For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, January 24, 2019 – American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement based on a report that Gray Television alleges it must cut its local news coverage in Casper, Wyo., market because the Department of Justice refused to allow it to form a CBS-NBC duopoly last fall:
“It is truly outrageous for Gray to use the DOJ’s well-reasoned decision to block its creation of a duopoly as an excuse to drastically cut back its local news coverage in Casper. Gray is one of the largest broadcasters in the country, having just purchased all of Raycom’s stations. It just reported “record operating results.” Surely, Gray can’t really mean that it can’t support local news in Casper because it can’t control two Big Four affiliates there. Local news, after all, represents the bare minimum responsibility that a local broadcaster has.”
“The reality is that TV station owners, including Gray, have a record of making newsroom operation cuts even when regulators approve their mergers. Last year, Gray laid off six employees at WCAX in Burlington, Vt., less than a year after buying the CBS affiliate. According to a published report, Gray said no layoffs were planned at the time when the WCAX purchase was announced.
“The fact is that DOJ took the appropriate step in stopping Gray’s ‘Casper Caper.’ As Gray surely knows, the establishment of Big Four duopolies produces market leverage that results in pay-TV providers and their customers paying above-market rates for retransmission consent, and other harms.
“Both the FCC and Congress will have the opportunity to review issues related to broadcasters and retransmission consent this year. When they are presented with broadcaster requests for continued special regulatory treatment, they should keep Gray’s behavior in mind. Regulators cannot allow broadcasters making record profits to justify huge and harmful mergers based on made-up threats to remove local news if they do not get their way.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit:https://acaconnects.org/