WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) filed a Notice of Ex Parte with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlining the egregious behavior of private equity firm Apollo Global Management and its Cox Media Group subsidiaries in interrupting broadcast service for consumers in five markets to hold the Super Bowl hostage and extort higher fees.
“In two days, more than 150 million Americans will sit down to watch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl … Fox News described the Super Bowl as “a shared experience that is truly American,” the filing reads. “Yet the New York private equity giant Apollo Global Management has directed its Cox Media Group subsidiary to pull CBS stations from tens of thousands of AT&T customers. Viewers in Seattle, Dayton, Yuma, Eureka, and Greenwood Mississippi who have done nothing wrong will thus miss the Super Bowl on AT&T’s video platforms.”
“Apollo Global has chosen to use the moment in which it can inflict maximum harm on viewers in order to extract maximum fees well into the future,” the filing continues. “Apollo Global, in other words, is engaging less in a negotiation than in a shakedown.”
“Worse yet, Apollo Global has used loopholes in the Commission’s local media ownership rules to control multiple network television feeds in places like Yuma and Eureka. And in Greenwood, Apollo Global controls all four major network feeds,” the letter states. “So, with the flick of a switch, Apollo Global has turned off all network programming to AT&T subscribers in Mississippi… Apollo Global’s control of all network programming in Greenwood provides it leverage to command higher retransmission consent fees, not just to AT&T subscribers in Greenwood, but in all of Apollo Global’s markets.”
“This is intolerable. No broadcaster—whether owned by a private equity giant like Apollo Global or, more rarely these days, a mom-and-pop company—should be allowed to black out marquee events like the Super Bowl,” ATVA’s filing adds. “And no broadcaster should be permitted to evade the Commission’s local media ownership rules to control two “top-four” networks in a market, much less all four such networks.
Read the full letter as filed with the FCC HERE.
Read more on the Apollo and Cox blackout holding the Super Bowl hostage HERE.