Station Owner Won’t Get Rebroadcast Injunction

     (CN) – Time Warner Cable can continue to rebroadcast certain television station signals to five distant markets, the 5th Circuit ruled Thursday.
     In a July 2012 federal complaint, Nexstar Broadcasting had claimed that Time Warner rebroadcast its stations in Terre Haute, Ind. (NBC affiliate, WTWO-TV), Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (NBC affiliate, WBRE-TV), and Rochester, N.Y. (CBS affiliate, WROC-TV), to subscribers in Cincinnati; Louisville, Ky.; Orlando; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Burlington, Vt.; and Plattsburgh, N.Y.
     Nexstar operates a total of 55 television stations nationwide.
     U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis refused in September to grant the Irving, Texas-based station owner a preliminary injunction or restraining order, concluding that the parties’ retransmission consent agreement does not geographically limit Time Warner’s ability to rebroadcast the stations.
     Nexstar claimed Time Warner Cable is not paying it for the retransmissions, as the contract does not provide for pay based on the number of Time Warner subscribers in the distant markets.
     It said the retransmission of WBRE into Winston-Salem caused WBRE and another station in the area to show the same syndicated programming, at the same times, confusing viewers about what station they are watching, Nexstar argued.
     “This violates the rules of the FCC and, among other reasons, is likely one reason why Time Warner has not distantly retransmitted Nexstar programming into Orlando, Cinncinnati, Winston-Salem, Plattsbugh-Burlington or Louisville for the three years that the RCA has been in effect,” the complaint stated, abbreviating Federal Communications Commission.
     A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based federal appeals court affirmed denial of the restraining order and injunction Thursday.
     “The plain language of the [contract] grants Time Warner broad authority to retransmit Nexstar signals on Time Warner stations,” Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote for the panel. “The District Court did not err in concluding Nexstar is not likely to succeed on the merits of its breach of contract claim.”
     Nexstar furthermore would be unlikely to succeed on the merits of a copyright claim, according to the ruling. The station owner had argued that Time Warner Cable is violating FCC nonduplication rules, which allow local stations to exercise nonduplication rights.
     “However, in order to exercise these rights, a station must first notify a cable system of its intent to do so,” Jolly wrote. “Nexstar has not argued it provided Time Warner with the requisite notice; thus, there is no evidence Time Warner violated these rules. Accordingly, the evidence before us indicates Time Warner was eligible for a statutory license and the district court did not err in finding Nexstar is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its copyright claims.”

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