LIN retrans fee too small to warrant customer refund


MVPDs are trying furiously to pin the blame for the high cost of cable on broadcasters, even while MVPD-only services fill the high-rent district on the channel lineup card and after ESPN just cut a deal with the NFL that has MVPDs fretting about even higher fees for the most expensive channel there is. Meanwhile, a Mediacom executive told a disgruntled subscriber who wants a refund for his missing LIN television stations that the fee LIN receives is too small to bother with.

Matt Polka of the American Cable Association went to bat for Mediacom, saying, “LIN TV’s decision to black out Mediacom cable customers is deplorable and should serve as a warning to the Federal Communications Commission to expect much more of the same as cable operators prepare to renew thousands of retransmission consent contracts that expire at the end of the year. It’s clear that the broadcasters aren’t going to temper their behavior this year just because the FCC has a retransmission consent rulemaking going on. New rules are needed from the FCC, and needed soon.”

However, Mediacom had an email thread going with subscribers. Some of them thanked the cable company for holding the line against LIN, but finally one subscriber wrote, “I just got off the phone with the billing dept. No credit for the missing channels, what a bunch of thieves. I’m going to Directv and you should too.”

The response from Mediacom was this: “The price of our Basic and Family Cable services include the costs of all of our quality programming within these tiers. The cost of this one channel is very minor. I apologize we cannot provide you with the credit you’re requesting.”

A customer said, “If the cost is so minor then why doesn’t Mediacom pay up and get the channels back on the air????? By the way I’m missing three channels.”

A Mediacom rep responded, “Unfortunately, we are unable to discuss the exact amount of the increase due to some legal stipulations. However, we can tell you that the rate increase is substantial, and in the triple digit range.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Broadcasters claim they are asking for a fraction of what many cable-only channels get when it comes to fees. If the fees are extremely low to begin with, the percentage of increase can look horrific. Neither side quotes actual figures during these negotiations, but Mediacom seems to have admitted that LIN’s current compensation is a tiny amount indeed.

Maybe they should be thankful that LIN is offering very reasonable rates for some of the most-viewed and local programming on the system, and try instead to keep cost of ESPN and other channels in line.