TDS takes a stand for fair video rates

We are a little more than halfway through the calendar year, but broadcasters have restricted or “blacked out” millions of cable and satellite video consumers. In 2019 year-to-date, there have been 230 blackouts, which exceeds the previous record of 213 set in 2017.

The single greatest reason for these blackouts is higher video programming fees.

At this time, AT&T and DirecTV are in a dispute with Nexstar Media Group and Fox Regional Sports Networks have been blacked out to DISH/Sling subscribers. Earlier this year, Charter was at an impasse with Tribune Media Group and Dish Network, and TDS was in dispute over an unprecedented rate increase request by Nexstar. TDS is fully aware of how these negotiations impact our customers.

When consumers are put in the middle of these disagreements, they are frustrated, inconvenienced and not sure who to blame. Broadcasters unjustly point the finger at cable operators, when, in fact, it is the cable operators who are trying to negotiate the best deal possible to keep costs down for everyone.

TDS is taking a stand for fair rates and applauds the introduction of federal legislation to fix and modernize the nation’s TV laws. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have introduced legislation that would fix our nation’s outdated video laws, which were established in 1992. If passed, this legislation will bring us into the 21st Century. To learn more about this political odd couples attempt to fix our broken video laws, watch here. (

It was 1992 when the Cable Act first established regulations known as retransmission consent. These retransmission consent fees are what TV distributors (cable, satellite, and other TV providers) are required to pay in order to broadcast TV channels. Broadcasters have been increasingly asking for higher fees. When TV distributors, like TDS, request more reasonable fee increases, unfortunately, agreements are not made, contracts are breached and broadcasters, in turn, blackout their signals.

Broadcasters have used these blackout threats and then actual blackouts to demand more money – which is ultimately paid by customers, hitting their pocketbooks hard.

According to the American Television Alliance, retransmission fees have gone from about $200 million in 2006, to $10.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 4,950 percent.   In the past 10 years, primetime viewership of the big four broadcast networks has declined by 52 percent.   Because fewer people are watching traditional TV, there is less advertising revenue, which in turn leads to higher costs for consumers.

TDS wants to deliver the shows you want at a reasonable price. We will continue to advocate for you, our customers, to ensure that the channels you watch remain available to you.

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