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ACA: Nexstar Lawsuit Underscores Need for the FCC to Curb Formation of Price-Gouging TV Station Duopolies and Triopolies

SAN FRANCISCO, July 26, 2011 -  "The American Cable Association welcomes the antitrust lawsuit of Nexstar Broadcasting Group against Granite Broadcasting and Malara Broadcasting to break up a TV station triopoly in Fort Wayne, Ind. 

"Not only will this new triopoly cause the harms cited by Nexstar, but it also means pay-TV providers in the market now will be subject to the unconstrained market power of the Fort Wayne Triopoly or face a massive blackout of three dominant local TV stations as soon as New Year's Day of 2012.  Either way, Fort Wayne's residents will suffer.

"For years, ACA has been urging the government to prevent consumer harm that results when separately owned broadcasters in the same market act in concert and coordinate their retransmission consent negotiations with pay-TV providers. 

"Cable companies have documented for the FCC that they pay from 21% to 161% more for retransmission consent when they are required to negotiate with a single entity representing two network affiliated stations in the same market.  When two stations in a market are involved, it's real bad; but when it's three, it's outrageous.

"Most importantly, the FCC must stop `kicking the can down the road' -- as it did most recently in approving without any conditions the sale of KTKA- TV and the formation of the Topeka Triopoly in Kansas.

"ACA believes the FCC has an obligation to step up to protect consumers and competition by prohibiting coordinated negotiation of retransmission consent by separately owned TV stations.

"The time to make a decision is now before the Topeka and Fort Wayne triopolies and nearly three dozen duopolies around the country are allowed to inflict much more serious consumer harm.  ACA members and their customers in these markets are watching and waiting.

ACA would point out that while we agree with Nexstar's lawsuit that breaks with its broadcaster brethren, Nexstar forms joint negotiating agreements itself with Mission Broadcasting in 13 markets across the country.

"ACA believes that as a sign of faith in the merits of its argument that sharing agreements cause harm, Nexstar should cease coordinating retransmission consent negotiations with Mission in these markets immediately: Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa. (DMA 54); Springfield, Mo. (74); Amarillo, Tx. ( 131); Rockford, Il. (134); Monroe, La/El Dorado, Ark. (138); Lubbock, Tx. (143); Erie, Pa. (146); Joplin, Mo./Pittsburg, Kan. (147); Wichita Falls, Tx./Lawton, Ok. (149); Terre Haute, Ind. (152); Abilene-Sweetwater, Tx. (165); Billings, Mont. (169); and San Angelo, Tx.(198)."

About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.6 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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