Nexstar Blackout Enters Second Weekend

Millions of DIRECTV, U-Verse, and DIRECTV Now Customers in 100 Cities Continue to be Denied Access to More than 125 Local Stations

Washington, D.C. –Nexstar Media Group’s intentional blackout of millions of DIRECTV, U-Verse, and DIRECTV Now customers is now entering its second weekend after Nexstar pulled the plug in approximately 100 television markets to begin the Fourth of July holiday. This major blackout brings this year’s surging total to 201 overall – a 22 percent leap  over the entire 2018 count – and there’s still more than five months and the typical New Year’s Eve salvo still to go.  Broadcasters collected $10.1 billion in retrans fees in 2018, up from $9.3 billion in 2017.  This ongoing blackout in its first week denied the homes involved the FIFA Women’s World Cup victory over the Netherlands and Major League Baseball’s annual midsummer All-Star Game on FOX on July 9.

In addition to Nexstar’s egregious blackout of millions of TV viewers, the broadcaster is using its own local television stations to mislead the public.  According to recent media reporters, Nexstar owned WIVB in Buffalo, NY misled viewers about the details of a letter circulated by Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY), falsely claiming the Congressman asked AT&T to unilaterally end the blackout.  In reality, the Congressman called on both parties to reach an agreement. View the full report here.

Nexstar is responsible for 161 blackouts since 2013.  Nexstar has threatened or blacked out subscribers to DISH Network, Charter Spectrum, Antietam Cable, TDS and now U-verse, DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently reviewing Nexstar’s proposal to merge with Tribune Media. Combined, the two broadcasters are responsible for 254 blackouts since 2012.

“It’s time to declare our independence from greedy broadcasters and a massive TV tax on hardworking Americans,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Nexstar’s behavior is unacceptable and unfortunately there’s nothing to stop it until Congress fixes this broken system.”   

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.

“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,” added 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.

  • 201 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.

On Eve of Football Kickoffs and Baseball Playoffs, ATVA Warns Fans of another #BlackoutBlitz

Broadcaster’s Past Blackouts of Football Puts Dark Cloud on New Season

Washington, D.C. – Broadcasters ran the #blackoutblitz on consumers in 2017 as the TV blackout crisis caused millions of pro and college football fans to miss some of the biggest games of the year, including pivotal matchups and post-season games. The number of blackouts in 2017 reached a record high of 213, breaking the previous calendar year record set in 2015 of 193.   At 83 blackouts already in 2018, blackouts are continuing at a record pace.

Live televised college and pro football games are the most frequently targeted and blacked out programming category.  Marquee football games are used by broadcasters in retransmission fee negotiations as “deal leverage” to extort higher fees from consumers.  When pay-TV operators refuse to give in to outrageous fee demands that are borne by consumers, broadcasters pull the plug and leave TV fans in the dark.  ATVA has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to restrict broadcasters from being able to use marquee programming as deal leverage.  Blackouts aren’t just limited to football, however. Last year, baseball playoffs were blacked out in the same brazen attempt to secure higher fees from consumers.

Some specific examples from last season include:

  • Northwest Broadcasting’s blackout of Charter Spectrum customers for more than four months, a period that included the NFL Super Bowl and NHL Stanley Cup.
  • The 2017 MLB Playoffs, including the 2017 World Series Between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.
  • NFL Divisional Round Playoff matchups between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons; Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs; and Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
  • The NFL’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Game between the Minnesota Vikings and The Detroit Lions.
  • Capital Broadcasting’s blackout of hometown fans in Raleigh, NC during a matchup between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
  • Pivotal college football matchups including the highly anticipated matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

“The TV blackout, or even the threat of one, is becoming one of the ugliest traditions in spectator sports, and it should end.  Sports fans in particular are some of the most frequent victims of broadcaster blackouts, and as this crisis grows we’re afraid this year could be the worst we’ve ever seen,” said ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy.  “This broadcaster playbook of fleecing fans will continue until Congress and the FCC take action to protect them.”

Live sporting events like football are regularly used by broadcasters to extract higher fees that are ultimately borne by consumers.  According to the American Television Alliance’s blackout tracking data, instances of post-season football blackouts are on the rise over the last two years.

The rules governing our video marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when most consumers had only one choice for pay TV service and the internet was still in its infancy.

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 900 broadcaster-initiated blackouts. With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 83 blackouts in 2018 (And Counting)
  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record)
  • 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.

ATVA STATEMENT ON NEW BROADCAST TV STANDARDS AND OWNERSHIP RULES

Congress and the FCC Must Protect Consumers from Higher Fees and Broadcaster Blackouts

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA), a voice for the TV viewer, issued the following statement on today’s FCC actions on a new Broadcast Television Standard (ATSC 3.0) and the relaxation of media ownership rules.

“Today the FCC approved a new broadcast standard and loosened restrictions on media ownership.  While the orders include some measures to protect consumers, we are disappointed that the Commission did not do more in these proceedings to protect viewers from higher costs and more broadcaster blackouts.  We will continue to work with the FCC to ensure that, despite these changes, broadcasters negotiate the carriage of their signals in good faith,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

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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.

CBS BLACKS OUT MILLIONS ON DISH, THREATENS THANKSGIVING

Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, L.A., Philly, San Fran and other Major Markets Left in the Dark
CBS Leverages Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday Specials and NFL Football

Washington, D.C. – The CBS Corporation today pulled the plug on millions of American families, unilaterally blacking out 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states for DISH subscribers.  The American Television Alliance, a voice for the TV viewer, condemned CBS’s massive consumer blackout and demanded the broadcaster restore its signal to affected households.  ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy commented on CBS’s outrageous actions:

“Blacking out millions of American families just ahead of Thanksgiving is a new low.  This is a naked attempt by CBS to shake down families for more of their hard-earned money, as they sit down to enjoy turkey and watch football.  It is shameful and wrong.

CBS wears its billion-dollar retrans haul like a badge of honor, so it’s no surprise its executives in New York are willing to block the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Frosty the Snowman, and the annual Dallas Cowboys Turkey Day game to create leverage in an obvious cash-grab.

Cable and satellite TV subscribers already pay too much for programming available for free, over the air.  CBS’s appalling actions highlight ATVA’s longstanding call for Congress and the FCC to protect consumers from broadcaster blackouts and higher fees by reforming outdated and broken video laws.”

Contrary to what CBS would like the public to believe, cable and satellite providers cannot “drop” local stations.  CBS is solely responsible for this blackout, and CBS alone has the power to restore its signal and end this blackout before Thanksgiving.  CBS, as the owner of its content, can restore its programming for DISH customers at any time, even while negations are taking place.

Broadcasters have a long history of using TV blackouts as weapons to extract higher fees from consumers.  CBS is a repeat offender; the broadcaster orchestrated a month-long blackout of 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in 2013.

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Break Records As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 800 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 212 blackouts already this year, 2017 is the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 212 blackouts in 2017 (and counting)
  • 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

When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost:

  • SNL Kagan also projects that over time 60% of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks rather than pay for local programming.
  • SNL Kagan data shows that retrans fees are the fastest rising part of programming costs
  • Retrans fees have grown an astonishing 22,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and even more troubling, they 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.

BROADCASTERS SHATTER TV BLACKOUT RECORD IN 2017

More than Twice as Many Blackouts in 2017 – 107% Increase from 2016
213 Blackouts in a Single Year Sets New Station Takedown Record
Broadcasters Pocket $9.3 Billion for ‘Free’ TV

Washington, D.C.  Broadcasters shattered the record for the most TV blackouts in a single calendar year in 2017, intentionally taking down signals from cable and satellite customers a staggering 213 times last year.  Consumers were blacked out twice as many times in 2017 as they were in 2016 – a 107 percent increase year over year.

“Broadcasters pulled the plug on American consumers a record 213 times last year, blacking out millions of pay TV subscribers across the country,” said ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy.  “Broadcaster blackouts roared back in 2017 after the FCC suspended its investigation of abusive broadcast industry tactics.  Broadcasters have weaponized TV blackouts, deliberately targeting live sports and other must-see TV to inflict maximum pain on innocent consumers.  The situation will continue to deteriorate for pay TV customers until Congress and the FCC takes action to protect consumers.”

The record number of TV blackouts deprived tens of millions of Americans of network programming, local news and weather, and live sporting events.  Broadcasters pocketed $9.3 billion in 2017 from pay TV customers for ‘free’ TV, according to industry analyst SNL Kagan.  Network takedowns have surged in the last decade as broadcasters have used blackouts of marquee programming as “deal leverage” to extract higher and higher fees from consumers.  There were only eight TV black outs nationwide in 2010.

Throughout 2017, broadcasters blacked out big events including the Super Bowl, award shows, college football bowl games, NFL Playoffs, March Madness, network premieres, and other highly anticipated events.  Live professional and college football games are the most frequently targeted and blacked out programming category, according to an analysis by ATVA.

CBS recently used the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday Specials and NFL Football as deal leverage in a massive blackout affecting millions of DISH Network customers in 18 markets across 26 states.  CBS will generate more $1 billion from retrans fees in 2017 and claims to be on track to increase that number to $2.5 billion by 2020.  Industry analysts continue to increase projections for broadcast retransmission fees, estimating the cost to U.S. consumers and satellite and cable operators would hit $12.8 billion by 2023.  ATVA has asked the FCC to ban broadcasters’ use of marquee programming as leverage during retrans negotiations.

“Cable and satellite TV subscribers already pay too much for programming that is available for free over the air,” said Duffy.  “The record number of broadcaster blackouts in 2017 is an urgent call to action.  Congress must reform outdated and broken video law, and the FCC must protect consumers from broadcaster abuse and skyrocketing retrans fees.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Blackouts Break Records As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 800 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  With 213 blackouts, 2017 was the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 213 blackouts in 2017 (A New Record Number)
  • 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

When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost:

  • SNL Kagan also projects that over time 60% of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks rather than pay for local programming.
  • SNL Kagan data shows that retrans fees are the fastest rising part of programming costs
  • Retrans fees have grown an astonishing 22,400% [no, that’s not a typo] since 2005 and even more troubling, they have seen 40% annual increases over the last 3 years.

###

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.