Broadcaster Blackout Will Prevent Tens of Thousands in Vegas from Watching the Biggest Sporting Event of the Year  

 Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action to protect consumers from a broadcaster-initiated blackout that threatens to deprive tens of thousands of Las Vegas residents from watching the Super Bowl.  Nexstar Broadcasting blacked out the Las Vegas CBS affiliate for Cox’s Cable subscribers this week.

“Let’s call this for what it is – a shameless shakedown,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Tens of thousands of Las Vegas households are at risk of missing the biggest sporting event of the year.  The FCC must act to save the Super Bowl for Las Vegas.” ATVA’s letter urged the FCC to protect consumers from the menace of broadcaster blackouts by acting on its recommendations immediately:

“Nexstar’s threat to black out the Super Bowl should give the Commission pause.  And its cavalier treatment of Cox’s viewers—who should be considered the “third-party beneficiaries” of the parties’ negotiations—demonstrates once again why reform is needed now.  ATVA has proposed several solutions that would address the kind of behavior, including one that would directly prohibit blackouts prior to “marquee events” such as the Super Bowl.  We urge the Commission to act on these proposals immediately, so as to prevent this kind of behavior from happening again.”

“Broadcasters have a long history of using marquee events to extract higher fees, but this is a new low.  To hold hostage one of the most culturally significant events of the year is the most egregious example of bad faith that we’ve ever seen,” said Duffy. Read the full text of ATVA’s letter to the FCC here.

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 over 12 million Americans. Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to nearly 600 broadcaster blackouts. Blackouts have soared in the past five years. ATVA began keeping track of broadcaster blackouts in 2010. Since that time there have been:

  • 26 Blackouts to date 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 over 50% of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks.
  • SNL Kagan data shows that retrans fees are the fastest rising part of programming costs
  • According to an ATVA analysis of publicly available industry data and SNL Kagan data, fees have grown an astonishing 22,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and more troubling, have seen 40% annual increases over the last 3 years.

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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.