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Sinclair, Mediacom Reach Retrans Deal

Sinclair and Mediacom have reached a retrans deal a day
short of the extension deadline.

No details were immediately available, but the one-year deal
covers 22 TV stations in 15 markets.

As part of the deal, Mediacom has agreed to drop its retrans
at the FCC complaint against Sinclair.

"We are very happy with the outcome of the negotiations
which includes an acceptable economic arrangement," said Sinclair
President David Smith.  "We are pleased that our viewers and Mediacom's
customers will continue to receive the important and popular programming
carried on our stations such as the local news, sports, and network shows as CSI, American
and 24."

Mediacom was just happy it was over. "We negotiated
pretty aggressively on both sides for the last couple of days," said
Mediacom VP of Public and Legal Affairs Tom Larsen, "and we were able to
get something done."

And is Mediacom happy with the economic arrangement?
"That fact that the deal is done is good," said Larsen. "We
wanted to make sure that this [programming] didn't go off the air."

But he said that Mediacom is "certainly" not happy
with the process. "We think the retrans process is broken and are going to
seek to have that reformed in the next year, working with people like Senator
John Kerry to help reform it."

Kerry has said Congress will look into the retrans process
to try to prevent a repeat of the last few weeks, when potential station-pulling
on Dec. 31--there were ultimately extensions in both cases--had viewers
concerned they would miss their college bowl games.

Sinclair was scheduled to pull the signal Dec. 31, but
both sides agreed to an 8-day extension at Sinclair's asking price, which would
have expired Jan. 8.

The FCC's Media Bureau, which has been getting daily updates on the retrans talks, according to sources, welcomed the news.
"I am pleased that these companies have agreed on new retransmission terms, as contemplated by the governing statute," said Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake. "Their agreement will prevent the disruption and frustration that Mediacom customers would have experienced if Sinclair stations were no longer available over Mediacom systems."

John Eggerton
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.