By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

DIRECTV yesterday sent a letter to the FCC that reiterates its call for the agency to investigate whether Nexstar is controlling both the public relations and carriage decisions of Mission Broadcasting and White Knight. The satellite TV provider and Nexstar have been at war since July 2 when DIRECTV lost Nexstar’s 159 local stations due to a battle over fees. DIRECTV, which has also been without nearly 30 local stations owned by Mission and White Knight since October in separate carriage disputes, has claimed that Nexstar is actually pulling the strings of both station groups. Nexstar manages both White Knight and Mission Broadcasting but claims that their carriage decisions are independently made. The two stations groups are not owned by Nexstar.

“Nexstar provides no evidence for its fairly implausible claims,” Michael Nilsson, a DIRECTV attorney, states in the letter to the FCC. “And I remain confident that the slightest bit of factual investigation or discovery will reveal the truth about Nexstar’s control of Mission and White Knight and their stations. I urge the Commission to investigate this matter thoroughly.”

The new FCC letter notes that DIRECTV on June 29 filed an “informal complaint alleging that Nexstar had violated various (FCC) rules by exercising de facto control over its sidecars, Mission and White Knight.” The TV Answer Man has asked Nexstar for a comment and will report back here if we receive one.

The FCC rarely intervenes in carriage battles for various reasons and it’s likely it won’t here, either. But the DIRECTV letter is more evidence that the two companies are not close to a settlement. DIRECTV last Friday publicly accused the broadcaster of dragging its feet in the negotiations and holding its channels ‘hostage’ to get more money. Nexstar responded on Saturday that DIRECTV is being purposely misleading and is only interested in “maximizing their profits, not serving their subscribers.”

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— Phillip Swann