UPDATE: Mediacom drops KOMU from lineup

Monday, January 3, 2011 | 7:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:56 a.m. CST, Friday, January 7, 2011

Contract negotiations between cable company Mediacom and KOMU/Channel 8 fell through Monday night, and Mediacom subscribers lost access to the station early Tuesday morning.

After a weekend contract extension, the two parties were unable to reach an agreement by a midnight deadline, but negotiations were expected to continue.

"Although our good faith efforts have been rebuffed thus far, we will continue to seek an acceptable agreement," said Marty Siddall, KOMU's general manager.

KOMU, an NBC affiliate, is seeking financial compensation for its programming from Mediacom.

Mediacom spokeswoman Phyllis Peters was reluctant to comment Monday evening on the status of the negotiations.

"Consumers are being put in the middle of a business dispute," Peters said. "It's really regrettable."

But she said, "Just because the messages are there doesn't mean we will be bullied into a bad deal."

Matt Garrett, the director of audience development at KOMU, said the station was keeping viewers apprised of the situation.

"The FCC encourages stations to keep people informed and reach out to viewers," he said.

Under the previous two-year contract, Mediacom has provided KOMU with services in exchange for programming. Services included advertisement spots on Mediacom channels, and a fiber optic line from the KOMU station to both the MU campus and the Mediacom office in Columbia.

KOMU's affiliation with MU is part of the dispute. Mediacom has stated that the station is a tax-supported, nonprofit organization.

"I just have to believe it's a different equation for for-profit stations, as compared to KOMU," Peters said.

According to KOMU, the station is not supported by tax dollars but is self-sufficient and self-funded.

Garrett said that the main goal for KOMU is fair compensation for its programming. The total figure is based on an equation that involves a time frame and other factors including the number of subscribers.

While both parties say they are maintaining an optimistic outlook for the negotiations, Garrett spoke with realism Monday evening.

"We still have a lot of ground to cover," Garrett said.

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Gregg Johnston January 4, 2011 | 7:32 a.m.

How much does Channel 17 receive? Channel 13? Wouldn't those be some decent questions to ask?

(Report Comment)
robert link January 4, 2011 | 8:43 a.m.

When advertising is shown on KOMU, who sold it, Mediacom or KOMU? Who gets the revenue for commercials shown on KOMU that are also seen on Mediacom's other lineup? How about commercials Mediacom sells to advertisers, are they told the commercial will be shown only on a certain channel?
Makes me wonder how this will end as I pose these questions.

(Report Comment)
Holly Henry January 4, 2011 | 11:46 a.m.

From the "About KOMU" page at

"...The station is a full-power NBC Affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. KOMU-TV8 is the only university-owned commercial television station in the United States utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students...KOMU-TV8 generates all its revenue from advertising with no state funding, and reinvests all surplus cash in continuous development of its educational mission."

It sounds as though Mediacom is punishing KOMU simply for being owned by the University.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 4, 2011 | 12:11 p.m.

Seriously, this much drama about broadcast TV? I stopped watching broadcast TV ages ago except for the rare hockey game on NBC. Programs on satellite/cable (Discovery, History, etc.) and online news sources are much more enjoyable and useful. So sorry that I can't get into the sitcom-of-the-week time sink any longer.

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen January 4, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

"Mediacom has stated that the station is a tax-supported, nonprofit organization."
Even if true, so what? MediaCom is trying to use this as a reason why they should provide KOMU less in compensation, but shouldn't MediaCom simply be paying compensation based on the value of the programming it receives from KOMU? Wouldn't this value be the same regardless if KOMU is taxpayer supported or not? If MediaCom does compensate KOMU less because it is 'taxpayer supported', wouldn't that mean MediaCom is sort of ripping off taxpayers?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield January 4, 2011 | 12:39 p.m.

How much of its viewership does KOMU lose as a result of this blackout? Viewership determines advertising rates. If a lengthy blackout makes KOMU significantly less attractive to advertisers, does that situation suggest that KOMU needs Mediacom more than Mediacom needs KOMU?

(Report Comment)
robert link January 4, 2011 | 2:52 p.m.

Jimmy, the number I heard was 30,000 viewers affected.
I know that Mediacom has an ad sales staff, do those monies go to all stations viewed on Mediacom or kept by Mediacom? Does KOMU have a advertising sales staff? Do the advertisers know if their ad is sold to Mediacom for redistrubution?

(Report Comment)

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