TVFreedom Brands Pay TV Cheaters

Broadcasters, who have already taken off the gloves in the retrans fight, are going full "ultimate fighting" on cable ops and satellite providers.

In a slickly produced new YouTube video from, broadcasters are branding pay TV companies as cheaters as well as gatekeepers who are "fattening their already fat wallets" at the consumers' expense and "raking in more green than a lawn service" by greedily padding customers' bills.

The video cites escalating stock prices for pay TV providers who it says refuse to pay fair value for broadcasting, portraying those pay TV providers as skulking predators. (The group has since posted yet another video that uses cable customer anecdotes to put an exclamation point on the attack.)

TVFreedom was launched by major broadcaster companies to conduct a targeted campaign opposing retransmission consent reforms being pushed by cable ops.

The video includes a Pink Panther-like soundtrack that suggests pay TV companies are stealthy burglers out to rip off customers.

The video pulls out the hyperbolic stops, suggesting it is a matter of grave import.

"Tell the cable company to stop holding local channels hostage," the narrator advises. "It just could be the message that saves your family."

The video, which had 664 views at press time, is the latest volley in a pitched battle between TVFreedom and the American Television Alliance (ATVA) over retrans.

ATVA, whose members include cable operators, satellite operators, telcos and Public Knowledge, argue broadcasters are just looking for a free ride courtesy of retrans. ATVA wants Congress to use the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) as a vehicle for retrans reform, while broadcasters are fighting that effort.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for broadcasters to complain about high pay-TV bills when they are the ones most responsible for rising rates," said ATVA spokesman Brian Frederick. "And they’re going to keep going up—Nexstar’s CEO just said the retrans game is still in the 'third inning.' That can’t be good for consumers."

"If broadcast TV was so great, then why do 90% of Americans subscribe to pay TV? The truth is that no one can actually watch the broadcast networks over-the-air because they can’t get a decent broadcast signal. Broadcasters are thus demonizing the very companies they so desperately rely upon to deliver eyeballs and retransmission consent dollars."

"This whole effort by broadcasters to disguise their own role in jacking up the rates of programming is utterly shameless. It’s merely an attempt to preserve their government-subsidized retransmission consent system and run out the clock on real reforms within STELA."

The Big Four broadcast networks and their affiliate associations teamed up with broadcast groups, mobile digital broadcasters and others to launch in February.

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.