DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Mediacom Communications Corp. said Sunday that it would be willing to accept similar contract terms to those Sinclair Broadcast Group recently provided to Time Warner Cable to settle a dispute over how much Mediacom should pay to retransmit Sinclair stations' signals.Sinclair, based in the Baltimore suburb of Hunt Valley, Md., pulled 22 of its stations from Mediacom in 13 states on Jan. 6 after a contract between the two companies expired. That left more than 700,000 cable subscribers -- 250,000 of them Iowans -- without cable access to network-affiliated stations.
Court documents filed early in the dispute indicated the difference between Sinclair's asking price and Mediacom's offer was about $1 million.
Rocco B. Commisso, Mediacom's chairman and chief executive, said the company is pleased that Time Warner customers ''did not have to endure the same blackout of the Sinclair stations that Mediacom customers have gone through the past two weeks.''
''Now that Sinclair has reached a long term deal with Time Warner, whose terms presumably reflect the current market for retransmission consent, Sinclair should have no further excuses offering similar terms to Mediacom,'' he said in a statement.
In a news release, Mediacom, the nation's eighth-largest cable television company, said the financial arrangements of the agreement between Sinclair and Time Warner Cable, a unit of Time Warner Inc., were not disclosed.
Commisso said failure to give Mediacom a similar deal would indicate that Sinclair ''is intent on using its raw market power and leverage to discriminate against Mediacom and other smaller cable companies serving small communities across America.''A telephone message left by The Associated Press on Sunday for Sinclair spokesman Barry M. Faber wasn't immediately returned.
Mediacom has repeatedly sought help from state and federal lawmakers to resolve the dispute, but Sinclair officials have said it's a disagreement between two private companies and that the government should not interfere.
Mediacom said it and Time Warner ''have been negotiating with Sinclair for essentially the same product over the course of the same period.''
''Without price discrimination it should lead to a similar result,'' the company said in the release. ''But because of Sinclair's discriminatory practices, Time Warner customers enjoyed the NFL playoff games this weekend, while Mediacom customers were left in the dark simply because it would not agree to Sinclair's exorbitant demands.''Commisso said he's ''outraged over Sinclair's total disregard for the inconveniences brought on Mediacom's customers,'' and that he ''cannot begin to comprehend why the FCC, while acknowledging that the public interest would be best served by the parties resolving their dispute through arbitration, has not acted yet to order such a resolution.''