About 16 Tegna stations in 11 states went dark to Mediacom Communications customers Dec. 31, after the parties failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement.
Mediacom said its contract for the stations expired at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, at which time it was forced to stop carrying the stations, even though it had offered to pay what the cable company called a “significant” increase over its previous agreement. The stations are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and The CW affiliates located in about a dozen states, including Mediacom’s biggest markets in Iowa (Des Moines, Davenport and Ames).
“Under federal law, we can't carry a station unless the owner grants us permission to do so,” Mediacom said in a press release, adding that Tegna continues to demand a hefty price increase for the stations. "In light of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, we feel these hefty increases are especially uncalled for and unjustified.”
On its station websites, Tegna said its rate requests reflect market rates and that the station group has managed to come to terms with several distributors over the years.
“We are committed to reaching a fair, market-based agreement with all the video service providers in our area," Tegna said on its station sites. “Our track record proves it. Over the past few years, we’ve reached hundreds of multi-year deals with cable and satellite companies all across the country, including Comcast, Spectrum and many others. It is disappointing that Mediacom has refused to reach an agreement.”
The Mediacom dispute comes shortly after Tegna resolved a similar retrans spat with AT&T after a three-week blackout.
The stations involved in the Mediacom dispute are:
WQAD (ABC) Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline, Illinois
WOI, KCWI, WOID4 (ABC, The CW, COZI TV) Des Moines and Ames, Iowa
WZDX (Fox) Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama
WHAS (ABC) Louisville, Kentucky
WMAZ, WMAZ2 (CBS, The CW) Macon, Georgia
KARE (NBC) Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
WWL (CBS) New Orleans
WVEC (ABC) Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News, Virginia
KPNX (NBC) Prescott, Arizona
KFMB, KFMBDT2 (CBS, The CW) San Diego, California
KSDK (NBC) St. Louis
KMSB (Fox) Tucson, Arizona
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.