Eight Companies Own Almost All Cable Networks
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Why do networks pull their signals from TV providers – and from their loyal viewers?
Networks often do this to encourage customers to put pressure on providers to give in to their excessive fee increases. Frontier negotiates hard with networks to keep fee increases down so that we can keep our customers’ bills as low as possible.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just switch to another provider?
Networks pull their signal because they want you to switch to get us to agree to their demands, but ALL TV providers face this same problem. In 2017, 240 broadcast stations blacked out their signals in 182 markets impacting over 24 million customers - allowing broadcasters to rake in $9.3 billion in station retransmission fees. Industry analyst SNL Kagan expects that number to grow to $12.8 billion by 2023. So even if you switch, chances are that you will experience the same problem with another provider in the future.
If a network pulls their signal, are there other ways to watch their shows?
Every local broadcast station is available free over-the-air using an inexpensive digital antenna. Many cable networks and stations affiliated with a major network such as ABC, CBS, the CW, FOX or NBC, typically post most series online. And there are multiple services that air popular shows online. If a network pulls their signal, we will offer other ways to watch some of their more popular series, sports and specials on our site.
I’ve noticed a separate Regional Sports Fee on my monthly bill. How can just a few networks make such an impact?
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 often insist that it be carried in packages that reach the most customers, instead of in sports tiers, so that even non-fans have to pay.
Why does my bill seem to go up every year?
Frontier negotiates hard with networks to keep fee increases down. However, programming fees have increased at 3½ times the rate of inflation over the past 15 years1. And although local TV stations are available free over the air, they also collect fees from all TV providers each month. These retransmission fees for local stations are quickly climbing out of control: In fact, these “retransmission” fees have skyrocketed from $200 million in 2006 to $10.2 billion in 2018.
Frontier absorbs a portion of these increases but must also pass along a portion to our customers.
1 SNL Kagan