Nexstar Sues Time Warner Cable After It Drags Broadcaster Into Fight With Hearst

The suit at U.S. District Court in northern Texas involves an interesting quirk in Time Warner Cable’s retransmission consent dispute with Hearst, which since July 9 has left more than 2M cable customers in 11 markets without access to the broadcaster’s programming. The No. 2 cable company is filling the gap in some of its communities by importing signals from Nexstar’s CBS affiliate in Rochester, NY and NBC affiliates in Terre Haute, Ind. and Wilkes Barre, Penn. It’s usually illegal for a pay TV provider to import a signal from a distant station — especially without its consent. Nexstar is asking the court to force Time Warner Cable to pull the plug. Nexstar says that the cable company is infringing on the copyright for its local newscasts, and is “irreparably harming Nexstar’s goodwill with its national networks and advertisers.” On Friday the company filed an emergency petition to the FCC seeking an injunction and sanctions against Time Warner Cable. “Nexstar intends to pursue all legal and regulatory remedies to cause Time Warner to cease and desist misappropriating signals,” the broadcaster says. But Time Warner Cable says that its carriage of the Nexstar signals “is fully authorized by the retransmission consent agreement between the parties.” The company adds that it is “disappointed that Nexstar is working to assist and expand Hearst’s leverage against us and our customers.” It says that it will  fight “this aggressive and coercive broadcaster behavior.”

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