ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
ACA Public Issue – April 4, 2012 

 Key Developments  

ACA:Tribune's DirecTV Blackout Supports Need For Federal Action On Retrans

In response to Tribune Broadcasting’s decision on April 1 to black out DirecTV satellite consumers in 19 markets involving 23 stations, American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued a statement calling for the Federal Communications Commission to complete its retransmission consent rulemaking and Congress to hold hearings on the issue to seek ways to prevent further consumer harm.

"Tribune Broadcasting's decision to black out millions of DirecTV customers across the country supports ACA's view expressed many times before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission that current retransmission consent rules need to be modernized because they no longer serve the public interest,” Polka said.

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ACA: Small Ops Need HD Exemption For 'Must Carry' Broadcasters

The American Cable Association is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to retain a consumer-friendly rule that allows eligible small cable operators to distribute in analog format so-called must carry TV signals received at their headend facilities in digital high-definition (HD), to avoid imposing new costly and bandwidth-intensive demands on these providers.

"The record makes plain that in order to avoid harm to small cable systems and consumers, the FCC must extend the HD carriage exemption, and also permanently exempt analog-only systems from the HD must-carry mandate," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA Commends FCC's Policy Focus In Cable Program Access NPRM

The American Cable Association commended the Federal Communications Commission on its recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking potential revisions to its program access rules to better address alleged violations, including potentially discriminatory volume discounts and uniform price increases.

"ACA commends the FCC for asking the right questions in the program access NPRM released on March 20. Importantly, the FCC asks whether the program access rules adequately address potentially discriminatory volume discounts, and if not, how to revise the rules to address these concerns. The FCC also seeks comment on whether and how to revise rules that address uniform price increases imposed by vertically integrated, cable operator-owned programmers,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA: New Dodgers Owners Must Be Expecting Higher TV Fees

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka, in a statement responding to reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers sold for a record $2.15 billion, the highest price for any North American sports franchise in history, said he believes the new team owners must expect they can obtain a substantial increase in TV rights fees or else they wouldn’t have spent so much.

"As news reports have made plain, the Dodgers new ownership group must believe it can obtain significantly more money for the rights to televise Dodger games in the future than the team receives today. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers could create their own regional sports network (RSN) or complete a new long-term TV rights deal worth between $200 million and $300 million annually -- compared to $38 million this year - with an overall price tag of $4 billion. In either case, consumers of cable and satellite TV can expect to see their monthly bills continue to move higher,” Polka said.

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 ACA Summit  

Video Highlights Of This Year's Summit

Opening Remarks

ACA Chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah (pictured) kicked off the Washington Summit with a call for modernized retransmission consent rules and action to curb the escalating cost of sports programming. Both, she said, were needed to deal with widespread concern that consumers lack real choice in the selection of video programming.

Retransmission Consent Panel

Legal experts from the cable and broadcasting industries debated retransmission consent rules and regulations in a stimulating discussion that proved the two camps remain far apart on an issue directly related to the steady rise in monthly cable bills. SportsBusiness Journal media reporter John Ourand (far right), who led the panel, mixed in comments and questions from ACA Members near the end of the 75-minute session.

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  Member Video

MSNBC Program “Your Business” Featuring ACA Member Ben Hooks, CEO Of Buford Media


On Sunday, April 1, the MSNBC program “Your Business” profiled former American Cable Association Chairman Ben Hooks, CEO of Buford Media in Tyler, Texas, highlighting the challenges of operating a small cable company amid unique competitive pressures, disproportionate federal regulations, and day-to-day risks not faced by big companies. ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka also participated, taking questions from show host JJ Ramberg.

  News Headlines

  • American Conservative Union Criticizes Sen. Demint's TV Bill (The Hill, 3/29)
    The American Conservative Union is urging Congress to protect the retransmission consent fees that are charged by broadcasters.
  • Rural Areas Get More, Faster Broadband (The Hill, 3/29)
    Rural residents are finding it increasingly easy to subscribe to broadband Internet services, and receive increasingly faster speeds thanks to the efforts of community-based communications providers, according to survey results released by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA).
  • Calls By FTC, Commerce For Privacy Bill Get Cool Reception On Hill (NationalJournal, 3/29)
    Calls by the Obama administration and the Federal Trade Commission for privacy legislation got a skeptical reception on Thursday from Republican members of a key House committee.
  • Document Dump To House Panel May Hasten Arrival Of New FCC Noms (, 3/29)
    The FCC has honored the request of House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) to provide documents relating to its controversial LightSquared proceeding.
  • Fox Sports Channel To Rival ESPN Is No Sure Thing (Los Angeles Times, 3/28)
    News Corp.'s Fox is again weighing starting a national cable sports channel to rival Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN juggernaut but there is no guarantee that such an effort will get off the ground.
  • Telecom Industry Applauds Passage Of FCC Reform Bill (The Hill, 3/28)
    The telecommunications industry is applauding the House for passing a GOP-backed bill that would limit the powers of the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Comcast Pulls Back On IPv6 Rollout, Citing Netgear Modem Glitch (Multichannel News, 3/28)
    Comcast said it has temporarily rolled back deployment of the next-generation IPv6 protocol in parts of its network, with the MSO citing a compatibility glitch in a retail DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem from Netgear that knocked some customers offline.
  • NTIA Finds 95 More MHz Of Spectrum (Broadcasting & Cable, 3/27)
    The National Telecommunications & Information Administration says it has found 95 MHz of government spectrum that can be freed up for wireless broadband, though it said Tuesday there are "challenges" that must be overcome before it makes a recommendation to the FCC, including that government and commercial users will have to share the band.
  • Rural And Wireless, Problem Solved? (MPRnews, 3/27)
    I walked into my cousin's farmhouse in southwestern Minnesota the other day, interrupting a Skype conversation with her daughter in Belgium.
  • Satellite Broadband Providers Expand Into Rural Areas (USAToday, 3/27)
    Cowboys need broadband, too.
  • In Minnesota, Broadband Projects Take A Bumpy Ride (MPRnews, 3/27)
    A project to bring high-speed Internet access to 1,500 homes in Lac qui Parle County in western Minnesota was supposed to be well under way by now.
  • Public Knowledge Calls On FCC To Probe Broadband Caps (FierceCable, 3/26)
    Public Knowledge once again has appealed to the Federal Communications Commission to take a closer look at usage-based mobile data plans, a move that comes just after the release of a new video-optimized, bandwidth-chomping iPad.

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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