News

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.

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.

###

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.

New Year’s Day TV Blackout Victimizes Mississippi and Idaho Viewers

Northwest Broadcasting Uses Nuclear Option in Bid to Raise TV Fees by Nearly 100%

WASHINGTON, DC — Hundreds of thousands of people in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarksdale, Winona, Yazoo, Grenada and Cleveland, Mississippi, who tried to tune into network TV this morning instead saw a black screen;  as Northwest Broadcasting used a well-worn but nuclear negotiation tactic by pulling its signal in a bid to jack up fees for viewers by nearly 100%.  A national television consumer group that tracks broadcaster-caused TV blackouts and has highlighted the pattern of abuse to the Federal Communications Commission and lawmakers immediately called for a restoration of service.

“Talk about a New Year’s Day hangover.  2017 is beginning just the way 2016 ended, with a wave of broadcaster blackouts of innocent consumers,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy. “Today it’s Mississippi and Idaho, but it’s a national scourge and will only get worse unless Congress and the FCC do something about it.  We’re hopeful that President-elect Trump will stand up for TV fans and stare down the broadcaster behemoths who have gouged them for too long.”

“Broadcasters are using college football bowl games, the NFL playoffs and network premiers as leverage, holding their programming for ransom in a naked ploy for more money,” said Duffy.  “Broadcasters are demanding consumers pay massively more for ‘free’ TV.  Outdated laws allow broadcasters to bilk loyal TV viewers in a blackout shakedown:  Pay more or they yank your station off the air.  These brass knuckle tactics have no place in American society.   ATVA continues to make the case that the FCC must consider the public interest in retransmission consent negotiations.”

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 over 12 million Americans. Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to nearly 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:

  • Over 100 Blackouts in 2016 (a year in which the FCC was actively investigating the problem)
  • 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.

Big Broadcasters Blackout Christmas

A Wave of Broadcaster Blackouts set to Hit Families over the Holidays  

Washington, D.C. – The following statement can be attributed to ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy:

“As families gather together this weekend to celebrate holiday traditions, big broadcasters have pulled the plug on tens of thousands of Pay-TV customers.  Broadcaster-initiated blackouts of local programming are underway in Baton Rouge, Tyler and Grand Junction and more are threatened in Seattle, Portland, Wilkes-Barre and New Orleans.  2016 is coming to a close just as it began, with a wave of broadcaster blackouts of innocent consumers.  This is even more evidence of why the FCC and Congress must act to reform a broken retransmission consent system.”

Broadcasters have pulled the plug on American consumers 102 times in 2016.  Network takedowns have spiked in recent years; in 2010 there were only eight black outs nationwide.

SNL Kagan predicts that retransmission-consent fees could nearly double in the next five years to $11.6 billion.  SNL Kagan predicts that stations will receive about $7.7 billion in retransmission consent fees in 2016, up about 20% from the $6.4 billion in 2015.

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.

Setting the Record Straight on ATSC 3.0: Put Consumers First

The American Television Alliance (ATVA) for the past five years has been the leading voice for consumers in the battle against skyrocketing retrans fees and egregious broadcaster TV blackouts.  In a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission we raised a series of questions about a proposal known as ATSC 3.0 that could significantly raise the costs to consumers of receiving broadcast television either over-the-air or from a pay-TV provider.

If implemented properly, the proposal in question could have some important benefits to consumers, including access to higher quality 4K video and immersive sound, and more efficient spectrum.  This innovative technology is a good thing for consumers, and ATVA isn’t trying to stop it. In fact, ATVA is working with the FCC to weigh all of the significant factors, because that’s exactly what Americans deserve.

ATVA is just the latest in a wide range of diverse groups to weigh in on the new standard, including the National Association of Broadcasters own members, who have publicly expressed concerns about moving forward with the new standard.

Consumer advocate groups such as Public Knowledge have called on broadcasters to continue meeting their public interest obligations, regardless of changes to the technology used to deliver signals.  Other groups have also expressed concerns related to ATSC 3.0 recently.  Andrew Langer, President of the Institute for Liberty notes that the “first nationwide upgrade from analog to digital in 2009 wound up costing the federal government $1.3 billion in vouchers for low-income families.” Timothy Lee with the Center for Individual Freedom points out that “consumers who currently receive local stations over the air or via cable or satellite providers suddenly would face the possibility of incurring the cost of new equipment in order to receive the new signal.”

In addition to the fees that consumers could incur as a result of purchasing new equipment, ATSC 3.0 carriage could be leveraged by broadcasters to extract yet even more retrans fees that could be passed on to consumers.  Those concerns and the others impacting access and consumer cost burdens should all give us pause to consider their full impact.

Fees charged by broadcasters to transmit what is supposed to be free over the air signals are the fastest rising part of consumers’ TV bills.  Broadcasters have increased total retransmission consent fees more than 22,000 percent since 2005, according to publicly available data.  SNL Kagan, for example, predicts that retransmission consent fees will total more than $11.6 billion in the next five years.

We have to take the Ronald Reagan approach in this case: “Trust but verify.”  This is a very big deal for everyone who watches TV in the United States and will have major implications for consumer costs and access.  And for this reason, ATVA has pledged to work with the FCC to ensure that costs associated with the transition to ATSC 3.0 do not fall at the feet of consumers.

We welcome a conversation with the NAB and federal regulators to address the concerns for consumers that we put forward in our recent filing.

Trent Duffy is the National Spokesman for the American Television Alliance, a coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies and independent programmers raising awareness about why TV blackouts are happening and what can be done to stop them.  

ATVA Applauds FCC Enforcement Action Against Sinclair

Broadcaster Violated Good Faith Negotiation Obligations

 Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) responded today to the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement action against the Sinclair Broadcast Group.  The broadcaster agreed to pay $9,495,000 to settle multiple allegations and complaints that it violated its good faith negotiation obligations by engaging in prohibited joint negotiations. 

ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy commented on the FCC’s enforcement action against Sinclair:    

“The American Television Alliance applauds today’s enforcement action by the FCC.  Today’s action sends a strong message of deterrence to the broadcast industry that rule breaking and bad faith will not be tolerated.”

 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.