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TV Blackouts Hit 10-Year High
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 11, 2010) -- Programming fee fights between networks and TV providers have led to more TV blackouts this year than at any time since 2000, reports Bloomberg News.

Dish Network is the most recent TV provider to lose programming, having to drop MSG, MSG Plus and the Fox-owned FX, National Geographic Channel and 19 regional sports channels due to fee fights with MSG and Fox respectively. (The channels have been off the air for Dish viewers since Oct. 1.)

However, Cablevision viewers may lose their local Fox affiliates by week's end if the cable operator and network can not reach a new agreement. Likewise, Dish Network subs could lose their Fox affiliates on Nov. 1 if a new deal is not struck.

And in the past year, DIRECTV was forced to drop the Comcast-owned Versus channel (it's back on); Cablevision lost Disney-owned channels for a period of time and Dish was forced to drop four Disney HD channels (they are still off the air.)

Bloomberg reports that the programming fights could escalate in the coming months. Networks are seeking ways to generate new revenue in a sub-par advertising environment while the TV providers are trying to reduce costs, suffering the same economic doldrums.

While some lawmakers and industry officials have urged federal officials to serve as arbitrators in these impasses, network and local station executives oppose the idea. They say it would hurt their bargaining positions.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

Click TVPredictions.com to read more news and features on TV technology. 

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