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Hawaiian Telcom reaches deal with Nexstar after FCC complaint

The skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Hawaiian Telcom says it has reached a deal with Texas-based Nexstar Media Group to restore several channels to its cable television system.

The deal announced on Thursday allows Hawaiian Telcom to offer cable subscribers two Honolulu television stations — KHON (Channel 2, Fox and CW) and KIII (Channel 9) — along with several digital broadcast networks and the cable upstart NewsNation.

Hawaiian Telcom was forced to pull the stations late last month after a carriage deal between it and Nexstar expired with no new agreement in place.

Two weeks ago, the company filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) accusing Nexstar of negotiating a new agreement in bad faith. The complaint was amended this week after Hawaiian Telcom said it reached a tentative agreement with Nexstar, only for the broadcaster to impose several new conditions at the last minute, including a requirement that Hawaiian Telcom drop its original complaint and stipulate to a term that it would never file another FCC complaint against Nexstar again.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Hawaiian Telcom said the deal reached with Nexstar resolves the carriage dispute over the missing channels, and it does not require Hawaiian Telcom to withdraw its original or amended FCC complaint.

“Although we have reached an agreement with Nexstar, we will not drop our complaint at the FCC asserting that Nexstar violated federal law with its negotiating tactics, including using our customers as pawns,” Filifotu Vaii, the vice president of consumer product sales at Hawaiian Telcom, said in a statement.

In a press release concerning the new agreement, Hawaiian Telcom made it clear that there is still bad blood between it and Nexstar, even if the two sides are doing business once again. The statement claimed Nexstar’s rates “have increased nearly five times more than the normal rate of inflation in Hawaii,” and noted that Nexstar is currently locked in an ongoing dispute with satellite and streaming TV provider DirecTV that has left a vast part of the country without access to some network programming.

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In March, DirecTV filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Nexstar, accusing the company of violating ownership caps by managing several television stations that are licensed to White Knight Broadcasting and Mission Broadcasting. Federal rules prohibit any one independent broadcaster from owning TV stations that reach more than 38 percent of the country; DirecTV argues Nexstar’s management of the stations — which includes negotiating carriage contracts on their behalf — makes it a de facto owner of TV stations that reach nearly 70 percent of American households.

Nexstar disputes its operational control of Mission and White Knight stations violates any federal rules, and says it complies with all laws.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).