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Mediacom Asks FCC to Step In to Prevent Blackouts During Retrans Disputes

Mediacom is not taking the FCC's "no authority" for an answer and even says it might try to get an independent panel of legal experts to vet the FCC's so far unsatisfactory response.

The cable company has sent the FCC another letter asking it to step in to prevent blackouts during retrans disputes, or at least for the chairman to use his "bully pulpit" to put those prepping for the next round of retrans renewals or elections on notice that the FCC will be watching and will "act or push Cognress to act if there are service disruptions or demands for doubling or tripling retransmission consent fees during the current economic downturn."

Broadcasters argue that they need and deserve the second revenue stream from increased cash payments to continue to deliver the popular programming that will help them in that down economy.

Young's came after a meeting last week between Mediacom Chairman Rocco Commisso and staffers for Democratic Commissioner Clyburn.

In the follow-up letter, Mediacom SVP and General Counsel Joseph Young said that the company had already spelled out the authority the FCC has, but is not using, including the "duty" to prevent price gouging and blackouts by broadcasters.

Mediacom has made several entreaties to the FCC in connection with its ongoing retrans battle with LIN.

In its letter, dated Sept. 27, Young said that given the FCC's professed lack of authority, it was considering asking other MVPDs and even broadcasters to "retain a panel of respected independent law professors or retired judges to render a disincterested opinion on the question of the Commission's authority regarding retransmission consent."