Mediacom received some powerful backing this week, with Sen Commerce chmn Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and vice chmn Ted Stevens (R-AK) asking FCC chmn Kevin Martin to take immediate action to resolve the MSO’s dispute with Sinclair. It’s a subject the 2 plan to address at this morning’s (Thurs) Sen Commerce FCC oversight hearing. In a letter dated Tues, the 2 stressed that binding arbitration could be a possibility and that the FCC does have the authority to step in where arms length negotiations have failed. Some 700K Mediacom subs have been without Sinclair stations since Jan 6. “At minimum, Americans should not be shut off from broadcast programming while the matter is being negotiated among the parties and is awaiting action by the full Commission on appeal,” the 2 wrote. But responded Sinclair gen counsel Barry Faber: “I hope you can understand the danger of suggesting the government should order private parties to enter into an agreement when they are not able to reach agreement on their own.” In an interview Wed, Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso repeated that he would be willing to testify before Congress on the retrans spat and called on Sinclair CEO David Smith to do the same. Sinclair didn’t respond to a request for comment. — Meanwhile, Sinclair granted Comcast a retrans extension until Mar 1. Some markets could have lost Sinclair stations as early as Feb 5.