ATVA Statement: Fox Rejects Calls from Congress, Consumer Groups to Keep Baseball Playoffs, NFL on the Air Continues to Threaten Consumers With Blackouts

“Rejecting calls from Members of Congress and leading consumer groups, including the National Consumers League, Public Knowledge and Hispanic Federation, News Corporation’s Fox Broadcasting is still threatening to blackout out its broadcast stations to more than 3 million Cablevision customers in New York and Philadelphia beginning this weekend.  This is yet another shakedown in which a broadcast network leverages outdated rules to strike out at viewers to gain the advantage in a business deal.  Congress and the FCC need to fix rules that protect broadcasters more than viewers.

Earlier this week, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) called on Fox and Cablevision to submit to binding arbitration and not to remove programming during the negotiations.  Fox has rejected that request out of hand.  The National Consumers League wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, saying that ‘Consumers should not be used as leverage by big networks in these programming fights.’ Public Knowledge also wrote the chairman, reiterating its support for an ‘overhaul of the retransmission consent mechanism.’  The Hispanic Federation commented, ‘the Commission must intervene to fix a retransmission consent regime that no longer works – and to protect consumers who are caught in the middle.’”

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