ICYMI: “Free” TV Keeps Getting More Expensive

“Retrans Gravy Train Keeps Rolling”

Retrans Revenue up 84 Percent for Gray Television; up 40 percent for Nexstar Broadcasting

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today reacted to earnings announcements from two major broadcast ownership groups, Gray Television and Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which each announced massive retransmission consents revenue increases: 

“[Gray’s] retransmission consent revenue increased $18.0 million, or 84%, to $39.5 million from 2014 to 2015,” [TV News Check, 2/26/16].
[Nexstar’s] retransmission consent income grew 40% [TV News Check 2/26/16].

ATVA spokesman Michael Hacker commented on the massive increases in retrans fees: 

“The retrans gravy train keeps rolling for the broadcast industry as they continue to charge more and more for broadcast signals that are “free” over the air.  Congress has a duty to fix our broken video laws that rig the game in the favor of the big special interests at the expense of American consumers.  We are glad that it took the first step of directing the FCC to examine “good faith” negotiating rules, and the brass knuckle tactics used by broadcasters to extort consumers.  But that is not enough:  Congress cannot allow broadcasters to use viewers as pawns while they line their pockets with outrageous TV fees.”

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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