A new FCC proposal suggests the idea of compensating live TV subscribers who experience channel blackouts during a dispute. Access to channels is the very reason people pay continually increasing subscription prices, so it makes sense for customers to be reimbursed whenever situations where they can’t access the channels they’re paying for surface.
There have already been a number of disputes taking place this year, with two of the most notable being DirecTV’s dispute with Nexstar and Charter’s dispute with Disney. While both of these have since been resolved, consumers were left without access to popular channels for an extended period of time.
It is these disputes, and others like them, that have now caught the attention of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who has today issued two proposals on how to make these situations better for everyone involved.
“Enough with the blackouts,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “When consumers with traditional cable and satellite service turn on the screen, they should get what they pay for. It’s not right when big companies battle it out and leave viewers without the ability to watch the local news, their favorite show, or the big game. If the screen stays dark, they deserve a refund.”
In the first proposal, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel suggests cable and satellite providers should issue rebates to subscribers when a blackout occurs and is due to a failure to reach a retransmission consent agreement with the channel owner. The proposal doesn’t suggest how much a rebate should be, but the very fact that there could be more of a formal framework in place for when these situations occur would likely be of benefit to consumers.
The second FCC proposal published today looks to ensure the Commission is better informed when a blackout happens. As a means to achieve this, the proposal would require Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs) to notify the Commission (via an online public portal) when there is a blackout of 24 hours or more.
As is always the case with proposals, these still require approval by the full Commission before any changes to the rules are made. Not to mention, rules around information and compensation is unlikely to actually result in fewer disputes and blackouts, which is probably what consumers really want.