ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
ACA Public Issue – March 23, 2012 

 ACA Summit Wrap Up  

ACA Members Celebrate Achievements At D.C. Summit

The American Cable Association concluded its annual Washington, D.C., Summit on a high note as hundreds of ACA Members paid office visits March 15 to Capitol Hill and the Federal Communications Commission in a quest to accelerate adoption of new laws and policies that treat the independent cable community more fairly and remove anti-consumer regulatory preferences for broadcasters and other powerful media conglomerates.

"As always, ACA Members were upbeat and optimistic in making their rounds in the nation's capital to promote the update of old federal laws and regulations that, once updated, would help trigger more investment in some of the most economically challenging areas to serve in rural America," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "Retransmission consent and access to content on fair and reasonable terms topped the list of issues covered. I am positive that our message resonated with policymakers across the political spectrum."

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Addresses ACA Summit

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski spoke March 14 to hundreds of ACA Members on key policy issues affecting them at the agency, including reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF), implementation of the CALM Act and efforts within the agency to understand the impact of current retransmission consent rules on independent cable operators in their dealings with broadcasters.

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At ACA Summit, Sen. Pryor Urges U.S. Broadband Investment

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, addressing hundreds of ACA Members on March 14, urged the federal government to invest in rural broadband infrastructure to connect small cities and towns to the global economy, saying such a commitment would serve the long-term interests of the country and must be viewed as an initiative worthy of bipartisan support.

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ACA Chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah: Time For New Video Rules

American Cable Association Chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah kicked off ACA's 19th Washington Summit on March 14 with a call for modernized retransmission consent rules in addition to action on escalating sports programming costs for ACA Members, saying both were needed to deal with the groundswell of concern about the lack of real consumer choice in the selection of video programming.

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Legal Experts Debate Retrans Rules At ACA Summit 2012

No issue divides American Cable Association members and the broadcast industry quite like retransmission consent, and the reasons for that division were fully ventilated March 14 at ACA’s 19th annual Washington, D.C., Summit.

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Summit Headlines

  • Small Cable Firms Renew Push For Retransmission Reform (NationalJournal, 3/14)
    Small and medium cable operators asked Congress and the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday to take aim at rules they say give broadcasters an unfair advantage in negotiations over fees to retransmit broadcast network programming.
  • ACA: FCC Needs To Revamp Retrans, Check Programming Costs (Broadcasting & Cable, 3/14)
    American Cable Association chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah Wednesday hammered broadcasters on retransmission consent and called on the FCC to take action on "modernizing" the rules and checking escalating programming costs.
  • WOW! CEO Abdoulah Calls For Modernized Retransmission-Consent Rules At ACA Summit Opener (FierceCable, 3/14)
    WideOpenWest CEO Colleen Abdoulah opened up the ACA Summit in Washington, D.C., by calling for Congress to reform retransmission-consent rules that she complained have left local operators paying significant increases in fees to broadcasters.
  • Genachowski: Open To Helping Smaller Cable Ops With Retrans Issues (Multichannel News, 3/14)
    Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski told an American Cable Association audience in Washington Wednesday that the commission was "open" to finding a way to insure that smaller cable operators aren't disproportionately affected by retransmission consent negotiations with larger station groups and networks.
  • WOW CEO: Cable Operators Forced To 'Buck Up' And Pay Increased Retransmission Fees (FierceCable, 3/15)
    While FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called it "good news" that there weren't more instances of blackouts or serious disruptions for consumers resulting from this latest round of retransmission consent negotiations, members of the American Cable Association were skeptical.

Summit Videos

Colleen Abdoulah, Chairwoman of ACA
Bob Gessner, Vice Chairman of ACA
Jim Beattie, ACA Board Member
Rich Fickle, NCTC, CEO & President

View the ACA Summit Photo Gallery

 Key Developments  

ACA Documents Decreasing Competition Among Local Broadcasters

The American Cable Association has developed new evidence showing that competing broadcasters are escalating their business strategy of lessening competition in local markets by coordinating their retransmission consent negotiations, prompting the trade group to call on the Federal Communications Commission to tighten its local TV station ownership limits to better achieve the FCC's public interest goal of promoting competition in local media markets.

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ACA Urges FCC To Retain HD Exemption For Must Carry TV Stations

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to extend for three more years an exemption that will allow eligible small cable systems to avoid financial hardship and consumer disruption by only carrying in analog format must carry TV signals transmitted to their headend facilities in digital high-definition (HD) format. ACA also asked the FCC to make permanent the exemption for analog-only cable systems.

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ACA Announces Appointment Of Three New Board Members

Kate Adams John Conrad Dave Keefe  
The American Cable Association announced the addition of three new board members, highlighting the trade group's commitment to attracting diverse, dedicated and experienced individuals who are company executives willing to serve at the highest leadership level within the independent cable community.

Joining the ACA Board are Kate Adams, CEO of James Cable in Braintree, Mass.; John Conrad, Legal Affairs Director of Liberty Cablevision in Luquillo, Puerto Rico; and Dave Keefe, CEO of Atlantic Broadband in Quincy, Mass. These new leaders provide the ACA Board with 20 voting members.

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  News Headlines

  • Sen. Rockefeller Seeks GAO, Industry Help With Assessing Broadband Stimulus (Broadcasting & Cable, 3/20)
    Senate commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (R-W. Va.) has asked the Government Accountability Office to review the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) in the stimulus act to determine how successful it has been in spurring Internet literacy and broadband adoption.
  • Unions Swarm Congress In Push Against Verizon-Cable Deals (The Hill, 3/20)
    Two labor unions descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge lawmakers to oppose deals between Verizon and a coalition of cable companies.
  • McSlarrow, Tauke: There Is Room For Regulation In Internet Space (Broadcasting & Cable, 3/20)
    Comcast/NBCU Washington President Kyle McSlarrow and Verizon executive VP Tom Tauke were in agreement Tuesday that some regulation in the Internet space was needed, but that it would need to be narrowly targeted, consumer focused -- on issues like privacy and security -- and only in response to demonstrable harms, served up with more than a pinch of regulatory humility and a recognition that events and technology move too fast to be imprisoned in the amber of an old regulatory model.
  • NCTA: U. S. Shouldn't Regulate Cable Set-Top Power Usage (Multichannel News, 3/16)
    The NCTA says the Department of Energy's proposal to regulate the power consumption of set-top boxes would not save as much energy as free-market approaches the cable industry is already pursuing -- and that, in any case, the agency doesn't have the legal authority to establish such standards.
  • Aereo Is "Unlikely" To Survive Broadcaster Suit: Moody's (Deadline New York, 3/16)
    The debt rating company says that several broadcasters who have taken Aereo to court probably will defeat its new effort to sell customers a streaming service for over-the-air signals.
  • Cisco Announces Deal To Acquire NDS For $5 Billion (Mutichannel News, 3/15)
    Cisco Systems said Thursday that it plans to acquire NDS Group, a top provider of content security and video software to pay-TV operators worldwide, in a deal valued at about $5 billion.
  • Sen. Grassley Might Not Lift FCC Hold Even After House Investigation (The Hill, 3/13)
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Hill on Tuesday he might not lift his hold on President Obama's two nominees to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) even if he receives documents as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's probe over wireless start-up LightSquared.
  • Rights Issues Could Thwart Intel And Other Potential 'Virtual MSOs' (FierceCable, 3/13)
    While The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is talking to programmers about creating a "virtual MSO," the task of landing rights to distribute networks ranging from ESPN to USA Network make it doubtful that the chip giant could challenge cable and satellite TV providers any time soon.
  • Wild Pitch: RSN Fee Increases Outpace Cable (Multichannel News, 3/12)
    Sports networks have always been among the most highly priced cable channels — ESPN still reigns as the priciest, with an average monthly cost of $4.76 per subscriber, according to SNL Kagan — but regional sports networks are beginning to pick up the pace.
  • NAB Supports Extending Cable Carriage Mandate (Broadcasting & Cable, 3/12)
    Not surprisingly, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) wants the FCC to retain its cable analog carriage mandate for another three years.

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 about 7.4 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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