Local News & Views

Less is More

Fewer people watch shows on local stations than ever before, but broadcasters continue to demand everyone pay more to get the few shows they do watch. DIRECTV must have their permission to broadcast their programming, so if stations can’t get whatever they want, they deliberately sideline their signal so nobody can see anything. Here are just a few recent examples of stations, licensed to serve the public, who deliberately nixed their communities.

  • Mizzou Stops Students University of Missouri is still trying to keep DIRECTV customers around campus from seeing NBC shows, but also blacking out the university’s own student journalists who train at the station.

  • Hearst Goes Dark Overnight Hearst blacked out all of its stations to 2 million DISH families living across 29 different cities, but only for 14 hours when most ABC, CBS and NBC fans were already in bed.

  • Meredith Sacks Patriots Meredith stopped Cablevision customers in Hartford, Conn. from seeing its CBS station during the NFL’s Wildcard and Divisional Championship weekends, costing New England fans a chance to see the Patriots.

  • Cox Drops Charter on New Year’s Cox may serve 6 million cable customers, but its sister broadcast stations stopped Charter customers from seeing ABC, CBS and NBC shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco for 14 hours when others were still ringing in the New Year.

  • Fox Lacks EsteemStations hurt their own networks with blackouts like the one last January when Esteem Broadcasting decided to keep NFL fans in California from seeing NFL playoff games featuring the San Francisco 49ers.

  • Doubling Down on Blackouts Small towns get blacked out big when two or more station groups attempt to deny ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX shows at the same time. That’s what happened to DISH families in Chico-Redding, Calif. and some other cities when Bonten Media and Esteem doubled down to end 2013.

  • CBS and Time Warner in Bi-Coastal Bout Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities lost CBS for more than a month last fall. The battle between CBS and TWC left customers fuming on both sides and got so rancorous Congressional Democrats and Republicans each introduced legislation to try to end future blackouts once and for all.

In the News

Contract disputes, retrans fee hikes, rising sports costs and a host of other issues that drive up your cost to watch TV are constantly in the headlines. Here’s a look at some of the most recent and relevant:

  • Stark Ravings: In satellite, cable deals, customers increasingly take the hit 4/17/14  |  Lancaster Online
    Area customers of Dish Network may have tuned in April 8 to see local actor Taylor Kinney in a new episode of “Chicago Fire” on NBC affiliate WGAL-TV 8, only to find a black screen. Read more

  • Consumers paying broadcasters twice 1/31/14  |  The Hill
    We have heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch and, when it comes to “free” over-the-air television broadcasting, that adage certainly rings true for consumers facing higher prices, and for taxpayers paying for wireless spectrum in order to give it away. Read more

  • DIRECTV Executive Blasts Broadcasters at Congressional Hearing 6/12/13  |  Los Angeles Times
    In testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology, DIRECTV executive vice president Mike Palkovic said new rules are needed for broadcasters such as CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox when it comes to negotiating. Read more

  • Station Retrans Fees Up, But ESPN Still King 6/6/13  |  TV News Check
    Broadcasters’ retrans fees will continue to rise but because ESPN’s audience is so passionate they are able to stay on top and charge an absurd $5.54 per subscriber. Read more

Read More News

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