DIRECTV Files Updated FCC Complaint Against Nexstar Over Blackout of ABC, CBS, FOX, & NBC Locals




Earlier this year, DIRECTV announced it had sued one of the largest owners of local television stations, Nexstar, along with Mission and White Knight for what it calls illegal collusion. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

At issue here are DIRECTV’s allegations that “America’s largest broadcaster Nexstar Media Group continues to violate federal antitrust law by engaging in an illegal conspiracy with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to manipulate, raise and fix prices of retransmission consent fees”

DIRECTV says Nexstars’ action “threatens local television as we know it today.” At the core of the issue here is an effort to push up the cost of local TV. DIRECTV says that over the last 15 years, the cost of local TV is up 5,000%. Now they are arguing these three companies are working together to drive up the price even higher.

In the lawsuit, DIRECTV accuses Nexstar of suing a “shame sidecar agreements” with Mission and White Knight stations to go around FCC ownership caps. Nexstar recently countered by arguing that their partnership to manage Mission and White Knight is legal.

Now DIRECTV has filed a new complaint with the FCC. Now DIRECTV is accusing Nexstar of being the real managers of White Knight and Mission stations. To support this claim, DIRECTV is pointing to the fact that press releases issued by all three companies are extremely similar, suggesting the same person created them. Lastly, DIRECTV is also arguing that Nexstar had private information about contracts between White Knight and DIRECTV over billing.

DIRECTV has taken these complaints now to the FCC in a new filing where DIRECTV is asking for help in its fight between Nexstar and DIRECTV.

Back in July, Nexstar filed with the court over the lawsuit, arguing that everything they do is normal and allowed. In the filing with the court, Nexstar says yes, it has a management contract with Mission and White Knight that has it manage the day to day operations of their channels.

This is one more example of how DIRECTV and Nexstar are dragging their talks into the public space. Just last week, DIRECTV posted a public letter to its subscribers arguing that Nexstar was withholding locals even as DIRECTV offered to bring them back. Nexstar replied, arguing DIRECTV was misleading its subscribers.

“Once again, DIRECTV is misleading its subscribers, as they have done consistently throughout this impasse,” Nexstar said in a statement sent to Cord Cutters News. “In July,  Nexstar offered an extension of four months to DIRECTV while we continued to negotiate, which DIRECTV flatly rejected.  In fact, for weeks following the expiration of our contract in early July, DIRECTV didn’t bother to negotiate or even talk with us. DIRECTV is managed by a hedge fund, not a local broadcaster.  They are interested is maximizing their profits, not serving their subscribers.  We are merely asking for fair rates, commensurate with what other MVPDs pay us for our highly valuable local news, live sports, and entertainment programming.”

For now, it looks like this fight is something that the courts and maybe even the FCC will need to decide. Once again, though, as both DIRECTV and Nexstar fight this out publicly, it looks like both sides are still very far away from reaching a deal as they take their fight public.

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