American Television Alliance Supports DIRECTV’s Efforts To Combat Retransmission Consent Abuses That Harm Consumers

Mar 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) affirmed its support for efforts to combat abuse by big broadcast companies who fix and raise retransmission consent rates, leaving American consumers to potentially foot billions of dollars in unwarranted fees.

Broadcasters have long used so-called “sharing agreements” to influence and collude with independent stations. The DIRECTV suit alleges that Nexstar violated federal antitrust law by coordinating with Mission and White Knight Broadcasting to raise and fix the prices of so-called retransmission consent fees that DIRECTV must pay to offer local stations.

“This is yet another example of a massive broadcaster skirting the legal lines in a way that permits the parties involved to collude, resulting in higher prices for consumers who have already seen an exorbitant increase in fees per subscriber in the last year alone,” stated ATVA spokesperson, Cora Mandy.

“FCC rules allow Mission and White Knight to receive limited services from Nexstar, but they need to independently negotiate retransmission consent agreements,” Mandy said. “None of this collusive behavior in retransmission consent agreement negotiations aligns with existing antitrust laws and FCC rules. We continue to urge the FCC to investigate the extent to which Nexstar and other station owners use these contrived ‘sidecars’ to evade ownership rules, exert unlawful control, and convert the public airwaves and American people who own them into their personal ATMs.”

This is only the most recent evidence of long-standing sidecar-related abuses. ATVA has cited numerous prior examples of abuses in negotiating retransmission consent agreements, including:

  • Comcast’s recent Petition for Declaratory Ruling alleging that Nexstar exercised complete control over its putatively independent sidecar WPIX, contrary to its explicit promises to the Commission and in violation of the Communications Act.
  • A separate lawsuit alleging that Nexstar has continued to control several Marshall stations after being required to divest to receive Commission approval for a larger transaction.
  • Tribune Broadcasting’s lawsuit against Sinclair Broadcast group, alleging that Sinclair sought to control sidecars it purported to divest.