NAB Warns FCC to Expect More Broadcaster Blackouts

Broadcaster Trade Group finally acknowledges blackouts hurt consumers

Washington, D.C. – In a bombshell Ex Parte disclosure from the National Association of Broadcasters today, NAB predicted the nationwide plague of broadcaster blackouts will get worse in the coming days and months. In the FCC filing, the NAB also acknowledged, for the first time, what the rest of the world has long known: broadcaster blackouts hurt consumers.

This is a remarkable shift from previous NAB statements and filings at the FCC when it stated, “There is no factual basis in the record to support claims that the retransmission consent marketplace is ‘broken’” or “We never use the word ‘blackout’ because the programs are . . . always available . . . if you buy $50 or $75 TV antenna.”

ATVA spokesmen Trent Duffy today commented on the NAB’s FCC Ex Parte filing:

“The retransmission consent system is broken, broadcaster blackouts are wreaking havoc for consumers across the country and TV fans are paying more and more for ‘free’ channels. Now, as the FCC is poised to take action to protect consumers, we find out that the NAB is warning the FCC to expect more blackouts.

Broadcasters are responsible for more than 400 blackouts in the last five years. However, we will give credit where credit is due. The NAB filing finally admitted what everyone has known for years: Broadcaster blackouts hurt consumers.

The suggestion that Pay TV providers are manufacturing this blackout crisis is laughable. When a blackout occurs, there is only one party responsible for depriving consumers of their signal: the broadcaster. Broadcasters abuse old laws to gouge consumers for what is supposed to be free over the air programming.

The NAB is an apologist for Broadcasters’ brass-knuckle tactics. A broadcaster waits until a popular TV event is on the horizon and then gives fans an ultimatum, pay higher fees or get blacked out. It’s not fair and it’s not pretty, but sadly, it is legal because Congress hasn’t fixed the laws. It’s time for Congress to end broadcaster special interest giveaways so TV fans get their shows instead of a black screen.”

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 441 broadcaster blackouts.   The menace of TV blackouts continues to grow:

  • 53 blackouts in 2015
  • 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.


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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