Broadcaster Hypocrisy Has No Bounds

Broadcasters Rake in Billions for “Free TV” But Refuse to Pay Musicians

WASHINGTON, DC – Broadcasters will collect $11.7 billion in fees this year for television that is available free over-the-air yet balk at the idea of paying musicians for playing their songs on the radio.  This double standard has come into view as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) lobbies Congress to sunset the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR). 

NAB cites the U.S. Copyright Office to justify blacking out 870,000 Americans and removing the Federal Communications Commission’s “good faith” authority, despite ignoring the Office when it comes to paying musicians to play their songs on the radio

“I guess they Copyright Office is right when the NAB agrees with their position but wrong when they disagree.  Broadcasters will say just about anything to pad their wallets,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “They refuse to pay artists for their work, but have no problem jacking up fees for television that is available for free with an antenna.  But it doesn’t matter what broadcasters say because the reality is that if Congress doesn’t reauthorize STELAR, TV blackouts are going to get even worse and prices are going to go up.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,300 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 1,300 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.

  • 276 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.

ATVA Calls for Reform to Video Laws Amid Skyrocketing Retrans fees and Record TV Blackouts

Senate Panel Reviews STELAR

WASHINGTON, DC – As TV blackouts and broadcast fees skyrocket to record levels in 2019, the American Television Alliance is asking Congress to renew protections for satellite and cable subscribers and reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR).  The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s hearing “The Reauthorization of STELAR” will take place at 10 AM EST. 

“Without Congressional action, consumers can expect more blackouts, more price increases, less localism, and more video providers exiting the business in the coming years,” said ATVA Executive Director Mike Chappell in a statement to the Committee.  The full statement for the record can be viewed here.  

Since the House of Representatives held its hearing to review STELAR on June 4, broadcasters have initiated 216 blackouts, bringing the total number of blackouts to 276 for 2019 and breaking the previous annual record of 213. 

“The blackout crisis is the worst it has ever been, and it will only continue to get worse if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR and the FCC’s ‘good faith’ authority,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “ATVA applauds Senators Wicker and Cantwell for holding this important hearing.  We urge the committee to not only reauthorize STELAR, but also fix this broken system that for too long has favored broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”

new national poll out released by ATVA found that 71% of consumers say broadcasters shouldn’t be allowed to abuse outdated laws, and 68% say broadcasters are operating in bad faith and laws need to be updated. The poll also found that that a clear majority of consumers (56%) say broadcasters should not be permitted to pull their signal while negotiating retransmission fees.  

Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $215 million to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359%.  As retrans fees and blackouts continue to break records, broadcasters are asking Congress to allow the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement authority during retransmission consent negotiations, known as “good-faith”, to expire at the end of the year.  The provision is part of a law called STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), which if not reauthorized, will cause as many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, to lose access to broadcast channels.  RV enthusiasts who rely on distant signals as they travel from place to place, would also be adversely impacted if STELAR expires.  Groups representing the entire RV industry along with other consumer groups have spoken out in support of reauthorizing STELAR before the end of the year.  

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,300 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 1,300 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S. 

  • 276 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.

ATVA Applauds Senate Hearing on STELAR

Urges Committee to Address Retrans Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – In anticipation of the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing reviewing the reauthorization of STELAR, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) is asking Congress to truly protect consumers by also addressing broken retransmission consent laws.  The hearing will take place on Wednesday, October 23 at 10 AM EST.

Since the House of Representatives hosted its hearing to review STELAR on June 4, broadcasters have initiated 216 blackouts, bringing the total number of blackouts to 276 for 2019 and breaking the previous annual record of 213.

“The blackout crisis is the worst it has ever been and it will only continue to get worse if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR and the FCC’s ‘good faith’ authority,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “ATVA applauds Senators Wicker and Cantwell for holding this important hearing.  We urge the committee to not only reauthorize STELAR, but also fix this broken system that for too long has favored broadcasters at the expense of consumers.”

A new national poll out today released by ATVA found that 71% of consumers say broadcasters shouldn’t be allowed to abuse outdated laws, and 68% say broadcasters are operating in bad faith and laws need to be updated. The poll also found that that a clear majority of consumers (56%) say broadcasters should not be permitted to pull their signal while negotiating retransmission fees. 

Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $215 million to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359%.  As retrans fees and blackouts continue to break records, broadcasters are asking Congress to allow the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement authority during retransmission consent negotiations, known as “good-faith”, to expire at the end of the year.  The provision is part of a law called STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), which if not reauthorized, will cause as many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, to lose access to broadcast channels.  RV enthusiasts who rely on distant signals as they travel from place to place, would also be adversely impacted if STELAR expires.  Groups representing the entire RV industry along with other consumer groups have spoken out in support of reauthorizing STELAR before the end of the year.  

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,300 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 1,300 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.

  • 276 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.

Consumers Believe Congress Should Prohibit Broadcasters’ Ability to Blackout Channels According To New Survey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the American Television Alliance (ATVA), a coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies and independent programmers, released a national survey on broadcast blackouts and the dramatic growth of retransmission fees paid by cable and satellite companies and their subscribers. Broadcaster blackouts occur when a broadcaster removes its TV channels from a distributor’s lineup during contractual negotiations. According to the poll of 900 consumers, a clear majority (56%) say broadcasters should not be permitted to pull their signal while negotiating retransmission fees.

“Time and time again broadcasters are using blackouts to extract more money from consumers; it needs to stop,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA Spokesman.  “It’s clear that consumers are fed up and want Congress to stop this punitive behavior by the broadcasters.”

Retransmission fees are the fastest rising portion of consumers’ TV bills, increasing from $215 million in 2006 to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359%. The survey, which was completed last month by Public Opinion Strategies and David Binder Research, also found that 71% of consumers after hearing this information agree that broadcasters should not be able to abuse outdated rules to boost their bottom lines. In addition, the poll showed that upon learning about broadcaster’s practices, 68% of consumers find the concerns of rising costs and bad faith use of broadcast blackouts convincing as reasons broadcasters should not be permitted to pull their signals during retransmission negotiations.

ATVA is calling on Congress to protect consumers by reforming laws around retransmission consent and prohibiting broadcaster blackouts.

(Polling Memo Below)

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 Try to Kill STELAR and Victimize 870,000 Viewers with Deceptive Political Ads

Amid Record Blackouts and Soaring Fees, NAB Wants FCC Out of the Game

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is running a Facebook advertising campaign urging Congress to allow STELAR to expire as Congress is considering legislation to reauthorize STELAR before the end of the year and prevent 870,000 TV viewers from losing access to their broadcast TV channels.    

“Broadcasters are already bilking viewers out of nearly $12 billion in overpriced retransmission fees and subjecting Americans to the worst TV blackout year in history.  They want Congress to pull the plug on 870,000 Americans in rural areas and kill FCC’s limited authority to ensure good faith negotiations.  And now they’re running deceptive ads.  Hopefully Congress and viewers aren’t buying it,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  

Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $215 million to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359 percent.  As retrans fees and blackouts continue to break records, broadcasters are asking Congress to allow the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement authority during retransmission consent negotiations, known as “good-faith”, to expire at the end of the year.  The provision is part of a law called STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), which if not reauthorized, will cause as many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, to lose access to broadcast channels.  RV enthusiasts who rely on distant signals as they travel from place to place, would also be adversely impacted if STELAR expires.  Groups representing the entire RV industry along with other consumer groups have spoken out in support of reauthorizing STELAR before the end of the year. 

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) recently introduced the Modern Television Act of 2019, a new bipartisan plan to end TV blackouts and bring America’s video laws into the 21st century.  It is based on the principle that consumer choice, market forces and true competition are the best ways to increase quality and set fair prices for content.  It is a serious proposal that deserves Congress’ attention and action.  

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. 

  • 276 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.

Football Fans Target of Latest Massive TV Blackout

Fox Pulls Local Channels in 17 Markets, 23 States and D.C.
Sports Fans Lose Fox, FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network 

Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes

Washington, D.C. –Fox on September 26thpulled its owned and operated TV stations from DISH and Sling TV  customers in 17 markets across 23 states and the District of Columbia.  Fox is also seeking higher rates by bundling its broadcast stations with its sports networks, FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes.  Fox’s blackout will impact millions of local fans as the NFL enters its fourth week, along with other pivotal college football matchups.  

In addition to Fox’s new blackout, recent disputes involving broadcasters this year include:   

  • Meredith Corporation’s two-month summer blackout in 18 markets on DISH; 
  • Tribune Media’s blackout of Charter Communications viewers in 24 markets;
  • CBS’s nearly three-week blackout of AT&T and DIRECTV customers;
  • Nexstar’s eight-week blackout of approximately 120 stations on AT&T and DIRECTV;
  • Nexstar’s blackout of TDS Telecom viewers in 10 markets after demanding a staggering 129% rate increase; and
  • Tegna’s blackout of Verizon Fios viewers in 3 markets after refusing a significant rate raise.

Live televised college and pro football games are the most frequently targeted and blacked out programming category and are often used by broadcasters in retransmission fee negotiations as “deal leverage” to extort higher fees from consumers.  According to industry research by Kagan, retrans fees have gone from about $215 million in 2006 to $11.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 5,359 percent. By 2024, these fees are expected to soar to $16.3 billion.      

As retrans fees and blackouts continue to break records, broadcasters are asking Congress to take away the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement authority during retransmission consent negotiations, known as the “good-faith” standard.  The provision is part of a law called STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), which if not reauthorized, will cause as many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, to lose access to broadcast channels by the end of this year.  RV enthusiasts who rely on distant signals as they travel from place to place would also be adversely impacted if STELAR expires.  Groups representing the entire RV industry, along with other consumer groups, have spoken out in support of reauthorizing STELAR before the end of the year. 

“TV blackouts and fees are already out of control, but now broadcasters want to eliminate what little protections viewers have against this brazen behavior.  We’re asking viewers who have been victimized by this or other blackouts to make their voice known to Congress that this is completely unacceptable.  Since the summer surge of blackouts began, thousands of Americans have done just that,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) recently introduced the Modern Television Act of 2019, a new bipartisan plan to end TV blackouts and bring America’s video laws into the 21st century.  It is based on the principle that consumer choice, market forces and true competition are the best ways to increase quality and set fair prices for content.  It is a serious proposal that deserves Congress’ attention and action.  

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.

Fox’s blackout will impact millions of local NFL football fans, including: 

  • Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Sunday at 1:00 PM ET. (Charlotte and Houston)
  • Kansas City Chiefs vs. Detroit Lions Sunday at 1:00 PM ET. (Detroit)
  • Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants Sunday at 1:00 PM ET. (Washington, DC and New York)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams Sunday at 1:00 PM ET. (Tampa Bay and Los Angeles)
  • Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals Sunday at 1:00 PM ET. (Arizona)

Fox’s blackout will also impact millions of college football fans across the country, including: 

  • Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma Sooners Saturday at 12:00 PM ET on Fox. (Dallas)
  • USC Trojans vs. Washington Huskies Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on Fox. (Los Angeles and Seattle)
  • Kansas Jayhawks vs. Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs Saturday at 12:00 PM ET on FS1. 
  • Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan State Spartans Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on the Big 10 Network.
  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Michigan Wolverines Saturday at 12:00 PM ET on the Big 10 Network.
  • Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Maryland Terrapins Friday at 8:00 PM ET on FS1.
  • Washington State Cougars vs. Utah Utes Saturday at 10:00 PM ET on FS1.

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 1,300 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S. 

  • 276 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.

Retrans Fee Hikes Continue to Defy Gravity – Soar to Record Levels

New Report Says Broadcasters Will Collect $84 Billion in Retrans Fees By 2024

Washington, D.C. – A new report from SNL Kagan projects broadcaster retrans fees to reach $11.72 billion in 2019, up 11% from $10.57 billion in 2018.  The report cited broadcasters’ “increased bargaining power” and said that retrans fees will reach $16.2 billion in 2024.  Between 2019 and 2024, broadcasters are expected to collect a total $84 billion in retrans fees.

In July alone, broadcasters blacked out millions of cable and satellite consumers, bringing the 2019 blackout total to 230, breaking the previous record of 213 set in 2017.  In the past 10 years, primetime viewership of the big four broadcast networks has declined by 52 percent. 

“Consumers shouldn’t be charged more for a product they’re using less, especially when that product is available for free,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA national spokesman.  “The retrans racket is out of control and we’re pleased to see that Congress is starting to take note. Representatives Scalise and Eshoo recently introduced the Modern Television Act of 2019 to fix and modernize our antiquated video laws and finally put an end to the blackout crisis.”

TV Blackout Crisis: 2019 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 230 blackouts, 2019 is the worst year for TV blackouts on record.

  • 230 blackouts in 2019 – Retrans Fees: $11.7B (estimated)
  • 165 blackouts in 2018 – Retrans Fees: $10.5B
  • 213 blackouts in 2017 – Retrans Fees: $9.3B
  • 104 blackouts in 2016 – Retrans Fees: $7.9 B
  • 193 blackouts in 2015 – Retrans Fees: $6.4B
  • 94 blackouts in 2014 – Retrans Fees: $4.8B
  • 119 blackouts in 2013 – Retrans Fees: $3.6B
  • 90 blackouts in 2012 – Retrans Fees: $2.4B
  • 42 blackouts in 2011 – Retrans Fees: $1.7B
  • 8 blackouts in 2010 – Retrans Fees: $1.2B

** Retrans fees in $billions based on data from SNL Kagan

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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 Are to Blame for Skyrocketing Retrans Fees and Record Number of TV Blackouts, Says ATVA

Washington, D.C. –The American Television Alliance (ATVA) released the following statement blaming broadcasters for the record number of television blackouts in 2019 and skyrocketing retransmission consent fees:

“Broadcasters are in need of a history lesson on who is really to blame for TV blackouts and the underlying issue of skyrocketing retransmission consent fees, which have been the fastest rising part of pay-TV bills for over a decade. The 1992 Cable Act enabled local broadcasters, then the primary source of programming, to withhold their signals from the local cable company – though sponsors of that antiquated law promised blackouts would not occur. Fast forward to today, when consumers enjoy an almost infinite number of programming sources from a myriad of pay-TV providers, and the broadcasters have the gall to allege that an all-too-real (and ongoing) glut of blackouts is manufactured. Rather than using a calculated political pivot to deflect blame and preserve their “special” status enshrined in current law, broadcasters should stop demanding unacceptable price increases for channels with continually declining viewership. Consumers should no longer have to pay more for what they are watching less.”

Skyrocketing Retrans Fees Lead to More TV Blackouts As Viewership Declines

  • In the past three weeks, broadcasters have blacked out millions of cable and satellite consumers, bringing the 2019 blackout total to 230, breaking the previous record of 213 set in 2017.      
  • Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $200 million, to $10.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 4,950 percent.   
  • In the past 10 years, primetime viewership of the big four broadcast networks has declined by 52 percent, according to Nielsen.     

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts:  

  • 230 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.

TV Blackouts and Retrans Fees Reach Record Levels Despite Declining TV Viewership

Washington, D.C. – TV blackouts and retransmission consent fees have reached record levels in 2019 despite declining TV viewership.   ATVA recently launched an ad campaign urging Congress to act.  You can see all the ads being used at https://www.americantelevisionalliance.org/media-center/

  • In the past three weeks, broadcasters have blacked out millions of pay-TV customers, bringing the 2019 blackout total to 230, breaking the previous record of 213 set in 2017.   
  • Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $200 million, to $10.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 4,950 percent. 
  • In the past 10 years, primetime viewership of the big four broadcast networks has declined by 52 percent, according to Nielsen.      

 “TV blackouts and broadcaster fee hikes hit a record this year even as the number of television viewers continues to decline,” 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.”

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.

  • 230 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.

ATVA Launches New Ad Campaign to Reform Retransmission Consent Fees as TV Blackouts Approach All-Time High

Pending CBS Blackout Would Break the Annual Record set in 2017

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance launched a new advertising campaign as a possible third major TV blackout loomed, which would put the annual TV blackout total into record territory in 2019 and plague millions of Americans across several states.  The ad campaign is part of a significant push by the ATVA urging Congress to act on reforming outdated video marketplace laws.  You can see all the ads being used at https://www.americantelevisionalliance.org/media-center/

A pending CBS blackout impacting millions of consumer in 18 markets, would be the third outage in the country in the past two weeks, breaking the annual record set in 2017.  Yesterday, Meredith Corporation caused a major TV blackout by pulling its signal from millions of DISH Network customers in 12 television markets in 18 states.   Meredith’s blackout of DISH customers brought 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 U.S. cities, denying access to 125 local stations.  Since 2006, retrans fees fees have gone from about $200 million to $10.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 4,950 percent.   

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA), asked Nexstar to end its massive blackout of Direct TV, U-Verse and DIRECTV Now customers that began two weeks ago.  The two lawmakers are working on a bipartisan reform proposal that they plan to unveil this year.

“TV blackouts and broadcaster fee hikes will hit a record this year with no end in sight, so we are making sure Congress gets the message loud and clear,” 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, and this ad campaign will help support that effort.”

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.