Cox and Nexstar in Flame War Over Retransmission Agreement

By Kevin Eck 

Cox Communications and Nexstar Broadcasting have pulled out the flamethrowers over prolonged negotiations gone bad. Their five year retransmission consent deal expires today.

Yesterday, Cox said it wanted the public to tell the FCC the merger between Nexstar Broadcasting and Media General is a bad idea. Nexstar quickly fired back by calling Cox irrational.

Tactically, Cox’s mis-guided plea to consumers to oppose the announced transaction with Media General serves to further highlight the irrational thinking of Cox’s management as Nexstar’s merger with Media General is in full compliance with the FCC’s rules regarding ownership of television stations, including the national cap, which was statutorily set by Congress.

Nexstar then called Cox ignorant after it tried shaming by sidecar when it said Nexstar’s Mission Broadcasting agreed to terms two weeks ago.

Furthermore, Cox’s assertion that “Nexstar won’t even accept the very same rate that stations they manage agreed to just two weeks ago” speaks to the ignorance of Cox as it relates to FCC regulations. Specifically, the FCC adopted rules in 2014 that prohibit Nexstar from knowing the rates agreed to with Cox by the stations Nexstar provides operating services to.

Nexstar also said it wanted to “set the record straight” and called Cox’ allegations that its merger wasn’t in the public interest a “gross misrepresentation.”

“While it is not Nexstar’s policy to debate publicly with any of its commercial partners, the egregious mischaracterizations included in today’s Cox release warrant a response to ensure that viewers, legislators and regulators, the investment community and the public at-large get the accurate facts on what is in most cases a straight-forward business negotiation,” said Nexstar. “Nexstar intends to pursue any and all methods of recourse to cause Cox to cease and desist making future mischaracterizations.”