WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, ATVA responded to a Cox Media Group blackout targeting a total of 20 media markets — including Seattle and four smaller media markets where the blackout holds Sunday’s Super Bowl hostage to extract exorbitant fees. It’s now at least the fifth time Cox-owned stations have either threatened or withdrawn the Super Bowl after previous retransmission consent blackouts involving Charter Spectrum, DISH Network, Verizon FIOS, CableOne and AT&T.
“This latest contrived blackout holding such an important national event like the Super Bowl hostage demonstrates how broadcasters like Cox Media Group intentionally cause maximum disruption and harm for consumers in order to extract exorbitant fees,” said ATVA spokeswoman Jessica Kendust. “The price-gouging behavior of broadcasters like Cox has become increasingly shameless and exploitative and demands action from policymakers in Washington.”
“There’s a very clear correlation between the explosion of broadcast blackouts over the past decade and the fact that station fees have soared more than seven-fold at consumers’ expense,” Kendust said. “However, these outlandish and unnecessary increases have zero relationship to the waning popularity of stations involved, proving the current retransmission consent laws are not only unbalanced but entirely broken. Policymakers need to modernize this law to better protect the American consumer and hold broadcasters accountable to their public interest obligations rather than continue allowing broadcasters to weaponize their station licenses and government-granted exclusivities.”
“Even during a public health crisis, broadcasters have increasingly relied on underhanded retransmission blackouts to price-gouge American television consumers,” Kendust continued. “Policymakers simply must hold broadcasters, like Cox, accountable for these egregious practices by advancing consumer-friendly broadcast distribution reforms.”
In 2020, broadcasters doubled down on their use of retransmission blackouts to extort American consumers who rely on cable or satellite for their television service. There were a record-breaking 342 blackouts in 2020 compared to 278 in 2019.
The American Television Alliance (ATVA) brings together an unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies, and independent programmers to raise