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Hill Quartet Pushes Retrans Hearings

The American Cable Association, which represents small and medium-sized cable operators, says four legislators have asked the leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee to hold hearing on retransmission consent.

The call comes amid a high-profile battle between Sinclair and Mediacom over carriage of the former's TV stationsa nd CBS's long-standing pledge to get money for its stations.

It also follows a request from the Iowa congressional delegation to the heads of Sinclair and Mediacom, to submit to the binding arbitration at the FCC, as the commission suggested.

The letter came from Republican Reps Nathan Deal and Charlie Norwood, both Georgia; Sue Myrick (NC); and Lee Terry (Neb.).

Sinclair pulled its stations Jan. 5 after failing to agree on a price for carriage of its stations. Mediacom says Sinclair has been bargaining in bad faith and argues the goverment should step in. Sinclair says it is simply a case of the inability to agree on the value of its stations, which it says are worth the same as cable nets with similar ratings.

In the meantime, some 700,000 Mediacom subs have lost wired access to 22 Sinclair stations, with Mediacom handing out over-the-air antennas and Sinclair urging the subs to switch to DirecTV.