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Commentary: Mediacom and Sinclair need to figure it out

BY BRENDAN STILES | DECEMBER 18, 2009 7:30 AM

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Picture 2010 with no “American Idol,” no “Late Show with David Letterman,” no “House, M.D.,” no “CSI,” no March Madness, no Super Bowl, no NFL playoffs, and no Orange Bowl.

Depressing, isn’t it?

For those across eastern Iowa, that also could be a reality if the Mediacom Communications Corp. and Sinclair Broadcasting Group don’t get their acts together by the end of the year.

This isn’t the first time these two companies have butted heads, and it probably won’t be the last. But the timing of this dispute, at least if you’re a Hawkeye fan, is horrible.

Sinclair owns both KGAN and KFXA, the CBS and Fox affiliates in Cedar Rapids. Fox is slated to televise the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 5 between No. 10 Iowa and No. 9 Georgia Tech.

Remember, three weeks ago before the BCS selected its matchups, how Penn State fans argued that the Nittany Lions playing in a BCS bowl would have better TV ratings than the Hawks? Well, this adds fuel to that fire.

Could you imagine if this dispute had gone public before the BCS announcements were made?

What if Orange Bowl officials heard about this prior to making a decision and went with Penn State, fearing people in Iowa who didn’t travel to Miami wouldn’t bring in strong TV ratings?

That could’ve really made things more challenging for those involved with helping the Hawkeyes land in good bowl games.

Both Mediacom and Sinclair are at fault here. If a deal isn’t reached by the end of the calendar year, everyone is going to lose something.

Mediacom would lose customers. Lots of them. People might start lining up to get either DirecTV or Dish Network.

KGAN and KFXA would both lose viewers. Maybe not the sports fanatics, such as myself, who will do whatever to watch the NFL playoffs and March Madness. But their local newscasts, may see a hit.

There is a lot at stake, but if nothing happens, the people getting the worst of it are fans and the UI athletics department.

If Hawkeye fans in Iowa aren’t able to watch the Orange Bowl, that could certainly take a little of the luster that the university gets after such a bid.

UI officials are probably doing everything possible to help both sides reach a deal when they probably have bigger things to worry about.

Here’s a message for the two biggest players in this controversy: Get something done.

Iowa fans don’t deserve to miss watching the Hawkeyes in a BCS bowl game because of your egos.

You’ll only be hurting yourselves.


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