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Pay-TV conglomerates get push back on efforts to diminish viewers’ choices

Local broadcasters, community advocates, network affiliates and independent broadcast related industries have joined forces to push back against the pay-TV industry’s ongoing efforts in Congress to strip viewers of their favorite programming by rewriting federal law. will tell the truth about the state of the video marketplace and call out the pay-TV industry’s inside-the-beltway gamesmanship designed solely to increase their record profits,” said Robert C. Kenny, director of public affairs for

“On behalf of consumers, we will publicly engage policymakers, lawmakers and advocacy groups to protect TV viewers from manufactured blackouts by pay-TV providers and extra fees on their monthly bills.”

TAB is a member of the group under the aegis of the National Alliance of State Broadcaster Associations.

“The pay-TV industries can and do out-spend us on the Hill, so it is vitally important to viewers and to our industry that we make every effort to dispel the misinformation they’re spreading; we welcome all the help we can get,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

In addition to supporting market-driven solutions and policies that create more choices and increased accessibility for consumers’ favorite TV programming, also is calling for modernizing the nation’s communications laws to reflect the convergence of video services in the marketplace, while enabling innovation to flourish.

These efforts are being undertaken as Congress begins exploring a potential 2015 rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The coalition’s agenda supports policies that provide consumers refunds on their monthly cable bills for programming blackouts; stem the growing tide of questionable fees that pay-TV companies tack onto consumers’ monthly bills such as early termination fees and one-time charges for changes in service; and protect content providers from illegally re-selling their content without fair compensation.

“It is disingenuous on the part of some cable and satellite TV providers to single out the costs associated with retransmission consent fees paid to broadcasters when less popular cable programming represents a much higher percentage of the total bill charged to consumers each month,” Kenny said.

The group underscores that the retransmission consent process enables local TV broadcast stations to continue providing their communities with local news, emergency alerts, severe weather updates and public safety advisories.

Also key is the fact that during the 2012-13 television season, 96 of the top 100 broadcast-TV programs dominated the primetime program rankings, meaning that pay-TV customers have been overpaying for lower-rated cable channels that they don’t want or watch.  

Other important facts regarding the state of the video marketplace:

  • DirecTV had revenues of $31.2 billion, Time Warner Cable had revenues of $22 billion and the Dish Network had revenues of $14.4 billion – resulting in a collective revenue total of nearly $68 billion annually for the three conglomerates.
  • Since March 2009, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network stock values increased 378%, 398% and 197%, respectively.
  • Unlike any other U.S. consumer communication service, over the past 13 years, cable prices in particular have consistently risen annually at more than double the rate of inflation
  • Pay-TV companies consistently threaten blackouts or service interruptions when retransmission negotiations don’t go their way
  • Since 2012, nearly 90 percent of programming disputes involve only Time Warner Cable, DirecTV or Dish Network.  Dish alone is responsible for more than 50% of these viewer service disruptions.
  • Today, 99% of carriage-related disputes are resolved through good faith negotiations, without service disruption to consumers.
  • Retransmission consent fees are not the cause of rising pay-TV bills, barely amounting to 10% of consumers’ monthly basic $4 to $5 pay-TV bill.

Complete list of members

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