While Buckeye Cablevision and Sinclair‘s retransmission consent-fueled dispute wages on, the 2 are bickering at the FCC over nonduplication. The cable provider lost Toledo-based NBC affil WNWO on Dec 16, as an extension to its retrans consent contract expired. One day later, Sinclair filed a complaint at the FCC claiming that as of that day, and "perhaps far earlier," Buckeye failed to provide WNWO with non-dupe protection by broadcasting the signal of NBC affil WDIV of Detroit. It wants sanctions, including a "significant" monetary fine, against Buckeye, which is owned by Block Comm.

Buckeye responded Jan 7, telling the FCC that the WDIV signal was briefly broadcast to subs due to "internal confusion" on Dec 16 when WNWO’s signal was pulled. "The problem was corrected by Buckeye employees after only 2 hours and several hours before Sinclair raised a complaint," the operator told the Commission this week. What’s more, Buckeye argued that Sinclair is trying to enforce non-dupe rights that it never properly secured.

Buckeye contends that Sinclair never submitted a request for non-duplication protection from Buckeye after it closed on the purchase of WNWO from Barrington in a deal that closed in late Nov. Sinclair insists the station is covered by a request for non-dupe protection sent by Barrington in March. "The complaint seeks to rely on 1.) a non-duplication request submitted by the previous owners of WNWO-TV that was invalid when received [Buckeye claims Barrington asserted non-dupe rights it had not yet obtained from NBC]; and 2.) an affiliation agreement that does not include Sinclair as a party," Buckeye told the FCC. It wants the complaint dismissed, even though it is continuing to provide WNWO with non-duplication protection.

Back to that Dec 17 period of WDIV’s NBC signal being transmitted… Buckeye said it was set up for engineering purposes only, was never advertised to consumers and was unavailable to the 70% of subs who use a cable box. The MVPD argues that no sub could have accessed the channel (available only on HD without a box) without considerable effort, while Sinclair says WNWO’s pres heard that NBC programming was viewable on Buckeye through a discussion on a local radio station. Guess these 2 aren’t close to reaching a new retrans deal?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared in CableFAX Daily. Go here to subscribe.

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