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FCC Media Bureau Chief: Sinclair Extension Gives Viewers Chance To Seek Alternative

Bureau Chief Bill
Lake says that the
eight-day extension of Mediacom's carriage of Sinclair TV stations gives
viewers the chance to look for alternatives to for their broadcast signals if a
deal can't be done by then.

That is according to his statement in response to the
company's New Years Eve announcement of a carriage extension until Jan. 8 as
they continue to try to negotiate a retransmission consent deal.

Lake said that, in addition to giving the parties a chance
to strike a deal, which he said was the FCC's "sincere hope," it
would have the "benefit" of giving consumers "an additional
period during which they can take steps, if desired, to obtain access to
Sinclair's stations through other means in the event that Sinclair and Mediacom
are unable to conclude a new agreement by Jan. 8."

Those would include over-the-air reception, which is
unaffected, or switching to satellite.

Lake called the FCC's role
in retrans disputes "circumscribed"--FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
said the FCC did not plan to step in if Sinclair pulls its signals Jan. 8, so
long as the bargaining is in "good faith." But Lake
also said the FCC had played a role in prompting the deal. "We were
pleased to help to facilitate the parties' concurrence in this extension,"
he said.

That included daily contact with the negotiating entities,
an FCC spokeswoman told B&C. The
office of Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) also said it was in close contact with
the parties throughout the process as the senator pushed for a deal or an
extension, even calling on the FCC to step in if necessary to preserve access
to college bowl games.

A Mediacom source said the parties essentially took the
weekend off but were expected to be back at it today (Jan. 4).