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.

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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.