Sinclair and Mediacom Reach Agreement

The Des Moines Register is reporting that Sinclair and Mediacom have reached an agreement. Apparently they came to this agreement late lastnight (friday night). I was flipping around channels lastnight and noticed Fox News at 9 was on KDSM Fox 17.

KGAN, the CBS affiliate in Cedar Rapids, is also back on the air, just in time for the Super Bowl. All this comes on the heels of Mediacoms announcement of a price increase. KCCI (Des Moines CBS affiliate) also has some news on the Mediacom/Sinclair deal:

Stations, including Fox affiliate KDSM and CBS affiliate KGAN, will be immediately restored in 12 states, according to a Mediacom news release.

I’m very happy Mediacom and Sinclair have reached an agreement, even though I’ve got the feeling Mediacom caved to Sinclair’s demands. I just want to be able to watch Simpsons and King of the Hill again after I get off work. 🙂

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Mediacom Loses Sinclair Stations

Well, Sinclair Broadcast Group stations (at least here in Iowa) are no longer being carried by Mediacom. KCCI (cbs affiliate) had cameras outside a Mediacom office in Des Moines over the weekend. Thousands of people showed up to Mediacom offices to get a set of bunny ears so they can watch KDSM Fox 17 over the air.

Mediacoms antenna supply was drained due to the number of customers that showed up. KCCI says they checked with several local retailers, including Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target, to see if they had any antennas available. None of those stores had any antennas in stock when KCCI checked. Mediacom was giving them away for free, so they should have expected a pretty large turnout. It was really encouraging to see so many people out there. It just shows how many people are supporting Mediacom and choosing not to switch to DirecTV or another satellite provider.

Commenter BobH got his free antenna from Mediacom. However, KDSM Fox 17 (I assume) is the only station he can’t pick up over the air. I’m in the same boat he is. When I try to get KDSM Fox 17 over the air, all I see is snow. I thought KDSM had a decent over the air broadcast range, but they obviously don’t. I’m no more than 40 miles from Des Moines.

Hopefully Mediacom will keep pushing Sinclair to make a deal. I’m betting Sinclair will notice the negative effects this will have on their stations fairly soon.

Mediacom Gets One Month Reprise From Sinclair

The audio clip I posted yesterday of Sinclair CEO David Smith was pretty outrageous. He basically said losing Meidacom customers won’t have a noticeable impact on Sinclair’s business. It gets down to Sinclair not caring, they should want to provide their programming to as many households as possible. The clip is right below for you to hear if you haven’t.
[audio:http://www.longren.org/files/DavidSmith.mp3]
Anyway, Mediacom and Sinclair have agreed on a deal that will keep Sinclair stations such as KDSM Fox 17 and KGAN on Mediacom’s lineup until the beginning of 2007. Here’s some info from Mediaweek:

Mediacom Communications has gotten a one-month reprieve in one of the industry’s most contentious retransmission battles. Only hours before Mediacom would have been forced to drop Sinclair Broadcast Group’s stations from its system, the two companies came to a temporary agreement that allows for the continued carriage of 22 Sinclair stations in 16 markets through Jan. 5, 2007.

In the last two days, negotiations played out in press conferences and releases. Things looked bleak for the 700,000 Mediacom subscribers (about half of Mediacom’s subscriber base) that would lose the stations, until yesterday morning in a press conference when Sinclair said it was considering a short-term extension to provide a final chance for the two companies to reach agreement.

This other Iowan went to the local Mediacom office and discovered what I hope Sinclair also discovered:

I asked for an antenna kit, as they were giving them to their customers to be able to get KGAN. The clerk told me I didn’t need one, because they had been able to find away around the restrictions that were prohibiting them from simply swapping KGAN with the CBS affiliate in the Quad Cities. I’m sure that was a come to Jesus moment for the folks at Sinclair. If Mediacom can do that, it pretty much makes KGAN irelevant.

And Geoff had another very informative comment in my last post:

Another update, Mediacom reached a deal to carry WHBF out of Rock Island (IL/IA border) in place of KGAN as of today, so Sinclair caved and decided not to pull out of negotiations. Sinclair will postpone removing KGAN until January 2nd, hoping to continue negotiations. Mediacom has the upper hand now. If they do indeed replace KGAN with another CBS affiliate, this will essentially destroy KGAN, because a huge chunk of their viewer are Mediacom subscribers. Sinclair has no choice but to decrease its asking price. This will still mean a rise in cable rates, as Mediacom was not previously paying for Sinclair broadcast stations at all, but Mediacom should be able to minimize it.

I started wondering if some sort of deal had been made when I came home at lunch and noticed KDSM Fox 17 was still on. Looks like we’ll get to keep it until January 1st for now. Hopefully before the beginning of 2007 Sinclair will come to their senses and agree to a sensible deal with Mediacom.

Even More on Mediacom Vs. Sinclair

Please See 12/01 Update With More Info

My last post on this topic garnered quite a few comments. Geoff commented with some actual numbers about the deal:

Okay, some more details, from somebody who helped negotiate the deal:

Sinclair is asking for about $1/month plus $40M-$60M up front for 3 years (about $5-$7/month per subscriber).

Mediacom agreed to pay Sinclair whatever they have paid other broadcast companies or whatever Sinclair has received from other cable companies in the past four years. Sinclair insisted on more. They wanted $1 million dollars over the highest deal of any market, for all 22 Sinclair stations carried by Mediacom, regardless of the size of the individual market. That is to say, they want $1 million dollars more than the deal for the largest market, but for each individual market, including the small ones. So, essentially, they’re being really greedy. They’re wanting many millions more than any comparable deal between any broadcast company and cable company.

That’s exactly the sort of information needed to determine which company is being greedy. From those numbers, we can fairly reliably guess that Sinclair is mostly to blame here. I had a Mediacom employee contact me the other day with some more numbers. He’d like his identity withheld, so I will summarize the information he provided.

Basically, Mediacom offered to match any deal Sinclair has made with other cable providers (like Comcast). Sinclair refused that offer. Then, Mediacom offered to match any deal they’ve done with other stations (over 400 other stations). Sinclair also refused that offer.

So, Mediacom has made multiple attempts to strike a deal with Sinclair. Sinclair seems unwilling to take anything less than what they’re asking.
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More On Mediacom Vs. Sinclair

Please See 12/01 Update With More Info

I may have been a little harsh on Mediacom in my last post on this subject. But, that’s what Mediacom deserves when they bring unwarranted lawsuits against other companies and tell their customers they’ll no longer be able to get a channel they’ve lived with for years. Mediacom could have handled the situation more professionally. Instead of suing Sinclair and telling customers they’ll no longer be able to watch Fox 17, they could have simply said negotiations will continue until a suitable deal can be struck, but they didn’t. The way Mediacom handled this angered many, many customers. I spoke with at least six Mediacom cable television customers this weekend that were pretty upset at the situation. Two of them sided with Mediacom, saying they were just trying to keep prices low. I wouldn’t mind one more price increase this year if it means we get to keep KDSM Fox 17. We’ve already seen two or three price increases this year.

Mediacom has been running commercials here in central Iowa explaining the situation and letting customers know that they’re still in negotiations with Sinclair. Their commercial makes it sound like they really are trying to keep Fox 17 around for their central Iowa customers. And I believe Mediacom is trying their hardest to keep KDSM Fox 17 in their customers line-up.

Bottom line is this, Sinclair is asking Mediacom for too much money to carry KDSM Fox 17. Mediacom wasn’t happy with Sinclair’s price so after getting nowhere in negotiations, they sue. It’s hard to say whether those of us in central Iowa will be able to watch Fox 17 on Mediacom after December 1st. If we can, good. If we can’t, Mediacom will probably end up losing a great deal of subscribers in this area.

Sorry for coming down on you so hard Mediacom, but you rarely give me anything to be happy about. It’s almost always bad news when Mediacom is involved.

UPDATE: KDSM Fox 17 has updated their website with a statement from their gerenal manager. The man makes some very good points, some of the very same points I’ve made. In addition to that statement from GM Mike Wilson, there’s also a FAQ on the dispute. Please see below for the full text from the GM statement and the FAQ.
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