserves distribution. Dish, by contrast, says it has met its legal requirements.

FCC Denies Must-Carry Complaint Against DirecTV

The FCC has denied the must-carry complaint of WGBP Opelika, Ala. (licensed to Columbus, Ga.), against DirecTV, but signaled the station can qualify for carriage next time around. There are three-year cycles for must-carry elections, but a new station can file for must-carry without having to wait for a new cycle.