Pay TV has had 3,050 service outages so far this year, broadcasters tell Congress

Continuing an aggressive communications barrage against the pay TV industry, broadcast group TVfreedom wrote its latest Congressional letter to perhaps its most sympathetic lawmaker, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), informing her that U.S. cable, satellite and telco video providers have experienced 3,050 service interruptions so far this year.

TVfreedom cable outages

TVfreedom said that only five outages have been caused by retrans disputes. (Source: TVfreedom)

The letter, dated Wednesday July 9, is of course part of broadcasters' ongoing effort to shape new regulation of broadcast retransmission licensing agreements.

"According to an independent analysis by TVfreedom.org of data on Downdetector.com, there have been 3,050 substantial service failures experienced by the five largest pay-TV service providers in the United States during the first five months of 2014," reads the letter, addressed from TVfreedom public affairs director Robert Kenny. "The length of some of these outages may have lasted a few hours or were addressed within days of the initial service failure. However, the average U.S. consumer who pays upwards of $130 per month for bundled pay-TV/broadband services must typically bear the brunt of this type of service degradation without explanation or remuneration."

Meanwhile, TVfreedom sent a graphic out to the media, noting that only five pay TV service outages have been caused by impasses over retransmission fee negotiations.

"As hordes of pay-TV lobbyists try to convince Congress that the current retransmission consent regime is broken, they are keeping American consumers in the dark about some very troubling statistics," Kenny added in a statement. "The cable and satellite industry would like for lawmakers to believe that most broadcast TV 'blackouts' are caused by programming disputes, but the reality is very different."

In his letter to McCaskill, Kenny made sure to thank the chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance for her responsiveness to a letter TVfreedom sent last month, requesting that pay TV pricing be examined.

McCaskill has set up a special area of her website to gather public complaints about pay TV pricing.

As of mid-morning Wednesday, pay TV's most vocal respondents to TVfreedom's repeated assults--which have included Suddenlink Communications CEO Jerry Kent and Mediacom executive Thomas Larsen--had yet to weigh in.

For more:
- read this TVfreedom letter (.pdf)

Related links:
Sen. McCaskill asks pay TV consumers to post their pricing complaints
Retrans policy debate: Suddenlink's Kent says both sides should show pricing practices
Mediacom responds to TVFreedom: 'Broadcasters hiding the truth' on retrans

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