“Retrans Man” Strikes Again; Pulls the Plug on 20,000 Fios Customers
Demands Consumers pay 170% Fee Increase
WBOC Fox/CBS Affiliates in Delmarva went Dark at the Stroke of Midnight
Washington, D.C. – Today’s Baltimore Raven’s game is being held hostage for thousands of fans on the Eastern shore of Maryland. WBOC, the station owned by Draper Broadcasting, has taken down its signal for nearly 20,000 Verizon Fios customers, meaning loyal fans in the Delmarva area will not be able to see today’s highly anticipated Ravens-Steelers matchup. Draper Broadcasting is solely responsible for this blackout, and it alone has the power to restore its signal.
The TV blackout strategy was masterminded by Duane Lammers, the self-described “Retrans Man,” whose company MAX Retrans advises broadcasters to blackout consumers to create “deal leverage” and extract higher fees during retransmission consent negotiations. Lammers is advising Draper Broadcasting and demanding consumers pay 170% more than they are currently paying for WBOC programming.
Retrans fees are the fastest rising part of the pay TV subscribers’ monthly bill. The Retrans Man’s notorious scorched Earth tactics include an ongoing blackout of the Fox affiliate in Sioux Falls, which has deprived South Dakota viewers of programming for nearly a year.
“Duane Lammers is the public face of higher Pay TV bills,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman. “Outdated laws allow broadcasters and hired guns like the ‘Retrans Man’ to fleece loyal TV viewers and diehard sports fans by demanding outrageous fee increases. TV blackouts are out of control because broadcasters are exploiting a loophole in the law that allows them to abuse TV viewers with no consequences. The American Television Alliance calls on Draper Broadcasting to end its outrageous consumer blackout immediately.”
During an interview in early 2016, Lammers proclaimed “the name of the company says it all” before going on to describe his business model:
“The whole MAX Retrans business model is built around only getting paid for what I generate, so I’m not walking in the door with my hands in the pocket of the retrains pie from day one, I only get paid on the incremental revenue I generate.”
Live televised college and pro football games are the most frequently targeted and blacked out programming category, according to a recent analysis by the American Television Alliance. Marquee football games are used by broadcasters in retransmission fee negotiations as “deal leverage” to extract higher fees from consumers.
“Each year, football fans are used as pawns by broadcasters to pad their wallets; this year broadcasters are being even more aggressive, using brass knuckle tactics and hired guns to stick it to fans to make up for shrinking advertising dollars. Sadly, this abusive broadcaster behavior will continue until Congress and the FCC take action to protect innocent consumers from harm.”
TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 on Pace to Break Blackout Record as Broadcasters Rake In $$$$ from Viewers
Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels. With 162 blackouts already this year, 2017 is on pace to be the worst year for blackouts ever.
- 162 blackouts in 2017
- 104 blackouts in 2016
- 193 blackouts in 2015
- 94 blackouts in 2014
- 119 blackouts in 2013
- 90 blackouts in 2012
- 42 blackouts in 2011
- 8 blackouts in 2010
When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost:
- SNL Kagan also projects that over time that 60% of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks rather than pay for local programming.
- SNL Kagan data shows that retrans fees are the fastest rising part of programming costs
- Retrans fees have grown an astonishing 22,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and more troubling, have seen 40% annual increases over the last 3 years.
The American Television Alliance (ATVA) brings together an unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies, and independent programmers to raise awareness about the risk TV viewers face as broadcasters increasingly threaten service disruptions that would deny viewers access to the programs they and their families enjoy.