Should You Switch TV Providers?
We hope you won’t. Here’s why: Often, a station or network will tell you to switch providers, if you want to get their programming. They do this so they can demand a higher fee from your TV provider. But channel owners can avoid any interruption to you by keeping their signal on while they negotiate. In a dispute, it is the channel owners that pull their signals, not the TV provider.
All TV providers face the same challenges. If you switch to a different provider, you unintentionally support the channel owners’ excessive demands. And after you switch, you could find yourself in the same situation with your new TV provider. (Making matters worse, other TV providers might lock you into a contract that you can’t get out of without paying significant penalties.)
If channel owners had your best interests in mind, they would offer solutions that put you first and not tell you to switch providers.
- What is retransmission consent and what is a renewal?
These terms describe essentially the same thing. A renewal is the process that happens when the owner of a cable network or group of cable networks negotiates a new contract with a TV service provider like Suddenlink. Retransmission consent is the legal term for the process that happens when the owner of a TV station or group of TV stations negotiates a new contract with a TV service provider.
- Why doesn’t Suddenlink just pay what TV stations and cable networks demand, so that I can continue to get my shows?
It’s our goal to provide you a great programming line up at a reasonable price. When the owners of TV stations and cable networks ask for more money, we negotiate with them in an effort to keep costs as low as possible. By holding firm in our negotiations, we’ve kept your annual price increases, on average, between 3% and 5%, which is well below the level that many channel owners demand during negotiations. Some channel owners are asking for 20%, 30%, 50%, or even higher increases in what they’re paid – and often for the exact same set of channels. Imagine the impact on your household budget, if we accepted these excessive demands for just one channel, let alone all the channels we offer.
- Why shouldn’t I just switch TV providers?
Unfortunately, disputes between TV service providers and channel owners are more and more commonplace these days. For instance, both DIRECTV and DISH have lost channels for significant periods of time.
The fact is that channel owners can avoid any interruption to you by keeping their channels on our line up while they negotiate with us. During a dispute, it is the channel owners that pull their signals, not the TV provider.
If you switch to a different TV provider, you unintentionally support the channel owners’ excessive demands. And after you switch, you could find yourself in the same situation with your new TV provider, when its contracts with channel owners expire.
Suddenlink is proud of our track record during negotiations and our goal is to control costs and do our very best not to lose a moment of programming.
- If channels are temporarily suspended, what are my viewing options?
In each situation, we’ll communicate viewing alternatives, when and where they’re available.
- How can I provide my feedback?
When disputes happen, we will provide an opportunity for customers to offer feedback to channel owners and to us through the dispute-specific areas of this site.
- Why do channel owners take their channels away from TV providers?
This is an unfortunate tactic that channel owners use to gain leverage in their negotiations. What’s more, before and after they remove channels, they may ask you to call and/or email your TV service provider in an attempt to put pressure on the provider to cave in to the channel owners’ excessive fee increases.
- How do I know if I need to worry about losing channels?
Suddenlink is on your side from the time negotiations start until the time we reach an agreement, and we promise to keep you updated on our progress.
- If you are trying to control costs, why does my bill seem to go up every year?
While we pledge to hold prices as low as possible, annual adjustments are necessary due to the rising cost of TV programming and other factors. In fact, the cost of basic cable networks and broadcast TV stations combined are increasing more than 8.5% year-over-year. Suddenlink absorbs a portion of those increases and passes along a portion to customers. We’re able to absorb some of these cost increases because we stand up to channel owners in our negotiations, resisting their excessive fee demands.
- Why do I have to pay for channels I never watch?
TV service providers like Suddenlink are often required by contract to carry both the most-popular and least-popular cable networks. In turn, if we ask for a price for just the most-popular networks, a common response from channel owners is to raise their price, effectively eliminating this option from consideration.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario to help illustrate the situation: Imagine that, under its current contract, a certain TV channel owner is receiving a total of $4.00 per customer per month for three channels. Only one of those three channels is highly rated. In negotiating a new contract, the channel owner now wants $6.00 per customer per month for the same three channels. When asked what the price would be for just the one highly rated channel, the owner responds that it will be $6.50. In other words, the channel owner demands $6.00 for three channels (a 50% increase over its current fees) or $6.50 for one channel (a 62.5% increase). That leaves the TV provider with little option but to buckle down and seek a lower rate for all three channels, two of which you may never watch.
- DISH and CBS
Sources close to the DISH/CBS negotiations reported November 2, 2014 that they are very far apart on terms.
- DIRECTV and AMC
On November 2, 2014, AMC began to inform customers during an episode of “The Walking Dead” that they are in a contract dispute with DIRECTV.
- DISH and Turner
On October 21, 2014, Turner Broadcasting pulled ten of its channels from DISH subscribers over high rate increases. This dispute is still ongoing, and DISH has said that TNT and TBS may be lost, as well. DISH’s CEO added, "When we take something down, we're prepared to take it down forever ..."
- Vyve and Viacom
On April 31, 2014, Vyve dropped its Viacom channels due to higher demands for renewal fees and replaced them with other channels often requested by customers.
- ImOn and Viacom
On April 10, ImOn Communications announced that their refusal to pay a 50% increase for Viacom channels resulted in the cable provider losing access to those channels. ImOn had already polled their customers, who said they would rather lose the channels than pay more for them.
- DISH and Hearst Television
Unable to reach an agreement regarding TV rights to 29 stations in 25 markets, Hearst Television pulled its signal from DISH Network for 14 hours on April 9, 2014.
- Cable ONE and Viacom
At midnight on April 1, 2014, Cable ONE dropped 15 Viacom channels when negotiations over renewal fees were unsuccessful.
- Cablevision and Meredith
Sixteen days after it blacked out WSFB in Connecticut, Meredith restored its signal to Cablevision.
- DIRECTV and The Weather Channel
At midnight on 1/13/14, The Weather Channel pulled its channel from DIRECTV over a fee dispute.
- Buckeye CableSystem and Sinclair Broadcast Group
Sinclair pulled its WNWO signal from Buckeye on 12/15/13 when Buckeye refused to pay 10x more in retransmission fees.
- DISH and Bonten Media
Bonten Media and Esteem Broadcasting returned their station signals to DISH on 1/14/14, after a month-long absence.
- DIRECTV and Gormally Broadcasting
DIRECTV and Gormally agreed to a 14 day extension on December 14, 2013 while they continue negotiations over retransmission fees.
- DIRECTV and News-Press & Gazette
On October 25, 2013, News Press and Gazette returned its 13 stations to DIRECTV after 14 days of being dark.
- DISH and Media General
Media General restored their signals to 18 local stations after denying DISH customers access for forty-nine days.
- Cable ONE and Turner Networks
Nearly a month after going dark, Turner returned its networks to Cable One on October 28, 2013.
- Time Warner Cable and CBS
After a one-month blackout, TWC and CBS reached an agreement returning CBS-owned channels to over 3 million Time Warner Cable customers on September 2, 2013.
- DISH and Raycom Media
On August 9, 2013, Raycom Media, Inc. restored its 53 stations to DISH after an agreement ended a nine-day blackout. Raycom owns and/or controls ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates in 36 markets including Cleveland, Toledo, Honolulu, Tuscon, Baton Rouge, West Palm Beach, Louisville and Memphis.