American Television Alliance (ATVA): Stuck in the 90’s

The Ask

Retransmission consent disputes have become particularly nasty in recent years, as billions of dollars are at stake. (Broadcasters will take in around $25 billion over next five years from these fees.) When cable and satellite providers refuse to pay broadcasters, TV stations end up blacked out, which happened a record number of times in 2014. ATVA sought to convince members of Congress that our video laws are outdated and need reforming. Specifically, create enough support for reform of retransmission consent, which refers to the fees that pay-TV providers pay to broadcasters.

The Answer

We determined the best approach was to frame the retransmission consent rules as outdated and no longer helpful or applicable in the current technological climate. They hadn’t been changed since 1992, when the video marketplace was vastly different. By leveraging consumer frustrations with TV blackouts we activated them to contact Congress, while hitting inside the beltway with a series of paid and guerrilla attacks.

A multi-channel campaign utilizing a website, social media, paid media digital and print, local outreach and capitol hill lobbying paid off when our NY Times ad placement was used as “evidence” of the abuse and even entered into congressional record, which is very rare. The campaign successfully positioned ATVA as a trusted authority on the issue, garnered significant media coverage plus ATVA was quoted or cited in over 100 articles. Congress received over 10,000 letters and retrans fees was the most important telecom issue during the 2014 Congressional session with the passing of the first meaningful reform into law in 22 years.