ICYMI: “Free” TV Keeps Getting More Expensive

CBS Retrans, Reverse Compensation to Exceed 2.5 billion
$500 Million Increase in Projections

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today reacted to a recent report in Multichannel News that CBS expects the broadcaster to generate “$2.5 billion in retransmission consent and reverse compensation revenue by 2020, a $500 million increase from its previous forecasts.”

ATVA spokesman Michael Hacker commented on CBS’s stunning announcement:

“The retrans revenue grab is driving the blackout crisis and pushing up pay TV customers’ bills.  Despite a record number of TV blackouts in 2015 and an ongoing FCC investigation into broadcaster abuses, CBS executives continue to gorge themselves at the retrans trough.  Retrans fees are increasing at an unsustainable rate – 40 percent increases each of the last three years.  This trend will continue and consumers will continue to pay the price until Congress fixes our broken video laws that rig the game in the favor of big broadcasters.” 

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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