FCC Fines Cable Operator $30,000 for Illegal Retransmission


The Federal Communications Commission has fined Bailey Cable TV $30,000 for two separate retrans violations during a retrans impasse in Baton Rouge during which the operator continued to carry the station signals after its contract ran out and the stations had asked it to take down the signals.

Bailey did not dispute that it had retransmitted the signals of WGMB-TV (Knight Broadcasting) and WVLA-TV (Communications Corp. of America), both Baton Rouge, La., without the station owners' permission, according to the FCC, but Bailey argued that it should be one violation, not two.

According to the FCC, after Bailey could not come to new terms on retransmission-consent agreements that expired Dec. 31, 2011, it kept carrying the signals without a contract because it felt the broadcasters were using the commission to try to engineer a dramatic increase in rates and the FCC should instead require the stations to negotiate a fair rate.

A little over a month into Bailey's carriage of the stations without authority, and after teleconferences with FCC staffers, Bailey and the broadcasters came to new retrans deals on Feb. 3, 2012.

According to the FCC, Bailey had said it would pay $15,000, but that two $15,000 fines was a case of the FCC trying to "bleed" it for a double penalty.

The FCC countered that it was two stations, two complaints and two violations. The FCC issued the notice of apparent liability in March, and this week levied the fines.