Firm sues Sinclair over channel access

October 07, 2006|By Bloomberg News

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the Hunt Valley television-station owner, was accused by cable operator Mediacom Communications Corp. of blocking access to its major-network stations unless Mediacom also agrees to carry stations carrying the new CW and MYNetworkTV networks.

Mediacom, of Middletown, N.Y., wants to carry stations affiliated with NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox but not CW and MyNetworkTV stations, according to documents filed in federal court in the Southern District of Iowa.

Sinclair has revoked Mediacom's right to broadcast the Sinclair stations as of midnight Nov. 30, according to the suit. Mediacom contends the move to require it to take all the stations would raise programming costs and boost cable prices for consumers by "millions of dollars."

"Tying" the stations together and refusing to allow Mediacom to broadcast in one city if it won't pay to carry some stations in others violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, Mediacom said in a statement.

Sinclair owns 17 MyNetworkTV stations and nine CW stations among its 58 properties.

"There is great uncertainty as to the desirability of the future programming" of the CW and MyNetworkTV, Mediacom said in the suit. The company also said there is "little demand for these stations among its subscribers," who are mostly in rural areas. Mediacom had 1.46 million customers as of June 30.

Sinclair Chief Executive Officer David D. Smith didn't respond to telephone calls seeking comment. Mediacom spokesman Marvin Rappaport also didn't return calls.

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