Dish and ACA: Nexstar should do 'baseball-style' arbitration on retrans if it wants Media General

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and the American Cable Association (ACA) filed further comments to the FCC, asking the agency to block Nextstar Broadcasting Group's $4.6 billion takeover of rival Media General.

"If approved, this transaction would create a new broadcast ownership conglomerate of unprecedented size and scope, one which will control the highest number of the Big-4 local broadcast stations in the country and have the power to threaten service blackouts to millions of consumers if any pay-TV distributor tries to hold the line on retransmission consent fees, which have risen more than 22,000 percent since 2005," Dish and ACA said in their letter to the FCC.

"Moreover, approval of this merger will allow Nexstar to immediately profit from so-called 'after-acquired station' clauses … which will result in dramatically higher fees for MVPDs and their customers without any offsetting benefit," the letter added. 

Dish and ACA originally petitioned the FCC to block the deal in March. In their latest filing, the pair say Nexstar didn't do enough to defend its position in its response filing. 

The satellite operator and cable industry lobbying group even have a few suggestions on conditions the FCC could impose on the deal. 

"In particular, the Commission should, at a minimum, require the post-merger Nexstar to submit to baseball-style arbitration with interim carriage for any pay-TV operator that requests it when negotiating for retransmission consent," they said. "The Commission should also require that Nexstar refrain from exercising its right to have retransmission consent rates under existing MEG agreements reset to Nexstar rate levels as a result of its after-acquired station clauses with an MVPD until those agreements expire by their own terms."

Dish has been active on the deal-meddling front lately. Earlier in the week, its lawyers met with the FCC to discuss imposing further conditions on Charter's (NASDAQ: CHTR) takeover of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. 

Dish is also is lobbying the FCC to deny Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) proposed $1.8 billion acquisition of XO Communications' spectrum assets and fiber business. 

For more:
- read this Dish filing to the FCC
- read this other Dish filing to the FCC

Related articles:
Dish sees another retrans battlefront emerge as Media General warns viewers of possible blackouts
Nexstar lashes out against Cox in increasingly ugly retrans battle
Nexstar wins fight for Media General, agrees to pay $4.6 billion to create mega-broadcaster
Dish warns key 5G spectrum 'will be controlled almost exclusively by Verizon' if XO deal approved

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