Mediacom Communications’ viewers can breathe a sigh of relief now that the cable operator has reached a retransmission agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, but the cable operator’s chairman is lobbying Capitol Hill for changes.
The latest retransmission dustup pitted Mediacom, the nation’s seventh-largest MSO, against Sinclair, the latter of which was seeking a higher fee from the cable operator to carry its stations. The two sides, which squared off several years ago before reaching an agreement, finalized a retransmission agreement yesterday that averted a blackout.
The one-year agreement will allow Mediacom to carry Sinclair’s 22 stations to its 700,000 subscribers in 11 states.
While the terms weren’t disclosed, Mediacom Chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso wrote a letter to Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) that said the current structure of retransmission agreements under the Federal Communications Commission allows broadcasters to hold video service providers’ viewers hostage with the threat of blackouts.
“Broadcasters have been granted free use of the public airwaves on the condition that they serve their communities in a manner that furthers the public interest,” Commisso wrote. “While we strongly believe that the FCC already has the necessary authority under the Communications Act to prevent broadcasters from engaging in economic blackmail in violation of this public trust, we are nonetheless pleased that you have indicated your willingness to consult with those calling for retransmission consent reform and to pursue changes in the law. As indicated, we look forward to standing with you as you undertake this most important task.”