WASHINGTON—Though not yet through the halfway point of the year, the American Television Alliance has reported that so far for 2019 there has been 62 station blackouts for the U.S. video marketplace. This has been a consistent trend in recent years, as ATVA says that there have been nearly 550 blackouts in the last three and a half years, with an average of more than 12 a month.
On May 30, seven small station groups owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group went dark on AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse in 14 cities. The stations are Deerfield Media, MPS Media, GoCom Media of Illinois, Howard Stirk Holdings, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting.
“The video marketplace keeps changing, but the TV blackout crisis and retrans racket that hurts consumers stays the same,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman. “In this case, one of America’s biggest broadcasters is making a mockery of station ownership restrictions by unduly controlling what ‘independent’ broadcasters are doing.”
Congress is currently considering the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act. ATVA supports the reauthorization of STELAR, saying that up to 870,000 satellite subscribers could lose access to broadcast channels if it is not renewed.
“Congress should not only re-authorize STELAR so rural America can continue receiving all their broadcast channels, but also modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers and competition,” said Duffy.