Cox’s Own Website Undermines Its Own Arguments against Verizon

On CoxCommitement.com, Company Makes Claims Contrary to Its Own Business Practices

Washington, D.C., December 1, 2014 – As Cox’s blackout of Verizon customers in New England entered its fifth day on Monday, the American Television Alliance on Monday pointed to statements on Cox’s own website – CoxCommitment.com – to illustrate the company’s hypocrisy in its dealings with Verizon. Cox has previously been involved in TV blackouts as a pay-TV provider and has been critical of companies using blackouts to exert greater retransmission consent fees, as it is doing now with Verizon customers. Cox’s blackout has left hundreds of thousands of customers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island without the ability to see Fox 25, based in Dedham, Mass.

“The proof of Cox’s duplicitous dealings is right there on Cox’s own website,” ATVA spokesman Brian Frederick said. “For instance, Cox has previously called for ‘every channel’ to ‘remain available during the time necessary to complete private business matters.’ So why is it blacking out Verizon customers in this case? For Cox, always must mean whenever it suits them.”

“Cox’s own site also claims that providers such as Verizon are prevented by law from removing local broadcast channels from its lineup, thus proving it is responsible for the blackout,” he added.

In addition, ATVA also highlighted Cox’s public comments during a 2012 retransmission consent dispute with Raycom Media. At the time, Cox claimed Raycom was seeking increases that were 200 percent higher than what Cox was paying at the time.

“If we agree to such dramatic price increases for every channel on our lineup, that’s not something that we or our customers can afford,” Cox spokeswoman Amy Quinn said during the dispute.

“After previously calling out ‘dramatic price increases,’ Cox has decided to impose them on Verizon customers,” Frederick said. “And no doubt they’ll target every other pay-TV provider next.”

During that same dispute with Raycom, Cox Senior Vice President John Wolfe said, “We understand that the advertising business — and broadcast television stations that rely on it for profit — are having a hard time in the current economy. But that doesn’t mean our customers should have to make up the difference.”

And Cox spokeswoman Stacie Schafer pointed to programming costs as a primary reason that cable bills rise. “Cox tries to absorb some of that, but we do have to pass a portion along to customers,” she said.

“So why is Cox now forcing Verizon to pass on these ‘dramatic price increases’ in programming costs to its customers?” Frederick asked.

Here are some specific comments from the CoxCommitment.com website that contradict its own messaging and actions in its dispute with Verizon:

  • “We always ask that every channel remain available during the time necessary to complete private business matters.”
  • “Legally, [a pay-TV provider] cannot remove any local broadcast station, but these stations are allowed to deny [a pay-TV provider] the right to carry their channel – which is why they often demand increasingly larger payments for ‘free’ TV.”
  • “Once one blackout works to make another provider concede to a big price increase, stations and networks have a new definition of “fair.”  Even though another provider may have avoided a similar blackout by compelling customers to pay more to get the same channel, we believe in our responsibility to keep delivering the very best value for our customers.”
  • “These very same providers were likely the targets for similar blackouts or threats in the recent past.  If they haven’t already, other providers will soon be facing the same challenge of paying more money for the same programming as before.”
  • “None of your favorites are going anywhere unless this channel revokes its permission. The law prevents [a pay-TV provider] from removing any ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC or other local broadcast station from [its] lineup.”
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