In comments to the FCC this week, the National Association of Broadcasters had the audacity to suggest that “the retransmission consent market has finally begun to work.” If you are a broadcast executive, lining your pockets with unjust fees for free TV, of course you think the system is working.
But what about the 12 million American households – 1-in-8 Pay TV subscribers – that have been impacted by a TV blackout in 2015? Or the fact that retrans fees have climbed 40% each of the past three years – costs that are ultimately borne by consumers? The retrans system is decidedly not working for the American television consumer.
Not only are the retrans fees demanded by broadcasters skyrocketing, the number of blackouts in 2015 set a record. TV blackouts caused by broadcasters are out of control. In 2010 there were only eight blackouts. Less than five years later, we’ve already had 189 blackouts.
NAB will do everything in its power to change the subject and distract policymakers and consumers in order to protect their monopolies and the retrans gravy train. The simple fact is that there are at least three Pay TV options for consumers in every market – and in many instances four providers – unlike the broadcast affiliates which operate as monopolies and hide behind government handouts and protections from competition.
The current retrans system isn’t working. Broadcasters need a reality check. Congress asked the FCC to take a look at this issue for a reason: it’s broken.