FCC Rejects Allbritton Retrans Bad Faith Petition


The Federal Communications Commission denied on Friday a retrans negotiation complaint petition filed by WJLA-TV Washington owner Allbritton against Shentel Communications.

Allbritton, back in January, had filed an emergency petition seeking a finding of bad faith negotiations and for failure to notify customers of the impasse.

Allbritton had claimed that Shentel had offered terms, then rejected Allbritton's acceptance of that offer, then "dropped" WJLA without sufficient notice.

Shentel had countered that an Allbritton counteroffer mooted the previous one it had accepted.

In rejecting the petition, the FCC pointed out that the retrans impasse had been about price and, as it has said before, that is not indicative of a lack of good faith on either part. The FCC said that once Allbritton made a counteroffer, Shentel was not bound by the original offer.

The FCC declined to address the notice violation portion of the complaint, but warned Shentel that if it did not provide the 30 days' notice it is in violation of the rules, and that while it may not have enforced the notice requirement religiously, that does not mean it can't if it chooses to.