Policy

HD Retransmission Dispute in S.C. Settled

1/25/2005 7:55 AM Eastern

A South Carolina phone company that also provides cable-TV service has withdrawn a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission that alleged that an independent Fox affiliate was illegally withholding its HD signal.

Horry Telephone Cooperative Inc. filed a notice with the FCC Monday indicating that its dispute with WFXB in Myrtle Beach, S.C., had been settled privately.

“Can’t say much about it: It’s been resolved,” WFXB station manager David Carfolite said.

In an emergency complaint, HTC alleged that WFXB had entered into an exclusive contract with Time Warner Cable for distribution of its HD signal, even though FCC rules ban such a deal.

HTC, which serves about 35,000 subscribers, competes directly with Time Warner in some portions of the franchise area. HTC complained that the exclusive deal meant that its subscribers could not get access to the Feb. 6 Super Bowl in HDTV, harming its ability to compete with Time Warner.

From all indications, the FCC took the complaint seriously and wanted to address the issues raised promptly. WFXB’s response to the complaint was due at the agency Jan. 24, which turned out to be the same day HTC told the FCC the dispute has been settled.

A Time Warner spokesman declined comment.

HTC has access to WFXB’s analog signal, but its customers with HD monitors not equipped with digital-TV tuners would not have had access to the Super Bowl in that format.

September