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Order Denying Mandatory Carriage Complaint

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Released: April 19, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-800

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the matter of:
)
)

Central Ohio Association of
)
CSR-8754-M
Christian Broadcasters
)
Docket No. 12-366
)
Must-Carry Complaint Regarding
)
Qualified Low Power Television
)
Station WOCB-CD, Marion, Ohio
)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Adopted: April 19, 2013

Released: April 19, 2013

By the Senior Deputy Chief, Policy Division, Media Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. Central Ohio Association of Christian Broadcasters, licensee of low power television station
WOCB-CD, Marion, Ohio (“WOCB”), filed the above-captioned complaint against Time Warner Cable
Inc. (“TWC”) for failure to carry WOCB on TWC’s cable systems serving various communities in Ohio.1
TWC filed an opposition to the complaint, to which WOCB responded. For the reasons below, we
dismiss WOCB’s complaint.

II.

BACKGROUND

2. Under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the Commission’s rules, qualified
low power television (“LPTV”) stations are entitled to mandatory carriage in certain limited
circumstances.2 An LPTV station that conforms to the rules established for LPTV stations in Part 74 of
the Commission’s rules will be considered qualified if: (1) it broadcasts at least the minimum number of
hours required pursuant to 47 C.F.R. Part 73; (2) it adheres to Commission requirements regarding non-
entertainment programming and employment practices, and the Commission determines that the
programming of the LPTV station addresses local news and informational needs that are not being
adequately served by full power television broadcast stations because of the geographic distance of such
full power stations from the low power station’s community of license; (3) it complies with interference
regulations consistent with its secondary status; (4) it is located no more than 35 miles from the cable
system’s principal headend and delivers to that headend an over-the-air signal of good quality; (5) the
community of license of the station and the franchise area of the cable system were both located outside
the largest 160 Metropolitan Statistical Areas on June 30, 1990, and the population of such community of
license on that date did not exceed 35,000; and (6) there is no full power television broadcast station
licensed to any community within the county or other political subdivision (of a State) served by the cable
system.3


1 The communities at issue are 132 incorporated and unincorporated areas in Champaign, Coshocton, Crawford,
Hardin, Hocking, Knox, Logan, Marion, Morgan, Perry, and Wyandot counties.
2 47 U.S.C. § 534(c)(1); 47 C.F.R. § 76.56(b)(3).
3 47 U.S.C. § 534(h)(2); 47 C.F.R. § 76.55(d).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-800

III.

DISCUSSION

3. In its complaint, WOCB claims that it is a qualified LPTV station, and seeks mandatory
carriage on TWC’s Marion, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio systems.4 With regard to the Marion system,
TWC replies that it has never denied a request for carriage by WOCB, and states that it is currently
carrying the station on that system.5 WOCB concedes this fact, but requests that the Commission reaffirm
such carriage rights.6 We decline to do so at this time. As there is no present dispute concerning the
carriage of WOCB on the Marion system, there is no basis for a must carry complaint with respect to the
communities served by that system. That portion of this complaint is dismissed.
4. As regards the Columbus system, WOCB states that it believes it provides a good quality
signal to TWC’s Columbus headend.7 In its opposition to the complaint, TWC provides test results
indicating that WOCB’s signal strength at the Columbus headend is no greater than -67.75 dBm.8 The
Commission has determined that -61 dBm is the signal strength necessary to provide a good quality
digital signal at a cable system’s principal headend.9 WOCB states in its response that it is willing to pay
for fiber carriage to the Columbus headend to ensure a signal of sufficient strength.10 However, as TWC
correctly argues,11 unlike full power television stations, LPTV stations such as WOCB are not permitted
to cure a low quality signal with additional specialized equipment at a cable headend.12
5. TWC also argues WOCB does not qualify for mandatory carriage because it fails the second
prong of Section 76.55(d) in that the “local news and informational needs” of a vast majority of the
communities in Champaign, Coshocton, Crawford, Hardin, Hocking, Knox, Logan, Morgan, and Perry
are being adequately met by an “abundance of local news, community and other local programming”
provided by full power television stations much closer to the communities than WOCB.13 Under section
76.55(d) of the Commission’s rules, an LPTV station must first make a prima facie showing that it is
providing locally-focused programming directed to the communities it seeks to serve, and it thereby shifts
the burden to the cable operator to show that the neighboring full-power stations adequately provide
subscribers with local programming.14 General assertions by a cable operator that full-power stations it
carries have stories addressing the local issues of the communities are not sufficient in the face of an
LPTV station’s prima facie case,15 nor can the service provided by the full-power stations be considered
superior merely because of their closer proximity to the communities at issue.16 However, other than


4 WOCB Complaint at 5-6.
5 TWC Opposition at 1-2.
6 WOCB Complaint at 1, 5; WOCB Response at 3.
7 WOCB Complaint at 4.
8 TWC Opposition at Exh. C.
9 See Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast Signals: Amendment to Part 76 of the Commission's Rules, CS
Docket No. 98-120, Declaratory Order, 23 FCC Rcd 14254, 14261-62, ¶ 21 (2008).
10 WOCB Response at 2.
11 TWC Opposition at 3 n.6.
12 Implementation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, Broadcast Signal
Carriage Issues
, 8 FCC Rcd 2965, 2991 ¶ 104 (1993).
13 TWC Opposition at 6 (citing Exh. G – Distance Calculation Worksheets).
14 See Smith v. Cable One, Inc., 18 FCC Rcd 9970, 9972 ¶ 7 (MB 2003)
15 See id. (citing In re American Television, Inc., 14 FCC Rcd 8842, 8846 ¶ 13 (MB 1999)).
16 See id. at 9973 ¶ 10. Accordingly, TWC’s distance calculation worksheets would be insufficient evidence to show
that its full-power stations serve the local news and informational needs of the residents in the communities.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-800

general descriptions of the types of programming it airs, WOCB has failed to introduce any programming
logs or other evidence supporting its contention that it provides local news and informational
programming directed to the contested communities.17 Accordingly, although we dismiss this matter due
to WOCB’s failure to provide a good quality signal, WOCB would not be qualified to be carried in these
communities without a stronger showing.
6.
Finally, for the first time in its reply, WOCB raises that TWC previously consolidated its
headends in Kenton, Ashley and Johnstown, Ohio, thereby averting its obligation to carry WOCB on
systems served from those headends, and that it believes TWC will also soon tear down its Marion
headend and require carriage from its Columbus headend, destroying its carriage therein.18 It asks us to
ensure that TWC will not move its Marion headend, as TWC has “already undermined or evaded
[WOCB’s] rights to must carry in [Johnstown, Kenton and Ashley, Ohio] by moving its principal
headend.”19 It is true that when a cable system elects a principal headend, it may not change that election
without good cause.20 However, WOCB has provided insufficient evidence in the record to lead us to
conclude that TWC's consolidation or elimination of certain headends involved moving its principal
headend or that TWC’s designation of Columbus, Ohio as its principal headend was made to avoid its
mandatory carriage responsibilities.
7.
Because WOCB fails to provide a good quality signal to the principal headend of TWC’s
Columbus system, we find that WOCB is not a qualified LPTV station with respect to that system, and
therefore it is not entitled to mandatory carriage therein.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

8. Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

, pursuant to Section 614 of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 534, and Sections 76.55(d) and 76.56(b)(3) of the Commission’s rules,21
that the must carry complaint filed by Central Ohio Association of Christian Broadcasters

IS DENIED

.
9. This action is taken pursuant to authority delegated by Section 0.283 of the Commission’s
rules.22
FEDERAL COMMUNCIATIONS COMMISSION
Steven A. Broeckaert
Senior Deputy Chief, Policy Division
Media Bureau


17See Schrecongost v. TCI of Penn., Inc., 12 FCC Rcd 13194, 13200 ¶15 (MB 1997), aff’d 19 FCC Rcd 5779 (2004).
The Commission has stated, “[p]rogram logs are not required…information certainly can be presented through other
forms of evidence, but the salient information provided in the showing must be specific as to the type of
programming provided and the number of hours per week such programming is provided.” 19 FCC Rcd at 5783 ¶ 9.
18 WOCB Reponse at 3.
19 See id.
20 47 C.F.R. § 76.5(pp)(2).
21 47 C.F.R. §§ 76.55(d), 76.56(b)(3).
22 47 C.F.R. § 0.283.
3

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