ATVA: Northwest/DirecTV Impasse Shows Retrans Problem Remains

The American TV Alliance said late Friday that despite the Sinclair/Time Warner Cable extension agreement on their
retrans impasse, the blackout threat remains both there and elsewhere in 2011, and the FCC needs to act.
It cited the impasse between Northwest Broadcasting and DirecTV, as evidence of the problem, as well as the fact that the Sinclair/Time Warner Cable extension only lasts until Jan. 14.
"After making 2010 a record year for viewer blackouts, broadcasters will ring in 2011 with more of the same, blacking out viewers in four markets and threatening to black out millions more viewers across the nation," ATVA said.
At press time early Saturday that impasse appeared to continue, with one of the Northwest stations, Fox affiliate KAYU-TV Spokane, displaying an online alert telling viewers they could watch over the air. Other markets affected include Binghamton, N.Y.; Medford, Ore.; Yakima, Wash.; and Laredo, Texas.
"[W]hile we are pleased that Sinclair and Time Warner Cable have agreed to an extension of negotiations, the threat
of a blackout remains," ATVA said in a statement, "the FCC cannot act soon enough in the New Year to follow through on its pledge to revise outdated rules and protect consumers. Congress should also continue to monitor progress. In the meantime, broadcasters should make a New Year's resolution to stop their bullying tactics."
ATVA members include both Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, as well as a host of others including Charter, Cablevision, Dish, Discovery, AT&T, the American Cable Association and others.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.