Broadcasters Keep Stalling in Hopes of Keeping Sweetheart Legacy Regime in Place

“Broadcasters can throw the challenge flag, but that won’t  change what’s happened on the field”

 Washington, D.C. – Despite the FCC Chairman’s recent declarations that blackouts hurt consumers and are likely effects of outdated legacy laws governing the airwaves, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is still trying to change the subject to protect the system as long as it can. In recent comments, the NAB continued to point the finger anywhere it can to try to divert the commission’s attention from the requirements Congress included in the bipartisan STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014.

“Broadcasters can throw the challenge flag or ask for a booth review all they want, but that won’t change what’s happened on the field for the past several years. Retransmission fees demanded by broadcasters are up 8,600% and blackouts are on a record-setting pace for 2015. The FCC Chairman already indicated a willingness to take steps to protect consumers from this kind of abusive behavior, but yet Sinclair is still threatening the largest blackout in U.S. history. We welcome the FCC’s attention to its Congressionally-mandated obligations under the bipartisan STELA Act and continue to urge Congress to update our laws to protect consumers from paying more for free TV.”

TV Blackouts Have Soared As Broadcasters Rake In More Money from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens and paid higher bills instead of watching their favorite channels due to at least 456 broadcaster blackouts. The blackouts and bigger TV bills have soared in the past five years and the KFMB blackout is the 68th this year, a record-setting pace. The menace of TV blackouts continues to grow:

  • 68 blackouts to date in 2015
  • 107 blackouts in 2014
  • 127 blackouts in 2013
  • 91 blackouts in 2012
  • 51 blackouts in 2011
  • 12 blackouts in 2010

When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost: SNL Kagan projects that the retransmission revenue broadcasters collect for “free” TV will rise to $6.3 billion in 2015, $7.2 billion in 2016, and $10.3 billion by 2021.

  • SNL Kagan also projects that over time that 50% 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 Pay TV bills


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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