July 14, 2010 - Consumer Groups, Video Distributors, Independent Programmers Form Alliance

ATVA Luanches New Website and Ad Campaign to Highlight Consumer Harms Caused by Broadcasters and the Need to Change Outdated Rules to Protect Consumer Access to TV Viewing

Washington D.C. (July 14) - Alarmed by broadcasters’ increasing use of showdown tactics and brinksmanship that cause disruption, uncertainty and even television blackouts, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) joined an unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, cable operators, satellite providers, telcos, and independent programmers to form the American Television Alliance (ATVA) to give voice to consumers’ interests.  The mission of the new coalition, which officially launched today, is to ensure consumers are not harmed – or their favorite shows held hostage – in negotiations for carriage of broadcast programming.  

The 31-member ATVA coalition will focus on preventing consumer confusion, disruption and ever increasing rates that result from outdated rules governing these carriage negotiations. Under the current law, broadcasters may cut off their television signals and shows from video service providers and consumers if they do not receive the compensation they demand.

In the nearly 20 years since retransmission consent was created, the television market has evolved dramatically.  While consumers have more choices for video programming than they did in 1992, broadcasters benefit from several outdated rules that give them the incentive and ability to withhold programming – using consumers as pawns in retransmission consent negotiations. 

In addition to NTCA, the coalition includes AT&T, the American Cable Association, Cablevision, DIRECTV, DISH Network, the New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and other groups. The breadth and diversity of this new coalition demonstrate the urgent need for change.  As evidenced by recent showdown negotiation tactics on the part of broadcasters, consumers are caught in the middle and face uncertainty, service disruptions, and constantly increasing fees.

As part of today’s official launch, The American Television Alliance will also be creating a new website, www.AmericanTelevisionAlliance.org, which will become a place where consumers can visit to learn more about the issue, sign up for updates, and take steps to ensure that broadcasters don’t prevent them from being able to view their favorite programs. The group’s creation is also highlighted in a new ad campaign (attached) which highlights a core message of the group that the time has come to give viewers a voice.