FCC: Cable One Broke Rules

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The Federal Communications Commission Tuesday found that Cable One Inc. “apparently willfully violated” network-nonduplication rules in its carriage of a Tulsa, Okla.-based TV station in another market -- one where it’s engaged in a nine-month-old bitter retransmission-consent dispute.

In the order from its Media Bureau, the FCC said it will hold a separate proceeding to determine whether or not it should fine Cable One for the apparent violation. Cable One officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

“In sum, it appears that Cable One impermissibly granted itself a waiver of the commission’s rules,” the FCC said.

The FCC turned down Cable One’s request to continue carrying NBC programming -- airing on an out-of-market TV station, Tulsa’s NBC affiliate, KJRH, in Joplin, Mo. -- where the cable operator is engaged in a fight with Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc.

Cable One was seeking a waiver of network-nonduplication rules regarding KJRH. The cable operator has been carrying KJRH for nearly 40 years in the Joplin-Pittsburg, Mo., market, where it has several systems.

But the agency declined to grant Cable One a waiver of those rules. Even in advance of the FCC’s decision, Sept. 21, Cable One began offering “the required protection,” according to the FCC, by blacking out the NBC programming on KJRH.

Cable One has been engaged in a retransmission-consent dispute with Nexstar since Jan. 1, which has resulted in the cable operator having to drop TV stations owned or managed by the broadcaster in a handful of markets, including Joplin. In that particular market, the MSO lost carriage of NBC affiliate KSNF and ABC affiliate KODE.

Cable One has been carrying Tulsa-based KJRH on its Joplin-area systems, which are located in such towns as Miami and North Miami, Okla.

In its petition, Cable One also asked the FCC to modify the Tulsa DMA in respect to KJRH to include the Miami and North Miami for “purposes of the cable-television mandatory broadcast-signal-carriage rules.”

Nexstar opposed that request and argued that the operator’s carriage of KJRH violated network-nonduplication rules.

“Obviously, we’re very pleased that the FCC agreed with our position,” Nexstar chief operating officer Duane Lammers said, adding that he hopes the agency’s decision sends a message to the cable industry.

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