Sinclair, Mediacom Reach Retrans Agreement

After butting heads for months, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Mediacom Communications signed a one-year retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Sinclair’s 22 TV stations in 15 markets. The agreement was reached following a one-week extension of the former contract that expired Dec. 31.

Terms were not disclosed. Marci Ryvicker, senior analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, estimated Sinclair was receiving north of 50 cents per subscriber.

Though the Sinclair-Mediacom retrans fight was dwarfed by the Fox-Time Warner negotiations, it was one of the most bitter. During the negotiations process, Mediacom called for Congress and the FCC to intervene in the process and change the retransmission consent rules.

The agreement, while restoring Sinclair’s stations to 600,000 Mediacom subscribers, may have been more of a ceasefire than an end to hostilities. Immediately following Thursday’s (Jan. 7) announcement of the agreement, Rocco Commisso, CEO of Mediacom, fired off a letter to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

Accusing broadcasters of “engaging in economic blackmail,” Rocco once again called for reform. “After a similar dispute resulted in Sinclair pulling its signals from over 700,000 of Mediacom’s customers for nearly a month, 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,” Rocco wrote.