ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
ACA Public Issue – September 25, 2013 

 ACA On C-SPAN's The Communicators  

The Communicators With Matthew Polka

ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka was the featured guest on C-SPAN's The Communicators, a weekly interview program with telecom industry leaders helping to shape public policy in Washington, D.C. In his comments, Polka discussed a range of topics important to the independent cable community, including: broadband deployment; cable programming costs; retransmission consent; media ownership rules; and Internet video competition from disruptive technologies like Netflix and Aereo.

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 Key Developments  

ACA Seeks Set-Top Box Integration Ban Exemption For Small Cable Operators

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to exempt small cable operators from the set-top box (STB) integration ban, saying the rules have imposed enormous costs without achieving the goal of establishing a consumer retail market for STBs, a policy setback the agency has itself acknowledged.

"The ban has resulted in significantly higher costs to operators to purchase non-integrated STBs using CableCARDs that, other than separating out the security function, provide no greater consumer functionality," Polka said on Sept. 18. "Given the burden that the integration ban has placed on small operators and the fact that a blanket exemption for a very small subset of the entire cable market would not harm the development of a retail market for set-top boxes, the time has come for relief from the integration ban for small cable systems operated by small operators."

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ACA Urges FCC To Block Or Condition Sinclair-Allbritton TV Station Deal In Two Markets

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to block or condition Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of TV stations from Allbritton Communications in two television markets, claiming that Sinclair's "side car" deals and coordination agreements were purposefully designed to side step the agency's local TV station ownership limits and enable price-gouging collusion at the retransmission consent bargaining table with ACA Members.

"The FCC should deny this TV station deal because it will reduce competition and harm consumers. Sinclair has clearly made plans to negotiate retransmission consent for two Big Four stations in the Harrisburg, Pa., and Charleston, S.C., markets. Sinclair's intent is as clear as it is anti-competitive -- to gain insurmountable bargaining leverage over ACA Members and stage, when needed, massive and strategically timed blackouts to enhance the receipt of windfall profits," Polka said on Sept. 16.

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ACA Members Ready To Help FCC Meet New Goals For The E-Rate Program

The American Cable Association said the independent cable community stood ready as leaders in rural broadband deployment to help the Federal Communications Commission carry out its plans for an updated E-rate program for schools and libraries, assuming the agency's approach adhered to some key principles that will result in program improvements without increasing current budget amounts within the Universal Service Fund.

"The FCC's new E-rate proceeding is vital and ambitious, seeking to make much needed and far-reaching changes to an already successful program," Polka said on Sept. 18. "However, prior to adopting major new initiatives for the E-rate program, the FCC needs to collect the facts, led by the development of an inventory of existing infrastructure and broadband dependent applications and services used today by teachers and students and those that are likely to be used, and the number and types of access devices and technologies used today and those expected to be used in the near future."

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  News Headlines

  • Sinclair Emerges As A Major Broadcasting Player (USA Today, 9/20)
    During an analyst conference call in August, David Smith, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, downplayed a possible new federal rule that could prevent the fast-growing company from buying up more stations.
  • FCC Considers Making Sept. 26 UHF Discount End Date (Broadcasting & Cable, 9/20)
    The FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on eliminating the UHF discount continues to be "in flux" according to one FCC source as the commissioners' offices negotiate changes, but it could get rid of the discount for any deals done after Sept. 26. Other deals would be grandfathered.
  • Overland Park First City To Block Google Fiber (, 9/20)
    Google Fiber has been embraced with open arms in Kansas City, to the point where regions have been willing to sign sweetheart deals where Google gets to pick the neighborhoods they want or just walk away from the project whenever they want.
  • Mediacom Unveils Home Controller In Des Moines (Multichannel News, 9/19)
    Mediacom Communications picked a downtown Des Moines, Ia., farmer’s market to unveil its latest digital product, a home controller that will allow customers to remotely control home automation and security.
  • Canadian Cable TV's 'A La Carte' Menu Begins To Take Hold (, 9/19)
    A transformation in how some Canadian cable TV companies sell channels to consumers might be a sign of things to come in the much bigger U.S. market.
  • Federal Judge In Boston 'Inclined' To Rule For Aereo (The Verge, 9/19)
    Aereo, FilmOn, and the major TV broadcasters are in a seesaw legal contest in courtrooms around the country, but in Boston, Aereo appears to have the upper hand.
  • Cable Pays Twice, Or, Retransmission Consent Isn't Copyright (Public Knowledge, 9/12)
    When you watch network television channel (Fox, for instance), on cable, you're likely aware that your cable company is paying someone to bring you that channel.
  • Burke: Distributors Should Be Paying 20-25% More For NBCU Cable Networks (Fierce Cable, 9/11)
    Comcast's NBCUniversal division is looking to squeeze significant increases in fees for both its cable networks and NBC owned-and-operated stations, CEO Steve Burke said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Communications and Entertainment Conference Wednesday.
  • Kagan Says Retrans Blackouts Squeeze Stocks (Multichannel News, 9/19)
    Stocks of both broadcasters distributors can feel the punch of a prolonged blackout, according to a recent analysis by research stalwart SNL Kagan, but it appears that the bigger a combatant is, the better they can whether the financial storm.
  • Will Dish Network Dare To Drop ESPN? (The Hollywood Reporter, 9/19)
    The Dish Network CEO is threatening to drop Disney-owned sports powerhouse ESPN from his satellite service because of its high cost.

For more ACA News visit the Newsroom on the ACA Website.

 About ACA  

Across this vast country, small and rural markets participate in the digital revolution by receiving video, broadband, and phone services from nearly 850 small and medium-sized independent operators represented by the American Cable Association (ACA).

ACA’s members -- cable, phone, and fiber-to-the-home operators and municipalities -- deliver affordable basic and advanced services to more than 7 million households and businesses. ACA members operate in every state, offering high-definition television, next generation Internet access, and digital phone service.

Access to advanced communications is not a luxury but a critical necessity for consumers and companies, schools and hospitals. America’s economic prosperity in smaller markets and rural areas depends on the growth and success of ACA members, who believe a connected nation, is a united nation.

The ACA asks lawmakers and regulators to ensure fair treatment so that small and medium-sized independent operators may continue to supply affordable video, broadband, and phone services to Main Street America. Through active participation in the policymaking process, ACA members and leaders advocate for the interests of their customers, their companies, and their communities to help ensure the continued viability of their way of life in hometown America.

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