Why This Happens
Here’s what you should know when disputes occur between local stations, networks and the TV providers who bring them into your living room.
DIRECTV pays programmers a fee to carry specific networks or stations. When contracts come to an end, we negotiate new agreements, and the vast majority of the time you never hear about them. But sometimes programmers demand an increase that’s two, three, even four times or more what they ever received before – and all for the exact same channels. We believe it’s our responsibility to take a stand and protect you from these excessive price increases so you don’t see an unnecessary increase to your family’s monthly bill.
A Record Number of Programmer-led Blackouts in 2012
Programmers and local station owners forced a record number of 84 channel blackouts in 2012, compared with 51 in 2011 and 12 in 2010. Every year, they’re doubling down in their efforts to extract increasingly excessive fees for the exact same channels. And in doing so, they’re holding every TV viewer hostage. We cannot let this trend continue.
The Blame Game
Make no mistake: DIRECTV doesn’t take local broadcast stations away during contract disputes. Period. Federal law prevents anyone except the station owner (who has the broadcast license) to decide whether they stay or go in our programming lineup. Stations sometimes deny your access and then blame DIRECTV (or other providers) since we’re the ones who connect that channel to your TV. It’s an attempt to frustrate you, get you to complain or even switch providers, but it’s really about trying to extract huge price increases that will drive your family’s and everyone else’s bills to unacceptable levels.
When programming disputes arise, programmers will sometimes spend tens of millions of dollars on newspaper ads, TV and radio commercials that scream what you could lose if DIRECTV were to disconnect you from certain channels. Remember, we won’t disconnect you and we don’t ever want programmers to disconnect you. But we also feel you need us to hold programmers accountable for charges that could double, triple or even quadruple your own bills. Working together, we can keep more of your money in your pocket where it belongs.
Switching Is Never the Answer
Regrettably, none of the major TV service providers are immune from programming disputes or blackouts, and that goes for Internet providers too. So long as programmers feel they can stop the flow of programming without any accountability, everyone suffers – most of all you. In the first half of 2012 alone, programmers have blacked out loyal viewers more than 60 times, and that number continues to increase by roughly 35 percent. Even top broadcast officials now admit these interruptions are anti-consumer, and pressure continues to mount at the FCC and in Congress to stop this behavior. You know something’s up when more than 850 small cable operators have expressed their support for DIRECTV, their biggest competitor, but we are proud to stand with these mom-and-pop cable operators and many others against these unfair and harmful practices.
DIRECTV Is By Your Side
By holding firm in disputes, we’ve held our annual price increases to half of the industry average. Some networks or TV stations are asking for three times, four times, and even more than what they had ever received before – and all for the same channels. Imagine the impact to your own bill if we just simply accepted those demands for one network, let alone the hundreds we offer you. There’s a reason DIRECTV has been able to offer our customers the lowest annual rate increase of 4% among all providers over the past two years. We’re always by your side, and we plan to remain there in the future.