The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Cable should keep consumers as priority


August 1, 2019

To The Eagle:

It hasn’t gotten front page attention, but a national dispute over cable TV pricing has implications right here in SW WA. Nexstar, the largest television broadcasting company in America, is currently in a dispute over pricing for content they provide to stations around the country.

It’s a dispute because Nexstar continues to try to raise prices. Many carriers have balked and Nexstar is threatening to “blackout” it’s content of local stations around the country. It is a shame to think that if Nexstar doesn’t get its way, we will no longer be able to watch all the local TV stations we have come to enjoy and rely on.

So, why then are companies like Nexstar seeking to disrupt the flow of local content for consumers? It’s simple--greed.

Consumers are bearing the burden of Nexstar’s negligent negotiation tactics. The company has put customers through blackouts in its pursuit of ever-increasing content costs, and are removing broadcast stations across the country, including here in SW WA via Portland.

However, broadcast television is long past its prime. With waning viewership ratings and increasing consumer reluctance to pay for unused programming, Nexstar has resorted to extorting customers and TV operators by demanding excessive fees to broadcast their local content. These “retransmission consent” fees are the costs Nexstar charges cable and satellite operators to carry their programming. When operators cannot meet these unreasonable demands, Nexstar pulls their programming from those providers. Since 2010, station owners like Nexstar have been involved in over 1,200 of these blackouts, more than 100 of which happened the first half of this year.

As of 2018, these fees have been Nexstar’s primary revenue stream. Despite broadcast television’s decline, Nexstar has continued acquiring more stations – like their 2017 acquisition of Media General and their pending $6.4 billion takeover of Tribune Broadcasting – to gain more leverage in these fee negotiations.

Don’t believe me? Well, In the past decade, these payments to Nexstar have risen over 30 times while viewership has fallen by more than half! Customer base and demand is on the decline and Nexstar continues to raise rates, hoping they can gain market control and force you to pay.

Like many things in our world today, consumers are tired of being managed with an unrelenting grip by providers of any consumer product. The current pricing of TV is archaic and ineffective and does not keep consumers as the number one priority. It is time for TV stations like Nexstar to offer more innovation and personalization for consumers, rather than tightening the noose on fees.

As a small business owner, I understand how tough things can get when everyone is trying to do best by their business, employees and community. But I have to call out bad-faith negotiating when I see it. And what Nexstar – the largest television broadcast company in America – is doing, is hurting everyone involved.

Brett Malin



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