One of the largest voices on Capitol Hill representing MVPDs who detest the rapidly rising retransmission fees benefiting broadcast TV station owners across the U.S. has just signed on a major rural telecom company as a member.
The American Television Alliance (ATVA) can now count on Frontier Communications as a member.
The company known as Citizens Communications until 2008 joins other new members, including RIDE TV, MAVTV, REVOLT, and Cinémoi, on the ATVA roster. Frontier is mainly found in smaller communities across 29 U.S. states including New York, where it maintains a large presence across Central New York and the Adirondacks.
The announcement from ATVA came with a quick reiteration of its position on not only retrans fees, which it wants reined in, but also the “sunsetting” of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR).
ATVA doesn’t want to happen, despite calls from the NAB to have AT&T-owned DirecTV do what DISH has successfully done and replace New York or Los Angeles-based distant network signals with the closest local affiliates. “As many as 870,000 satellite subscribers, many in the most rural areas of the country, will lose access to broadcast channels if Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR,” ATVA claims.
ATVA also believes that allowing STELAR to expire will also end the FCC’s authority to enforce its “good faith” rules in regard to retransmission consent.
“We look forward to working with the coalition to encourage Congress and the FCC to take action to protect consumers from skyrocketing retrans fees and TV blackouts,” Frontier SVP of Federal Government Affairs Ken Mason said.
In 2010, there were only blackouts nationwide. In 2017, 213 blackouts were seen in a single calendar year. This climbed to 165 in 2018.
In the ATVA’s eyes, “Broadcasters set an all-time record” with the blackouts, failing to acknowledge that retransmission fee agreements are negotiated on by both TV station owners and MVPDs — some of whom refuse to bargain fairly, broadcasters have argued.
Major rules governing the U.S. media marketplace were first written in 1934 and last updated for the media in the 1992 Cable Act. These rules were written at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiple streaming options didn’t exist, the ATVA notes.