Friday, November 24, 2006

Backyard catfight

There's been a lot of local yowling between Sinclair Communications (KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Mediacom, the cable TV utility. The screaming is about carrier rates, evidently. I'm not sure of the details, but megaconglomerate Mediacom is wailing and carrying on that little Sinclair wants too much money to carry the KGAN signal on Mediacom's cables.

Mediacom has the local cable franchise in Cedar Rapids. They're the ones who put those ugly green boxes on the city easements throughout residential neighborhoods not long ago. I'm not sure how they can pose as the little guy in the current squabble.

On the other hand, Sinclair also has extra-municipal interests, and KGAN is only the local outpost in their farflung web of commerce. Mediacom says Sinclair is a dog-in-the-manger who wants more than their fair share of fees, unlike everyone else Mediacom has whipped and cowed into the fold. And Sinclair says Mediacom is hardly the only way to get the KGAN signal. You can buy DirecTV, or put up an aerial (speaking of 50-year-old technology!)

The only sure thing is, Mediacom will stiff everyone an extra buck or two if they're "forced" to pay Sinclair's rate, and Sinclair will be forced to recognize that not everyone cares enough about CBS to notice if the signal disappears on December 1st at midnight.

Watch what happens if the debate gets that far. On November 7th, we elected a Democratic state legislature and re-elected a Democratic governor, along with a Democratic U.S Congress. How do you spell relief? R-E-G-U-L-A-T-I-O-N.



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