In September 2016, the owner of a low-power TV station in Cleveland, Miss., filed a formal request for carriage with a Leland, Miss., MVPD. The cable TV service provider didn’t respond, and that led the station’s owner to file a complaint with the FCC for allegedly violating the Commission’s “must carry” rules.
In this case, there was no violation, and this TV station owner will now need to open up a new round of dialogue with the MVPD in its quest to get it on the channel lineup.
The station at the center of the fight is Ellington Broadcasting‘s MyNetwork-affiliated WHCQ-LD 8, which also serves this Mississippi municipality with DT programming from Bounce TV, Antenna TV, and COZI TV.
Leland is 28 miles south of Cleveland, and is perhaps best-known as the “birthplace” of Kermit the Frog, of Muppets fame. Ellington claims WHCQ is a qualified LPTV station. NewWave, in its defense, disagreed, saying the WHCQ signal is of poor quality in Washington County, where Leland is located. Additionally, NewWave said CBS affiliate WXVT-15 in Greenville, Miss., is a full-power facility already offering “important news and local information.” Thus, Ellington has failed to demonstrate that its programming is not adequately served by full-power TV stations.
As actual programming is not the standard by which must-carry designation is given, the Commission sided with NewWave — even after Ellington noted in its reply comment that WXVT is silent and no longer on the air.
In reaching its decision, Media Bureau Senior Deputy Chief/Policy Division Steven A. Broeckaert explained that WXVT “is currently licensed but silent pursuant to a grant of Special Temporary Authority. WXVT’s initial STA has expired. However, it has submitted a request for an extension of the STA, which is pending before the Commission.”
Thus, for purposes of analyzing the six criteria required by the Commission’s rules, there is a full-power television station that is currently licensed to a community within Washington County.
“As a result, WHCQ-LD has failed to establish that there is no full power television station licensed to Washington County, Mississippi,” Broeckaert said. “WHCQ-LD’s failure to meet this factor is fatal to its request for mandatory carriage.”