Broadcasters Usher in the New Year with Wave of Television Blackouts

 Broadcasters Pull the Plug on Consumers in 48 Markets

Washington, D.C. – A tidal wave of broadcaster blackouts hit consumers from coast to coast, as the calendar turned to 2017.  Broadcasters deliberately took down local channels in dozens of markets in 25 states across the country, leaving hundreds of thousands of innocent consumers without local programming.  Broadcasters pulled the plug on these loyal TV fans despite offers from some ATVA member companies to retroactively compensate broadcasters after reaching a new agreement; broadcasters selfishly refused, choosing instead to use the nuclear option, leaving viewers in the dark.

“Broadcasters ambushed innocent consumers on New Year’s Day with a tidal wave of television blackouts,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy.  “Broadcast tycoons have brazenly and deliberately hijacked pay TV viewers once again, holding college football bowl games, the last weekend of the NFL’s regular season and network premiers for ransom in a naked ploy to extract more money from consumers.”

Outdated laws allow broadcasters to demand consumers pay higher and higher fees for ‘free’ TV.  When pay TV customers resist these often-massive rate increases, broadcasters yank stations off the air, holding their programming for ransom until consumers pay up.

“These brass knuckle tactics have no place in American society,” said Duffy.  “The FCC must consider the public interest in retransmission consent negotiations.  This wave of broadcaster blackouts is more evidence for why the FCC and Congress must act to protect consumers.”

Hundreds of thousands of pay TV consumers in the following communities are currently blacked out by local broadcasters: 

ATT/DIRECTV

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Burlington, VT; Cincinnati, OH; Des Moines-Ames, IA; Fort Smith, AR; Greensboro-Winston-Salem, NC; Greenville-Spartanburg, SC-Asheville, NC; Harrisburg-Lancaster, PA; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, MO; Louisville, KY; Milwaukee, WI; Monterey-Salinas, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Omaha, NE; Orlando-Daytona, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland-Auburn, ME; Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA; Savannah, GA; Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL; West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL; Fort Myers-Naples, FL; Shreveport LA; Jacksonville FL

DISH

Oklahoma City, OK; Tulsa, OK

Altice

Spokane, ID

Frontier

Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Raleigh/Durham, NC; Minneapolis, MN; Myrtle Beach, NC; Charleston, SC

Cable One

Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Lewiston, ID; Grenada and Cleveland, MS;

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

TV blackouts hit a record in 2015, affecting more than 12 million Americans.  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:

  • 48 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.