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ATVA Blasts Cox Media’s Super Bowl Blackout History

ATVA
(Image credit: ATVA)

WASHINGTON—The American Television Alliance (ATVA) is displeased that Cox Media Group has once again gone to what it believes is a staple of their playbook - threatening or withdrawing stations carrying the Super Bowl as part of retransmission negotiations.

Stations in 20 markets went dark on Feb. 2 as CMG and AT&T/DirecTV failed to reach a retransmission deal. Among the stations impacted are a few CBS affiliates, which means that unless a deal is struck before 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 7, DirecTV customers in those markets will not be able to watch Super Bowl LV.

ATVA supports AT&T’s claim that CMG is the one causing the blackout. However, for its part, CMG cites AT&T’s reluctance to accept its offers.

Per ATVA, this tactic is a familiar one for CMG, as it is reportedly the fifth time they have threatened or withdrawn stations that are broadcasting the Super Bowl. Past instances involved Charter Spectrum, Dish Network, Verizon Fios and CableOne, ATVA details.

“This latest contrived blackout holding such an important national event like the Super Bowl hostage demonstrates how broadcasters like Cox Media Group intentionally cause maximum disruption and harm for consumers in order to extract exorbitant fees,” said ATVA spokeswoman Jessica Kendust. “The price-gouging behavior of broadcasters like Cox has become increasingly shameless and exploitative and demands action from policymakers in Washington.”

Kendust says that there is a correlation between the rise in the number of broadcast blackouts in the past decade and the “more than seven-fold” increase in station fees. The number of blackouts have risen to new heights in the last couple of years, particularly, with 278 in 2019 and 342 in 2020, according to ATVA.

ATVA wants policymakers to update retransmission consent laws so as to prevent broadcastings from weaponizing stations licenses and government-granted exclusivities.