Three towns affected by the Charter-Northwest Broadcasting carriage dispute have filed a complaint against the cable operator with the Federal Communications Commission.

Charter has been without 11 Northwest-owned local stations since February 1 due to a dispute between the two companies over carriage fees.

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The stations are:

KSWT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Yuma, Arizona; KYMA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Yuma; KIEM-TV, the NBC affiliate in Eureka, California; KVIQ, the CBS affiliate in Eureka, KAYU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Spokane, Washington; WSYT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Syracuse, New York; WICZ-TV, the Fox affiliate in Binghamton, New York; KMVU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Medford, Oregon; KFFX-TV, the Fox affiliate in Yakima, Washington; KAYU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Spokane, Washington; and KPVI-TV, the NBC affiliate in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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The three towns — Yuma, Arizona, Jackson, Wyoming and El Centro, California — allege that Charter violated FCC regulations by failing to notify their customers 30 days in advance that they could lose the local channels.

The towns ask the FCC to rule that Charter violated FCC rules, and provide refunds to affected subscribers.

“The Commission’s rules require 30 days’ advance notice to subscribers and local
franchising authorities before the deleting a channel from a cable operator’s channel lineup and  before increasing rates,” the complaint reads. “Charter intentionally violated these rules by failing to deliver any advance notice to subscribers or the Municipalities. Accordingly, pursuant to Section 76.7 of the Commission’s rules, the Municipalities submit this complaint and petition asking that the Commission find that: Charter violated the Commission’s rules; Charter must provide subscribers with appropriate refunds; and forfeitures should be imposed commensurate with Charter’s intentional violation of the Commission’s rules.”

Charter has maintained that it did not pull the Northwest-owned stations from its lineup. Instead, the cable operator says, Northwest refused to permit it to continue carrying them because of the dispute.

The FCC complaint could help Northwest in its negotiations with Charter. Northwest CEO Brian Brady has maintained throughout the battle that Charter has violated FCC regulations by failing to meet the 30-day requirement.

— Phillip Swann