Viewers Will See More Blackouts Before FCC Curbs Carriage Fee Disputes

By Kevin Eck 

MediaDailyNews is reporting when it comes to blackouts over carriage fee disputes, it may have to get worse before it gets better.

According to the article, the practice of satellite or cable carriers cutting off viewer access to networks or local stations during disputes or vice-versa has steadily increased since 2010.  This year there were 70 blackouts compared to 51 in 2011 and just 12 in 2010.  But the article said viewers will see more blackouts before the government steps in.

In a email from TargetCast representatives, the agency says: “We believe that there will have to be significantly more, and longer, blackout periods for Congress and the FCC to take action.  For the most part, the system is working, as the majority of the 15,000 [plus] deals are done successfully and quietly behind the scenes, with only 1% becoming public disputes impacting viewers.”


The news may be worse for local stations than it is for networks.  “The problem for local TV advertisers is that such TV media deals aren’t usually guaranteed — unlike national TV media deals,” Cyndi April, senior vice- president and group account director of TargetCast told MediaDailyNews. “Even then, she says many individual TV stations typically look for ways to make marketers whole.

But the biggest loser during the disputes is the viewer who is unable to watch their favorite show.  According to the article, that might just be the lever the government needs to shift the tide.

Parent believes, for example, a blackout lasting for a long period of time affecting a highly-viewed TV franchise, like the NFL, would get some attention. He says: “It’ll be about something that viewers are passionate about.”