Seeing FCC Green: Consumer Refunds From Blackouts - Who Pays And Who Cares?

The Federal Communications Commission wants to pay back TV subscribers as a result of those regular blackouts that occur between pay TV providers and TV stations and network groups.

Will consumers rejoice here -- or just shrug their shoulders?

TV blackout battles can be more complicated by competing marketing and press releases from both sides -- which leads to consumers scratching their heads over who is right and wrong over too much business insider stuff.

Everyone tries to address the bottom line: What will these mean in terms of their monthly TV/entertainment bills? 

But over the last three years -- with the sharp rise of streaming options -- consumers can now factor in many new options. Do they really even care about these inside business battles?



This might be true even if most of the battles are short-lived.

The recent, high-profile battle between Walt Disney and Charter Communications is one glaring example -- as that stalemate got dangerously close to the start of the NFL football season, with the first “Monday Night Football” and NFL being the major ongoing, highly viewed programming in any given week.

The common deadline around many of these carriage-deal renewals for starting a new TV season still comes with fresh, new prime-time programming. The Disney-Charter stalemate lasted 10 days. 

But in terms of longevity, there has been worse. Last month's Nexstar Media Group and DirecTV blackout lasted 76 days -- over two months -- one of the biggest blackouts ever, affecting 68% of all U.S. homes. 

That stalemate ended mid-September -- just days before the prime-time season ended. Do you think weary cable/satellite/pay TV consumers get this? They have seen this movie before.

There have been around 1,300 TV blackouts from 2010 to 2019, according to the American Television Alliance (ATVA), an advocacy group representing cable and satellite distributors.

Both sides are to blame. Broadcast TV stations and networks make money and so do cable and satellite pay TV services -- several billion dollars over the years as well, right?

“We’d like to see the focus on the broadcasters -- who increased retransmission consent fees from $200 million in 2006 to $11.7 billion in 2019, an unbelievable 5,359% – rather than just on the companies that are negotiating to keep prices down for their customers,” says the ATVA in a recent release.

Fair enough. Split the difference.

If not, the marketplace will move more quickly to places where blackouts will fade into the background.


1 comment about "Seeing FCC Green: Consumer Refunds From Blackouts - Who Pays And Who Cares?".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, October 16, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

    I know all about blackouts even before it was a thing back in the early and late 90s which was Suckyvision oh, I mean Cablevision with LIN's Wood TV and it wasn't about retrans which was a local weather channel which all it was radar and the weather radio as the sound, Cablevision didn't want to put on the basic lineup which became WXSP in Aug 99 as UPN. Cablevision always seem to get aq deal done with Wood TV for Super bowls, 28, 30 & 32 which was 2 days before SB32 after a year being blacked out which was a crappy network Romance Classic now WETV I was hoping it be ESPN2, VH1 etc. Cablevision & LIN did not like each other.

    Cablevision never added the local weather channel/WXSP until Charter became the new cable company in Kazoo. Always did get deals done with LIN although 08 warned could go dark in July of 08 4 weeks out that message only saw it once on the screen as a week later Charter had a message saying that we will get an agreement with LIN and didn't hear anything about it since and saw an artcile that they reached a deal. 2012 went to the 11TH hour for a deal that was reached at the end of Nov. 2019 WXMI Fox17 went dark for 9 days a few months before Nexstar Tribune merger.

    I don't know how the rebate will work with Sinclair, Nexstar, Scripps, TEGNA, Gray etc. Since in a lot of markets they only have one station, Nexstar in West Michigan owns Wood TV, WOTV, & WXSP, Sinclair WWMT & CW7 .2 subchannel don't know how much a rebate you'd get with TV station groups. Other than Disney which Spectrum was giving $15 dollar rebate, which Paramount, WarnerBROS-Discovery would be $15 dollar rebate. As this seems to only be to punish the Pay-TV than the broadcasters the only time was Sinclair got fined when AT&T had to get deals with the shell compaies they said they broke the rules and not in good faith at the table by those shell companies. I don't know if refunds are the answer other than the major players the big media companies as I said above and it will just be a small rebate nothing big in my opinion.   

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