Iowa Attorney General Sides With Mediacom On Interim Carriage Request

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Iowa's attorney general is among those who wants to make sure Mediacom cable subs don't lose access to the Iowa Hawkeyes appearance in the Orange Bowl Jan. 4.

In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Iowa attorney general Thomas Miller asked the FCC to grant Mediacom's request for interim carriage of Sinclair stations beyond the Dec. 31 end of the carriage contract, if the two sides cannot come to terms on a new deal or agree to interim carriage themselves.

Sinclair CEO David Smith has already rejected a Mediacom offer of a 90-day extension, countering that he would agree to a one-year extension, which Mediacom does not favor.

Miller cited the complaint filed by Mediacom charging Sinclair with not bargaining in good faith and unfair leverage in negotiating both for owned stations and managed stations in the same market. "Because of the seriousness of the issues, and the imminent loss of transmission," he wrote in a letter dated Dec. 29, Miller asked the FCC "to grant interim carriage rights" pending the outcome of the complaint, he said.

Iowa stations that could be pulled from Mediacom systems include the Fox affiliate in Des Moines, and Fox and CBS affils in Cedar Rapids.

As of about 5 p.m. there was no deal, and an FCC spokesperson said the commission, which has been pushing the two sides to resolve the issue, had gotten a "no progress" report about 3 p.m.

"The loss of transmission of these networks on Jan. 1, 2010, will present an irreparable loss to Iowans interested in sports broadcasting and other major programming," Miller wrote.

Smith has countered that argument in other venues by saying that the game is still available over the air or on Dish Network or DirecTV.

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