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, 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.

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