Broadcasters Form Retrans Message Group

WASHINGTON—Broadcasters have a new hired gun in D.C. is the website of “a new coalition of local broadcasters, community advocates, network television affiliate associations, multicast networks, manufacturers and other independent broadcast-related organizations launched today to help protect consumer interests, ensure emergency and weather related programming access, promote the value of broadcast-TV programming, and preserve a fair and free video marketplace.”

Robert C. Kenny is the director of public affairs for the group:. “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.”
Kenny will stump for retransmission by advocating “policies that provide consumers with refunds on their monthly pay-TV bills for programming blackouts; eliminate or reduce unnecessary and questionable fees that pay-TV providers tack onto monthly consumer bills—i.e. early termination fees and one-time charges for changes in service—and protect content providers from the use of their lawful content by others without fair compensation.”

The formation announcement included the group’s opening play and a taste of things to come: believes that consumers would ultimately benefit from a system where cable and satellite TV providers fairly compensate all channels based on the ratings, popularity and quality of the programming that each channel provides to viewers.

During the 2012-13 television season, 96 of the top 100 broadcast-TV programs dominated the primetime program rankings. For years, cable and satellite TV customers have been overpaying for lower-rated cable channels that they don’t want or watch. These cable channels are, in many cases, paid much more than broadcast channels, despite winning just a fraction of the viewership ratings.

According to publicly available data, the very same pay-TV companies which are responsible for initiating nearly 90% of the retransmission disputes in America (DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Dish Network) collectively amassed nearly $68 billion in total revenues from October 2012 through September 2013.

Below are key facts on the state of the video marketplace:

  • From October 2012 - September 2013, 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 companies.
  • Since March 2009, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network stock values increased 378 percent, 398 percent and 197 percent, 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 over 50 percent 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 percent of the basic Pay-TV bill ($4 to $5 per month) for consumers.
  • Broadcast program ratings far outpace programming offered by cable channels. In fact, during the 2012-13 television season, broadcast programming dominated the primetime program rankings, accounting for 96 of the top 100 programs.

Members are as follows:

ABC Television Affiliate Association
Antennas Direct
Blackhawk Broadcasting
Bounce TV
Bristlecone Broadcasting
California Oregon Broadcasting Inc.
Capitol Broadcasting Co.
CBS Television Affiliate Association
Citadel Communications, LLC
Dispatch Broadcast Group
FOX Television Affiliate Association
Journal Broadcast Group, Inc.
Mobile 500 Alliance
Morgan Murphy Media
National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters
National Black Religious Broadcasters
NBC Television Affiliate Association
Northwest Broadcasting, Inc.
Quincy, Inc.
Rural Agricultural Council of America
Television Bureau of Advertising