Mediacom asks FCC to intervene in Sinclair retransmission dispute

Mediacom is asking the Federal Communications Commission for an interim order preventing the Sinclair Broadcast Group from blocking access to its station programming while the two negotiate a retransmission agreement.

Sinclair is the owner of CBS 2 and the operator of Fox 28 in Cedar Rapids.

In a complaint to the FCC in October, Mediacom also asks the agency to find that Sinclair is in violation of its good-faith bargaining rules for attempting to simultaneously represent a station it owns and stations for which it has only a local marketing agreement or other operating agreement.

The complaint says the two companies have been in talks on a retransmission agreement since April without success.

“Sadly, after more than five months, it is clear that Sinclair, emboldened by its success in its previous dispute with Mediacom, is not interested in working out a reasonable agreement reflecting competitive market considerations,” Mediacom says in the filing.

Thomas Larsen, Mediacom vice president of regulatory and public affairs, said Mediacom customers have no reason to become concerned about the dispute.

He said Mediacom got stuck without Sinclair programming in January 2007 because it waited to request FCC intervention until after its customers had lost programming. This time, Larsen said, Mediacom is seeking the FCC’s involvement before a crisis occurs.

Neither Sinclair Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Barry Faber nor KGAN General Manager Peter Paisley could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mediacom also is asking the FCC for a permanent order that Sinclair be required to negotiate a fair rate based on rates that Mediacom is paying to other broadcasters, or that both parties submit the dispute to binding arbitration.

Cable TV provider Comcast, the National Cable Television Association and the American Cable Association have filed briefs with the FCC supporting Mediacom’s position.

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