GOP Congressmen Request Mediacom Hearing

Jan 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Four GOP Congressmen are asking for a House committee hearing over broadcast retransmission payment issues as the fight between Mediacom Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group attracts more Congressional attention.

The media companies have been fighting over Sinclair’s demands that Mediacom start paying fees to retransmit its local stations, which Mediacom has been airing for free. Mediacom took Sinclair’s stations off its cable systems in 12 states Jan. 5 after being unable to reach a retransmission agreement. Mediacom has accused Sinclair of being unreasonable in demanding high fees while Sinclair has suggested that cable companies should pay broadcast media content providers as they pay cable program content providers.

Earlier this week Iowa’s delegation to Congress which includes Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley wrote both sides urging they resolve the issues in their dispute by accepting binding arbitration.

Sinclair’s Iowa stations include KSM-TV, a Fox affiliate in Des Moines, and CBS affiliate KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids.

Now Reps. Nathan Deal, R-Ga.; Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C.); Charlie Norwood, R-GA.; and, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., have asked leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing to look into the issues being raised.

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka in a statement today applauded the latest call for a hearing noting not only the Mediacom-Sinclair fight but also a statement made this week by Les Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp., that CBS is continuing to look for payments from cable operators.

“Clearly, the important Congressional doctrine of ‘localism,’ ensuring that local signals are carried, has been pushed aside as broadcasters allow their signals-which are provided free of charge by the government and the taxpayers-to go dark while they press their cash demands on these same consumers,” he said.