LIN Stations Go Dark For Mediacom Subs [Multichannel News]
Here we go again. Mediacom customers are the latest victims of a dispute invoving outrageously high demands for over-the-air broadcast programming, as LIN Media has pulled its programming off Mediacom's systems due to the lack of a renewal agreement over the retransmission fees. LIN owns 32 broadcast sations in 17 U.S. markets.
Mediacom released a statement saying that the "huge increase" in fees that LIN has demanded is unacceptable and Mediacom refuses to cave-in to the high demands and the price increases likely to result for its consumers.
The Mediacom/LIN dispute is just another example of the broken retransmission consent process. Huge increases in fees are being demanded by broadcasters, forcing cable operators (and ultimately their customers) either to agree to pay them whatever they demand or lose the channel. Retransmission consent was born out of cable legislation designed to protect local broadcasting tweny years ago, even though the broadcaster is given public spectrum to distribute their signals for free. As demonstrated in so many of these very public battles, if the broadcaster's steep demands aren't met by a cable provider, the broadcaster often pulls the signal, leaving customers in the dark.
The FCC is currently conducting an inquiry into the issue, which could result in changes in the retransmission consent rules. While there are many options available to the FCC in making changes - including binding arbitration when negotiations fail - ultimately the Commission should make changes that best serve customers -- not broadcasters and not cable operators. Hopefully these changes will be made soon, before another group of customers loses their broadcast programming to a dispute.