Broadcasters Hit Ten Million TV Viewers in 25 States with Blackout in New Year

“Existing rules do not protect the viewing public from broadcaster blackouts,” ATVA tells FCC

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to engage in meaningful retransmission consent reform following the tidal wave of broadcaster-initiated TV blackouts that left more than 10 million Americans in the dark.  Broadcasters blacked out 46 markets across 25 states.   The massive consumer blackout set a new record, as the 48 blackouts to begin 2017 are more than the total number of blackouts to start 2016 (14), 2015 (26) and 2014 (5) combined.

“This massive consumer blackout to begin the New Year demonstrates what the American Television Alliance has maintained since its founding – existing rules do not protect the viewing public from broadcaster blackouts and the FCC should act,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA national spokesman.  “The mere fact that ten million Americans lost local broadcast service on a single day is more than enough to demonstrate that the FCC needs to take action to protect the public interest.”

ATVA’s full Ex Parte filing can be viewed here.

TV Blackout Crisis Continues as Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

TV blackouts hit a record in 2015, affecting more than 12 million Americans.  Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 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:

  • 50 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

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.


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.

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