Fox Networks Group Threatens to Pull 26 Local Stations in 16 Major Media Markets from DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-verse Customers
Fox Threats Could Also Suspend FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, and Fox Deportes in Millions of Homes
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) issued a statement responding to Fox Networks Group threatening to black out 26 local broadcast stations across 16 major media markets as a bargaining ploy to increase its retransmission consent rates and other licensing fees. Fox has similarly threatened to suspend national sports channels FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, Fox Deportes, and the stand-alone PPV service Fox Soccer Plus.
“During Thanksgiving Weekend, when families are spending time together watching their favorite teams, Fox decided to ruin their day by threatening to cut off their service if their rate increase demands are not met,” said ATVA spokesperson Jessica Kendust. “Fox is using the peak season for their key live sports like college football’s Rivalry Weekend, NFL’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend coverage, and the beginning of World Cup as a weapon to drive up prices for their networks.”
Fox has exclusive control over whether any of its owned and operated local broadcast stations remain within any cable, satellite, IPTV, and, more recently, streaming lineups. Only last month, Fox Networks Group was negotiating a similar renewal and launched its usual “You Will Lose- KEEPFOX” campaign. After unnecessarily alarming consumers, Fox renewed its stations and national channels without interruption. Fox has made similar recent threats with other distributors like Roku and the National Cable Television Cooperative – needlessly upsetting viewers – only to renew without disruption.
Retransmission consent fees imposed by broadcasters have continued to grow – with broadcasters charging customers more than 1500% more for “free” broadcast TV compared to 2010. If gas, $2.99 in 2010, rose at the same rate as the retransmission consent market, we’d see prices of nearly $50 a gallon at the pump today.
“The retransmission consent market should behave like any other market – extraordinary performance will lead to increased compensation – but the opposite is true here,” Kendust said. “Stations continue to lose viewers, and then advertisers, and so they wait until programming is at its short-term peak to threaten or carry out service disruptions. Unfortunately, these tactics will continue until Congress steps in to make much-needed reform to these outdated TV laws.”