ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – March 3, 2010 

  Key Developments

In Seattle Times Column, ACA Chairman Steve Friedman Says Cash Demands Of TV Stations Drive Up Cable Bills

Steve Friedman  
Writing a guest column in Seattle Times, a top-20 daily newspaper, American Cable Association Chairman Steve Friedman alerted consumers that rising cable rates are increasingly the result of discriminatory cash-for-carriage demands made by local TV stations aided by government regulations that assign a subordinate role to small cable operators in carriage talks. Friedman chose to write the column for his hometown paper, he said, because news coverage of the cable industry tends to miss the connection between higher monthly cable bills and contentious unfair cash-grab tactics employed by TV station owners.

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Industry and Consumer Groups Call On Comcast To Withdraw From Program Access Litigation Against FCC

Consumer and industry groups concerned with the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger are calling on Comcast Corp. to back up its new promises of good behavior to Capitol Hill by withdrawing from its court attack against the Federal Communications Commission's critical pro-competition rules for the pay-TV distribution market.

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  Industry Affairs

ACA's 17th Annual Summit

ACA's 17th Annual Summit

Independent Ops Will Get The Inside Scoop From Blair Levin, Chief Architect Of The FCC's National Broadband Plan

Blair Levin

Wondering how the FCC’s National Broadband Plan is going to affect your business? If so, you won’t want to miss ACA’s Summit on April 19-21. Blair Levin, Executive Director of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will share his view of the country’s official nationwide broadband deployment and adoption strategies and answer attendees’ questions about the ambitious initiative.

While the FCC has provided some updates on the plan's key components, the agency intends to release the full report to Congress on March 17. The plan is also expected to serve as the blueprint for establishing broadband as a technological driver of reform and efficiency in the health care, education, public safety and government services sectors. A major component of the plan is expected to include recommendations to ensure that finite spectrum resources are put to their best and highest uses.

The FCC’s plan is also expected to focus on a number issues of special concern to independent cable operators, including mechanisms to upgrade middle-mile infrastructure in rural areas, changes to existing rules related to advanced set-top boxes, and first-ever Universal Service Fund support for broadband.

Mr. Levin (pictured above) will address independent cable operators during a general session of ACA’s Summit on April 20. Reserve your seat by registering for ACA’s Summit now.

  News Headlines
  • C-SPAN Urges High Court To Deep-Six Must-Carry Rules (Multichannel News, 03/01)
    C-SPAN has joined Cablevision Systems in asking the Supreme Court to overturn the federal must-carry rules requiring cable operators to retransmit over-the-air TV stations that elect not to negotiate for carriage.
  • WABC Threatens To Pull Signal From Cablevision Over Retrans Dispute (Broadcasting & Cable, 03/01)
    ABC says that it may pull its WABC-TV New York signal from Cablevision on midnight March 6 unless the cable operator agrees to pony up more for the channel.
  • Judiciary Committee Chiefs Ask For Distant-Signal Status Quo (Multichannel News, 02/28)
    Congress has called on the satellite and broadcast industries to maintain the status quo and keep delivering distant network TV station signals even if the license that allows them to do so expires Feb. 28.
  • Senator Asks NBC To Explain Internet Restrictions (New York Times, 02/26)
    Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, called on NBC Universal on Friday to explain why it has limited access to some Internet video from the Vancouver Games to subscribers of the cable, satellite and telephone companies that have Olympic deals with NBC.
  • FCC To Seek TV Airwaves To Make Room For Wireless (Business Week, 02/24)
    The Federal Communications Commission will seek to auction airwaves held by television stations in order to make room for more mobile Internet use, the agency’s chairman said.
  • AT&T, Cable Tell FCC Not To Put Internet Under Telephone Rules (, 02/22)
    AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. told U.S. officials to reject calls to move oversight of Internet service into the same “burdensome” regulatory category as telephones.
  • Sen. Al Franken Wants All Comcast And NBC Content Available Online (Los Angeles Times, 02/22)
    In written questions to Comcast and NBC Universal regarding their $30-billion proposed marriage, Sen. Franken -- who has been one of the harshest critics of the deal -- wants Comcast and NBC Universal to promise that it will put all its television shows online. He also wants assurances that shows that the companies put online be made available to every one and not just people who get their Internet service through Comcast.
  • ESPN 360 ISP Model Spreads To HBO, Olympics (, 02/17)
    Last year ESPN unveiled a new business model for their streaming ESPN 360 video services, that included striking exclusive deals with ISPs, who then offered the content to their subscribers. If your ISP doesn't pony up the money? You can either beg them to pay ESPN a wad of money, or switch providers (assuming you even have a choice of providers). The model is difficult for smaller ISPs to afford, impacts consumer choice, ramps up consumer costs, and generally turns the idea of open access to content on its head, by making your view of the Internet different depending on your ISP.
  • FCC Wants More Fast Internet Projects Like Google's (Business Week, 02/16)
    U.S. regulators want to spur creation of more high-speed Internet networks such as a project announced last week by Google Inc., the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said.
  • Free TV's Found Money: Big Four Eye Possible Windfall In Near Future (Variety, 02/14)
    Fox, CBS and other broadcasters have long maintained that they deserve real money from cablers and satcasters because Big Four stations remain among the most-watched channels on the dial, no matter how many channels viewers have to choose from.

For more news, visit the Headlines Page on the ACA website.

  About ACA

Small markets and rural areas across the country are receiving video, high-speed broadband, and phone services from nearly 900 small and medium-sized independent operators represented by the American Cable Association (ACA).

ACA's membership comprises cable, phone, and fiber-to-the-home operators and municipalities, who deliver these affordable basic and advanced services, such as high-definition television, next generation Internet access, and digital phone, to more than 7 million households and businesses, some of whom have no other means of receiving these vital services.

These communications services are considered by most to be essential for individuals, companies, and other entities, like schools and hospitals, and are crucial to America's economic prosperity, particularly in smaller markets and rural areas.

The ACA works to ensure its members are treated fairly in the marketplace and in Washington, so that small and medium-sized independent operators may continue to thrive and deliver affordable video, broadband, and phone services to Main Street America. Through active participation in the legislative and regulatory process, ACA and its members advocate for the interests of their customers, their companies, and their communities to help ensure the continued viability of their hometown's way of life.

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