Dish, ACA seek ‘baseball-syle’ arbitration, other conditions on Nexstar-Media General merger

Dish Network and the American Cable Association continue to put pressure on Nexstar’s $4.6 billion purchase of rival broadcaster Media General.

Meeting with the FCC this week along with officials for the International Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, the pay-TV industry denizens asked the agency to impose the condition of “baseball-style” arbitration for approval of the deal. 

During negotiations on broadcast retransmission licensing, the Dish and ACA argued, the newly expanded Nexstar “would be prevented from blacking out its stations on the MVPD with which it is negotiating, with a true-up reflecting rates decided upon by the arbitrator dating back to the previous contract’s expiration date.”

Dish and ACA also asked that conditions be made that negate so-called “after-acquired stations” clauses in retrans contracts. In practical terms, Media General stations acquired by Nexstar would have to adhere to the retrans licensing rates in their current MVPD contracts, at least until those deals expire. 

Irving, Texas-based Nexstar has agreed to pay $4.6 billion in cash and stock for Media General, creating a broadcasting company that controls 171 stations serving 100 U.S. markets -- a formidable opponent for any pay-TV operator to face in a broadcast retransmission licensing negotiation. 

“Among other things, 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.

Related articles:
Cox urges FCC to block Nexstar-Media General merger
Nexstar wins fight for Media General, agrees to pay $4.6 billion to create mega-broadcaster
ACA asks FCC to 'deny or condition' Nexstar-Media General merger