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Mediacom vs. Sinclair: Consumers Stuck In The Middle As Companies Fight For Your Money

Phillip Dampier December 18, 2009 Mediacom, Video 3 Comments

One way or another consumers will pay more for their Mediacom cable service in 2010.  The undecided question is will Sinclair-owned television stations get a chunk of your wallet or will Mediacom keep it all for themselves.

Weary Mediacom customers have been through this battle before.  For the second time in three years, residents of Des Moines, Iowa face the prospect of losing access to their local Fox station, owned by Sinclair.

The ads are up and running.

Mediacom is running this spot, customized for each city impacted by the dispute, comparing Sinclair’s demands as another “bailout.”  This one is running in the Pensacola-Mobile market, where station WEAR is threatened with removal from Mediacom’s lineup.

Sinclair is demanding another price increase from the cable operator and Mediacom has a history of playing hardball and refusing to pay.  If the two sides don’t reach agreement by December 31st, 22 Sinclair-owned stations in communities served by Mediacom will be taken off the cable lineup.

Viewers aren’t happy, especially because they do not get a reduced bill from the cable company for the reduced channel lineup that results.

Both sides are waging campaigns to try and get viewers into the fight.  But in the end, it’s a battle of two corporate titans fighting over their portion of your money.

Back in January, 2007 Mediacom customers spent five weeks without Sinclair-owned television stations on their cable dial.  A nasty exchange between Sinclair and Mediacom was documented in this report aired by KCCI-TV Des Moines back on January 23, 2007.   (3 minutes)

The fallout from the 2007 dispute could be measured by disgusted customers who fled Mediacom for other providers, as KCCI found on May 4, 2007. (2 minutes)

WHO-TV Des Moines covers today’s dispute impacting Mediacom and the city’s Fox affiliate. (2 minutes)

KDSM-TV Des Moines is the Sinclair-owned Fox affiliate.  The station covers its own dilemma, warning viewers they might lose the station for the second time in three years.  (3 minutes)

In Cedar Rapids, Sinclair’s KFXA-TV covers the dispute with a decidedly pro-Sinclair point of view. (3 minutes)

WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida spends a great deal less “news time” covering the dispute. WEAR is the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate for the Florida Panhandle. (30 seconds)


Currently there are 3 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    This is why we need a la carte for TV, though I’m still scratching my head as to why a network that broadcasts their service over the open air would want to play hardball and lose eyeballs over a dollar amount that should be way less than they’re making on advertising…

  2. Dave Hancock says:

    It isn’t going to be solved by “a la carte”. Consideration of “a la carte” in the past has been limited to cable channels such as TNT and ESPN (why should I pay for ESPN when I don’t watch sports or why should a sports fan pay for The Food Network when they don’t watch that).

    The 1992 Cable Act (which is the root cause of these problems) sets up local channels as a special category – everyone should have them at the most basic tier. BUT, that act gave stations the right to deny a cable system permission to carry that channel (and also denied cable the right to import signals from out of town where the local station has denied carriage). If a cable system decided not to carry local stations, the qualifying local station can demand that the cable system carry them.

    There has been some (but so far minor) attempts to re-write that act to reduce the power of the local stations (or affiliated networks) to extract these funds from cable. The Time Warner “Roll Over or Get Tough” campaign may well fan the flames of changing the cable act (but I wouldn’t bet that will happen with all of the “influence peddling” that is going on.

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