Broadcast-Station Cap Sought

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Washington— Citing its recent clash with Sinclair Broadcast Group in West Virginia, cable operator Suddenlink Communications wants federal regulators to ensure that each of the top four TV stations in a local market has independent ownership or management.

Suddenlink, in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission Oct. 23, said the common ownership of two or more top-ranked stations puts cable operators at a disadvantage in carriage negotiations.

“ 'Combined’ broadcasters are far more likely to advance inflationary retransmission-consent demands, the result of which is clearly contrary to the best interests of the American consumer,” said Suddenlink, which serves about 1.4 million subscribers.

The FCC is considering whether to relax various media-ownership rules. The agency generally does not allow one entity to own more than one of the top four stations in a particular market.

Suddenlink clashed with Sinclair in Charlestown, W. Va., over payments to carry two local stations. Sinclair owned one of the stations but operated the other.

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