American Television Alliance Files FCC Comment Opposing Nexstar Detroit Television Station Sale

Jun 21, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) filed comments with the FCC opposing the sham sale of a television station in Detroit.  This filing highlights broadcasters’ continued use of “sidecars” to evade television ownership rules and raise prices for consumers.  

Nominally, Mission Broadcasting seeks to purchase the station.  In reality, however, broadcast giant Nexstar proposes to guarantee financing for the purchase.  It proposes to sell all of the station’s advertising.  It proposes to handle retransmission consent negotiations for the station.  

“Nexstar and not Mission is the real party in interest here” stated ATVA spokesperson, Cora Mandy.  “In other words, the proposed transaction is a smokescreen.  It will allow Nexstar to violate Congress’s national ownership rule.  And it will allow Nexstar to continue to inflate retransmission consent prices for consumers in Detroit and elsewhere.”

This is only the most recent evidence of long-standing sidecar-related abuses. ATVA has cited numerous prior examples of abuses in negotiating retransmission consent agreements, including:

  • Comcast’s recent Petition for Declaratory Ruling alleging that Nexstar exercised complete control over its putatively independent sidecar WPIX, contrary to its explicit promises to the Commission and in violation of the Communications Act.
  • A separate lawsuit alleging that Nexstar has continued to control several Marshall stations after being required to divest to receive Commission approval for a larger transaction.
  • Tribune Broadcasting’s lawsuit against Sinclair Broadcast group, alleging that Sinclair sought to control sidecars it purported to divest.
  • DIRECTV’s antitrust lawsuit against Nexstar alleging abuse of sidecars to raise retransmission consent prices to DIRECTV subscribers.