National TV Viewer Advocate Applauds FCC Action to Investigate Abusive Broadcaster Tactics that Hurt Consumers

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today welcomed the FCC’s unanimous vote to aggressively investigate abusive broadcaster actions that raise prices, cause TV blackouts and harm consumers. Congress directed the FCC to update the rules governing “good faith” in retransmission consent negotiations in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR). ATVA national spokesman Trent Duffy commented on the FCC’s proposed rule:

“Last week, more than 5 million consumers lost their local television stations when Sinclair Broadcasting pulled the plug on viewers in 79 markets across the country. It was the largest TV blackout in American history. Today’s action by the FCC is a step forward for all of those consumers and the millions more who have been victimized by broadcaster blackouts for far too long.

We are hopeful that this examination of the retransmission consent regime will result in a final order that will create some fairness and level the playing field for consumers.

The American Television Alliance applauds the Commission for its action and will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that the final rule protects consumers from higher fees, abusive tactics and the menace of broadcaster blackouts.”

TV Blackouts Have Soared As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens and paid higher bills instead of watching their favorite channels due to at least 533 broadcaster blackouts. The blackouts and TV bills have soared in the past five years. The recent Sinclair takedown shattered the record for the most blackouts in one year at 145. The menace of TV blackouts continues to grow:

  • 145 blackouts to date in 2015
  • 107 blackouts in 2014
  • 127 blackouts in 2013
  • 91 blackouts in 2012
  • 51 blackouts in 2011
  • 12 blackouts in 2010

When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost: SNL Kagan projects that the retransmission revenue broadcasters collect for “free” TV will rise to $6.3 billion in 2015, $7.2 billion in 2016, and $10.3 billion by 2021.

  • 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 Pay TV bills

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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.