FCC clarifies issues in Puerto Rico carriage case


Mundo FoxAmerica-CV Station Group has two broadcast stations in Puerto Rico. The introduction of MundoFox and the use of digital side-channels led to a programming shift and an interesting dispute with Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico. Here’s how it all shakes out.

ACV owns WJPX San Juan and WIRS Yauco. They serve different portions of PR but the entire island is considered to be one media market, so both are entitled to mandatory MVPD carriage. However, since both carry identical programming, Liberty was excused from carrying duplicative WIRS fare. Both stations were carrying programming from network AmericaTeve.

Then WJPX added MundoFox on its primary 24.1 channel and shifted AmericaTeve to 24.2. Simultaneously, it put MundoFox on WIRS channel 42.2 and retained AmericaTeve on primary 42.1 – and said that since the programming was no longer duplicative, it wanted to enforce carriage for WIRS.

Not only did Liberty balk at adding WIRS, it carried WJPX’s 24.2 AmericaTeve stream instead of grabbing the one ACV had made its primary stream. ACV went so far as to suggest that Liberty was trying to prevent MundoFox from getting a foothold in Puerto Rico, but that turned out not to be an issue as FCC worked its way through a ruling.

One problem was getting a usable signal from WIRS to the Liberty headend – and ACV argued that could be accomplished by Liberty putting WJPX’s 24.1 MundoFox stream on its own Channel 24, and using WJPX’s 24.2 AmericaTeve stream for the WIRS slot on its Channel 42.

The FCC said that when a station that is entitled to carriage but faces a challenge getting a usable signal to the headend, alternative measures may be used. It said the ACV proposal was a perfectly acceptable alternative. And it said that indeed, both stations are entitled to carriage.

However, ACV was not in the right when it changed its programming on WJPX without giving adequate notice to Liberty, which is obligated to inform its subscribers 30 days notice of an upcoming programming change. Further clarifying, FCC said there is no rule specifying which of a set of split signals is entitled to carriage – it is the choice of the broadcaster, pending the delivery of adequate notice to the operator of the MVPD.

In the end, it said that now that Liberty is aware that it must carry the stream of choice from each station, which will be MundoFox on WJPX and AmericaTeve on WIRS, it is required commence carriage per ACV’s wishes within 60 days with proper subscriber notification and delivery of a usable WIRS signal as prerequisites.