In conference call, Sinclair’s General Counsel Barry Farber says that while he doesn’t see a retrans agreement happening, it will decide today whether to grant the cable company a short-term extension to continue carrying its stations.
Sinclair Broadcast Group reiterated on a conference call this morning what it announced last night—that retransmission consent negotiations with Mediacom Communications Corp. are not likely to result in an agreement on how much Mediacom should pay to carry Sinclair TV stations—but said it may grant the MSO a short-term extension later today, before tomorrow night’s midnight contract deadline.
Barry Farber, Sinclair vice president and general counsel, said: “We seem to be at a point where we can’t reach an agreement. We are prepared to walk away. We may just need to agree to disagree. But as a show of good faith, both to Mediacom and our viewers, we are considering giving Mediacom a short-term extension to continue to carry the stations.”
When asked to define “short term,” Farber replied “it could be a couple of weeks, perhaps longer.”
Farber disputed the way Mediacom has portrayed the impasse, saying: “Sinclair thinks it is nothing more than a simple contract negotiation between two companies. Buyer and seller haven’t been able to agree on a price.”
He wouldn’t disclose what Sinclair was asking Mediacom to pay for its TV signals, other than to say “what we’re asking for is less than what we believe Mediacom is paying for other channels that we don’t think are as valuable.” He then mentioned that one of those other channels is Disney and quoted an industry estimate of $0.79 per subscriber.
He went on to say that Sinclair is considering the extension, even though it believes the two are at an impasse, because this week the two resumed talks. “We hadn’t had substantive discussions since Mediacom filed its lawsuit. We had some discussions earlier this week in person, by phone and by e-mail. We weren’t moving any closer, but the fact that discussions were going on at all led to the consideration of an extension,” he explained.
Around 700,000 homes are at issue. The affected stations (with affiliation):
KDSM Des Moines, Iowa (Fox)
KGAM Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CBS)
WEAR/WFGX Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola, Fla. (ABC/MNT)
WYZZ Peoria-Bloomington, Ill (Fox)
WLOS/WMYA Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. (ABC/MNT)
WDKY Lexington, Ky. (Fox)
WSMN Madison, Wis. (Fox)
WZTV/WUXP/WNAB Nashville (Fox/MNT/CW)
WUCW Minneapolis (CW)
KBSI/WDKA Paducah, Ky.-Cape Girardeau, Mo. (Fox/MNT)
WICS/WICD Springfield, Mo.-Champaign-Decatur, Ill. (ABC/ABC)
KDNL St. Louis (ABC)
WTWC Tallahassee, Fla. (NBC)
WTTO/WABM Birmingham, Ala. (CW/MNT)
WTVZ Norfolk, Va. (MNT)
WCGV/WVTV Milwaukee (MNT/CW)