Broadcasters’ New ‘Service Failure’ Attack Simply Doesn’t Hold Water

Broadcasters are in an all-out war against pay-TV companies, trying anything – even lying – to protect their billions from retransmission consent. Their latest attack lamely equates “service failures” experienced by pay-TV customers to retransmission consent blackouts. They’ve even created an incredibly misleading, and inaccurate, graphic to make their case.

Let’s set the record straight, since they’re intent on distorting the facts.

First, broadcasters conflate TV service with Internet service. This is extremely problematic, as the two are completely different. But the distortion goes even deeper. Retransmission consent doesn’t directly relate to Internet service, except when broadcasters block Internet subscribers from their content during retrans disputes.

Second, the broadcasters’ numbers come from individual reports of disruptions. We don’t know what caused them, and neither do the broadcasters. When broadcasters cause a black out, they harm tens of thousands to millions of viewers at once. The responsibility is theirs.

Third, broadcasters have blacked out viewers 33 times in 2014, not 5 as the graphic claims. This information is – and always has been – available on ATVA’s website here.

Fourth, broadcasters have some serious chutzpah to complain about service interruptions in the first place. Most viewers rely on pay-TV to see the broadcasters’ signals. Ever tried using an antenna to watch broadcast TV? At worst, it’s impossible. At best, it’s difficult and limited to a few channels.

Finally, it’s the height of hypocrisy for broadcasters attack pay-TV providers for service interruptions while they sit on $1 TRILLION of public spectrum that could upgrade wireless broadband and improve service for millions. Broadcasters’ pursuit of lucrative retransmission consent fees causes them to hoard spectrum that could be used for many better purposes.

Don’t be fooled. To find the source of real “service failures,” broadcasters need to look in the mirror.