Comcast v. broadcaster in Mobile carriage case


ComcastGeorge S. Flinn Jr. wants his WFBD-DT Destin FL to get carriage on a Comcast system serving the Mobile side of the Mobile AL-Pensacola-Fort Walton Beach FL DMA. Even though the station is part of the DMA, the FCC denied Flinn’s request.

The DMA is one of those geographically-expansive ones, and Flinn’s television station is on the eastern Ft. Walton side, while Mobile is all the way to the west. And some of the communities Comcast serves extend west from Mobile.

Comcast noted that the station has never received any ratings in the area in question, a fact which Flinn said was due to Comcast’s continued refusal to carry it. But both sides acknowledge the station’s signal isn’t strong enough to get to the area, and in fact is more than 100 miles to the east.

Comcast had also argued that Flinn could not get a usable signal to its headend, to which Flinn responded that it would provide a signal.

Another argument from Comcast is that Flinn provided no local news or other programming of interest to the communities in question.

Flinn had an uphill battle in this one, since a similar request from a similarly-situated station aiming to be carried in the same parts of Alabama had earlier been turned down by the FCC.

Flinn used the novel argument that it was planning to apply for a CP to move the station closer to Mobile – the FCC said that was fine, but it was not in the habit of deciding a carriage complaint on the basis of speculation about future events.

The FCC decided given all the facts in the case that Comcast’s request to modify the Nielsen DMA definition – mainly the station’s distance, failure to deliver a broadcast signal and lack of viewing history – was reasonable, and the MVPD will not have to carry the station.