Mediacom Seeks Emergency Relief

With two NFL playoff games this weekend to add urgency to the request, cable operator Mediacom has filed an emergency petition for reconsideration with the FCC of the Media Bureau's denial of its retransmission consent complaint against Sinclair Broadcasting.

Mediacom had already petitioned for full-commission review, but coming up on the two-week anniversary of Sinclair stations pulled from Mediacom systems serving some 700,00 subs, the cable company wants the FCC to reinstate the stations while resolution of that review is pending.

The FCC's Media Bureau, while denying the complaint, strongly encouraged the parties to submit to binding arbitration during which the stations would be reinstated. Mediacom is all for that route.

In its request for emergency relief, it quoted legislators who helped craft the 1992 Cable Act which created the retransmission consent process. Among them was current Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who at the time said the FCC had the power to require arbitration and hoped it would use it in circumstances where "negotiations over retransmission consent rights break down and noncarriage occurs, depriving consumers of access to broadcast signals."

Mediacom said Sinclair had not responded to its offer to submit to binding arbitration, and asked that the commission "immediately (especially before the upcoming weekend NFL Playoff games) order Sinclair to authorize Mediacom's renewed carriage of its signals on an interim basis and order the parties to submit to binding arbitration.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.