FCC Defends Axing Coordinated Retrans Among Top Four

Responds to Sinclair Challenge to Decision

The FCC is getting a workout in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, including a filing Monday defending its decision to limit coordinated retransmission consent.

Sinclair sued the FCC over its decision to prevent coordinated negotiations by noncommonly owned top four stations in a market, which are usually the Big Four affiliates. Sinclair and the FCC are also squaring off in the court over the FCC's incentive auction, which Sinclair has also challenged.

In a 56-page filing, the FCC tells the court that it has the authority to prohibit joint retrans, and actually took a less restrictive approach than it could have given that it found, and reasonably so, that joint negotiations by separately owned top-four stations violates the duty of the parties, by law, to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith.

The FCC told the court that joint retrans has led to retrans price increases due to a lack of competition. The FCC said that anticompetitive impact was "particularly pernicious when two or more of the four most popular broadcast stations in a market team up to negotiate retransmission consent."

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