CBS Chief Says Record Year for Blackouts Shows Consumers are Winning???

“It’s no wonder Mr. Moonves is trying to create a distraction after one of his affiliates just threatened to blackout the Super Bowl”

 Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance today responded to the outrageous comments made by CBS Chief Les Moonves to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a recent Ex Parte Filing.  According to Broadcasting & Cable, Mr. Moonves said “the consumer is the winner” for the first time since the 1992 Cable Act was passed despite broadcasters pulling the plug on one out of every eight consumers in 2015, a record year for blackouts. “It’s no wonder Mr. Moonves is trying to create a distraction after one of his affiliates just threatened to blackout the Super Bowl” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “It’s apparent that broadcasters see the writing on the wall as their years of bilking consumers for more cash are finally coming to an end.  Regardless of what the NAB or any of its allies want you to believe, the system is stacked against consumers and that’s why Congress directed the FCC to investigate the years of broadcaster abuse.” Mr. Moonves also claimed that MVPD’s are finally getting a taste of “the rough and tumble of the marketplace” despite the fact that broadcasters have the ultimate leverage when it comes to pulling a signal during retrans negotiations. “The truth of the matter is that the marketplace is currently failing consumers,” said Duffy.  “The billions of dollars in free spectrum broadcasters receive each year from the government means they have a responsibility to serve the public interest.  Pulling the plug on consumers ahead of the Super Bowl is hardly in the public’s interest.”

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:

  • 26 Blackouts to date 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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