Cable interests continue to battle Topeka broadcast cluster


When Parkin Broadcasting Company closes on its acquisition of ABC KTKA-TV Topeka, it will be its one and only station in the market. However, for cable operators, the deal raises a red flag because PBC is often an SSA partner with New Vision Broadcasting, and New Vision already has two TVs in Topeka. ACA earlier protested the sale, and now five local cable operators are seeking intervention from Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

New Vision’s Topeka holdings include NBC KSNT and Fox KTMJ. Cable interests are afraid the two companies will assemble a similar cluster partnership in Topeka as they have in Youngstown OH and Savannah GA.

This would create an extremely powerful cluster of three major network affiliates, and cablers are afraid the trio will negotiate retransmission consent contracts as one and use overwhelming market power to extract higher rates than any could get on their own.

The American Cable Association weighed in against the deal in March, asking that it be turned down or muzzled with strict conditions to prevent abuse of the retransmission process.

Now, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal, a group of five cable companies are asking Brownback for help. Giant Communications, Mediacom Communications, Rainbow Communications, Twin Valley Communications and WTC Communications are asking Brownback to seek FCC intervention on their behalf.

PBS is buying KTKA from Free State Communications in a $1.5M deal brokered by Kalil and Co. and CobbCorp. It was filed with the FCC 2/10/11.