Sinclair and Mediacom Prepare for Battle

As it prepares for a possible carriage showdown with TV station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group, cable operator Mediacom is taking legal action against the broadcast group, claiming antitrust violations.

The suit, filed in federal court in Iowa, alleges Sinclair is conditioning carriage for certain stations, including Des Moines and Mobile, Ala., on Mediacom paying for Sinclair signals in more than a dozen other markets.

“We believe this all all-or-nothing scheme violates antitrust law,” Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso said in a statement.

Securing a deal to transmit Sinclair’s signals is critical for Mediacom, since about half of its subscribers receive TV stations owned or operated by Sinclair.

The cable company first revealed its wrangling with Sinclair in an SEC filing in late September. Mediacom said Sinclair said it would notify the cable operator on or before Oct. 15 of its intent to terminate retransmission of its stations on Dec. 1.

Sinclair executives did not return calls for comment. In the past, Sinclair representatives have been outspoken in the past about their desire to receive cash payments in exchange for carriage.