BRADENTON, FLA. — The Republican U.S. House of Representatives Member representing Florida’s Sarasota and Manatee Counties has reached out to the Federal Communications Commission to express his concerns over the failure of Gray Television and Frontier Communications to reach a new retransmission consent agreement for one of its legacy systems and the primary ABC affiliate for this portion of the vast Tampa-St. Petersburg-Lakeland DMA.
In a formal letter dated Dec. 22 addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, House Member Vern Buchanan expressed his concern “at the sudden blackout of a local news station in my Congressional district.”
Addressing the December 18 removal, by law, of Gray Television-owned WWSB-7 in Sarasota on Frontier FiberOptic TV, a.k.a. FiOS TV by Frontier, channel lineups in the absence of a new retransmission consent agreement, Buchanan says Frontier “abruptly deleted the local ABC station,” and instead began carrying WFTS-28 in Tampa on the cable channel previously home to WWSB.
“My constituents deserve an explanation as to why this happened,” Buchanan asks.
While Buchanan recognizes that both WWSB and WFTS are ABC affiliates within the same DMA, he points out that WFTS airs programming that is akin to less than 50% of WWSB’s weekly programming schedule.
As such, Buchanan concludes, “I urge the FCC to take any appropriate action to help ensure that Frontier acts in the public interest and that Gray Television receives fair and equitable treatment in their efforts to provide local news, sports and entertainment to my constituents.”