Murzin weighs in on Sinclair-Mediacom spat

December 29, 2009

Chairman Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W., Room 8-B201
Washington, D.C. 20554

Re: Mediacom v. Sinclair Retransmission Consent Dispute

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

I am concerned that Sinclair Broadcast Group is threatening to withhold our local ABC news affiliate, WEAR -TV3 signal, from cable customers in my area beginning January 1, 2010. This threat will be carried out unless Mediacom agrees to Sinclair’s demand for a 50% increase over what they paid in 2009. WEAR is the only Florida-based news source in our area since all other TV stations are based in Mobile, Alabama, about 60 miles away. I understand that Mediacom has filed an FCC complaint asserting that Sinclair has not been negotiating in good faith as required by law. They have asked the FCC to order Sinclair to allow Mediacom to continue providing consumers with access to these stations on an interim basis until this dispute is resolved.

I strongly urge the FCC to require Sinclair to grant Mediacom temporary consent to continue carrying this station so as to minimize the disruption that our consumers will otherwise incur through no fault of their own. I am very concerned that the FCC may not act on this matter before the January 1st deadline.

This dispute between Sinclair and Mediacom is threatening to harm our consumers, many of whom cannot receive a good signal for this station over-the-air due to the digital transition. Mediacom customers did not purchase a digital converter box due to continuing their service with Mediacom. In an area of the country with a high poverty rate, providing such short notice of a need to purchase a digital converter to watch the local news will impose a financial burden following the Christmas season. I urge you to insure that my neighbors continue to have access to this programming while this dispute is being considered by the FCC. This could pose a public safety threat to my neighbors if they do not have access to the local news.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.

Best Regards,

Dave Murzin
State Representative, House District 2

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  • chip chism December 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I am no media expert but it seems to me if something really bad or important happened channels 5 and 10 might cover it also…..I offer this because Murzin’s last line is “This could pose a public safety threat to my neighbors if they do not have access to the local news.” Pure silliness.

  • Bill Muldoon December 29, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Simply, from the outside, it looks like Sinclair has a product and they want more money for that product. Mediacom is the reseller for that product and doesn’t want to pay the new price.

    I wonder what the details are? Details like what kind of profit margin is Mediacom realizing with the retransmission of Channel 3? If someone was reselling my product and their profits margins were rising then so goes my wholesale price.

    Should the Feds be involved in a local T.V. dispute?

    Regulate the airwaves? Maybe. Be involved in a buyer seller argument? No…the courts should ultimately decide that one.

    Mr. Murzin, great letter though. If the government should get involved, maybe they could redistribute some more wealth by issuing rebates or tax credits to the families forced to purchase a digital receiver? Nullify the dispute if you will.

    Happy New Year!

  • JC Holzer December 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    It’d be one thing if this were PBS, but it’s not. The letter almost sounds whiny. “We are poor folk, and you should give us our TV even if we don’t want to pay market price for it.”

    If WEAR gives away their programming to Santa Rosa – should not they also give it away to Escambia? And then when they go out of business is Dave going to give them tax payer dollars to stay in business? I’m also perplexed over the public safety comment as well. There are a multitude of ways citizens can get safety messages.