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Public Knowledge Urges Media Giants to Ensure Viewers Can Watch the Super Bowl

February 5, 2021 , ,

Recently, CBS stations owned by Cox Media Group have been pulled from thousands of viewers across the country, and more blackouts may come soon. Unless resolved, this could prevent those viewers from watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge:

“This Sunday, tens of thousands of viewers might not be able to watch the Super Bowl due to a carriage dispute between AT&T, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, and Cox Media Group, a private equity-controlled media conglomerate that has pulled CBS from DirecTV, U-Verse, and AT&T TV.

“Viewers in Seattle, Yuma, Eureka, Dayton, and Greenwood Mississippi deserve better. We urge the companies to do what it takes to ensure that football fans this Sunday don’t tune in to a black screen.

“If the companies don’t fix this problem, the FCC should act. As Public Knowledge has argued for years, the FCC has the statutory authority to order interim carriage during program carriage disputes. Additionally, timing blackouts to coincide with marquee events like the Super Bowl should be considered unlawful under the ‘good faith’ standard that governs retransmission consent negotiations. The FCC and Congress should further examine how media concentration makes these blackouts more likely.

“If the FCC doesn’t act, programming blackouts could spread. Already, Cox Media Group has threatened to pull stations from Charter, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, and CableOne. No matter who is right or wrong in any given carriage dispute, viewers should not be collateral damage.”