DALLAS (CN) – Nexstar Broadcasting claims in court that Time Warner Cable is swiping its signals and rebroadcasting them to five distant markets without permission.
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Irving-based Nexstar, which owns 55 TV stations nationwide, claims Time Warner is violating the explicit terms of a retransmission agreement they signed in June of 2009.
“Last week, Nexstar was alerted by third parties that Time Warner had begun retransmitting signals from Nexstar stations located in Terre Haute, Indiana (i.e. the NBC affiliate, WTWO-TV); Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (i.e. the NBC affiliate, WBRE-TV); and Rochester, New York (i.e. the CBS affiliate, WROC-TV) through Time Warner cable systems located in the following markets: Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Orlando, Florida; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Burlington, Vermont-Plattsburgh, New York,” the complaint states.
“Time Warner continues today to retransmit these signals into these distant markets – a practice known as ‘distant retransmission.'”
Nexstar claims that Time Warner 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 [retransmission consent agreement] – 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 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 also claims the rebroadcasting of news programs violates its copyrights.
What’s more, Nexstar says, retransmission of WBRE into Winston-Salem has resulted in the same syndicated programming being shown by WBRE and another station in the area, 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.
Nexstar seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for breach of contract and copyright infringement, and damages, including statutory damages.
It is represented by Mark Johansen with Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail & Shank.