Sinclair E-Mail Fires Up Suddenlink

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It didn’t take long for the retransmission-consent battle between Suddenlink Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group to heat up.

One day after filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission to block Sinclair from pulling two of its stations in the Charleston, W. Va., market, Suddenlink filed a supplement to the complaint Thursday, stating that Sinclair informed it in an e-mail that continuing to carry the two channels constitutes an acceptance of its retransmission-consent offer.

Suddenlink filed the original complaint Wednesday, claiming that Sinclair’s proposal -- a one-time $40 million upfront fee, plus a $1-per-month, per-subscriber charge for the life of the three-year deal -- was “outrageous.”

Suddenlink also contended that it is bound by FCC regulations to carry the two stations -- WCHS (an ABC affiliate) and WVAH (a Fox affiliate) -- until after the July Nielsen Media Research sweeps period. Sinclair refuted that claim and requested that the channels be pulled from Suddenlink systems immediately.

According to the supplement, Sinclair vice president and general counsel Barry Faber sent an e-mail to Suddenlink senior VP of programming Patty McCaskill Wednesday, stating that carrying the two stations “after 12:01 p.m. tomorrow [July 6]” constitutes an acceptance of the agreement.

“Under Mr. Faber’s legal theory, Suddenlink faces a Hobson’s choice of immediately dropping the stations entirely (in breach of commission regulations) or entering into a contract that would have devastating consequences for Suddenlink and its customers. It is hard to imagine a more egregious example of a ‘take it or leave it’ demand,” Suddenlink said in the supplement.

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