As broadcasters and Aereo wait to see if the Supreme Court will agree to the former’s recent petition to hear the case against the latter, the Barry Diller-backed streaming service has been sued a second time this week in the state of Utah. And today ABC and CW affiliates owner Nexstar Communications filed a motion for a preliminary injunction (read it here) to shut Aereo down during the course of the litigation from the copyright infringement complaint it filed on Thursday. Launched in NYC last year and already in several other cities across the nation, the much-sued Aereo premiered in Utah on August 19. Fox Broadcasting along with local stations KSTU-TV, KUTV-TV and KMYU-TV filed a suit against Aereo on October 7. Now Nexstar, who own 91 TV stations across America, have jumped into the legal war. “Aereo’s conduct thus has constituted and will constitute willful copyright infringement…Unless enjoined by this Court, Aereo will continue to cause Nexstar great and irreparable injury that cannot be fully compensated or measured in money,” says the 9-page complaint that the Texas-based company filed on October 24 (read it here). The owners of Salt Lake City-based ABC affiliate KTVX and CW affiliate KUCW, Nexstar wants a jury trial, unspecified statutory and actual damages, and, as the motion they filed today reiterates, an injunction against Aereo to stop it from streaming their stations. Interestingly in their pursuit of a preliminary injunction, which Aereo has escaped in NY and more recently in the Boston area in respective legal actions, Nexstar has raised the specter of another streaming service to seek its goal. “Not surprisingly, federal district courts in California and Washington, D.C. preliminarily enjoined an Internet retransmission service that claims it is identical in all material respects to Aereo,” noted the 35-page motion filed in federal court today. Nexstar must be hoping that the use of the FilmOn X cases will have greater success in Utah than it did in Massachusetts, where another federal judge all but ignored the comparison in his October 8 order rejecting such an injunction as sought by the Hearst-owned ABC Boston affiliate. Since that order FilmOn X have been unsuccessfully trying to get the DC-based federal judge to trim the nearly nationwide blackout she order against them on September 5.
This builds on Nexstar’s effort to bulk up with help from its election year windfall from sales of political ads. In today’s deals, the company paid Newport Television $35.4M for a CBS affiliate in Fresno, an NBC/CW station in Bakersfield, and a low-powered Telemundo affiliate there. In addition, Nexstar agreed to pay Mission broadcasting $17.1M for the Fox and ABC affiliates in Burlington, Vt. The FCC has to bless the arrangements before they can take place; Nexstar expects them to close early next year. They follow the company’s deal in July to buy 12 stations in markets including Salt Lake city, Little Rock, and Memphis.
Here’s today’s release:
IRVING, Texas– Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: NXST) announced today that it has entered into long-term agreements through December 2018 with the CBS Television Network for eight stations that it owns and operates. The Nexstar-owned CBS-affiliated stations include KLBK in Lubbock, Texas; KLST in San Angelo, Texas; KTAB in Abilene-Sweetwater, Texas; WCIA in Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Illinois; WFRV in Green Bay, Wisconsin; WJMN in Marquette, Michigan; WMBD in Peoria-Bloomington, Illinois; and WROC in Rochester, New York. In addition, Mission Broadcasting, Inc. has entered into a new long-term affiliation agreement for its CBS-affiliated station KOLR in Springfield, Missouri.
Newport is Providence Equity’s holding company for the collection of TV stations the private equity firm bought in 2007 from Clear Channel. Investors seem to like Nexstar’s $285.5M agreement today for 12 Newport stations; Nexstar shares are +5.2% at mid-day. Sinclair is more complicated: In addition to the $412.5M it’s paying for six Newport stations, Sinclair agreed today to pay $40M for Tampa-based Bay Television. Sinclair shares are -1.6%. Privately held Cox is paying $302M for its four stations.
Here’s the release:
The suit at U.S. District Court in northern Texas involves an interesting quirk in Time Warner Cable’s retransmission consent dispute with Hearst, which since July 9 has left more than 2M cable customers in 11 markets without access …
It will take years before most ad sales will hit the peaks that TV stations saw in 2007, Moody’s Investors Service analyst Carl Salas says this morning in an industry report. Local businesses have been slow to increase their spending after the economy tanked in 2008 and 2009 — and now broadcasters must compete for those dollars against websites, social media, digital displays and other emerging media. Sure, stations will see some extra cash from retransmission consent deals with pay TV providers. But it won’t be a windfall: Major networks are demanding reverse compensation agreements from their affiliates, giving the national broadcasters much of the dough collected by the stations that they used to pay to carry their programs.
The nine-station acquisition includes ABC affiliates in Denver, Indianapolis, San Diego, and Bakersfield, CA. When the transaction is complete, 10 of Scripps’ 19 stations will be ABC affiliates – making it the largest independent owner of ABC stations. McGraw-Hill’s other stations are low-power affiliates of Spanish language network Azteca America. Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker says this morning that the terms are “a positive for the broadcast TV space” because they reaffirm the value of stations at a time when potential buyers are growing concerned about the prospects for the ad market. Nexstar is still looking to sell. McGraw-Hill wanted to unload its stations as it prepares to split into two companies, and deal with shareholder concerns that it has become too unfocused. Here’s the release: