Today The American Television Alliance filed with the FCC to object to Mission from buying a Detroit TV station. At issue here is the plans for Nexstar to finance and run the WADL TV station.
“Nexstar and not Mission is the real party in interest here” stated ATVA spokesperson, Cora Mandy in a statement sent to Cord Cutters News. “In other words, the proposed transaction is a smokescreen. It will allow Nexstar to violate Congress’s national ownership rule. And it will allow Nexstar to continue to inflate retransmission consent prices for consumers in Detroit and elsewhere.”
Here is what The American Alliance said in its FCC filing:
- Comcast’s recent Petition for Declaratory Ruling alleging that Nexstar exercised complete control over its putatively independent sidecar WPIX, contrary to its explicit promises to the Commission and in violation of the Communications Act.
- A separate lawsuit alleging that Nexstar has continued to control several Marshall stations after being required to divest to receive Commission approval for a larger transaction.
- Tribune Broadcasting’s lawsuit against Sinclair Broadcast group, alleging that Sinclair sought to control sidecars it purported to divest.
- DIRECTV’s antitrust lawsuit against Nexstar alleging abuse of sidecars to raise retransmission consent prices to DIRECTV subscribers.
Back in March 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.
“Mission and White Knight are now unlawfully coordinating with Nexstar to raise prices and extract supracompetitive retransmission consent fees from DIRECTV in ‘overlap’ DMAs—those markets where both Nexstar and either Mission or White Knight each own a Big-4 station,” DIRECTV states. “To accomplish this unlawful and anticompetitive aim, Mission and White Knight have entered into an agreement in which they have effectively relinquished decision-making authority to Nexstar.”
DIRECTV said in its suit that the trio routinely share confidential rates and other financial information through a single agent who can’t keep the details of one contract straight from another, closely align their respective blackout dates, and duplicate their public responses to the media to manipulate viewers and betray the public trust once they unilaterally pull their station signals.
Many are worried that if this sale goes through the Detroit TV station will go dark.