FCC Record, Volume 26, No. 7, Pages 4843 to 5761, March 28 - April 08, 2011 Page: 5,199
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would permit a single entity, LIN, to negotiate retransmission consent for two stations in the same market,
in contravention of the public interest. For the reasons stated below, we deny the petition and grant the
Background. In its petition, TWC notes that WDTN obtains carriage through the retransmission
consent process, while WBDT previously has relied on its must-carry rights for carriage. Now, however,
TWC states that LIN, acting as the agent for ACME, has informed TWC that both WDTN and WBDT
will be seeking compensation as part of a master retransmission consent agreement.
TWC argues that this consolidation of negotiating authority is evidence of a broken and
increasingly unworkable retransmission consent process that permits broadcasters to engage in
brinksmanship tactics - in particular by threatening to withdraw their signals - to extract higher prices for
carriage. Such brinksmanship, TWC alleges, is enabled by the combination of robust competition among
multichannel video program distributors ("MPVDs") and regulatory protections afforded broadcasters by
various Commission rules, including the network non-duplication rule3 and the syndicated exclusivity
rule.4 According to TWC, if stations are permitted to negotiate jointly, the stronger station in the pairing,
like the NBC-affiliated WDTN, can threaten to withdraw two signals, thereby leveraging its market power
to demand higher retransmission consent fees for the ostensibly less-desirable station, like the CW-
affiliated WBDT, than that station could garner on its own.s Moreover, it asserts that the ability to apply
such leverage in the context of retransmission consent negotiations exacerbates public interest harms
associated with cooperative arrangements between in-market broadcasters, such as the proposed shared
services agreement and joint sales agreement between LIN and WBDT Television.6
TWC further argues that, if the Commission grants the application, it should impose conditions to
prevent abuses of the retransmission consent process. In particular, TWC would have the Commission
order ACME, LIN, and WBDT Television to tenninate any agreement that contemplates joint
retransmission consent negotiations. It also proposes that the Commission forbid the stations from
withholding their signals from an MVPD during the pendency of a retransmission consent dispute upon
2 ACME and WBDT Television filed oppositions.
3 See 47 C.F.R. 76.92(a).
4See 47 C.F.R. 76.101.
s In support of its position, TWC cites to two studies filed in the current proceeding it commenced with respect to
retransmission consent. See Petition for Rulemaking to Amend the Commission's Rules Governing Retransmission
Consent, Petition for Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 10-71 (filed Mar. 9, 20100X"Retransmission Consent
Proceeding"). Those studies are William P. Rogerson, Joint Control or Ownership of Multiple Big 4 Broadcasters
in the Same Market and Its Effect on Retransmission Consent Fees, at 12, filed by the American Cable Association
May 18, 2010, and Steven C. Salop, et al., Economic Analysis of Broadcasters' Brinkmanship and Bargaining
Advantages in Retransmission Consent Negotiations, at 54, filed by TWC June 3, 2010.
6 To the extent that TWC challenges the propriety of in-market cooperative agreements, per se, such challenge is
more appropriately raised in the context of the Commission's pending review of its media ownership rules. See In
the Matter of the 2010 Quadrennial Review - Review of the Commission 's Media Ownership Rule and Other Rules
Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Notice of Inquiry, 25 FCC Red 6086
(2010). Additionally, in its petition, TWC also states that "an agreement to set retransmission consent prices on
behalf of independently owned stations in a single DMA would likely violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act."
(emphasis added) Such a statement is speculative on its face and does not form a valid basis for a petition to deny.
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United States. Federal Communications Commission. FCC Record, Volume 26, No. 7, Pages 4843 to 5761, March 28 - April 08, 2011, book, April 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc52169/m1/371/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.