DirecTV should be focus of station-owner retrans complaint, not 'sales agent,' FCC says


The FCC has rejected the complaint filed by an Erie, Pennsylvania, TV station owner against DirecTV sales agent Campus Televideo (CTV), suggesting the broadcaster should instead go directly after the satellite TV company. 

As detailed by Broadcasting & Cable, SJL Broadcasting, the owner of CBS affiliate WSEE-TV and NBC affiliate WICU-TV, complained the FCC that CTV has been retransmitting the stations’ signals to Edinboro University without a retrans agreement. 

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The FCC’s Media Bureau dismissed the SJL complaint, ruling that CTV is acting as a sales agent for DirecTV and parent company AT&T.

"CTV is merely acting as an authorized sales agent for DirecTV’s programming services," the Media Bureau said. ”Accordingly, there is no merit to the complaint alleging that CTV is retransmitting and granting sub-distribution rights for the stations without consent.”

In earlier findings, CTV claimed it was merely rebroadcasting programming it already pays DirecTV for. 

“In short there is no support for SJL’s claim that CTV owes a retransmission fee for signals that viewers receive directly from DirecTV, and it would be unjust from a policy perspective to impose a second retransmission fee on CTV merely because it provides third-party billing and account management support,” CTV said in court documents obtained by Law360 (sub. req.).

SJL filed its complaint in August seeking fast-tracked enforcement. It said CTV violated the Communications Act and FCC rules that bar retransmitting signals without authorization. The issue has been ongoing for at least two years, the company claimed.