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February 2, 2007

Mediacom and Sinclair Make A Deal

Mediacom announced at 6pm ET that it had signed a retransmission consent agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting. The deal came after months of haggling and four weeks after Sinclair forced Mediacom to pull its signals on Jan. 6.

Terms were not announced in Mediacom's press release, other than listing the Sinclair stations in 12 states (including KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, its only Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate) that will be immediately restored to its systems.

Sinclair's press release followed shortly with a few more details, announcing the parties had reached "a multi-year retransmission consent agreement...which expires December 31, 2009 [and] allows Mediacom to carry the analog and digital signals of 24 television stations owned or programmed by Sinclair in 16 markets to approximately 700,000 of Mediacom's subscribers."

The deal was struck a day after FCC chairman Kevin Martin appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee and declined to push for arbitration, despite receiving a letter on Tues. (Jan. 29) from Commerce Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) asking Martin and the FCC to intervene. [The full text of the Senators' letter had been posted on Mediacom's website but was removed after the deal was announced, while Sinclair's Mediacom-venting area remained online].

The terseness of both companies' brief announcements today speaks to the bitter negotiations and stand-off that preceded their new contract. There was no "Sinclair is very pleased" ... or "We are excited that this agreement..." language, as there was in Sinclair's announcement last month that it had struck a retransmission consent agreement with Time Warner Cable — a deal which Mediacom chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso had offered to match when it was announced on Jan. 22nd.

Mediacom's KGAN-area customers, in particular, can now breathe a sigh of relief — and enjoy Super Bowl XLI in HD on Sunday. At least one station — WEAR, an ABC affiliate that reaches Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida — was restored before 6pm.







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