Iowa B’cast Group Weighs In on Sinclair-Mediacom

The head of the Iowa Broadcasters Association said Monday that Sinclair Broadcast Group should be allowed to demand cash for cable carriage from Mediacom Communications without interference by regulators.

"In our view, there is no valid reason for any arm of the government to become involved in the Sinclair-Mediacom matter," IBA president Steve Martinson said in a three-page letter to the entire Iowa congressional delegation.

On Jan. 6, Sinclair pulled 22 local TV stations from Mediacom, a midsized cable operator, impacting 700,000 subscribers. Without success, Mediacom has sought help from Congress, the courts and the Federal Communications Commission.

In 1992, TV stations gained from Congress the right to seek cash from cable and satellite TV providers in a triennial process called retransmission consent. Both sides are required to bargain in good faith.

"Sinclair's position, like that of a growing number of television broadcasters, is simply this: If the cable operators wish to sell to their subscribers the programming that broadcasters invest to produce and acquire, the cable operators should pay broadcasters for the value those programs deliver," Martinson said.

He added that Mediacom subscribers have "several ways to continue to enjoy Sinclair's programming," either by using an off-air antenna or by signing up with a satellite-TV provider.