Sinclair May Grant Mediacom Extention

At press time, Sinclair Broadcast Group said it was considering granting cable operator Mediacom a short-term extension, a few weeks perhaps, to carry Sinclair stations beyond midnight Jan. 5, when the cable company's rights to carry the station expire.

The two have failed to come to terms on a price for carriage of 22 Sinclair stations in various markets.

Meanwhile, Mediacom was preparing to file an appeal to the full commission of the Media Bureau's denial of its complaint against Sinclair for failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith.

In case Sinclair does not grant the extension, Mediacom said it was making off-air antennas available to subs and preparing alternative programming, including other TV stations in markets where there was overlap between two markets.

Sinclair General Counsel Barry Faber said his company was ready to "shake hands and walk away," saying viewers had other options, including satellite, and that the issue was simply the pricing of its channel.

Faber said Sinclair has not had substantive discussions with Mediacom since the cable company filed a law suit over the challenge.

He said Sinclair would decide on the extension by midnight Friday. the extension could last a couple of weeks or a little longer, though more than a few days.

If not, Mediacom has personnel ready to cut off the station signals.

The FCC, in rejecting the complaint, encouraged the companies to submit to binding arbitration, which Mediacom said it was willing to do.

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.