Congressmen Ask FCC To Make Sure Viewers Can Watch Alabama Football Game

December 26, 2009

Three Alabama Congressmen are a petitioning the FCC to make sure some WEAR 3 viewers will be able to watch the BCS National Championship game.

Unless WEAR and Mediacom strike a deal by the end of the year, Mediacom cable TV customers will be unable to watch the January 7 national title game between Alabama and Texas. The contract between Mediacom and WEAR expires on December 31. At issue is the amount of money WEAR is paid by Mediacom for the right to retransmit the ABC affiliate’s programming. Mediacom does not want to pay an increase proposed by Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of WEAR.

In their letter to the FCC, the three lawmakers — Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile; Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile — asked the FCC to take “appropriate action to ensure that major sporting events such as the BCS National Championship are not held hostage during failed retransmission consent negotiations” as they point out that “thousands of Alabamians will lose the opportunity to watch the Crimson Tide”.

If Mediacom and WEAR can’t reach an agreement, Mediacom customers will also miss LSU and Penn State in the New Year’s Day Capital One Bowl, in addition to all of the regular ABC programming on the Pensacola station.

The last time the two media companies were unable to reach a contract agreement, Mediacom customers were unable to watch WEAR for about a month.

In the North Escambia area, Mediacom is the cable company in Atmore.


10 Responses to “Congressmen Ask FCC To Make Sure Viewers Can Watch Alabama Football Game”

  1. Matt on December 29th, 2009 6:32 pm

    Can people be removed from office based on stupidity? Last I checked the AL job market and economy wasn’t looking to healthy. But hay, at least they have the citizens BEST interests in mind.

  2. JW on December 27th, 2009 9:17 am

    Cassandra, more than likely the congressman all went to BAMA. RTR!!!!

  3. SW on December 27th, 2009 6:10 am

    First, Congress stay out of this private contract negotiation; you’re too busy messing things up and interfering with our lives, anyway. This has no Constitutional issue-I would venture to step out and say that the government has not right to interfere with anything over the air, but that’s me.

    Second, if Mediacom and WEAR don’t get it together, how many ways can one watch or listen to the game? 1) satellite, 2) outside antenna, 3) radio, 4) online? I’ve seen the WEAR commercial and they are taking every opportunity to put Mediacom behind the 8-ball on this.

    What difference does it make to those in the north end of the county, most don’t have cable anyway after Ivan. Either it’s antenna or satellite, anyway.

    Do we really need the government to interfere here? Are we so helpless that we need their help over a football game? I am as big a fan as anyone, but this government day-to-day interference foolishness has got to stop.

  4. Bryan Bethea on December 26th, 2009 11:50 pm

    Sinclair pays affiliation fees to ABC, that is true. What is also true is that broadcasters like Sinclair are using public airwaves which they did not pay for (at all, ever) to make a profit while holding cable and satellite providers hostage.

    The FCC mandates that certain channels are “must carry” channels. WEAR would fall into that category. Sinclair is using the “must carry” status of WEAR to extort additional revenue from Mediacom and other service providers, which really means they are extorting the money from consumers. I have no doubt that Mediacom will pass along increases in fees paid to Sinclair directly to their customers.

    Broadcast regulations need to be overhauled desperately. First of all, television stations who broadcast over the public airwaves should no longer be able to do so for free unless they are truly non-profit in nature (public television and religious broadcasters). Wireless phone providers had to pay billions of dollars for their spectrum allocations so why should television and radio broadcasters be any different? Secondly, the “must carry” provisions should be removed for all stations. In this day and age it is not necessary to force cable and satellite providers to carry a station’s signal. Consumers have a myriad of choices for obtaining local news and information (this site is a perfect example of one of those choices!) Fees collected from broadcasters for the use of public spectrum would be used to enhance the Universal Service Fund, which in turn could be used to extend the reach of broadband further into rural areas.

    The future of broadcasting is online and is not the legacy “network” scenario of 20+ years ago. Sinclair would be wise to realize this before they go the way of the dinosaurs.

    By the way, my opinions expressed on this site are mine alone and not necessarily those of my employer.

  5. Jimbo on December 26th, 2009 9:57 pm

    A-MEN……… Casandra Cufr.., her statement says it all…………………………

  6. Walt on December 26th, 2009 9:57 pm

    If someone wants to watch the game, they will find a way to watch it. My antenna and converter box work fine, with no monthly bill. Sinclair pays ABC for the right to broadcast their programing. If the price set by Sinclair is agreeable to ABC, then its their right to charge it. It is no business of Congress, they definitely have bigger issues to deal with.

  7. Angi on December 26th, 2009 11:04 am

    I know there are going to be alot of upset people, if they don’t get to watch the big BAMA game… Thank goodness I don’t have mediacom!!!

  8. Bryan Bethea on December 26th, 2009 8:55 am

    Sinclair Broadcasting is playing a very dangerous game. They do not own any content, they simply control access to ABC programming in the Pensacola-Mobile area. Sinclair needs to wake up and realize that if people can’t see ABC programs on television there are definitely other alternatives like watching online. I am employed in the cable industry and it makes me sick to see greedy companies like Sinclair hold people’s television viewing hostage so they can make a quick buck. Typically rebroadcast negotiations between cable companies (or satellite) and the station owners go quickly and smoothly. For some reason Sinclair is going rogue and demanding exorbitant fees (and they have been doing it for years). As the article stated, this has happened before with Sinclair.

    My suggestion to Mediacom is to drop WEAR altogether. If people want to see WEAR they can switch to the over-the-air broadcast. When that happens Sinclair gets ZERO in retransmission fees.

  9. stephen on December 26th, 2009 6:24 am

    this may be the only positive that comes out of congress so let them try.

  10. Casandra Cufr on December 26th, 2009 2:01 am

    Since when is watching college football on T.V. a constitutional right??? Don’t Alabama’s congressmen have more important work to do?

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.