How it Works
Cable TV operators, such as Optimum, must enter into contracts with programmers and pay them monthly fees to carry their stations and networks on our lineup. The fees that we pay programmers make up the majority of your monthly TV bill. Most of these contracts are negotiated and renewed without disruption or our customers even knowing.
Why Disputes Happen
Programmers in recent years have been demanding exorbitant rate increases from cable TV providers that would make it impossible for us to continue to offer TV packages at a great value. Unfortunately, programmers use the removal of their channels as a negotiation tactic to force us to accept their outrageous demands.
Compare and Contrast
Over the last couple of years, programmers have demanded fee increases as high as 400-1,000%. Imagine a world where other costs jumped that high!
Over time, programmers have become more willing to blackout their programming from TV providers, putting their own viewers in the middle of a business dispute. According to ATVA, there were 213 blackouts in 2017, breaking the previous mark of 193 in 2015. In 2018 there were 137 blackouts.
What You Need to Know
This is happening across the industry.
No cable, telco, or satellite provider is immune to blackouts, so switching providers is not the answer.
Disputes tend to happen at the most inconvenient times.
Think it’s a coincidence that channels tend to go dark right before a major TV premier or a sports event? Not at all! Many programmers are willing to use their marquee programming as leverage during disputes to put pressure on TV providers, but it also inflicts the most pain on the viewer.
Broadcast content is among the priciest, even though it’s available for free over the air.
The owners of local broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC are available over the air for free via an antenna. However, due to an outdated law called Retransmission Consent, they are allowed to charge TV providers like Optimum to carry their content. Does that sound fair?
More channels, less choice, higher prices.
Some programmers who own many different channels often require TV providers to carry ALL of their networks–so you’re paying for channels you don’t watch. Some programmers even require that TV providers, like Optimum, pay a fee for ALL their customers, instead of just those who want the network in their TV package. They also require that their networks are carried on certain tiers and to a certain percentage of customers. Ultimately, all this behavior limits choice and drives up costs.
What We Are Doing and What You Can Do
To keep costs down, Optimum works hard during its negotiations with programmers to strike a fair and balanced deal for our customers.
Groups like the American Television Alliance (ATVA) are working hard to solve this problem. The ATVA website provides a variety of ways for consumers to reach out to the government to help enact change. Click here.