TV Takedown Affects 38 Markets for DISH Network Customers Tegna Pulls the Plug Despite DISH’s Promise to “True Up” Rates Retrans Fees Charged by Broadcasters Up 22,400 Percent

Washington, D.C. – The menace of broadcaster blackouts continued unabated today as Tegna, the broadcaster formerly known as Gannett, deliberately took down 42 local channels in 38 markets.  The Tegna blackout of millions of innocent consumers comes amidst the Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing investigation into broadcaster abuses of consumers and the television blackout crisis.  Despite a promise from DISH Network to make Tegna retroactively whole once a new agreement is reached, the broadcaster selfishly refused and chose to pull the plug on millions of viewers. “Tegna Broadcasting’s outrageous conduct is Exhibit A as to why the FCC is investigating the broadcast industry and preparing to crack down on abusive behavior that harms consumers,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy.  “There is only one party responsible for this blackout and that is Tegna broadcasting.  Tegna alone has the power to restore their signal and stop hurting consumers. “Tegna is holding their programming for ransom, demanding that pay TV customers pay massively more for ‘free’ TV,” Duffy said “Outdated laws allow broadcasters to bilk loyal TV viewers in a blackout shakedown:  Pay more or they yank your station off the air.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.” With Tegna’s takedown, American consumers have been blacked out 183 times this year.  And the plague of broadcaster blackouts is only growing worse.  In July, SNL Kagan reported that “retransmission consent fees are expected to climb to $10.3 billion in 2021, up from $6.3 billion in 2015.”  Retransmission fees have skyrocketed from $28 million in 2005 to $6.3 billion in 2015, a 22,400 percent increase in ten years. To illustrate the stunning increase, ATVA issued a new infographic comparing the explosive growth in retransmission fees to what other consumer goods would cost if their prices skyrocketed at the same rate.  A gallon of gas was $2.34 in 2005, imagine it costing $526.50 today, or a dozen eggs going from $1.55 to $348.75. “If Washington wanted to give America a raise, it could start by preventing broadcasters from using existing video laws to hide their outrageous fees behind pay-TV companies and robbing consumers blind for programming that is supposed to be free anyway.  These outdated and unfair laws allow broadcasters to literally devour a massive chunk of America’s take-home pay that could otherwise be put to good use.  Let Americans keep more of their own money,” said Trent Duffy, national spokesman for the ATVA.

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:

  • 183 blackouts to date 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:

  • 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.