Summer Brings Retrans Reform Surprises for Local Markets

Hearst CEO admits blackouts unfair

Washington D.C. July 6, 2012 – What a busy month it’s been for retrans!  For every local viewer who has felt the misery of a broadcaster blackout or blackout threat, know you’re not alone.

But here’s the surprisingly good news!  Hearst Television’s own CEO acknowledged before Congress that broadcaster blackouts are unfair to consumers.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D – CO) to the entire witness panel: I’m thinking about this from the standpoint of my constituents who work all day. Who barely have time to sit down in front of the television. Who want to turn on the first game of the Worlds Series, and they hope the Rockies might be in it — well maybe not this year — but they can’t get the programming they want because we’ve failed retransmission consent talks. My first questions is a simple question, and I just — it’s preferable — would like to have a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ And that question is: Do you think blackouts, as a result of the failure of these agreements, are fair to consumers no matter how rare of how often they might be?”

David Barrett, CEO of Hearst Television, third witness to respond: No.

 “The Future of Video” hearing held by the House Energy & Commerce,
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology,  July 27, 2012


Whether it’s during the Super Bowl, Academy Awards or more importantly, severe weather conditions, there’s just no limit to when broadcasters will pull the plug on consumers.  No sooner do broadcasters give viewers back their programming in one market, than they pull the plug on another.  We’ve already seen 60 blackouts from coast to coast in 2012.

Until Congress and the FCC reform these rules, broadcasters will continue their games of dragging consumers into business negotiations.

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