Mediacom to FCC: Get Off the Sidelines

American Television Alliance Comments on Mediacom FCC Petition on Broken Retrans

Washington, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today reacted to a July 7 letter and petition from Mediacom Chairman and CEO Rocco B. Commisso to FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler urging the FCC to protect consumers from broadcaster blackouts. Mediacom, a founding member of ATVA, is the eighth largest cable operator in the U.S. serving 1.3 million customers.

The following statement can be attributed to ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy:

“The retransmission consent system is broken and American consumers are paying the price. Mediacom’s letter and FCC petition make a very strong case for the FCC to act to prevent consumers from being harmed by the broadcast industry’s brass-knuckle tactics.

For years, the broadcast industry has tried to have it both ways – reaping enormous benefits from government handouts and government-protected monopolies while shirking its public interest obligation to serve everyone over the air. The Mediacom petition calls the broadcasters bluff, preventing consumer blackouts unless a broadcast signal is available to 90 percent of homes in the market it serves.

ATVA applauds Mediacom’s petition and urges the FCC to give it serious consideration. The FCC must ensure that broadcasters are meeting their public service obligations 100 percent of the time and truly serving their communities.”

The Facts on Retransmission Consent and TV Blackouts

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of their favorite channels due to at least 436 broadcaster blackouts. With 48 blackouts this year, 2015 is on pace to break blackout records. The menace of TV blackouts continues to grow:

  • 107 blackouts in 2014
  • 127 blackouts in 2013
  • 91 blackouts in 2012
  • 51 blackouts in 2011
  • 12 blackouts in 2010

When blackouts finally end, consumers get their programming back, but at a higher cost:

  • Retransmission consent fees have grown 8,600% between 2005 and 2012.
  • SNL Kagan projects retrans revenue of $6.3 billion in 2015, $7.2 billion in 2016, and $10.3 billion by 2021.
  • SNL Kagan projects that over time 50% of affiliates’ retrans payments will go to the networks rather than pay for local programming.
  • According to TVNewsCheck, broadcasters could increase TV fees by 500% in the near future.

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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 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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