The retrans dance between Sinclair Broadcasting and Mediacom Communications shifted to Des Moines, IA, where executives from both companies — locked in a bitter retransmission consent carriage stand-off that forced Sinclair’s broadcast TV signals off Mediacom’s systems on Jan. 6th — were called to testify before the state’s House and Senate Oversight Committee.
Both sides held tight to their positions: Mediacom reiterated its desire to secure the same deal that Time Warner Cable just signed with Sinclair or submit to binding arbitration; Sinclair refused those options in lieu of continued negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Not surprisingly, no deal was announced today and the stalemate continues.
According to The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, Mediacom SVP Ed Pardini, who oversees its operations in Iowa, stated that "Sinclair’s pricing demands are discriminatory to Iowans," while Sinclair VP/general counsel Barry Faber countered: "We’re believers in the free market. We think the free market should be allowed to work."
Mediacom chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso attended today’s hearing and was seated at the same table as Sinclair president David Smith; Pardini and Faber testified and fielded most of the questions. Legislators from both parties were unimpressed with the companies’ refusal to compromise for the sake of the 2 million viewers impacted by their pricing war.
Committee co-chair Sen. Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) commented, "I didn’t really ask you guys here to have a verbal fistfight," while Senate Minority Leader Mary Lundby (R-Marion), told both sets of executives, "I hope you’ll think about your customers and not just about your bottom line."
Courtney also derided Sinclair for showing a "let them eat cake" attitude in the hearing, according to The Des Moines Register.