Sinclair, Mediacom Spat Continues with Letters

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Mediacom Communications may have signed a one-year retransmission agreement, but the two are still fighting in dueling letters to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

In the latest round of hostilities Sinclair Broadcast Group Monday (Jan. 11) released its letter responding to Mediacom’s call for retransmission consent reform.

The volley began Jan. 7 following the announcement the two companies had reached a one-year retransmission agreement for the carriage of Sinclair’s 22 TV stations in 15 markets. Unhappy with the terms estimated at 50 cents per subscribers, Mediacom sent a letter to Sen. Kerry accusing broadcasters of “engaging in economic blackmail.” “I warned that absent action by the government, retransmission consent would amount to a hidden $6 billion tax on consumers simply to watch ‘free’ television,” wrote Rocco Commisso, CEO of Mediacom.

Responding in kind, Sinclair called Mediacom’s claim “self serving.” “Although broadcasting is free to the public, this provides no special right for a private business to use such programming in a for profit enterprise,” wrote David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair. “In fact, taking away this special right was precisely the intent of the law Congress passed in 1992 establishing the retransmission consent regime.”