End of year retrans. blackouts set a record


BlackoutHeading into the final hours of the year, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) said 2013 was a record one for blackouts. With ongoing broadcast blackouts involving five different providers in 19 different DMAs, ATVA—whose membership includes DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable—said there were 127 blackouts in 2013. There were only 12 in 2010, 51 in 2011, and 91 in 2012.

Said ATVA: “It’s time for Congress to put an end to abusive blackouts. There are several alternatives to fix the antiquated and broken retransmission consent system. Better yet, in 2014, will broadcasters just agree to put an end to blackouts once and for all?”

List of ongoing blackouts:

–Hoak Media vs. Bright House Networks/ABC/Panama City, FL

–Independent Communications Inc. vs. DISH/Fox/Sioux Falls, SD

–Citadel Communications vs. DirecTV/ABC/Lincoln, NB; Sarasota, FL; Providence, RI

–Gormally Broadcasting vs. DirecTV/ ABC, FOX/Springfield, MA

–Bonten Media Group LLC vs. DISH/ABC, NBC, MNT, CW, TMO/Abilene-Sweetwater, TX; Butte-Bozeman, MT; Chico-Redding, CA; Eureka, CA; Greenville, NC; Missoula, MT; San Angelo, TX; Tri-Cities, TN-VA

–Esteem Broadcaster vs. DISH/FOX/Chico-Redding, CA; Eureka, CA; Greenville, NC; Tri-Cities, TN-VA

–Sinclair Broadcast Group vs. Buckeye Cable/NBC/Toledo, OH

RBR-TVBR observation: With The Video CHOICE and Next Generation Television Marketplace Acts in Congress, the government is looking to bring an end to these disputes. Forcing broadcasters to allow MVPDs to keep airing their signals during negotiations or disputes would really tie the broadcasters’ hands. This really makes us wonder if forced a la carte might be next on the table. That would be a market-based solution with its own problems, but it would allow the MVPDs to just pass the added retransmission costs directly to the consumer in a transparent manner. “Here’s what ABC, the Discovery Channel and MTV cost to view this year—take it or leave it.” The consumer may end up the ultimate decision-maker if we can’t improve the efficiency of these retrans. negotiations.