Q: If you are trying to control costs, why does my bill seem to go up every year?
A: While we pledge to hold prices as low as possible, annual adjustments are necessary because of the rising cost of Network fees and other factors. In fact, Network fees have increased at 3½ times the rate of inflation over the past 15 years.1 As your Local TV provider, we absorb a portion of those increases and pass along a portion to our customers.
Q: Why do I have to pay for networks I never watch?
A: Just five multi-billion-dollar corporations own or control about 90% of existing TV Networks2 – both those you want, as well as many of those you don’t. And they won’t let you have the most-popular Networks unless you get the less-popular ones, too. In turn, if we ask for a price for just the most-popular Networks, a common response from Network owners is to raise their price, effectively eliminating this option from consideration.
Q: Why have my local stations sometimes been pulled from my lineup? Can’t I get them free with an antenna?
A: All TV providers negotiate with broadcast station owners for the right to offer their stations to our customers as a convenience. And although these stations are indeed available free over the air with a digital antenna, these stations still collect fees from all TV providers each month, called retrans fees. Retrans fees are climbing out of control: In 2006, they were only 6¢ of the average customer’s monthly bill, and are expected to soar to $7.40 per month by 2020.3
When TV stations don’t get TV providers to meet their demands for increased retrans fees, they threaten viewers with blackouts to get them to complain to their TV provider, leaving you without your favorite stations indefinitely. And when those demands are met, it results in higher prices for you.
Q: I keep hearing how sports networks are a big portion of my total monthly bill. How can just a few networks make such an impact?
A: It’s because many leagues, conferences, teams and college sports have their own Networks – each with its own high fee, yet offering little or no additional games. And they insist that it be carried in packages that reach most of our customers, instead of sports packages – making even non-fans pay.
1 SNL Kagan
2 Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly
3 ACA Report on STELA