FCC fines Houston cable operator $2.25M for failing to pay retrans fees

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Houston cable operator TV Max may be forced to pay a $2.25 million fine to the FCC for failing to pay local TV stations retransmission-consent fees, the Commission said Tuesday.

The proposed fine is substantial for TV Max, which counts just 10,000 subscribers located in 245 apartment buildings in Houston, according to the FCC. TV Max uses the brand Wavevision to market its services.

TV Max had retransmission-consent deals with Houston TV stations owned by Fox, Univision, ABC and Post-Newsweek, but continued to deliver programming from the stations to its subscribers after its contracts expired, according to the FCC. Its agreements with Fox, Univision and Post-Newsweek expired on Dec. 31, 2011, and its deal with ABC expired on March 2, 2012, the FCC said.

TV Max argued that it shouldn't be forced to pay the retrans fees since it was converting its delivery system to a Master Antenna Television (MATV) system that captures over-the-air programming from rooftop antennas. But the FCC said TV Max continued to deliver local TV programming from cable headends--which would require it to pay the broadcasters--before it converted to an MATV system. 

"TV Max consciously and deliberately retransmitted the stations without having written retransmission-consent agreements in place. The violations are therefore willful," the FCC wrote in its forfeiture order. The commission gave the company 30 days to respond.

Officials at TV Max didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

For more:
- see the FCC release
- see the FCC forfeiture order
TV Technology has this story

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