Comcast Joins Mediacom In Sinclair Dispute

Comcast has joined Mediacom in asking the FCC to look into whether Sinclair is violating the FCC's "good faith" bargaining rules by negotiating retransmission consent for both its owned stations and ones it has local marketing agreements with in the same markets.

That came in support of an emergency petition by Mediacom that the FCC make that determination, particularly with respect to negotiations for KGAN and KFXA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Comcast said in comments supporting Mediacom's complaint against Sinclair that "there are substantial questions as to the propriety of local broadcast stations using LMA's or similar arrangements to negotiate jointly retransmission consent agreements in a particular market."

Comcast says that as far as it knows, neither Congress nor the FCC have treated LMA's as conferring the right to negotiate retrans, and points out that the Justice Department has antitrust law requires retrans rights to be exercised individually and that collusion among stations results in the extraction of more favorable terms from cable operators.

"The Commission should consider in this proceeding whether the joint exercise of
retransmission consent rights under the Sinclair LMAs and other arrangements are resulting in similar public interest harms and are contrary to the statutory and regulatory requirement that retransmission consent negotiations be conducted in good faith," Comcast wrote.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, of which Comcast is a member, and the American Cable Association are both on the record backing Mediacom's complaint.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.