Senate Panel Reviews STELAR
WASHINGTON, DC – As TV blackouts and broadcast fees skyrocket to record levels in 2019, the American Television Alliance is asking Congress to renew protections for satellite and cable subscribers and reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR). The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s hearing “The Reauthorization of STELAR” will take place at 10 AM EST.
“Without Congressional action, consumers can expect more blackouts, more price increases, less localism, and more video providers exiting the business in the coming years,” said ATVA Executive Director Mike Chappell in a statement to the Committee. The full statement for the record can be viewed here.
Since the House of Representatives held its hearing to review STELAR on June 4, broadcasters have initiated 216 blackouts, bringing the total number of blackouts to 276 for 2019 and breaking the previous annual record of 213.
“The blackout crisis is the worst it has ever been, and it will only continue to get worse if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR and the FCC’s ‘good faith’ authority,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman. “ATVA applauds Senators Wicker and Cantwell for holding this important hearing. We urge the committee to not only reauthorize STELAR, but also fix this broken system that for too long has favored broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”
A new national poll out released by ATVA found that 71% of consumers say broadcasters shouldn’t be allowed to abuse outdated laws, and 68% say broadcasters are operating in bad faith and laws need to be updated. The poll also found that that a clear majority of consumers (56%) say broadcasters should not be permitted to pull their signal while negotiating retransmission fees.
Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $215 million to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359%. As retrans fees and blackouts continue to break records, broadcasters are asking Congress to allow the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement authority during retransmission consent negotiations, known as “good-faith”, to expire at the end of the year. The provision is part of a law called STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), which if not reauthorized, will cause as many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, to lose access to broadcast channels. RV enthusiasts who rely on distant signals as they travel from place to place, would also be adversely impacted if STELAR expires. Groups representing the entire RV industry along with other consumer groups have spoken out in support of reauthorizing STELAR before the end of the year.
TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,300 Blackouts since 2010 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 1,300 broadcaster-initiated blackouts. Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.
- 276 blackouts in 2019
- 165 blackouts in 2018
- 213 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
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.