Q. I am outraged like everyone else at losing my local channels on DIRECTV. But my question is who should I be angry at? Is this DIRECTV’s fault? Or my local channel? — Debra, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Debra, as you know, DIRECTV on Monday lost approximately 60 local TV stations due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Tegna Broadcasting, while Dish last night lost 164 local channels due to a separate fee fight with Nexstar Broadcasting.
These carriage battles have become more commonplace in the last few years with both broadcasters and pay TV providers forced to tighten their belts due to cord-cutting and reduced viewership. While the cable and satellite operators once were resigned to paying what the programmers/broadcasters wanted to keep subscribers from defecting, now they are more likely to balk because their profits have declined.
As a result, the two sides often butt heads come contract time, which leads to short-term, and sometimes, long-term blackouts.
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But who is to blame for these blackouts? Are the broadcasters greedy and asking for too much money? Or are the pay TV executives worried more about their salaries than their subscribers?
The truth, as it usually is, lies in the middle.
There’s no doubt that the local channels are raising their fees every year, just as there’s no doubt that they are doing so without any consideration to the impact it’s having on pay TV subscriber bills. (Most pay TV operators annually raise their subscriber bills and the need to offset program acquisition costs is a major reason why.) But it should be noted that the broadcasters have their own pressures to maintain profits. And with fewer people watching traditional TV channels now due to streaming, that pressure is greater than ever.
The pay TV executives also care more about their profits and perks than their subscribers, no matter what they say in public statements. But they have shareholders to answer to who also put profits ahead of the customers. If the execs don’t keep profits rising, they will be forced to look for new jobs.
So both broadcasters and pay TV companies are trapped in a cycle which will likely mean more blackouts and higher bills for years to come. At some point, consumers will give up, but despite streaming’s popularity, roughly 70 percent of Americans still subscribe to a pay TV service, maybe more.
If you want to blame someone in this mess, look to the 1992 Congress, and every other Congress since. The 1992 Congress voted to override President George H.W. Bush’s veto of a cable communications bill that allows local broadcasters to withhold their signals if a pay TV operator doesn’t meet their demands. Bush said at the time that it would lead to higher bills, and he was right. But his warning fell on deaf ears thanks to lobbying groups supporting the broadcasters.
Since that bill was passed, every other Congress has failed to address the problem it caused, again because of the outsized political and financial influence of local broadcasters.
And it’s a shame because there is a solution, and it’s called baseball-style binding arbitration. If there’s an impasse, bring the two sides together in arbitration and allow an arbitrator to decide what the pay TV operator should pay. This would eliminate the carriage blackout once and for all.
But don’t expect it to happen for the reasons stated earlier. Alas.
Debra, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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I am so upset about losing local stations! We pay so much for TV we shouldn’t lose any of our stations!
We have to cancel cable until they get it right all that passing the blame we the customer suffer
Tegna did the same thing in San Diego. A 70 year old station is practically gone, only sindcated programs. No local talent.
You forgot to mention that the consumer is just fed up with high bills that puts a lot of pressure on the TV cable providers also all you have to do is look at the number of subscribers who have cut the cord
I am piss as much money I pay a month to have dish so decided to drop dish going another way with cable
Unfortunately, I suspect the Nexstar vs. Dish battle will be a protracted contest. Until one or the other start bleeding red ink…neither will fold. Looking at the Nasdeq today, Nexstar Media Group (NXST) was not hurt by the overnight blackout decision. Their stocks remain at an all time high. Dish Network Corporation (DISH), headed by former professional poker player Charlie Ergen, will hold their cards…betting on customer loyalty and Dish’s ironclad contracts to see them through. This whole debacle is going to require some sort of congressional intervention, lawsuits, or better yet arbitration to reach a resolution. Until then, customers will pay the price as they are nothing but poker chips in a corporate high stakes game!
I’m so fed up with DISH I pay too much money for this cable, now you all study cutting out chancels and it’s sad that you all are going to lose CUSTOMERS..
Do we get a reduction for the time we don’t have our local channels?
Yeah I missed my first new episodes on CBS this is HS this stinks do we get a refund, or do we change cable ?This is all political.
The problem goes back to the early 1990s.
Before then, there was a simple rule. Cable companies were MANDATED to carry all local non-Pay stations in their local market, whether they were part of the big four, an educational station, a foreign language station, it didn’t matter.
Then the must-carry rule was withdrawn, and cable started dropping some local channels-unless the station would pay the cable company to carry the channel on cable.
Well, the Big Four then gathered up a pool of money to lobby Washington’s millions to get a new bill written. The new bill reinstated the must-carry rule, and added a cash cow – retrans fees for “local”* stations that cable and satellite signal providers have to pay for stations that are available for free with an antenna.
The solution is to undo BOTH of those evil rule changes.
Simply enforce must-carry and allow pay programs only on encrypted channels, so nobody would have to pay for channels they don’t want.
I’m sick of dish. I have no choice but to change to cable. I’m haven’t been able to see the channels which is my favorite. Quit taking advantage of low income customers.
As an honest consumer I’ve just about had it!! How many billions does it make you to be happy???? And at our expense!! There are ways that are probably not very legal to get all the channels I want but I just can’t do it!! But your really pushing us to the limit!!! It will be easy to dust the dvd player off to watch movies and buy a paper to read the news!!
Eventually Dish and Direct will be shut down. The networks who are strangling them either don’t care about the loss of revenue or are seeking to destroy satellite for their own ratings so they can charge more for ads locally. Either way they are self serving.
What DirecTV and dish don’t know is that in so many rural areas, a dish is the only way to get tv! We don’t get cable. We live too far away from the big city to get over the air signals. It’s ridiculous that we have to pay so much and deal with these blackouts! And now at&t is selling DirecTV! Getting wifi is so expensive for those who have to get satellite wifi. So the American West gets screwed over and we’re still paying almost $300 a month for DirecTV!
I would like to find the idiots who’s behind this and hog-tie them to the back of my bumper. And drag them through broken glass and sharp Rock because of the greed they’re trying to rob people
Hell yes.from a Vet in Ms.
I pay $165 for my mom and her room and my TV and my room I took the TV out of the living room and I still pay $165 and that’s with no movie channels no nothing.I even took the third TV in the living room out had them turn it off and I’m paying more with two TVs and I’m only getting the choice plan. I want to know if y’all are going to prorate all of this or what because y’all sure would want your money are y’all going to turn it off. I’ve got an elderly mother she’s had DirecTV since 2004 and she knows how to work that remote. I can’t get other services because it will confuse her. Y’all need to do something y’all need to make this right lower these bills if y’all are going to take these channels away
We had already lost other local channels earlier in the year and never got them back. I know they aren’t trying to settle them because they even took the channels off the guide. It’s awful that they take advantage of the older generation. That’s right!!! We don’t know how to get streaming and we rely on our local channels for news and incoming weather. It’s all about cooperate greed on both sides. It’s disgusting. We should all get antenna s and just let them go down the tubes.
what you don”t seem to realize is if they pay local station more our cable rates will go up
I pay almost 300 a month for direct TV and I was forced to watch cbs on rouku that sucked I could just get hulu and netflix for alot less I have been with directv since it started I am beyond fed up
I am done with dish its cancel time
Stop making customers suffer for your fight we pay way to much for cable to lose anything
I am recently retired from the broadcast business. I have first hand knowledge of why we are here. Most people don’t realize that the major 4 broadcast networks charge local stations enormous fees for the affiliation. As the NFL and other major sports leagues ratchet up their fees to the big 4 networks, they in turn increase the affiliates fees. Then the local affiliates need to recover those costs by charging the cable and satellite companies more money to retransmit their signals. In a nutshell, major sports franchise fees are the primary driver for this impasse.
Nope. Local affiliates need to recover those costs through COMMERCIALS, not on the backs of the companies who are DOING THEIR JOB FOR THEM, since the digital changeover and the loss of OTA signals.
I guess people are forgetting that local channels are free for over the air broadcasting. Put an antenna in the attic, connect it to your TV set(s), and wallah! Free local programming. Including more local stations than provided with satellite or cable service.Just hit the input selection on the remote. Cable channels are a different story though. It’s been about 2 years now that HBO disappeared from Dish Network.
Many people cannot receive OTA even with a LARGE antenna, especially since the digital changeover a few years ago… So, yes, in an urban or suburban area, your point is valid. But for most of the country, we rely on cable providers to get that signal to us.
We cut the cord back in 2010 and use an antenna for local channels, and then stream what we want to watch. OTA is broadcast in HD and is free. Mostly we cut the cord because we found that much of what is offered through subscription TV is awful programing. Now we use Locast for local channels in case our antenna is acting up. It works for us. The best thing to remember is that WE as consumers actually hold all the power, but we refuse to use it.
I am also sick of this. They should lower our bill. Until we get our local channels back
Pls reach an agreement
Finally said forget dish and went with AT&T tv. 1/2 the price for better service!
I just wrote to Nextar and told them that they weren’t that important. I have over 200 channels. I can always find something to watch. I also have Kindle, Audible, Prime, and podcasts, as well as internet options such as Peacock or Hulu. And once they find out that people are willing to say “screw you,“ maybe they will step back and stop being so greedy. I enjoy my Dish, but I do have lots of options. That’s something all of them are hoping that we don’t find out.
Why can over the air channels charge anything? I can get them for free without direct TV or dish.
I blame the the greedy tv station I think dish and Directtv should keep all the greedy station off the air
Direct TV & Dish Network should have shut down years ago.I had Direct TV in Miami.Then I moved to the Villages,Fl.I had Direct TV until I dropped them in 2010.Now I have Spectrum,there really the best.And you can’t beat there prices for cable TV.I’m very happy with there service.People should try them out there a great cable company.
I can’t believe you took all those channels. Channel 10 wad my most favorite. Put the channels back on
Get an amplified 60+ mile (mine is 120 mile and I get approx 80 actual miles and it cost me $39 and no monthly fees) antenna and stick it in your window and get your local channels !!!
I guess greed abounds all around, no more does the customer mean anything except to pay or go without. Don’t know why I’m even making my dissatisfaction know doesn’t mean anything to nextstar.
I disagree pretty wholeheartedly with you here.
Most of the local stations are running under a “must provide” type of FCC license, where they have a DMA that they are bound by law to service. Most of these providers, during the “digital changeover” that happened a few years ago, did not put in the infrastructure to actually get their signal to the people that they are required to serve. The signal quality is too low to be received in most of their DMA.
So, rather than CHARGING cable providers (including satellite), they should be PAYING those providers to complete the job that they are required to do: reach the audience that the FCC requires them to reach.
Cable and satellite providers are trying to make their prices competitive in a competitive marketplace. Raising rates is the hardest thing that they have to deal with, because they lose subscribers every time they do it. There isn’t so much an issue of CEO salary driving the monthly cost up; those salaries come more from their stock options, and those are based on how well the company is doing. Higher carriage rates are definitely not good for their bottom line, especially coupled with customer loss when a forced rate hike is required to stay afloat.
This problem has gone for far too long, and it’s time for the FCC to grow a pair, step up, and slap these broadcasters with a big stick. Either force them to generate enough RF signal to reach ALL of the people in their DMA, or at least allow those companies who are doing their job for them to carry the signal for free. Or, pull their licenses, and force the networks to allow more local broadcasters to fill the gaps. This is not rocket science, and there are many ways to fix the problem.