Time Warner Cable Seeks To Head Off LIN TV Joint Retrans Negotiation

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Time Warner Cable has asked the Federal Communications Commission to deny the sale of two TV stations over the issue of joint  retransmisison-consent negotiations, or put retrans conditions on the sales if the agency does allow them.

In separate filings at the FCC, Time Warner Cable asked the commission to "dismiss, deny, or designate for hearing" the proposed sale of ACME Television's WCWF Suring, Wis., to LIN Media, and the sale of ACME's WBDT Springfield, Ohio, to Vaughan Media under which LIN would manage that station.

The nation's No. 2 cable operator argued that the FCC should not grant the hardship waiver for the sale of WCWF to LIN, which already owns a station in the Green Bay-Appleton, Wis., DMA, or allow LIN to negotiate retrans for both WBDT and WDTN, the NBC afiliate it already operates in the Dayton, Ohio.

"Allowing multiple stations in a single DMA to negotiate retransmission-consent jointly, whether through a
waiver of the local ownership rules, as the Applicants seek here [with WCWF and WLUK], or through a local
marketing agreement or similar arrangement...would compound the problems afflicting consumers," wrote Time Warner Cable, which could include potential service disruptions and price increases.

The MSO claimed that LIN has informed it that it will be seeking compensation for both WLUK and WCWF, the latter
which had been a must-carry station through a "master" retrans agreement that would cover stations in other DMAs.

The cable operator also said LIN has signaled that it will negotiate retrans for both WDTN and WBDT as part
of a transition plan that will morph into a joint sales agreement with Vaughn.
A LIN spokesperson was not available for comment at press time..

TWC argues that if the FCC allows the sales, it should put conditions on them, including preventing signals
from being pulled during retrans impasses and requiring arbitration of disputes.
Those are the same steps TWC and others are asking the FCC to make standard procedure as part of retrans
reforms they have sought in a petition for rulemaking.

TWC has long argued that owners should not be able to jointly negotiate for multiple stations in markets, whether their own or ones they operate through various agreements.