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Mediacom: Retrans Enforcement Needs Teeth

Mediacom Monday tried
to shame the FCC into acting on its long-standing retransmission consent
proceeding by rethinking its conclusion about the limits of the FCC's power in
retrans disputes. Mediacom chairman Rocco Commission has been trying to get the
FCC more involved in resolving retrans disputes for years.

In a letter to
Michelle Ellison, chief of staff to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Mediacom
SVP and general counsel Joseph Young suggested that the FCC, at least under the
last two chairs, has taken a Homer Simpson approach to retransmission consent
disputes and blackouts: "[H]ide under some coats and hope that, somehow,
everything will work out."

Young told Ellison
that such an approach was indifferent to the authority that the FCC has to
protect consumers. He said he hoped chairwoman Clyburn would, by contrast, act
decisively in the short term and in the long term the FCC would re-evaluate the
conclusion "that the FCC is powerless." But he said that, based on
reports about the current dispute, "it seems that the commission once
again is hiding under the cloak of powerlessness and doing nothing more than
jawboning and warning the parties to obey the toothless rules on good faith

Clyburn said last
week that she was unhappy with the lack of a deal in the CBS/Time Warner Cable
dispute and reiterated that she was prepared to take "appropriate
action" if the dispute were not resolved. She has not said just what that
action might be.