Broadcasters Ring in the New Year with More Consumer TV Blackouts  

Broadcasters Pull the Plug Despite FCC Scrutiny

Washington, D.C. – The plague of broadcaster blackouts continued unabated today as the calendar turned to Jan 1, 2016.   Broadcasters deliberately took down the ABC affiliate in Lansing, MI on December 15 and the NBC station in Rapid City, SD for DISH Network consumers yesterday.  The broadcaster-initiated blackouts of thousands of innocent consumers comes amidst the Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing investigation into broadcaster abuses of consumers and the television blackout crisis.  Despite a promise from DISH Network to retroactively make broadcasters whole once a new agreement is reached, the broadcasters selfishly refused and chose to pull the plug on viewers. “2015 ended just as it began, with a more broadcaster blackouts of innocent consumers,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy. “As the FCC continues its congressionally mandated probe into abusive conduct that harms consumers, these broadcasters have brazenly and deliberately hijacked pay TV viewers once again and are holding their programming for ransom.  These blackouts are more compelling evidence of  why the FCC must act.” Broadcasters pulled the plug on American consumers 191 times in 2015, a new single calendar year record.  Network takedowns have spiked over the past five years; in 2010 there were only eight black outs nationwide.  The blackouts in 2015 affected 12 million American homes – one of every eight pay TV subscribers.

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:

  • 191 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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