Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Buckeye Cablevision sues Channel 36 owner over broadcasting fees

Buckeye Cablevision Inc. filed a lawsuit today in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas against a Toledo TV station and the owner of another.

The suit was filed against local Fox station WUPW-TV, Channel 36, its owner, American Spirit Media, and Raycom Media, which owns WTOL-TV, Channel 11.

The suit stems from a disagreement over whether Buckeye should pay more to broadcast WUPW, which is a Fox station.

The Federal Communications Commission approved WUPW's acquisition by American Spirit Media in March. As part of the $22 million deal, the station entered into a shared-services agreement with WTOL-TV that allows the stations to share news staff and broadcasts. It also permits shared access to studios, technical facilities, maintenance, and promotional efforts.

That shared-services agreement is the crux of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that WTOL and WUPW are separate entities, and that Buckeye Cablevision's contract with Raycom does not mean that it must pay the same fee to broadcast WUPW's signal as it does WTOL's.

"Buckeye believes WUPW is not covered by that agreement," Buckeye's Toledo attorney Keith Wilkowski said in an email to The Blade. "The amount Buckeye agreed to pay WTOL for retransmission consent is based on the high audience ratings of WTOL. WUPW’s ratings are not that high, and so value to Buckeye’s customers is less."

Bob Chirdon, the station manager of WTOL, declined comment.

Thomas Henson, head of American Spirit Media, did not immediately return a message left at his office.

Buckeye Cablevision Inc., which operates Buckeye CableSystem, is owned by Block Communications Inc., which also owns The Blade.

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