LPTV station petitions its way onto local Comcast system


WRTN-LD, a digital low power television station licensed to Alexandria TN, tried to get carriage on a Comcast system serving the communities of Hartsville, Carthage and Lafayette TN. When Comcast refused the request, the station took the case to the FCC.

The station is owned by Richard C. and Lisa A. Goetz.

They said that their station warrants carriage because it provides local news, sports and information that is available on no other station in the cable system’s service area. The broadcast outlets carried on the system are from Nashville, but the system itself is just outside the DMAs defined service area.

The fact that Nashville’s population does not enter into an assessment of the LPTV’s right to press for carriage is critical, since the threshold to enforce such a demand is a population of 35K or less.

The Goetz’s told the FCC that Comcast had said their station did not provide a useable signal to the system’s headend but this problem was not documented.

In opposing the Goetz request, Comcast protested to the FCC that the station was licensed to Nashville, with a population well over ten times larger than 35K.

It turns out that the station was listed briefly in the FCC database with Nashville as its city of license, an error that was corrected, taking down the underpinning of Comcast’s argument.

The FCC said the station warranted carriage, and that tests should be run to see if the headend could get a decent signal from the station.