The Federal Communications Commission slapped Nexstar with a $720,000 fine after slamming the broadcasting giant for negotiating in “bad faith” with a telecom company to carry its local FOX and MyNetworkTV stations.
Nexstar proposed terms of its retransmission agreement to Hawaiian Telecom that included a provision preventing the telecom company from filing a complaint with the FCC. So instead, Hawaiian Telecom went to the agency. The FCC in turn ruled that Nexstar’s terms violated the rules requiring companies to negotiate in good faith, and fined it $120,000 per station, or $720,000 in total.
The stations affected included the FOX affiliates KHON-TV, KHAW-TV, and KAII-TV, and the MyNetworkTV affiliates KHII-TV, KGMD-TV, and KGMV.
While this incident deals with negotiations with a single video provider, they provide a potential window into the negotiation tactics employed by Nexstar and the industry elsewhere. Nexstar defended itself by saying those terms were standard practice, something the FCC said was inappropriate.
Negotiations over retransmission deals have become a hot topic in recent years largely because companies have increasingly hit an impasse, leading to blackouts of channels that affected viewers. The complaint came out of a disagreement between the two that left the stations blacked out for more than three weeks.
Update: After initially declining to comment, Nexstar spokesman Gary Weitman called the ruling “unwarranted, excessive, and in violation of the law.” He said the company plans to challenge the FCC’s decision.
A spokesperson for Hawaiian Telecom wasn’t immediately available for comment.