News

Widespread Support for Video Marketplace Reform

American Television Alliance

“The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act will jumpstart and elevate a long-overdue conversation about modernizing the rules of the road for how Americans access and pay for video content. The legislation is forward-thinking, free-market oriented and pro-consumer.” – Trent Duffy, American Television Alliance

Conservative and Free Market Groups

“Video content is no longer viewed solely through broadcast antenna signals or cable television, yet antiquated laws continue to regulate how one sector of the television industry operates… The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act modernizes federal laws to accommodate and invigorate today’s video marketplace.” – Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act simply removes these barriers to market negotiations by repealing carriage mandates, retransmission consent and compulsory license provisions, and restrictive ownership caps… It places television service negotiations into a free market context.” – Americans for Tax Reform

“Like many areas of our economy, the video marketplace is weighed down by burdensome and outdated regulations. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act aims to improve that by revising carriage and licensing rules, as well as media ownership restrictions that distort outcomes and harm consumers. The result would be a freer market that better serves the needs of both viewers and market negotiators, helping to bring the world of video programming into the 21st century.” – Andrew Moylan, Director of the Interstate Commerce Initiative at the National Taxpayers Union

“The Taxpayers Protection Alliance applauds Rep. Steve Scalise’s continuing efforts to reform the video marketplace through commonsense solutions including retransmission consent reform.  The current rules that govern retransmission consent date back to 1992, a different time when there was little competition in the cable marketplace. Fast-forward to today and the market has changed in such a way that the law is far behind the technology to the point that it is harming consumers.” – David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

“Current laws, enacted all the way back in 1992, allow the federal government to pick winners and losers by tipping the scales in negotiations that the government has no business distorting… We at CFIF therefore applaud Rep. Scalise’s leadership, and urge Congress to pass the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act at long last.” – Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom 

“Among other things, the NextGen TV Act would repeal the retransmission consent and compulsory cable licensing regulatory regime and allow negotiations for carriage of TV broadcast stations to take place in a truly free market context.” Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation

Industry Support

“ACA applauds Rep. Scalise for introducing legislation designed to overhaul archaic media laws and policies. The Scalise bill, to its credit, will prompt lawmakers and stakeholders to begin important conversations that should result in legislation next year that will truly serve the public interest.Matt Polka, President and CEO, American Cable Alliance

 “With the introduction of the ‘Next Generation Television Marketplace Act’ of 2018, Whip Scalise reinvigorated the conversation about video marketplace regulations. The video landscape is constantly shifting and consumers need – demand – modern rules that govern how we access and pay for video content. This is an important, contemporary conversation, and hopefully the introduction of this legislation will spur further discussion on how best to apply modern, practical rules to this dynamic and evolving industry.”USTelecom

 “Charter applauds Majority Whip Steve Scalise for reintroducing the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act. Congressman Scalise is rightly reexamining a broken system that has resulted in retransmission consent fees rising exponentially over the last decade. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues in Congress to reform the outdated rules and better protect consumers.”Charter Communications

 “The video marketplace has outgrown the 1992 Cable Act. Consumers watch, create and interact with video whenever and wherever they want it. Majority Whip Scalise’s bill recognizes this and appropriately sunsets a decades-old video law that makes no sense today. We look forward to working with the Majority Whip and others to ensure continued innovation and choice for consumers.”Tim McKone, AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations

 “DISH commends Rep. Scalise for his continued leadership on behalf of consumers. The broken retransmission consent regime is in dire need of comprehensive reform, and customers have been left paying the price through broadcaster blackouts and skyrocketing retransmission consent rates.”– Jeff Blum, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs

“The regulations used to govern the video marketplace are out of date and no longer reflect the options and ways consumers obtain and view their content. Congress should consider the changing technology enabled by a growing Internet ecosystem as they create a new video marketplace framework. We thank Representative Scalise for introducing the, “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” This legislation will begin the conversation to modernize our nation’s video policies as the marketplace responds to rapidly changing consumer demands.” Robert Fisher, Senior Vice President, Federal Government Relations, Verizon

“ITTA commends Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) for introducing the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” Introduction of Rep. Scalise’s bill is an important first step in the long overdue process of updating the outdated regulatory framework that governs today’s video marketplace.”Genny Morelli, President, ITTA

“NTCA appreciates Congressman Scalise’s willingness to take on the difficult issue of updating video policy by introducing this legislation. As consumer consumption of video continues to evolve, it is essential to examine video marketplace failures and consider updates to existing laws and regulations, especially in rural areas where many residents can’t receive broadcast signals. We look forward to engaging in this important discussion with Congress, and ultimately to the passage of legislation that will address the critical shortcomings in the existing rules governing this marketplace.”Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association

“The video market and consumer preferences are transitioning rapidly. We applaud Whip Scalise for introducing legislation that takes a deregulatory approach to the video marketplace and eliminates outdated rules that hurt competition.” David Bartlett, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, CenturyLink

“This Bill gets it exactly right.  His [Scalise] Bill would repeal a steaming pile of outdated, conflicting and unnecessary government interventions into the market for distributing television programming. Of all the critical functions for which we need the Federal Government, managing and pricing the distribution of TV programs is not one of them!  The Scalise Bill would enable perfectly capable market forces to assure that consumers have access to the widest possible array of television programming from the widest possible array of distribution platforms.  And it would be fair to all industry segments.– Preston Padden, Former President of Network Distribution for Fox, former President of the ABC Television Network, former Executive VP of The Walt Disney Company

ATVA Commends Majority Whip Scalise for Leadership on Video Marketplace Reform

WASHINGTON, DC– The American Television Alliance today commended Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) for his leadership to advance the debate on reforming the antiquated laws that govern the video marketplace.  ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy released the following statement after the introduction of the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act” of 2018.

“The American Television Alliance, a voice for the TV viewer, commends Congressman Steve Scalise for his thoughtful leadership to reform and update America’s broken and outdated video laws.

“The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act will jumpstart and elevate a long-overdue conversation about modernizing the rules of the road for how Americans access and pay for video content. The legislation is forward-thinking, free-market oriented and pro-consumer.

“We live in an instant, on-demand digital world.  Consumers have unparalleled choice and competition for video content. Yet the laws that govern the video marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated in 1992 – long before cell phones, HDTV or the Internet was even contemplated.

“We commend Congressman Scalise for his strong leadership to move this vitally important conversation forward.  ATVA looks forward to working with Congressman Scalise and the many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to pass pro-consumer video marketplace reform.”

TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 Breaks Blackout Record as Broadcasters Rake in Billions from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 900 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 83 blackouts in 2018 (And Counting)
  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record)
  • 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

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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 Communications Inc. Initiates Massive Nationwide Blackout for DishLATINO Customers

Broadcaster Pulls the Plug on DISH Customers Nationwide; Millions of Homes Impacted

Washington, D.C.– The American Television Alliance (ATVA), a voice for the TV viewer, today condemned Univision’s massive nationwide blackout of millions of DISH, DishLATINO and Sling TV customers in every major market in the U.S.  Univision’s deliberate blackout is a familiar tactic; last year, the broadcaster pulled its programming from Charter Communications and Verizon, leaving millions of consumers without access to their programming.  Univision also blacked out AT&T customers in 2016. Univision’s blackout of millions of customers came on the eve of closely watched national elections in Mexico.

“Univision is holding its programming for ransom in a naked ploy to extract higher fees from consumers,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Univision’s plans to drastically increase the rates they charge customers will only result in higher bills for people in their communities.  This is nothing but an attempted money grab by Univision Communications Inc. executives.”

“Contrary to what Univision would like the public to believe, cable, satellite and telco providers cannot ‘drop’ a local station,” Duffy added.  “Univision is solely responsible for this blackout, and they alone have the power to restore their signal and end this blackout immediately.  Univision, as the owner of the signal, can restore its programming to DISH customers at any time, even while negotiations continue. “

Broadcasters shattered the record for the most TV blackouts in a single calendar year in 2017, intentionally taking down signals from cable and satellite customers a staggering 213 times last year. Consumers were blacked out twice as many times in 2017 as they were in 2016 – a 107 percent increase year over year.

The record number of TV blackouts deprived tens of millions of Americans of network programming, local news and weather, and live sporting events. Broadcasters pocketed $9.3 billion in 2017 from pay TV customers for ‘free’ TV, according to industry analyst SNL Kagan.  Network takedowns have surged in the last decade as broadcasters have used blackouts of marquee programming as “deal leverage” to extract higher and higher fees from consumers.

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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.

Nexstar Broadcasting Threatens TV Blackout to Force Massive Fee Hike for Horry County, SC HTC Customers

Broadcaster Threatens to Blackout Severe Weather Alerts, Local News, and Primetime Programming for Thousands of Customers

Washington, D.C. – Due to federal media laws written before cellphones were created, thousands of local TV viewers are facing much higher monthly bills if a Texas-based broadcaster gets its way.  Nexstar is demanding that customers of Horry County, SC cable operator HTC pay as much as double the current rate for its CBS (WBTW) and MyNetworkTV signals.  HTC is fighting the increase, arguing that customers should not face such egregious price increases for programming, much of it available for free.  So far, Nexstar is holding out for the fee hike, and is threatening to pull the service or “blackout” severe weather alerts, news, and primetime network television programming.

HTC asked to begin negotiations with Nexstar over four months ago but was ignored as a contract renewal deadline approached.  Nexstar has so far refused to keep its signal on in the event that a deal is not reached.  Nexstar’s demands for fee increases would make MyNetworkTV, a station that airs mostly repeats of recent cable and broadcast series, more expensive than most of its other cable programming.

Nexstar is a repeat blackout offender, having pulled the plug on Cox Communications customers in January of 2016.  Nexstar’s hard-nosed blackout tactics brought in close to $1 billion in retrans revenue last year, up from $394 million or more than 150% since 2016.

“Nexstar should not blackout local TV fans and should not hold them ransom for higher fees.  That is wrong,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.   “In the near term, we call on them to return to the negotiating table and come to a reasonable agreement that doesn’t gouge customers.  In the long term, we need Congress and the FCC to fix this, because broadcaster blackouts are at record highs and TV customers are being exploited.

Broadcasters shattered the record for the most TV blackouts in a single calendar year in 2017, intentionally taking down signals from cable and satellite customers a staggering 213 times last year.  Consumers were blacked out twice as many times in 2017 as they were in 2016 – a 107 percent increase year over year.

The record number of TV blackouts deprived tens of millions of Americans of network programming, local news and weather, and live sporting events.  Broadcasters pocketed $9.3 billion in 2017 from pay TV customers for ‘free’ TV, according to industry analyst SNL Kagan.  Network takedowns have surged in the last decade as broadcasters have used blackouts of marquee programming as “deal leverage” to extract higher and higher fees from consumers.

TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 Breaks Blackout Record as Broadcasters Rake in Billions from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 900 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 38 blackouts in 2018 (And Counting)
  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record)
  • 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

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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.

ICYMI: Free Market Group Slams Anti-Competitive Retransmission Consent Regulations in Letter to U.S. Department of Justice

Calls for Congress and FCC to Eliminate Retransmission Consent Regulations
American Television Alliance Applauds Center for Individual Freedom for Efforts to Reform Anti-competitive and Harmful Regulations 

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today applauded the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), a free-market advocacy organization, for its advocacy on behalf of consumers.  In response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s call for comments in advance of its May 31 roundtable on anticompetitive regulations, CFIF wrote the agency to express its support for eliminating certain retransmission consent regulations that drive up costs for consumers.

The full letter can be viewed here.

Retransmission consent rules “inhibit innovation and restrict the ability of the parties to negotiate fully efficient relationships,” said Timothy Lee, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs for the CFIF.  “That harms consumers, because it prevents parties from providing the products that consumers most want.”  Lee also noted that the retrans system favors broadcasters over cable and satellite providers, allowing them to “negotiate higher license fees than they would otherwise be able.”

“Last year TV fans suffered a record number of broadcaster blackouts, and there’s no end in sight until Congress and the FCC take action to save consumers from this rigged system,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “We are glad to see groups like CFIF working to protect consumers from anti-competitive and outdated regulations and we strongly encourage Congress and the FCC to follow suit.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Break Records 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 900 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 38 blackouts in 2018
  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record)
  • 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

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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.

Broadcasters Shatter TV Blackout Record in 2017

More than Twice as Many Blackouts in 2017 – 107% Increase from 2016
213 Blackouts in a Single Year Sets New Station Takedown Record
Broadcasters Pocket $9.3 Billion for ‘Free’ TV

Washington, D.C.  Broadcasters shattered the record for the most TV blackouts in a single calendar year in 2017, intentionally taking down signals from cable and satellite customers a staggering 213 times last year.  Consumers were blacked out twice as many times in 2017 as they were in 2016 – a 107 percent increase year over year.

“Broadcasters pulled the plug on American consumers a record 213 times last year, blacking out millions of pay TV subscribers across the country,” said ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy.  “Broadcaster blackouts roared back in 2017 after the FCC suspended its investigation of abusive broadcast industry tactics.  Broadcasters have weaponized TV blackouts, deliberately targeting live sports and other must-see TV to inflict maximum pain on innocent consumers.  The situation will continue to deteriorate for pay TV customers until Congress and the FCC takes action to protect consumers.”

The record number of TV blackouts deprived tens of millions of Americans of network programming, local news and weather, and live sporting events.  Broadcasters pocketed $9.3 billion in 2017 from pay TV customers for ‘free’ TV, according to industry analyst SNL Kagan.  Network takedowns have surged in the last decade as broadcasters have used blackouts of marquee programming as “deal leverage” to extract higher and higher fees from consumers.  There were only eight TV black outs nationwide in 2010.

Throughout 2017, broadcasters blacked out big events including the Super Bowl, award shows, college football bowl games, NFL Playoffs, March Madness, network premieres, and other highly anticipated events.  Live professional and college football games are the most frequently targeted and blacked out programming category, according to an analysis by ATVA.

CBS recently used the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday Specials and NFL Football as deal leverage in a massive blackout affecting millions of DISH Network customers in 18 markets across 26 states.  CBS will generate more $1 billion from retrans fees in 2017 and claims to be on track to increase that number to $2.5 billion by 2020.  Industry analysts continue to increase projections for broadcast retransmission fees, estimating the cost to U.S. consumers and satellite and cable operators would hit $12.8 billion by 2023.  ATVA has asked the FCC to ban broadcasters’ use of marquee programming as leverage during retrans negotiations.

“Cable and satellite TV subscribers already pay too much for programming that is available for free over the air,” said Duffy.  “The record number of broadcaster blackouts in 2017 is an urgent call to action.  Congress must reform outdated and broken video law, and the FCC must protect consumers from broadcaster abuse and skyrocketing retrans fees.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Break Records 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 800 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record Number)
  • 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 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 even more troubling, they 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.

CBS Blacks Out Millions on DISH, Threatens Thanksgiving

Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, L.A., Philly, San Fran and other Major Markets Left in the Dark
CBS Leverages Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday Specials and NFL Football

Washington, D.C. – The CBS Corporation today pulled the plug on millions of American families, unilaterally blacking out 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states for DISH subscribers.  The American Television Alliance, a voice for the TV viewer, condemned CBS’s massive consumer blackout and demanded the broadcaster restore its signal to affected households.  ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy commented on CBS’s outrageous actions:

“Blacking out millions of American families just ahead of Thanksgiving is a new low.  This is a naked attempt by CBS to shake down families for more of their hard-earned money, as they sit down to enjoy turkey and watch football.  It is shameful and wrong.

CBS wears its billion-dollar retrans haul like a badge of honor, so it’s no surprise its executives in New York are willing to block the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Frosty the Snowman, and the annual Dallas Cowboys Turkey Day game to create leverage in an obvious cash-grab.

Cable and satellite TV subscribers already pay too much for programming available for free, over the air.  CBS’s appalling actions highlight ATVA’s longstanding call for Congress and the FCC to protect consumers from broadcaster blackouts and higher fees by reforming outdated and broken video laws.”

Contrary to what CBS would like the public to believe, cable and satellite providers cannot “drop” local stations.  CBS is solely responsible for this blackout, and CBS alone has the power to restore its signal and end this blackout before Thanksgiving.  CBS, as the owner of its content, can restore its programming for DISH customers at any time, even while negations are taking place.

Broadcasters have a long history of using TV blackouts as weapons to extract higher fees from consumers.  CBS is a repeat offender; the broadcaster orchestrated a month-long blackout of 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in 2013.

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Break Records 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 800 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 212 blackouts already this year, 2017 is the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 212 blackouts in 2017 (and counting)
  • 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 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 even more troubling, they 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 New Broadcast TV Standards and Ownership Rules

Congress and the FCC Must Protect Consumers from Higher Fees and Broadcaster Blackouts

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA), a voice for the TV viewer, issued the following statement on today’s FCC actions on a new Broadcast Television Standard (ATSC 3.0) and the relaxation of media ownership rules.

“Today the FCC approved a new broadcast standard and loosened restrictions on media ownership.  While the orders include some measures to protect consumers, we are disappointed that the Commission did not do more in these proceedings to protect viewers from higher costs and more broadcaster blackouts.  We will continue to work with the FCC to ensure that, despite these changes, broadcasters negotiate the carriage of their signals in good faith,” 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.

 

 

 

 

Trust But Verify on New Broadcast Standard

Next week federal regulators at the FCC will consider a new broadcast standard called ATSC 3.0, the so-called “Next Gen” TV standard.   If implemented properly, the Next Gen transition could have some important benefits to consumers, including access to higher quality video, immersive sound and more efficient use of broadcast spectrum.  Technological innovation is a win for consumers, but new broadcast standards should not increase consumer costs or include new mandates on pay TV providers.

It’s been almost a decade since the transition to Digital HD broadcast signals.  But whereas the DTV received years of planning, intense media scrutiny and two separate acts of Congress to implement, the ATSC 3.0 transition is occurring largely unnoticed.  While the transition may improve broadcast service, it could also harm consumers if not managed properly.

In previous filings we asked the Commission to ensure two overriding policy objectives in regard to the Next Generation Broadcast transition: that the transition is completely voluntary for all participants, and that the new standard does not harm others in the television ecosystem by imposing new cost burdens on consumers and other participants.

Decisions impacting millions of American consumers require a ‘trust but verify’ approach.  We look forward to working with the Commission to ensure the new broadcast standards do not result in higher bills for consumers, more broadcaster initiated blackouts and other loss of service.

Broadcasters do not operate in a vacuum, and they do not have the right to impose new costs or burdens on consumers and other market participants.  ATVA has been working with the FCC on these important issues on behalf of all TV viewers.  We will continue to work with the Commission to protect consumers from harm during the transition.

Broadcasters can transition to ATSC 3.0 without causing any of these problems—but only if the FCC takes affirmative steps to protect consumers from harm.

Cable Act Turns 25 and the Verdict Is In: A Disaster for Consumers

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, on October 5th, the 1992 Cable Act turns 25 years old.  The American Television Alliance, a voice for the TV viewer, commented on the occasion.

“For 25 years, cable, satellite and telco TV customers have paid more than $40 billion to the broadcast industry for something that was once free, broadcast TV.  The 1992 Cable Act established the doctrines of government mandated broadcast carriage, or must carry; and forced negotiations known as retransmission consent.  Pay TV consumer have been paying the price ever since,” said ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy.  “Today, broadcast TV fees are soaring, broadcasters blackouts are out of control and consumers are held hostage by a federal law written before the advent of HDTV, the Internet and smartphones.”

Broadcast retransmission fees are increasing at an astronomical rate, and will cost U.S. consumers $10.6 billion by 2020, and are expected to soar to $12.8 billion by 2023, an 18 percent increase from 2016 levels, according to industry research firm SNL Kagan.

The retrans cash grab is fueling a television blackout crisis.  2017 is on pace to have the most blackouts ever in a single year.  Consumers have endured 179 blackouts so far in 2017.  The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, including the Final Four contests and the national championship game are among the marquee events broadcasters held for ransom, using blackouts to increase “deal leverage.”  Broadcasters also blacked out the Super Bowl, NFL and College Football post season games, the Grammys, and network TV premiers earlier this year.

When President George Bush vetoed the bill in fall of 1992 he warned, “the simple truth is that under this legislation cable television rates will go up, not down.”  Congress overrode the veto, the bill became law and President Bush’s prescient warning has become a painful reality for pay TV customers.

“Congress must take a hard look at the woefully outdated rules of the retransmission consent regime, which are directly responsible for skyrocketing fees and the record pace of blackouts that pay TV consumers experience year after year.  Furthermore, these troubling trends should erase any doubts about the necessity for strong FCC oversight during the proposed NextGenTV transition.”

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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.