Sinclair and Mediacom reach retrans deal

Mediacom urges reform in letter to Senator John Kerry

NEW YORK -- TV station operator Sinclair Broadcast Group and cable firm Mediacom Communications have reached a new retransmission deal.

The two companies, which have been locked in negotiations and recently agreed on an eight-day extension of a previous arrangement that expired Dec. 31, on Wednesday said they have finalized a new 12-month agreement.

It covers retransmission consent rights for 22 TV stations carried in Mediacom cable systems.

Mediacom also dropped an FCC complaint that had argued Sinclair didn't negotiate in good faith.

The two parties didn't provide financial details.

"We are very happy with the outcome of the negotiations, which includes an acceptable economic arrangement," said Sinclair president and CEO David Smith.

Also Thursday, Mediacom said its chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso has sent a letter to U.S. Senator John Kerry, urging him to examine and reform the current retransmission consent regime. He argued that it increasingly harms the public interest.

"As you know, today Mediacom completed a retransmission consent agreement with Sinclair that protects hundreds of thousands of consumers from Sinclair's threat to deny them access to upcoming NFL playoff games and other programming," the letter said. "I am writing to thank you for taking an interest in this matter and, in particular, for making clear that, as you stated, stripping consumers of access to programming 'should not be a negotiating tactic' in retransmission consent disputes."

But Commisso said that this is exactly what is "happening now and will happen in the future under the current retransmission consent regime as interpreted by the FCC."