New Year’s Day TV Blackout Victimizes Mississippi and Idaho Viewers

Northwest Broadcasting Uses Nuclear Option in Bid to Raise TV Fees by Nearly 100%

WASHINGTON, DC — Hundreds of thousands of people in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarksdale, Winona, Yazoo, Grenada and Cleveland, Mississippi, who tried to tune into network TV this morning instead saw a black screen;  as Northwest Broadcasting used a well-worn but nuclear negotiation tactic by pulling its signal in a bid to jack up fees for viewers by nearly 100%.  A national television consumer group that tracks broadcaster-caused TV blackouts and has highlighted the pattern of abuse to the Federal Communications Commission and lawmakers immediately called for a restoration of service.

“Talk about a New Year’s Day hangover.  2017 is beginning just the way 2016 ended, with a wave of broadcaster blackouts of innocent consumers,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy. “Today it’s Mississippi and Idaho, but it’s a national scourge and will only get worse unless Congress and the FCC do something about it.  We’re hopeful that President-elect Trump will stand up for TV fans and stare down the broadcaster behemoths who have gouged them for too long.”

“Broadcasters are using college football bowl games, the NFL playoffs and network premiers as leverage, holding their programming for ransom in a naked ploy for more money,” said Duffy.  “Broadcasters are demanding consumers pay massively more for ‘free’ TV.  Outdated laws allow broadcasters to bilk loyal TV viewers in a blackout shakedown:  Pay more or they yank your station off the air.  These brass knuckle tactics have no place in American society.   ATVA continues to make the case that the FCC must consider the public interest in retransmission consent negotiations.”

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:

  • Over 100 Blackouts in 2016 (a year in which the FCC was actively investigating the problem)
  • 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.

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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 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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