Bonten Media Group Pulls Plug on Consumers in 8 States

Broadcasters Initiate 75 Blackouts in First 18 Days of the Year  

Washington, D.C. – Bonten Media Group’s blackout of DISH customers in eight states in eight markets brings the 2017 blackout total to 75, putting 2017 on pace to see the most blackouts in a single year.  The American Television Alliance (ATVA) expressed deep disappointment in Bonten Media Group’s blackout and demanded the broadcaster allow DISH to restore the stations’ signals to its customers immediately.  Bonten Media Group blocked DISH customer access to its 13 stations.

“Broadcasters are really aiming high to start the New Year, and unfortunately for consumers, the sky is the limit.  Consumers have already been hit with nearly as many blackouts in the first 3 weeks of 2017 than in all of 2016,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.   “It’s common for broadcasters to take a more aggressive approach at the beginning of the year, but we’ve never seen anything like this.  Bonten Media Group, along with broadcasters across the country, are using consumers as pawns to demand outrageous fee increases.

This trend of broadcaster-initiated blackouts will continue unabated unless Congress and the FCC take action to protect consumers.  The American Television Alliance demands that Bonten Media Group end its blackout immediately.”

As of New Year’s Day, more than 10 million viewers have lost access to their local television service.

TV Blackout Crisis Continues as Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 600 broadcaster blackouts.  Blackouts have soared in the past five years.  ATVA began keeping track of broadcaster blackouts in 2010.  Since that time there have been:

  • 75 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 over 50%of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks.
  • SNL Kagan data shows that retrans fees are the fastest rising part of programming costs.
  • According to an ATVA analysis of publicly available industry data and SNL Kagan data, 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.

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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.

For more information about ATVA, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter @ATVAlliance.