Smith wins must-carry case against TWC


A local television station has brought down a massive national cable MSO in a must-carry case that concerns communities in the eastern and western portions of California’s Ventura County. The station is KEYT Santa Barbara.

The station has a special market definition that makes certain otherwise non-market communities part of its own individual market pursuant to an FCC modification dating back to 1995 – and as such, it wants its HD signal carried on the local TWC system.

The communities in question are in the western half of the county: Ojai, Oxnard, Santa Paula, Camarillo, and Ventura.

TWC’s local system only carries KEYT’s analog signal, so owner Smith Media pressed its full must-carry rights for the station, which includes passing its HD stream on to subscribers.

In refusing to grant must-carry, TWC said that Smith had opted for retransmission consent rather than must-carry. Smith said that only applied to the eastern Ventura communities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Fillmore, Moorpark, Port Hueneme, Port Hueneme Naval Center, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village – which are considered part of its unmodified service area.

It argued that since the western Ventura communities were outside the area, they qualified for default must-carry status.

The FCC agreed that the retransmission consent agreement only applied to the eastern communities and has ordered TWC to put the station’s HD signal on its western Ventura system.

RBR-TVBR observation: Smith is doing the owner it sold the station to a favor. It should add at least a modicum of value for News-Press & Gazette, which has deal in place to buy the ABC affiliate for $14.25M cash.