Time Warner Cable is a frequent blackout inciter when it comes to retransmission consent negotiations – and to get around that, it has been using Nexstar network affiliates in markets where blackouts are taking place. A judge has said that is fair use on TWC’s part.
According to Hollywood Reporter, a judge sided with TWC over the objections of Nexstar, which did not want its television programming taken out of the local market it serves at the whim of TWC.
According to the report, TWC’s desire to bring network programming into markets where it was locked in a dispute with television group Hearst was one of the catalysts for the TWC/Nexstar dispute.
TWC said that its agreement for retransmission consent with Nexstar gave it the right to rebroadcast the stations. Nexstar said that the right did not extend to taking the signals beyond their local markets.
The judge noted the lack of any language limiting the geographical use of the signals. According to the judge’s order, Nexstar is deemed smart enough to include territorial language in a contract, and the absence of such language was considered “purposeful.”
RBR-TVBR observation: This strikes us as a prime example of what can happen when an institution with no expertise in communications gets involved in a complex communications issue. Market exclusivity is completely engrained into the DNA of the television business, and the whole point of must-carry is to assure that local citizens are not deprived of the local content provided by local broadcast television.
We already know of one situation a few years ago when the mayor of a city was getting calls from worried citizens about flooding downtown. There was flooding all right, a few hundred miles away in a distant city from which a television station was being imported during a retrans dispute.
In this case, a judge looked at the Nexstar/TWC situation completely out of context, as if it was a used car sale or something, and comes up with this ridiculous ruling.