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Comcast, Nexstar reach agreement to avoid blackout

A Comcast XFinity cable technician.
A Comcast XFinity cable technician. (Photo: Pixabay, Graphic: The Desk)

Comcast Corporation and Nexstar Media Group reached an agreement over the weekend that prevented millions of Xfinity pay TV customers from losing dozens of Nexstar-owned local stations.

The agreement comes after Comcast was forced to pull at least one Nexstar-controlled station — WPIX (Channel 11, CW) in New York City — and warned that it might have to drop more if a new contract could not be reached by mid-December.

For its part, Nexstar began warning customers in early December that they may lose its owned-and-operated stations as well as stations owned by third parties that Nexstar controls under a local marketing agreement.

That local marketing arrangement has been a source of contention between Comcast and Nexstar, with the cable giant filing an informal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission last year arguing that Nexstar’s control of WPIX skirted federal ownership rules for broadcasters. Those rules are intended to prevent any one company from becoming dominant in the broadcast television space.

The disagreement eventually spilled into federal court, with depositions scheduled to start next year, according to a court docket reviewed by The Desk. Comcast filed a formal complaint with the FCC last week.

In a statement, a Comcast spokesperson said the carriage agreement with Nexstar also resolves pending litigation that the broadcaster had filed against the cable company in federal court last year. The spokesperson affirmed its complaint with the FCC challenging Nexstar’s operational control of WPIX remained open.

WPIX was restored to Comcast’s sytems in New Jersey and Connecticut over the weekend.

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