Category Archives: Press Releases

Statement of the American Television Alliance on ATSC 3.0 Rulemaking

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission voted today to begin a rulemaking to examine the proposed transition of over-the-air television broadcast signals to a new standard known as ATSC 3.0.  The proposed transition to this new standard will have consequences for anyone who owns a television.  If implemented properly, ATSC 3.0 could bring consumers important benefits, such as access to higher quality 4K video, immersive sound, and more efficient spectrum usage.  Yet the transition also raises questions about costs, required new equipment, and the relationship between broadcasters and distributors.  The transition to ATSC 3.0 signals, moreover, promises to be costly and complicated, notwithstanding broadcaster claims to the contrary.

“We applaud the Commission’s balanced and deliberate NPRM.  We believe it will provide for a robust discussion of the critical issues and help ensure that the proposed transition benefits all broadcast television viewers regardless of whether they receive those signals over the air or from a pay TV provider,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

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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.

Are Broadcasters Willing to Flush Super Bowl Down the Toilet?

No Deal for Tens of Thousands of Fans on Eve of Super Bowl  

Washington, D.C. – Screens are still dark for tens of thousands of consumers in Sioux Falls, SD and Syracuse NY, putting consumers at risk of missing Super Bowl LI, scheduled to air on Fox on Sunday, February 5, 2017.   The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today urged local station owners to restore their signals immediately so American consumers are not forced to miss the most-watched television event of the year.

“We’re about to find out whether or not broadcasters are willing to flush the Super Bowl down the toilet for tens of thousands of fans.  We’ve demanded this shameful behavior come to an end, but Independent Communications and Bristlecone Broadcasting have shown they’re more interested in using the Super Bowl as leverage to raise their fees on consumers.  Regardless, the damage is already done,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

Consumers in the following states and markets are at risk of missing the Super Bowl this year unless broadcasters restore their signals:

  • Sioux Falls, SD – Independent Communications blacking out Mediacom
  • Syracuse, NY – Bristlecone Broadcasting blacking out Verizon Fios

In the Sioux Falls, South Dakota market, Independent Communications has been blacking out the local Fox station from Mediacom customers since October 15, 2016.  As a result of Independent’s blackout, Sioux Falls area residents have been deprived of the World Series and numerous NFL regular season and playoff games.  Independent is now planning to blackout the Super Bowl.

Bristlecone has refused to restore its signals to Verizon Fios consumers in Syracuse, NY.   According to Syracuse.com, Fios is continuing to negotiate on behalf of consumers to reach a settlement to return Fox to its channel lineup.

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Hit a Record in 2015 As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

TV blackouts hit a record in 2015, affecting 12 million Americans.  Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to 725 broadcaster blackouts.  With 75 blackouts already in the month of January, 2017 is on pace to be the worst year for blackouts ever.

  • At Least 75 blackouts to date 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 50% 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 27,400% [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.

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

ATVA Statement on ATSC 3.0 Transition

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance today commented on the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow broadcasters to deploy the ATSC 3.0 standard.

Statement of American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy:

“If implemented properly, the ATSC 3.0 standard could bring some important benefits to consumers, including access to higher quality 4K video, immersive sound, and more efficient spectrum usage.  However, a number of questions have been raised by public interest groups, ATVA, and others that the rule-making process must answer.

“We are pleased that the draft NPRM invites comments on these important matters.  We are especially pleased to see questions about how the new standard could impact retransmission consent negotiations and the potentially significant costs associated with the transition–including what new equipment pay TV customers would have to acquire and whether Pay TV customers would be compelled to pay additional fees to receive the new signals.

“The deck is already stacked against the consumer during retrans negotiations. This is why retrans fees are rising at unsustainable levels and television blackouts have reached a crisis point.  Consumers cannot fully benefit from next generation TV if it increases their costs and worsens the already broken retrans system.”

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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.

Univision Causes Massive Blackout in Top Markets Across U.S.

Millions of Charter Communications Consumers in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Elsewhere Lose Signal
Broadcaster Blacks Out Consumers Despite Reaching Previous Deal

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today condemned Univision’s massive blackout of millions of Charter Communications consumers, including major Spanish language markets in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas.  Despite reaching a valid deal with Univision, the broadcaster has removed its programming from all Charter Communications customers.

“This is nothing more than a naked ploy for Univision to extract higher fees from consumers, and even more brazen since a contract is already in place,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Like most broadcasters, Univision is a repeat offender, having previously blacked out six million households for U-verse customers in 2016.  This trend of broadcaster-initiated blackouts will continue unless Congress and the FCC take action to protect consumers.  The American Television Alliance demands that Univision end its blackout immediately.”

Los Angeles represents the largest market for both Charter and Univision, according to the Los Angeles Times.  The Spanish-language broadcaster’s No. 1 station is KMEX-TV, which typically beats several of the English-language television stations in Los Angeles.

Countdown to Syracuse and Mississippi Super Bowl Blackout

40,000+ Fans May Not Get NFL’s Biggest Game
Bristlecone and Northwest Keep Verizon Fios and Cable ONE Customers in the Dark
ATVA Urges Restoration of Signal during Contract Negotiations

Washington, D.C. – With just five days left before one of the biggest live television events in the world, The American Television Alliance (ATVA) again asked Bristlecone and Northwest Broadcasting to restore their signals to Verizon Fios and Cable ONE consumers in New York and Mississippi so they can watch the Super Bowl and other network shows.   According to Syracuse.com, Fios is continuing to negotiate on behalf of consumers to reach a settlement to return Fox to its channel lineup.

ATVA also pointed to examples of other broadcasters maintaining signals during similar contract negotiations to illustrate the extreme tactics of Bristlecone and its owner, Brian Brady.  Brady is also on Layer3 TV’s content advisory board, spearheading the company’s partnership with top local broadcasters.

“This Bristlecone blackout has gone on for way too long, and now the Super Bowl is at risk.  For the sake of fans in Syracuse, we ask that the TV signal be restored while negotiations continue, which has been done in other similar situations.  If Mr. Brady won’t do that, it shows his true motivation is profits over people, and it’s a shame.  We hope elected officials and others who represent the people of Syracuse to will take a stand as well and ask that this signal be restored,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

The station takedown represents a familiar pattern for Bristlecone: in 2015, the broadcaster blacked out Fox Syracuse for Fios customers for nearly five  days.  Bristlecone is a subsidiary of Northwest Broadcasting, which is currently blacking out  the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox signals in two Mississippi communities, and its Fox and NBC affiliates in Idaho Falls and Lewiston, Idaho.  The Bristlecone/Northwest broadcasting corporation frequently uses blackouts as “deal leverage.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts are on a Blistering Record-Breaking Pace in 2017 As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

TV blackouts affecting millions of Americans in 2017 are hitting a record-shattering pace, with 75 blackouts already in the month of January.   If the pace keeps up, TV blackouts in 2017 would completely dwarf the record number of 193 blackouts from 2015, when 12 million Americans were victimized.  Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to 725 broadcaster blackouts.

  • 75 blackouts to date 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 50% 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 27,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and more troubling, have seen 40% annual increases over the last 4 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.
For more information about ATVA, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter @ATVAlliance.

 

Toilet Bowl Could Replace Super Bowl for Tens of Thousands of Football Fans

Fans in SD, MS, NY, & WA May Get Flushed by Broadcasters on Eve of NFL’s Biggest Game

Washington, D.C. – Tens of thousands of consumers in four states are currently at risk of missing Super Bowl LI, scheduled to air on FOX on Sunday, February 5, 2017.   The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today urged local station owners to restore their signals immediately so American consumers are not forced to miss the most-watched television event of the year.

“This is unbelievable – a real toilet bowl for fans who may get flushed by broadcasters on Super Bowl Sunday.  Broadcasters have a long history of using marquee events to extract higher fees, but to hold hostage one of the most culturally significant events of the year is the most outrageous example of cold hearted callousness and bad faith tactics employed by the broadcasting industry,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

In the Sioux Falls, South Dakota market, Independent Communications has been blacking out the local Fox station from Mediacom customers since October 15, 2016.  Because of Independent’s blackout, Sioux Falls area residents have been deprived of the World Series and numerous NFL regular season and playoff games.  Independent is now planning to blackout the Super Bowl.

Nexstar Media Group used similar brass knuckle tactics last year, holding Cox Cable consumers hostage in Las Vegas while seeking massive fee increases.  Consumers in the following states and markets are at risk of missing the Super Bowl this year unless broadcasters restore their signals:

  • Sioux Falls, SD – Independent Communications blacking out Mediacom
  • Greenville/Greenwood, MS – Northwest Broadcasting blacking out Cable One
  • Spokane, WA – Northwest Broadcasting blacking out Cable One
  • Syracuse, NY – Bristlecone Broadcasting blacking out Verizon Fios

“Let’s call this for what it is – a shameless shakedown,” said Duffy.  “Thousands of consumers are at risk of missing the biggest sporting event of the year.  We are hopeful the Trump administration, the new FCC Chairman and Congress will work together to find a solution to protect consumers from this outrageous behavior and find a solution to end this blackout immediately.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts are on a Record-Breaking Pace in 2017 As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

TV blackouts affecting millions of Americans in 2017 are hitting a record-shattering pace, with 75 blackouts already in the month of January.   If the pace keeps up, TV blackouts in 2017 would completely dwarf the record number of 193 blackouts from 2015, when 12 million Americans were victimized.  Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to 725 broadcaster blackouts.

  • 75 blackouts to date 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 50% 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 27,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and more troubling, have seen 40% annual increases over the last 4 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.

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

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.

###

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.

 

NFL Divisional Playoff Round Blacked Out for Football Fans, Local Bars and Business Owners

Stations Down in Five States, Eight Cities, including Multiple CBS, FOX and NBC Stations Serving the Same Communities, on Eve of Second Round of NFL Playoffs

 Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance today demanded that News-Press & Gazette Broadcasting end its deliberate blackout of DIRECTV customers in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon and NPG’s home state of Missouri prior to the NFL Divisional Playoffs that kickoff this weekend.  Hundreds of thousands of NFL football fans, along with thousands more local sports bars, restaurants and other small business owners, will likely miss out on pivotal matchups between the Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (Fox); Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (Fox); Houston Texans at New England Patriots (CBS); and Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (NBC).   News-Press & Gazette has even blacked out local residents living in and around the broadcaster’s St. Joseph MO headquarters.

In addition to hurting NFL fans, this intentional blackout undoubtedly causes a significant negative economic impact on approximately 2,500 bars and restaurants within the affected areas that rely on marquee sporting events to attract their customers.

“We saw this coming… following a year in which broadcasters were being investigated by the FCC for egregious behavior, blackouts have returned with a vengeance,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “It might be a New Year, but it’s the same old story: broadcasters use the anticipation and excitement of big events like the NFL Playoffs to squeeze more money from consumers.  This demonstrates what the American Television Alliance has maintained since its founding – existing rules do not protect the viewing public from broadcaster blackouts and that Congress and government regulators should act.”

The following markets with NFL playoff games scheduled for this weekend are currently blacked out by News-Press & Gazette Broadcasting or threatening to go dark prior to kickoff:

 

Bend, OR KFXO FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Bend, OR KTVZ NBC Sunday 12:05 p.m. Pittsburgh at Kansas City
Bend, OR KFXO FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
Columbia-Jefferson City, MO KQFX FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Columbia-Jefferson City, MO KQFX FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
Idaho Falls, ID KXPI FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Idaho Falls, ID KIDK CBS Saturday 7:15 p.m. Houston at New England
Idaho Falls, ID KXPI FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
Monterey-Salinas, CA KION CBS Saturday 7:15 p.m. Houston at New England
Palm Springs, CA KDFX FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Palm Springs, CA KESQ CBS Saturday 7:15 p.m. Houston at New England
Palm Springs, CA KDFX FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, CA KKFX FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, CA KCOY CBS Saturday 7:15 p.m. Houston at New England
Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, CA KKFX FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
St. Joseph, MO KNPN FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
St. Joseph, MO KNPN FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas
Yuma, AZ-El Centro, CA KECY FOX Saturday 3:35 p.m. Seattle at Atlanta
Yuma, AZ-El Centro, CA KECY FOX Sunday 3:40 p.m. Green Bay at Dallas

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:

  • 61 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.

###

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.

 

Broadcasters Hit Ten Million TV Viewers in 25 States with Blackout in New Year

“Existing rules do not protect the viewing public from broadcaster blackouts,” ATVA tells FCC

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to engage in meaningful retransmission consent reform following the tidal wave of broadcaster-initiated TV blackouts that left more than 10 million Americans in the dark.  Broadcasters blacked out 46 markets across 25 states.   The massive consumer blackout set a new record, as the 48 blackouts to begin 2017 are more than the total number of blackouts to start 2016 (14), 2015 (26) and 2014 (5) combined.

“This massive consumer blackout to begin the New Year demonstrates what the American Television Alliance has maintained since its founding – existing rules do not protect the viewing public from broadcaster blackouts and the FCC should act,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA national spokesman.  “The mere fact that ten million Americans lost local broadcast service on a single day is more than enough to demonstrate that the FCC needs to take action to protect the public interest.”

ATVA’s full Ex Parte filing can be viewed here.

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:

  • 50 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.

###

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.

ATVA Condemns Bristlecone Broadcasting’s Blackout of Consumers of Fox Syracuse

Bristlecone and Northwest Broadcasting Put Verizon Fios and Cable One Customers in the Dark
ATVA Urges FCC to Protect Innocent Pay TV Consumers from Further Harm
50 Broadcaster Blackouts Five Days into 2017

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA), a voice for the pay TV customer, today condemned Bristlecone Broadcasting’s blackout of Verizon Fios consumers in Syracuse, NY. Bristlecone is a subsidiary of Northwest Broadcasting, which is currently blacking out Cable One customers in Mississippi and Idaho.  According to Syracuse.com, Fios is continuing to negotiate on behalf of consumers to reach a settlement to return Fox to its channel lineup.

ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy commented on the broadcaster’s blackout of consumers in New York, Mississippi, and Idaho:

“The American Television Alliance demands that Bristlecone Broadcasting immediately end its TV blackout of Fios and Cable One customers.  Rather than watching local news, sports and weather, consumers are seeing a black screen.  According to news reports, Bristlecone is asking Fios for 93 percent more than they are currently paying for programming that is free over the air.

“Even though the New Year is only five days old, Bristlecone’s station takedown is already the 49th TV blackout to hit consumers in 2017.  It is yet another example of why Congress and the FCC must take action to protect consumers and the TV-viewing public.”

The station takedown represents a familiar pattern for Bristlecone; in 2015 the broadcaster blacked out Fox Syracuse for Fios customers for nearly 5 days.  Bristlecone is a subsidiary of Northwest Broadcasting, which is currently blacking out its ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations in two Mississippi communities, and its Fox and NBC affiliates in Idaho Falls and Lewiston, Idaho.  The Bristlecone/Northwest broadcasting corporation frequently uses blackouts as “deal leverage.”

“These tactics raise questions about Bristlecone President Brian Brady’s independence and commitment to negotiating in good faith,” said Duffy.  “Although not well-publicized, Brady serves as an advisor to Layer3 TV, a Denver-based cable operator that will soon be a direct competitor to Fios in Boston and Washington, D.C.”

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:

  • 50 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.

###

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.