At Cox Communications, our goal is to provide the most value to all of our customers. The mix of networks that we select is based on many factors:
Cost – Networks charge a fee per customer per month – anywhere from a few cents to many dollars each. Cox tries to balance the cost with demand to keep your bill as low as possible.
Customer Demand – Cox listens to what our customers want, and those networks that are not in high demand are more likely to be launched on a specialty tier, or not at all.
Tiering – Some networks have programming that appeals to only some customers. Providers would like to place these on tiers so that customers who want them can get them without burdening those who don’t. However, programmers often have an ‘all or nothing’ policy and do not allow providers to offer you that choice.
Network Packaging – Often, programmers package many of their networks together, and require providers to carry their least-popular networks for the right to carry their most-popular ones.
Networks often use this tactic to gain leverage in their negotiations by asking you to contact your TV service provider. They are hoping that this will pressure the provider to give in to their excessive fee increases.
Retransmission Consent is a provision of the 1992 Cable Act passed by Congress. These laws require Cox to provide every local broadcast station to our customers by obtaining permission, or “Retransmission Consent,” from each of the stations. This law states that Cox cannot pick and choose which stations to offer nor decide not to provide a local broadcast station.
Some stations agree to pre-set terms found in the 1992 Cable Act’s “must carry” laws. Others demand compensation in exchange for granting their permission to cable companies like Cox Communications to provide their signal(s) on the local cable systems.
Cox is not allowed to pull the networks’ signals – it is the networks who do so.
Cox is committed to keeping our customers connected to what they care about most while also meeting our responsibilities to ensure you receive a great value from our entertainment and communications services. We have to provide all local broadcast stations, and that’s what we want to do. The law stops us from bringing the same shows to our local customers from another station. This leads some local broadcasters to withhold their permission to allow Cox to keep providing their signal unless the station receives prices that are double, triple or even more than they received before. We are willing to pay reasonable prices to obtain these networks but do not believe our customers should be burdened with excessive price increases for a station’s programming that is available free over-the-air, and often online.
The signals for every local broadcast station are available free over-the-air. Digital TVs, or TVs equipped with a broadcast converter box, can tune directly to these signals when paired with an inexpensive antenna. Additionally, most stations also make their local newscasts available on their own websites; if they are affiliate with a major broadcast network like ABC, CBX, FOX or NBC, those networks typically make most series available free online, often with little delay.
Every cable, satellite and telco provider has to negotiate retransmission consent agreements with nearly 2,000 local TV stations nationwide, plus hundreds of other cable channels. Unfortunately, 2017 has seen over 75 instances where programmers temporarily pulled their signals in January alone. It’s affecting every provider the same way, and while we each compete fiercely with one another, it’s the one issue that’s united our entire industry because every customer becomes inconvenienced. Switching providers offers no guarantee that at some point similar stalemates will not result in the loss of any given channel for any provider’s customers.
Cox must obtain permission from local broadcast stations and cable channels to provide them in the Cox line-up. Cox is a retail distributor of a wholesale product – much like a grocery store or gas station. And just like the price of oil affects the price of gas at the pump, the same has been happening in television. Fees for retransmission consent of free, over-the-air, local broadcast stations and soaring sports costs have led to the price of even the most basic cable TV service more than doubling over the past decade (from about $40 to $80). That makes it all the more important that we negotiate diligently with station and cable channels to obtain their permission but without sacrificing the overall value Cox customers continue to receive from each of their services.