Cablevision Systems is taking its dispute with WFSB-TV Hartford, CT (CBS) parent Meredith up a notch, asking the FCC to launch a special investigation into whether Meredith is meeting public interest obligations. The move comes just three days after WFSB pulled its signal from Cablevision systems serving subscribers in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties, noted the New Haven Register.
Cablevision says it has agreed to pay for carriage of WFSB in parts of Litchfield and New Haven Counties, where it is the local CBS affiliate, but refuses to do so in Fairfield County, where it already pays for a second CBS affiliate, WCBS-TV in NYC.
“Meredith Corp. is violating its public interest obligations with its CBS affiliate in Connecticut by blacking out CBS programming completely in one part of the state in order to reap fees in another part of the state where consumers already pay for another local CBS affiliate,” Cablevision said in a statement regarding its filing with the FCC. In effect, Meredith is punishing an area it committed to serve in order to resolve a business dispute elsewhere. This is an unprecedented negotiating tactic that is harming the consumers Meredith pledged to serve,” the statement said.
In its filing with the FCC, Cablevision also asked the regulatory agency to deny Meredith’s application for a broadcast license transfer for the St. Louis-based CBS affiliate KMOV-TV in Gannett’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Belo.
“These actions portend Meredith’s unwillingness to serve the public interest in the St. Louis market, were it to receive approval for a transfer of a broadcast license to operate KMOV-TV,” Cablevision said, referring to the WFSB situation in Connecticut.
Cablevision has offered to keep WFSB on its Connecticut systems while the two sides continue to negotiate, but says Meredith refused to keep the channel on, said the New Haven Register.