Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recent Blackouts Point To The Need For Broader Policy Action

Recent television station blackouts highlight the need for a broader conversation on consumer choice and fairness, a review of retransmission consent laws, and full technology adoption

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Recent television station blackouts due to industry disputes have caused great concern over issues of consumer choice and fairness. While these blackouts can be perceived as broadcast and television networks simply “not being able to get along,” the consequences of these occurrences could have a greater impact on all Americans.

NBCSL President, Representative Joe Armstrong (TN) releases the following statement:

“Despite the rise and popularity of the Internet, many of our constituents still rely on traditional media sources, such as their television sets, for the most up-to-date news and emergency information. The role of the broadcaster is to serve people. When stations ‘go dark,’ so do the opportunities for consumer choice and diversity of programming. While it is true many viewers can easily switch to another station or network for content, this is not the case for all Americans across the country. In fact, it is our under-represented and impoverished who stand to suffer the most during industry disputes.

Industry disputes and station blackouts can be attributed to the lack of retransmission consent laws that reflect current competitive realities. Antiquated retransmission consent laws can also lead to public confusion and higher subscription prices. For this reason, NBCSL passed “Calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to Re-examine Its Rules Regarding Governing Retransmission,” in December 2010, a resolution to urge the FCC to protect the public interest and update rules and regulations regarding retransmission consent.

In the face of today’s blackouts, NBCSL calls on the FCC and appropriate parties to act now. An individual’s access should not be denied because of an industry dispute. The onus is upon all of us – lawmakers and industry leaders – to act in the best interest of our constituents, consumers, and for all Americans.”

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is a membership association representing over 600 African-American state legislators from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NBCSL members represent upwards of 50 million Americans of all racial backgrounds. To learn more visit

To read Telecommunication, Science, and Technology Resolution TST-11-07 (Calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to Re-examine Its Rules Regarding Governing Retransmission), click here.

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