Welcome to TVOnMySide

Cobalt TV's hub for information on our negotiations with the networks on your lineup. We are committed to providing quality TV programming at a competitive price and we fight hard against excessive fee increases from the networks.

We're on your side.

TOMS

Cobalt TV is a local company that delivers a range of products for home and business including Broadband, Digital TV, Phone and security systems. We employ many of your neighbors and play an active role in the community.

For more information about our company, visit our website.

Family enjoying watching TV together

Contact Us

Please use this form to contact us. We will do our best to respond as soon as possible.

Why Disputes Happen

Over the years, we've negotiated hundreds of programming agreements behind the scenes, privately with no disruptions of service. But to the network and TV station owners, these disputes are not about respecting viewers with no interruptions, it's all about the money. To get higher fees, networks don't hesitate to pull the plug on viewers.

Every once in a while, these negotiations for the right to provide their programming to you become public and may result in a network or TV station removing their channel from your lineup. Networks hope that this will get you to pressure us to return programming at any cost, which usually means paying them more. This is why we fight for you - to minimize the increased cost of programming that we are forced to pass along to our customers.

Blackouts Help Stations Increase Fees

TV Stations use blackouts to pressure providers to accept their demands for higher fees to increase their revenue.

Recent Disputes

Networks black out their signals to try to get you to switch providers to pressure us to agree to their demands, and they do this to every TV provider; in 2010, there were 8 blackouts and that number jumped to over 100 in 2021*. Even on those rare occasions when Networks pull their signal, we’re on your side to get them back quickly at a fair price, so the networks are usually dark for only a short period of time.

Here are some examples of recent disputes:

*Includes digital subchannels. © 2022 American Television Alliance. All rights reserved.

Block Comm. vs. DISH

January, 2022

Block Communications pulled 7 stations from DISH when they couldn't come to an agreement on rising costs.

NESN vs. DISH

December, 2021

DISH dropped NESN because, "The current Regional Sports Network model is fundamentally broken...and we no longer think it makes sense to include them in our TV lineup."

Disney/ESPN vs. YouTube TV

December, 2021

18 Disney-owned channels such as ESPN and ABC were removed from YouTube TV because they wouldn't agree to high fees

Tegna vs. DISH

October, 2021

TEGNA withheld the signals to 64 stations from DISH's customers for 4 months when they couldn't come to an agreement over a rate increase.

Powerful Programmers

The television landscape is changing faster than ever, and it's all about power. Media giants, who already control over 90% of available networks and TV stations, are scaling up their businesses through acquisitions and mergers. They use their size and power to demand more money, with little regard to how it impacts your wallet.

In recent years, there have been many huge mega-media mergers: Gray Television purchased Meredith Broadcasting for $2.3 billion. Disney bought Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and 20th Century Fox and launched Disney+. AT&T acquired TimeWarner to create WarnerMedia, only to spin it off and merge with Discovery who had recently acquired Scripps Networks. Sinclair Broadcasting purchased 21 regional sports networks from FOX for $10 billion. Amazon announced the purchase of MGM Studios, home of James Bond.

All these multi-billion-dollar deals are aimed at better competing with the Netflixes of the world and squeezing more money out of video providers. We negotiate with these big corporations to make sure you get all the channels you want at a fair price.

Media Giants Own Most TV Networks

A few media giants own most of the networks and use their size to demand higher fees and network carriage.

Broadcast retransmission fees

Just like cable networks, broadcast TV stations want their cut of your monthly bill. They do this by charging retransmission fees. These fees are made possible by a 1992 federal law that requires cable operators and other providers to obtain permission to carry their stations. Broadcasters set the rate for these fees and the only control we have is to work hard to negotiate the best deal that we can on your behalf.

Broadcast stations make money by charging for ads and charging us to carry their programming. According to industry analyst Kagan, TV station advertising revenue has declined for the last three years. Broadcasters seem to be making up for this shortfall by placing more emphasis on retransmission fees paid by us and other TV providers.

The negotiations can get even more complicated. Station owners can ask for other compensation in addition to retrans fees, such as carriage of an additional channels. These can range from additional digital broadcast stations to popular cable networks they might own to seldom-watched niche networks you may never have heard of.

Monthly Retrans Fees per Customer

Skyrocketing Retransmission Fees

A gallon of milk cost approximately $3.25 in 2010. Today, it costs around $3.80, an average annual increase of 1.4% from 2010 to 2022. During that same period, local TV station fees increased EVERY year by an average of 24%.*

If a gallon of milk increased at that same rate, it would cost $42.38 today.

$3.25 2010
$42.38 2022

*AmericanTelevisionAlliance © 2022

Sports

TV rights for sports is the highest it's ever been because broadcast and cable networks continue to escalate what they pay for sports TV rights. Both cable and broadcast networks pay billions of dollars a year to bring you live games. This forces them to charge TV providers higher fees, which has a significant impact on your monthly bill.

TV providers have tried for years to minimize out-of-control sports programming costs. Most broadcast stations and cable networks that carry sports require that we offer their channels in our most popular levels of service, forcing almost everyone to pay for sports programming - whether they watch it or not.

We want you to have access to the best programming available, including sports. That's why we negotiate hard with stations and programmers to keep costs down, but these large increases in fees are unsustainable for our customers and our business.

Sports Fees Are Out of the Ballpark

Per customer TV Sports rights have increased from $9.92 per month in 2010 to $23 in 2021

Streaming services

In the beginning, streaming services promised cheap, innovative alternative to your local television provider. That promise did not last long. Streamers ran into the same price gouging by programmers that we have faced for years. Now those services are beginning to look a lot more like the traditional cable services they promised to replace…with prices to match.

The common denominator of both streaming companies and traditional TV providers like us, is the fact that we aren't really fighting with each other to keep prices down. We're fighting with content providers like NBCUniversal, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, ViacomCBS and Fox Corporation, which license out the rights for us to offer their channels. We all want to keep prices low, but these mega-media giants refuse to license their content reasonably.

The price, value, and quality that these streamers offer is very different from one service to another. Many brag about the raw number of channels you'll get but not all channels are created equal.

After roping in Customers, streaming services are hiking their prices

The cost of streaming television shows and movies, once seen as a much cheaper alternative to owning a cable box, is rising. Given the diversity of content available for streaming, consumers are subscribing to multiple platforms to keep up with their favorite shows, often paying more than one monthly streaming bill.

TOMS

FAQs

Why do Networks take their signals away from me?

When blackouts happen, it’s because we wouldn’t agree to the Network’s demands. The Networks know they can pass costs onto cable companies like us and ultimately to you. If we can’t agree, THEY may choose to take the channel off of your lineup.

What is “Retransmission Consent”?

It’s a law that requires all TV providers to obtain permission to carry local stations for a fee. If an agreement can’t be reached, the local stations can pull their signal from you.

Can I still watch shows if the Network blacks out their signal?

Every local station is available free over-the-air. Smart TVs can tune directly to these signals when paired with an inexpensive antenna. Most stations also stream their local newscasts on their sites. And if they are affiliated with a major Network such as ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC, most series are available free online, often with little delay. We will provide you with other ways to watch your favorite shows if there’s a blackout. And most shows will be available to catch up OnDemand once the Network has been returned to your lineup.

Should I just switch to another provider?

We’d like you to stay because most blackouts don't last long. Also, blackouts affect every provider. In 2021, there were more than 100 stations that pulled their signal from customers, so even if you switch you’ll likely still face blackouts. (Source: ATVA.com)

TOMS

In the News

The True Cost to Consumers of Pay TV's Top Channels

Individual networks continue to increase the monthly carriage fees they charge MVPDs for access to their content, which is in turn passed along to consumers. The most expensive basic cable channels are rarely viewed by a majority of subscribers.

Read more

Stations Reaped a Blackout Bounty

2020 was another record year for blackouts, as 336 broadcast stations went dark to pay TV customers vs. 278 in the prior year, according to industry group the American Television Alliance. In a statement, ATVA said the broadcast industry's use of blackouts as a negotiating tool, especially during a pandemic, was outrageous and reiterated its call for regulatory reform.

Read more

The Blackout of the Internet

For the last decade or so, U.S. cable TV customers have been plagued by a steady parade of content blackouts as cable providers and broadcasters bicker over new programming contracts. This being Sinclair’s particular brand of highly partisan, homogenized disinfotainment, many won’t care that they lose access to these networks. Sinclair obviously cares, given that fuboTV, YouTube TV, and SlingTV (Dish Network) removed the company’s costly regional sports channels last year from their own streaming lineups, contributing to a $4.18 billion loss for Sinclair in the third quarter.

Read more

Why Multichannel Operators Don’t Offer Packages Of Only The Channels You Want

The reason so many channels are forced on consumers is simple—most cable networks are owned by the major media conglomerates who force cable and satellite operators to take their whole bundle of channels or get none at all. Anyone who wants to carry ESPN, for instance, must carry a broad swath of channels such as ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU and more obscure channels like Disney Junior, FreeForm and Nat Geo WILD.

Read more

What is a carriage dispute and why does YouTube TV keep getting embroiled in them?

Last year there we a number of carriage disputes between YouTube TV and several broadcasters. In September, the Google-owned streaming platform brawled with NBCUniversal, and it found itself in a spat with Disney a few month later. YouTube TV isn't the platform to butt heads with broadcasters. Roku, DirecTV, and just about every legacy cable company have found themselves in similar predicaments.

Read more

Dish Network, Tegna dispute drops 64 TV stations from satellite service

A dispute between satellite TV provider Dish and media company Tegna has resulted in the removal of TV stations in more than 50 U.S. markets. Tegna had begun alerting Dish subscribers earlier in the week they could lose access to local stations at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday because the two companies could not reach a new carriage agreement for its station.

Read more

Comcast vs. MSG Networks: When Will It End? - The TV Answer Man!

Comcast on October 1 lost both MSG and MSG+ due to a carriage dispute with their owner, MSG Networks. The blackout means that Comcast residents in New Jersey and Connecticut can not watch MSG’s broadcasts of New York Knicks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders games.

Read more