The American Cable Association has filed a petition at the Federal Communications Commission to deny the sale of an ABC affiliate in Topeka, Kan., saying that the deal could give the new owner too much control over retrans negotiations in the market.
The group wants the FCC to block the sale of ABC affiliate KTKA-TV Topeka to PBC Broadcasting. It 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.
ACA says five small cable operators providing service in Topeka, all with retrans deals with KTKA expiring at the end of this year, have filed declarations of support for the petition.
If the FCC does approve the deal, according to 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."
ACA has long argued that retrans negotiations jointly bargained under shared services agreements and duopoly ownership are not in the public interest because they drive up retrans costs, which are then passed along to the consumer in the form of higher rates.
That is one of the issues ACA wants the FCC to examine as part of its retrans reform rulemaking.