Cable Operators

Commisso: We Helped with ESPN

2/24/2004 9:34 AM Eastern

Jim Robbins and Carl Vogel aren’t the only CEOs who helped to get ESPN to lower its sights from 20% annual license-fee increases going forward.

Mediacom Communications Corp. chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso, during a quarterly earnings call Tuesday, said he wasn’t trying to take any credit for the long-term renewals Cox Communications Inc.’s Robbins and Charter Communications Inc.’s Vogel signed last week. Those deals foresee, Cox said, average yearly license-fee hikes in the 7% range for a range of ESPN services.

But Commisso -- who has campaigned for the ability to offer costly sports networks on an a la carte basis and proposed various other legislative remedies to the issue -- didn’t stop there.

"Clearly, what we did at the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], what we did in our public speaking, we think we had a lot to do with it and set up the stage for this situation, which should benefit us and benefit the industry," he told analysts on the call, after a question about whether the Cox and Charter terms would filter down to the smaller Mediacom.

It would appear so.

Commisso said Mediacom’s current contract expires in 2006, "but more than once, ESPN has been here to see if we would want to consider a different contract" than the current pact "along the lines of what Charter and Cox have done."

March