TV Blackouts Skyrocket in 2019, Making it Worst Year Ever

Latest Outage Ties Annual Record with 5 Months to Go

Screens Go Dark for DISH Network Customers in 12 Markets, 18 States

Washington, D.C. – Meredith Corporation caused a massive TV blackout on July 16, 2019, pulling its signal from millions of DISH Network customers in 12 television markets in 18 states.   Meredith’s blackout of DISH customers brings 2019’s blackout total to 213 only seven months into the year, tying the 1-year record set in 2017.  In addition to Meredith’s blackout of DISH Network customers, Nexstar is currently blacking out millions of DIRECTV, U-verse and DIRECTV Now customers, in approximately 100 cities across the U.S., denying access to 125 local stations.  Consumers were blacked out 165 times in 2018 while broadcasters collected $10.1 billion in retrans fees, up from $9.3 billion in 2017.

“Congress is right to be looking at our outdated video laws, because the blackout crisis is reaching an epic proportion and we don’t expect it to stop until Congress does something about it,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Consumers have lost billions of dollars and have been used as pawns.  It is time to bring our nation’s ancient video laws in line with the reality of today.”

Congress is currently considering the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR).  As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR. 

ATVA strongly supports the reauthorization of STELAR and bipartisan momentum continues to build to extend the legislation.  Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) recently said STELAR is “must-pass” legislation, while  Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has called retransmission consent a “racket.” 

“Congress should not only re-authorize STELAR so rural America can continue receiving all their broadcast channels, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition,” added Duffy.

The 1992 Cable Act first established the regulatory regime known as retransmission consent.  Retransmission consent fees are the payments that TV distributors (cable, satellite, and other TV providers) are required to pay in order to carry broadcast TV channels.  If demands for higher fees are not met, broadcasters pull their signals.   A cable or satellite operator is not allowed to provide subscribers a broadcaster’s signal without permission, which allows broadcasters to use the threat of blackouts and actual blackouts to extort higher fees – fees that are ultimately paid by subscribers.

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,000 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 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.

  • 213 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.

Sinclair Managed and Controlled Stations Refuse to Negotiate with AT&T

AT&T Files “Bad Faith” Complaint With FCC

20 Stations in 17 Cities Blacked Out

Washington, D.C. –AT&T has filed a “bad faith” complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against nine individual station owners that have collectively pulled 20 stations in 17 cities from DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and/or U-verse homes on May 30 and June 10.

The stations which are managed and controlled by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, are refusing to negotiate with AT&T.  The blackout has impacted the NHL Stanley Cup, NBA Finals and U.S. Open, among other events. The broadcasters include Deerfield Media, GoCom Media of Illinois, Howard Stirk Holdings, Mercury Broadcast Group, MPS Media, Nashville License Holdings, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting.  AT&T filed a “bad faith” complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on June 18.

Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) recently reached an agreement on a legislative framework to end television blackouts.  Congress is currently considering the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR).  As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR.  Allowing STELAR to expire will also end the FCC’s authority to enforce its “good faith” rules in regard to retransmission consent.

“This is another symptom of a broken system that’s fueling the blackout crisis and causing retrans fees to skyrocket.    Congress should not only re-authorize STELAR to maintain the FCC’s authority to enforce “good faith” rules, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition,” Said  ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy.

The 1992 Cable Act established the doctrines of government mandated broadcast carriage or must carry, and forced negotiations known as retransmission consent.  Retransmission consent fees are the payments that TV distributors (cable, satellite, and other TV providers) are required to pay in order to carry broadcast TV channels.  If demands for higher fees are not met, broadcasters pull their signals.   A cable or satellite operator is not allowed to provide subscribers a broadcaster’s signal without permission, which allows broadcasters to use the threat of, or actual, blackouts to extort higher fees that are ultimately paid by subscribers.

Major rules governing the U.S. media marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated for the media in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiple streaming options didn’t exist.

TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 Breaks Blackout Record 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 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 65 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

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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.

Frontier Communications Joins ATVA

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today added to its growing coalition of the country’s leading cable and satellite providers, independent programmers, and consumer groups with the addition of Frontier Communications as a member.  Frontier joins ATVA following the addition of independent programmers RIDE TV, MAVTV, REVOLT, and Cinémoi.

Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) recently reached an agreement on legislation to end television blackouts. Congress is currently considering the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR).  As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR.  Allowing STELAR to expire will also end the FCC’s authority to enforce its “good faith” rules in regard to retransmission consent.

“This is the latest sign that bipartisan momentum is growing to fix our broken retransmission consent system,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

“We look forward to working with the coalition to encourage Congress and the FCC to take action to protect consumers from skyrocketing retrans fees and TV blackouts,” Ken Mason, Senior Vice President, Federal Government Affairs for Frontier Communications.

In the last decade, Broadcasters have weaponized TV blackouts to cause maximum harm for consumers and maximize their own profit. In 2010 there were only 8 blackouts nationwide. In 2017, Broadcasters set an all-time record with 213 blackouts in a single calendar year, and in 2018 blackouts reached 165.

Major rules governing the U.S. media marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated for the media in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiple streaming options didn’t exist.

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,000 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 an estimated 1,069 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.

  • 62 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

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American Television Alliance

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.

About Frontier Communications
Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:FTR) is a leader in providing communications services to urban, suburban, and rural communities in 29 states. Frontier offers a variety of services to residential customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks, including video, high-speed internet, advanced voice, and Frontier Secure® digital protection solutions. Frontier Business™ offers communications solutions to small, medium, and enterprise businesses. More information about Frontier is available at www.frontier.com.

ATVA Calls for Fix to Broken Retrans Laws Amid Gray Television’s Good Faith Violation

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Television Alliance today called on Congress to address broken retransmission consent laws amid Gray Television’s violation of “good faith” negotiation rules with C Spire Fiber. 

“Gray Television is negotiating in bad faith and this is yet another reason why Congress needs to do something about the laws that allow it to happen,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Bipartisan momentum for reform is at an all-time high, our coalition is growing, and our voices will continue to get louder so long as broadcasters are able to blackout consumers with immunity.”

The Good Faith Complaint and Petition for Declaratory Ruling was filed June 3 by C Spire against Gray Television.

TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 Breaks Blackout Record 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 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 62 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.

ICYMI: NAB Chief Says Retrans Fees Are 12 Cents of Consumers’ Cable Bill — If that’s an offer – we will take it!

Washington, D.C. – The President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Gordon Smith, told a house panel today that retransmission consent fees represent only 12 cents of a consumer’s pay-TV bill. Patricia Boyers, President of BOYCOM Vision, a small independent cable operator, disputed the claim, saying that her subscribers pay $12.16 each on their bill for retransmission of 4 broadcast stations. Robert Thun, Senior Vice President at AT&T, said, he wishes the fee was that low, but that number is dwarfed by what he pays for retrans.

“12 cents? If that’s an offer, we’ll take it,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA Spokesman. “We would love to see the proof. Broadcasters have a history of spreading half-truths to protect a system that has allowed them to jack up billions of dollars in fees on consumers,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

Retransmission consent fees represent the fastest rising portion of consumers pay-TV bills. Broadcasters pocketed $10.1 billion in 2018 from pay TV customers for ‘free’ TV, according to industry analyst SNL Kagan.  Retrans fees have risen 4,950 percent since 2006, from about $200 million to $10.1 billion in 2018.   

“The broken retrans regime is quite the racket, and it’s gotten a lot worse in the last decade. Broadcasters have weaponized TV blackouts, deliberately targeting live sports and other must-see TV in order to jack up retrans prices. 

Congress should take the opportunity to reauthorize STELAR and examine this broken and outdated system that favors broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”  

On recent earnings calls, broadcasters have bragged about their retrans cash haul: 

Nexstar Media Group: “Revenue at Nexstar was up 1.8% to $626.6 million in the quarter, a record for the broadcaster. Driving those increases was a 14% rise in retransmission consent revenue to $314 million,” [Multichannel News 5/8/19]. 

Gray Television Inc.: “Retransmission consent revenue increased $42 million, or 26%, to $204 million,” [Yahoo Finance 5/8/19]. 

Sinclair Broadcast Group: “Distribution revenue, which includes retransmission consent fees and affiliate fees from its cable networks, was up 12% to $352 million in the quarter, compared to $314 million in the first quarter of 2018,” [Multichannel News 5/8/19]. 

Fox: “…chalked up the revenue gain to affiliate and advertising revenue growth of 11% and 9%, respectively. Driving those gains was a 29% jump in retransmission consent revenue and a 10% increase in TV advertising revenue. A 35% increase in “other” revenue derived from digital content licensing, the company said,” [Deadline 5/8/19].

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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.

ATVA Applauds Bipartisan Agreement on Video Marketplace Reform

Congressman Steve Scalise and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo Reach Deal to Fix Broken Retransmission Consent Laws

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Television Alliance today commended Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Congresswoman Eshoo (D-CA) for their leadership to advance the debate on reforming the antiquated laws that govern the video marketplace.  Both the House and Senate this week will host hearings to review laws governing the video marketplace. 

As bipartisan momentum continues to build for reforming outdated video laws and as Congress reviews the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR), independent programmers RIDE TV, MAVTV, REVOLT, and Cinémoi recently joined ATVA and are calling on Congress to end the TV blackout and runaway retrans fee crisis. 

As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR.   ATVA believes Congress should not only re-authorize STELAR, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition.  ATVA opposes blackouts whether generated by broadcasters or the inaction of Congress.   

“This is the latest sign that bipartisan momentum is growing to fix our broken retransmission consent system.  The American Television Alliance commends Congressman Steve Scalise and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for reaching a bipartisan agreement to reform and update America’s broken and outdated video laws,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  We live in an instant, on-demand digital world.  Consumers have unparalleled choice and competition for video content. ATVA looks forward to working with Congressman Scalise and Congresswoman Eshoo and the many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to pass pro-consumer video marketplace reform.”

TV Blackout Crisis: 2017 Breaks Blackout Record 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 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 62 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.

Independent Programmers Join ATVA as TV Blackout and Retransmission Consent Fee Crisis Worsens

Skyrocketing “Retrans” Fees Eliminate Resources for Independent Programming and Deployment of Rural Broadband

Washington, D.C. – Consumers could soon be missing out on their favorite independent programming and the deployment of rural broadband could be threatened if retransmission consent fees continue to skyrocket, say the newest members of the American Television Alliance (ATVA).  As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR), independent programmers RIDE TV, MAVTV, REVOLT, and Cinémoi are joining ATVA and calling on Congress to end the TV blackout and runaway retrans fee crisis. 

As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR.   ATVA believes Congress should not only re-authorize STELAR, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition.  ATVA opposes blackouts whether generated by broadcasters or the inaction of Congress.   

Retransmission consent fees (the fees broadcasters charge cable providers for what they call “free over-the-air TV) represent the fastest rising part of consumers’ pay-TV bill.  These fees reached $10.1 billion in 2018 and are expected to reach $12.8 billion by 2023.  As retrans fees go up each year it leaves fewer resources for pay-TV providers, particularly smaller ones, to pay for things like independent programming and the expansion of broadband into rural areas.    

“The challenges small rural cable providers are facing because of outdated video laws are threatening broadband deployment,” said Matt Polka, President and CEO of ACA Connects, and a member of ATVA.  “Our smaller, independent members are losing subscribers, shutting down all together, or being sold to larger companies, and customers are losing competitive options.   These alarming trends will continue until Congress fixes our broken system. We are proud to stand with consumers and independent programmers against skyrocketing retrans fees and TV blackouts.”

“The video marketplace keeps changing, but the TV blackout crisis and retrans racket that hurts consumers stays the same,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Consumers have lost billions of dollars and have been used as pawns, and the fact that our coalition is growing should demonstrate that the current system is broken and the call for reform is getting louder.  It is time to bring our nation’s ancient video laws in line with the reality of today.”

“If federal spending rose as quickly as retransmission consent has over the last 10 years, Washington would be spending $131.4 trillion per year,” said Craig Morris, President of RIDE Television.  “It’s no wonder why MVPDs can no longer afford to carry independent networks.”

“Racial minorities hold a majority interest in just 2.6% of full power commercial television stations,” said James Brown, EVP, Content Distribution and Marketing, REVOLT. “Retransmission consent denies opportunity and capital from minority owned networks like REVOLT and gives it to the 97.4% of broadcast licenses owned by whites.”

“Retransmission consent has made an already challenging media environment for independents even more difficult to compete,” said Rod Sherwood, CEO and Co-Chairman of Cinémoi.  “We urge Congress to be mindful of independent networks in any actions they may take that affects broadcasters and the media market.”

Major rules governing the U.S. media marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated for the media in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiple streaming options didn’t exist.

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American Television Alliance

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.

RIDE TV

RIDE TV is 24-hour, high-definition television network dedicated to showcasing equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle. RIDE TV delivers high-quality programming to audiences across the nation. From live sports and documentary series to feature films, RIDE TV is the premiere destination for equestrian content.

MAVTV

Owned and operated by Lucas Oil Products, MAVTV Motorsports Network is the only cable television network in the U.S. dedicated solely to motorsports.  MAVTV offers an unparalleled line-up of exclusive and prestigious events.  MAVTV goes beyond the national mainstream events to include a multitude of grassroots racing from across the globe: drag racing, pro motocross, sprint boats, rally cars, short course off-road truck racing, sprint cars, pro pulling, drifting, drag boats, ice racing and everything in between.

REVOLT

REVOLT is unapologetically Hip Hop, leading and living Hip Hop culture. REVOLT, launched by Sean “Diddy” Combs in October 2013, is the voice of the culture across platforms, engaging Millennial and Gen Z audiences, across social, TV and live events, through original and live content. Attracting over 50 million young people, REVOLT is accessible 24/7 on digital, TV and on demand.

Cinémoi

Cinémoi is a television network focusing on film, fashion and international style.  It’s premium programming gives viewers front row seats to an assortment of international titles and festivals, curated vintage to modern movies, as well as green and haute couture content, and an array of glamorous events, including the Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet and Closing Ceremony, and the channel’s annual CineFashion Film Awards show.

ATVA Applauds E&C Hearing on STELAR – Encourages Focus on Consumers

WASHINGTON, DC – In anticipation of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing entitled “STELAR Review: Protecting Consumers in an Evolving Media Marketplace” the American Television Alliance (ATVA) is asking Congress to truly protect consumers by also addressing broken retransmission consent laws.  ATVA applauded Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr (NJ-06) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (PA-18) for announcing the hearing.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday June 4, 2019 at 10:30 AM EST.  

“Congress should not only reauthorize STELAR so nearly one million Americans can continue receiving all their current network programming, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition,” said Trent Duffy ATVA spokesman.  “We applaud the committee for holding this important hearing and starting a conversation about reforming a system that for too long has favored broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”

Major rules governing the U.S.  media marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiple streaming options didn’t exist.

“We live in an instant, on-demand digital world.  Consumers have unparalleled choice and competition for video content,” added Duffy.  “It is long past time for Congress to take a serious look at modernizing laws and promoting choice and competition in the media marketplace.”

About the American Television Alliance

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

ICYMI: Skyrocketing Retrans Fees Drive Record Profits for Broadcasters

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today reacted to earnings announcements from broadcasters including Nexstar Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox, which each announced massive retransmission consent revenue increases: 

Nexstar Media Group: “Revenue at Nexstar was up 1.8% to $626.6 million in the quarter, a record for the broadcaster. Driving those increases was a 14% rise in retransmission consent revenue to $314 million,” [Multichannel News 5/8/19].

Gray Television Inc.: “Retransmission consent revenue increased $42 million, or 26%, to $204 million,” [Yahoo Finance 5/8/19].

Sinclair Broadcast Group: “Distribution revenue, which includes retransmission consent fees and affiliate fees from its cable networks, was up 12% to $352 million in the quarter, compared to $314 million in the first quarter of 2018,” [Multichannel News 5/8/19].

Fox: “…chalked up the revenue gain to affiliate and advertising revenue growth of 11% and 9%, respectively. Driving those gains was a 29% jump in retransmission consent revenue and a 10% increase in TV advertising revenue. A 35% increase in “other” revenue derived from digital content licensing, the company said,” [Deadline 5/8/19].

ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy commented on the massive increases in retrans fees: “The broken retrans regime is quite the racket, and it’s gotten a lot worse in the last decade. Broadcasters have weaponized TV blackouts, deliberately targeting live sports and other must-see TV. Congress should take the opportunity to reauthorize STELAR and examine this broken and outdated system that favors broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”  

###

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.

Eliminating the top-four Prohibition Rule Will Lead to Higher Consumer Prices, warns ATVA

ATVA Calls for Elimination of Existing Loopholes and FCCInvestigation of “Sidecar” Sharing Arrangements

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today provided the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with overwhelming evidence that so-called top-four duopolies lead to higher prices for consumers. ATVA asked the FCC to not only reject any consideration of relaxing its “top-four prohibition” but also eliminate all existing loopholes and investigate “sidecar” sharing arrangements among broadcasters. 

“The system is already rigged in favor of the broadcasters and their proposal will only make the blackout crisis worse,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Instead, we hope the FCC and Congress will focus their attention on fixing the broken system that has allowed broadcasters to jack up fees on consumers and blackout their favorite programming for more than a decade.”  

Broadcasters have argued that Commission should ignore retransmission consent issues entirely in considering changes to its local ownership rules.  ATVA disagrees.  

  • The Commission has undertaken in this proceeding to weigh all of the costs and benefits of changes to the top-four prohibition.  This undertaking comports with multiple statutory directives, including the specific statutory provision under which this proceeding is to be conducted. 
  • Retransmission consent price increases are a recognized cost to be weighed in this analysis.  Retransmission consent price increases lead directly to consumer rate hikes. Consumer price increases, in turn, rank among the principal public-interest harms the Commission seeks to avoid.  
  • Where loopholes already permit so-called top-four duopolies, the record evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that they increase retransmission consent prices.  This evidence includes:
  • Commission rulemaking and merger precedent. 
    • Department of Justice findings. 
    • Analyst statements.
    • Broadcaster conduct such as transferring network affiliation to low-power stations, which harm over-the-air viewers, and can best be explained if they produce countervailing economic benefits such as higher retransmission consent prices. 

See ATVA’s full comments here

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,000 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 an estimated 1,069 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S. 

  • 41 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.