Cox Communications had no problem with carrying the signal of WPGA-TV in the Macon DMA from its initial placement on its cable system in 1995 until 2009. That’s when WPGA owner Radio Perry decided it no longer wanted to carry the ABC Television Network. Cox subsequently decided in no longer wanted to carry WPGA, and the battle has since bounced between the FCC and the courts.
According to reports, Radio Perry balked at the amount of cash ABC wanted from affiliates and decided to become an independent.
Cox said that was a violation of a retransmission consent agreement, and eliminated WPGA’s ability to claim must-carry rights. WPGA thinks differently.
The FCC ruled in 2010 that an undisputed fact in the case was that WPGA did not choose either the right to negotiate carriage for a fee, or to enforce must carry, and said that in such a situation the default position is that must-carry prevails, not enforcement of a defunct retransmission consent agreement. However, the FCC declined to get involved in other aspects of any contracts or understandings between Radio Perry and Cox.
As to where the station should be positioned on the dial, Cox had been carrying WPGA’s ABC programming on Channel 6. The station is actually on Channel 58.
Cox believes that it is perfectly within its rights to drop the ABC-less channel, and had that belief affirmed in court.
Cox is planning on taking the station off the system on 7/28/11, and Radio Perry announced its taking its case to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division. It is seeking reinstatement on the system, plus legal fees tied to what it to be bad faith conduct on the part of Cox.
Cox nevertheless believes it is on firm legal footing.