Mediacom Communications said Thursday that it has reached a one-year retransmission-consent agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group concerning 22 stations in 15 markets with about 600,000 subscribers.
Mediacom has also agreed to drop its FCC complaint against Sinclair arguing that the broadcast group had not negotiated in good faith.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal ends what have been sometimes contentious negotiations between the companies. But in a sign that this round of negotiations were moving ahead more smoothly that past dealings -- Sinclair pulled its stations from Mediacom markets for several weeks in 2007 over a retrans dispute -- the two agreed to extend their old agreement to Jan. 8, while they continued to negotiate.
"We are very happy with the outcome of the negotiations which includes an acceptable economic arrangement," Sinclair CEO David Smith said in a statement. "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 Idol and 24."
Mediacom vice president of legal and public affairs Tom Larsen said the MSO had hoped for a longer term deal, but in the end decided this was the best way to avoid disrupting service for customers.
Initially, Mediacom had complained that Sinclair was pressing for a one-year deal, while the MSO was asking for a standard three-year agreement. But according to Larsen, the MSO decided to concede that issue.
"We wanted a longer deal so there was some certainty to our business going forward," Larsen said. "We were unable to get it. At the end of the day we needed to reach the best deal we could for our consumers."
However, Larsen said that reaching this deal does not mean that Mediacom has given up the fight for retrans reform.
"There is a risk that 12 months from now we could be back in the same position," Larsen said. "That's why we need to take that message to Capitol Hill. We need these laws to reflect the reality of today's market."
Larsen would not discuss terms of the deal, but said the current agreement represents an increase to the old pact.
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