Angelo Carusone, President of Media Matters, issued the following statement:
Fox News is toxic -- but the wide-scale rejection from the advertiser community has not forced the network to make meaningful changes to tamp down its extremism. That’s because Fox Corp and its CEO Lachlan Murdoch plan on leveraging Fox’s sports programming to bully cable, satellite, and streaming providers into paying increased fees in order to offset Fox News’ declining commercial viability.
So, everyone needs to pay very close attention to Fox’s dispute with Roku and the tactics it uses to extract outrageous fee increases. This is a warning sign for the road ahead if the network continues to go unchecked.
Right now, Fox Corp. is holding the Super Bowl hostage to extort Roku and its subscribers to subsidize Fox News’ propaganda. During disputes over Fox’s already artificially inflated carriage fees, Fox regularly uses intimidation and misinformation to force providers to pay outrageous fee increases.
Today is no exception.
One only needs to look to the flat-out bullying currently being orchestrated by nasty and dangerous Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro. These extremists are working up the Fox News audience with stock messages fearmongering and attacking Roku. And when they are done with Roku, they’ll move on to the next provider. The real victim in these disputes will be the customers who are being forced to pay Fox News even more money every month. Fox has set out some of its most visible news hosts with stock messages meant to fearmonger and bully Roku.
Roku is making the right decision to protect its customers and refuse to give in to this extortion. No one should be paying more money for Fox. If anything, providers should be negotiating lower rates given that Fox’s rates are artificially inflated.
This won’t stop with Roku: Fox Corp. will continue to extort and bully cable, satellite, and streaming subscribers to subsidize Fox News’ propaganda. With more than 65% of these licensing agreements up for negotiation over the next two years, Fox Corp. is increasingly desperate -- and it cannot be allowed to win.
If Fox’s bullying succeeds and Fox’s high carriage fees get even higher, then consumers could see their cable bill skyrocket.
As part of an agreement allowing cable, satellite, and streaming providers (like Roku) to carry a network’s content, the providers must pay a small fee per subscriber to the network. The fee is then passed down to the consumers as a part of their cable bill. On average, Fox News charges twice as much as CNN and three times as much as MSNBC.
According to Media Matters, every cable subscriber, even those who never watch Fox News, pays roughly $2 to Fox News every month. The network's extra-high fees, which make up nearly ⅔ of its revenue, protect Fox News’ profits against the advertisers that are quickly abandoning the network.
Fox News is able to extract such high fees because the network actively organizes and enlists its viewers to put pressure on providers during negotiations, which, in turn, forces nearly 87 million cable subscribers to pay additional fees to the network.
Due to the network’s toxic programming, advertisers have largely rejected Fox News. To date, Fox News has been able to ignore this advertiser exodus because it currently takes in approximately $1.8 billion annually in subscriber fees -- well above industry averages for other networks.
While there are 90 million cable and satellite subscribers in the United States, Fox News averages just 3 million daily viewers at best. That means 87 million subscribers are being forced to subsidize a network they don’t watch and may not support.
In 2020 and 2021, a wave of major contracts Fox News has with cable and satellite providers -- accounting for approximately 65% of Fox News’ affiliate fee revenue -- will expire. In total, $1.2 billion in fees will be up for renegotiation.
Last year, Media Matters, a nonprofit media watchdog, launched a new initiative -- UNFOXMYCABLEBOX -- to ensure that all consumer voices are heard during these negotiations. UnFoxMyCableBox will empower millions of Americans to stop paying the Fox News “tax.”
Learn more about UnFoxMyCableBox here: www.unfoxmycablebox.com