ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – April 14, 2010 

  Key Developments

ACA: Consumers Need FCC Waiver For Low-Cost HD Boxes

Set-Top Box  
According to published reports, the Federal Communications Commission at its April 21 public meeting will launch a rulemaking that will allow low-capacity cable systems to offer consumers low-cost, integrated HD set-top boxes in an effort to help these providers reclaim bandwidth and accelerate their roll out of faster broadband speeds and other advanced digital services.

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FCC Loses Broadband Network Management Case

Net Neutrality  
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sided with Comcast Corp. in an April 6 ruling that said the Federal Communications Commission failed to show that it had the necessary legal authority to stop the cable company from blocking peer-to-peer Internet file-sharing traffic as a network management tool.

ACA Calls For Ending Pole Attachment Exemptions For Electric Cooperatives, Municipal Utilities

Pole Attachment  
The American Cable Association strongly supports ending the federal exemption that allows electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities to charge small cable operators excessive fees to access their poles, conduits, and other bottleneck facilities that are critical elements in the deployment of broadband networks and other advanced communications services in historically unserved and underserved communities.

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  Industry Affairs

Rep. Stupak To Deliver Capitol Hill Keynote Remarks At ACA's 17th Annual Summit

Rep. Stupak  
PITTSBURGH, April 13, 2010 – The American Cable Association is very pleased to announce that U.S. Rep. Bark Stupak (D-Mich.), a longtime telecommunications policy leader whose nine-term House career is coming to a close in January, will deliver the Capitol Hill keynote speech during this year's ACA Summit. Rep. Stupak's remarks will be made on Tuesday, April 20 at 1:15 p.m.

"We are delighted that Rep. Stupak will be joining us at this year's ACA Summit," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "The ACA Summit is the perfect forum for such a distinguished Member of Congress to share his policy views with the independent cable operator community that is always focused on the communications needs of rural America."

On Friday, Rep. Stupak announced his retirement from Congress at the end of his current two-year term. Rep. Stupak opted to step aside to pursue new interests after playing a critical role in last month’s passage of the landmark health care reform law. Ensuring universal health coverage was a longtime policy goal of Rep. Stupak.

“Change in Washington is not only about the policy, but it’s about the process, too.” Polka added. “And who better to talk about how bills become laws than Congressman Stupak, who was central to the passage of the historic health care legislation. ACA Summit attendees will get an insider’s account.”

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ACA's 17th Annual Summit

  News Headlines
  • An Internet For Everybody (The New York Times, 04/10)
    Last week, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the legal authority to tell Comcast not to block certain uses of its Internet access services. This decision has become a rip-the-Band-Aid-off moment for the regulatory agency, forcing it to reconsider its effort to impose “network neutrality” by requiring that Internet access providers treat all content equally.
  • Comcast, NCTA Want FCC To Exempt HD DTAs For All Operators (Multichannel News, 04/09)
    Comcast and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association executives are urging the Federal Communications Commission to make the case that all cable operators -- not just those with bandwidth-constrained systems -- should be allowed to deploy low-cost HD boxes with integrated security in an exemption of agency rules.
  • Sky Angel Files Program Access Complaint Against Discovery (Broadcasting & Cable, 04/09)
    IPTV distributor Sky Angel has filed both a program access complaint at the FCC and also asked for a standstill order on its current contract.
  • NCTA, Comcast Push For Blanket HD Box Exemption (Light Reading Cable, 04/09)
    Representatives from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand a proposed exemption for high-definition-capable Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) boxes with embedded security to all cable systems, and not merely to more bandwidth-strapped properties with 552MHz or less of activated channel capacity.
  • Broadband Funds Stimulate Laments From Companies (The Daily Reflector, 04/08)
    When Congress included $7.2 billion for broadband in last year's stimulus bill, its goal was to bring high-speed Internet connections and information-age jobs to parts of the country desperate for both things.
  • FCC To Start Tackling Broadcast Spectrum Issues This Year (Broadcasting & Cable, 04/08)
    The FCC has released its broadband implementation schedule. The release was announced by FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus, who said it would include a 2010 start for its spectrum reclamation plans, though Lazarus said the commission is sensitive to broadcasters ongoing and important role.
  • Powell Warns FCC Not To "Stretch" Authority (, 04/08)
    A former GOP chairman of the FCC warns that if the commission attempts to "stretch" its current authority to more aggressively oversee broadband services as some groups are urging it to do in the wake of a Tuesday court ruling the FCC will continue to face legal challenges.
  • Public Activist Groups Want FCC Public Field Hearings On Comcast/NBCU Union (Multichannel News, 04/07)
    Public activist groups that are also veteran critics of the proposed Comcast/NBCU joint venture are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to hold public field hearings on the deal.
  • FCC: Key Parts Of Broadband Plan In Flux After Court Decision (The Washington Post, 04/07)
    The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it is committed to overseeing Internet services, but that a loss in a federal court earlier this week hinders its ability to carry out some key policies related to its national broadband plan.
  • NTIA Hopes To Hand Out Balance Of Broadband Funds By End Of September (Multichannel News, 04/07)
    The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Wednesday that it has received 867 applications for $11 billion in the second round of bidding for broadband stimulus funds.
  • Uncertainty For FCC's 'Net Neutrality' In Wake Of Comcast Ruling (, 04/07)
    In the wake of a stinging defeat in court, the Federal Communications Commission finds its ability to regulate the Internet in question, its signature "net neutrality" initiative hanging by a thread. Now, the agency faces several unpalatable options.
  • FCC Dealt Significant Blow In Net Neutrality Ruling Favoring Comcast (The Hill, 04/06)
    A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt a significant blow to the Obama administration and net neutrality advocates, ruling that the Federal Communications Commission has no authority to regulate how Web providers manage their network traffic.
  • Incongruous National Broadband Plan? (, 04/05)
    Barbara Esbin, director of the Center for Communications and Competition Policy at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, points out an apparent anamoly you might have noticed when reading the actual text of the Federal Communications Commission’s “National Broadband Plan,” which is to say the data it presents, and the problems it seeks to solve, to not jibe.
  • Lawmakers Seek FCC Action In AT&T-Cox Spat (, 04/05)
    In the latest in a string of programming squabbles, AT&T has recruited the help of two San Diego-area U.S. House members in its spat with Cox Communications over sports programming.

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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