Time Warner Can Keep Up Distant Rebroadcasts

     DALLAS (CN) – A federal judge refused to stop Time Warner Cable from sending Nexstar Broadcasting-owned television station signals out to five distant markets.
     Nexstar had sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, but U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis said the parties’ retransmission consent agreement does not geographically limit Time Warner’s ability to rebroadcast the stations.
     Irving-based Nexstar operates 55 television stations nationwide. Its July complaint alleged that Nexstar stations in Terre Haute, Ind. (NBC affiliate, WTWO-TV), Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (NBC affiliate, WBRE-TV), and Rochester, N.Y. (CBS affiliate, WROC-TV), were rebroadcast to Time Warner Cable viewers in Cincinnati; Louisville, Ky.; Orlando; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Burlington, Vt.; and Plattsburgh, N.Y.
     “Nowhere in the RCA does Nexstar limit its retransmission consent,” Solis wrote. “It appears the language limiting the the broadcast to be ‘television market’ only pertains to the upgraded systems and Time Warner relevant carriage obligations; in other words, the markets where Time Warner is required to carry Nexstar.”
     “This limiting language is not present when when Nexstar gives its retransmission consent under Section 1,” he added. “In fact, it is specifically omitted when describing the ‘retransmission consent’ under Section 1.”
     Since the breach of copyright claim depends on Time Warner Cable’s retransmission being outside the consent in the agreement, Nexstar is not likely to succeed.
     Nexstar claims that Time Warner Cable never notified it of the distant retransmissions and refused to stop after receiving a cease-and-desist letter.
     “The unambiguous and explicit terms of the RCA – which grants Time Warner limited authorization to retransmit the signals of Nexstar television stations, including WTWO, WBRE and WROC, within each station’s local market – demonstrates the illegality of Time Warner’s conduct,” the complaint states. “The RCA shows that Nexstar never authorized Time Warner to distant retransmit any of its stations’ signals – let alone the signals WTWO, WBRE and WROC into markets hundreds of miles distant.”
     Nexstar claims 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.
     What’s more, Nexstar says, retransmission of WBRE into Winston-Salem has led WBRE and another station in the area showing the same syndicated programming, at the same times, confusing viewers about what station they are watching.
     “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 states.

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