The American Cable Association wanted the FCC to deny the Parkin Broadcasting Company’s acquisition of ABC KTKA-TV in Topeka KS because it feared a matchup between the buyer and another licensee that it cooperates with elsewhere. The FCC turned down the petition and has approved the transaction.
The thing that has ACA exercised is the two-station presence of New Vision Television in Topeka. It owns NBC KSNT-TV and has Fox on a secondary facility, KTMJ-CA. New Vision is also party to JSAs and SSAs with Parkin in Youngstown OH and Savannah GA.
ACA believes they are likely to enter into similar agreements in Topeka and then use their three-major-network power to ram exorbitant retransmission fees down the throats of cable systems that are forced to negotiate from a position of weakness. One thing ACA would like is market-specific conditions placed on the PBC acquisition to prevent something like that from happening, if the sale will not be denied outright.
PBC argued that for starters, it has no agreement with Parkin in Topeka, and the FCC has a long-standing policy of avoiding a ruling on an anticipated rather than actual agreement. It further argued that ACA was using this specific case as a forum on changes it wants in the retransmission process nationally, and as such, the FCC proceeding in progress on the topic is the proper forum for ACA to use.
The FCC agreed with Parkin, and approved the sale.
PBS is buying KTKA from Free State Communications in a $1.5M deal brokered by Kalil and Co. and CobbCorp. It was filed with the FCC 2/10/11.
RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC notes that the ongoing proceeding on retransmission consent is a proper venue for consideration of some of the issues presented by this case. We suspect that the media ownership proceeding, when it gets off the ground, may be another forum. Broadcast interests won this round over cable interests, but we sincerely doubt that the entire bout is over.