ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – August 17, 2011 

 Key Development  

WOW! CEO Colleen Abdoulah Appointed ACA Chairwoman

Colleen Abdoulah, Chairwoman & CEO of WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone, has been appointed Chairwoman of the American Cable Association, the trade group’s highest leadership position held since 2008 by Wave Broadband Chief Operating Officer Steve Friedman, who will continue serving on ACA's Board of Directors. Robert Gessner, President Massillon Cable TV, was appointed ACA Vice Chairman.

"I want to thank the ACA Board for the trust it has placed in me at such a critical moment for the independent cable community. Whether the issue is retransmission consent, Universal Service Fund reform or Open Internet rules, my objective is to see that ACA receives the best strategic advice and that the Board and ACA staff work to implement that advice to advance the interests of all ACA members and the millions of consumers that we serve," Abdoulah said.

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ACA To Review Google's Proposed Acquisition Of Motorola Mobility

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said in a statement that the trade organization of independent cable operators will carefully review Google’s plans to pay $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility, a major supplier of set-top boxes to the cable industry.

"We're going to review the deal to understand the impact on the cable set-top box market, which has been a frustrating one for small cable operators long beholden to the Motorola-Cisco duopoly,” Polka said. “For many cable operators, the question is whether Google's takeover of Motorola as one of only two major manufacturers will make things better or worse. ACA members will want assurances from Google that it is both committed to the cable business model and won't use its market power to run roughshod over smaller cable operators.”

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ACA's Polka Reserves Final Judgment On New USF Proposals

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued a statement on news in late July that AT&T, Verizon and a group of medium-sized telephone companies reached an agreement on needed changes to the Universal Service Fund (USF), a program that provides subsidies for telephone services in rural areas, and to the intercarrier compensation system, which establish rates that telecom carriers pay to send traffic to another network. The new USF proposal – called America's Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Plan – was presented to the Federal Communications Commission on July 29.

“ACA is pleased that the plan submitted by large and mid-sized telephone companies appears to seek to ensure that the USF is fiscally responsible, particularly by curbing its runaway growth, and by limiting, if not prohibiting, funding in areas where competing systems provide broadband service. These two positions, along with ensuring that ACA's members that fall within the smaller telco category are given sufficient time to adjust to changes in the system, have been our association's main pillars throughout this process,” Polka said.

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ACA CEO: Nexstar Makes ACA Case On Broadcaster Collusion

The American Cable Association asserted in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission that Nexstar Broadcasting Group's antitrust suit against Granite Broadcasting Group rests on the same basic economic argument as ACA's concerns about coordinated retransmission consent negotiations by separately owned stations in the same market.

"Whether it likes it or not, or even admits it, Nexstar has filed an antitrust suit against a competing broadcaster that illustrates the point that coordinated action by TV stations to monopolize the local advertising market can produce largely identical anti-consumer harms as coordinated action in connection with retransmission consent," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "Although ACA has been making this point for some time, if it takes Nexstar's antitrust suit to convince those who so far have declined to listen, so be it."

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ACA Urges FCC To Recognize CALM Act's Limited Reach Over Cable Operators

The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to recognize that under a new federal statute popular with TV viewers, Congress crafted only a limited role for cable operators to protect consumers from annoying volume spikes when commercials start to interrupt regular programming.

"ACA believes the law requires cable operators to exercise control over the volume level of commercials that they insert on their own or with the assistance of third parties. But the law does not impose as broad a mandate regarding commercials embedded in upstream cable and broadcast programming that is merely passed through to subscribers by local operators,"ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA: FCC Needs Light Touch In Network Outage Reporting Requirements

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to minimize regulatory burdens on small cable companies in the event the agency imposes network outage reporting requirements on VoIP and broadband Internet access providers, a step that would require companies to devote scarce capital to the acquisition of expensive network monitoring equipment, software and personnel.

"The FCC must refrain from layering additional regulatory burdens on small and rural broadband access providers for the sole purpose of network outage reporting. The agency should work to ensure that these providers are not unnecessarily burdened," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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In Farewell, ACA Chairman Friedman Calls For New Retrans Rules By Fall

In a farewell address to independent cable operators, American Cable Association Chairman Steve Friedman urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new retransmission consent rules along lines recommended by the independent cable community and within a suitable timeframe that will allow these helpful rules to influence positively thousands of TV station carriage negotiations that must be concluded by the end of the year.

"I call on the FCC to conclude the rulemaking in time for new rules to govern the next round of retransmission consent talks that begins in October," Friedman said. "This new retrans round involves the renewal of thousands of carriage contracts between ACA members and local TV stations. These so-called `negotiations' have the potential to produce more of the same: Massive threats of signal blackouts affecting millions of consumers across hundreds of our markets."

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  News Headlines
  • Time Warner Cable To Purchase Insight For $3 Billion In Cash (Multichannel News, 8/15)
    Time Warner Cable has entered into a definitive merger agreement to purchase Insight Communications for $3 billion in cash.
  • Google To Acquire Motorola Mobility For $12.5 Billion (Bloomberg, 8/15)
    Google Inc. (GOOG), maker of the Android mobile-phone software, agreed to buy smartphone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for $12.5 billion in its biggest deal, gaining mobile patents and expanding in the hardware business.
  • Fox Ties Web Video Deals To Retransmission Consent (, 8/12)
    With most of the retransmission-consent agreements Fox has with cable operators coming up for renewal in the next 18 months, the network will attempt to tie online video distribution into broad distribution deals with affiliates, News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) CEO Chase Carey said Wednesday.
  • FCC Won't Review Arbitration Ruling In DirecTV/Armstrong Dispute (Multichannel News, 8/11)
    The Federal Communications Commission has declined to reverse an arbitration decision favoring cable operator Armstrong Utilities in a dispute over the price it has to pay for Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh.
  • Can The Cable Industry Succeed At Wireless? (FierceWireless, 8/11)
    With most of the retransmission-consent agreements Fox has with cable operators coming up for renewal in the next 18 months, the network will attempt to tie online video distribution into broad distribution deals with affiliates, News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) CEO Chase Carey said Wednesday.
  • Cisco's Chambers: "We Are Very Much Committed" To Set-Tops (Multichannel News, 8/11)
    Cisco Systems chairman and CEO John Chambers reiterated that the company is not abandoning its set-top box business -- noting the former Scientific Atlanta group boosted sales 11% in the last 12 months -- though he said the market is shifting to open standards and IP-based devices.
  • Upton, Kerry Could Boost Prospects For Spectrum In Deficit Deal (NationalJournal, 8/10)
    Congressional leaders have named two key players in the debate over spectrum legislation to a special congressional committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit savings, raising the possibility that spectrum-related measures could be included in that package.
  • Pay TV Industry Loses Record Number Of Subscribers (The Washington Times, 8/10)
    The weak economy is hitting Americans where they spend a lot of their free time: at the TV set.
  • DirecTV Defeats Comcast Bid For Court Order Blocking Ads For NFL Programs (Bloomberg, 8/9)
    DirecTV (DTV), the largest U.S. satellite- television provider, defeated a bid by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) for a court order blocking its advertisements for National Football League game packages.
  • Regulators Link Reviews of AT&T's Transactions (Reuters, 8/9)
    AT&T Inc's $1.9 billion offer for some of Qualcomm Inc's wireless licenses will be tied to a simultaneous review of AT&T's $39 billion proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA, U.S. communications regulators said in a letter sent late on Monday.
  • FCC Votes To Free Up Wireless Backhaul Spectrum (Broadcasting & Cable, 8/9)
    The FCC voted unanimously Tuesday to free up more spectrum - up to 650 Mhz - for mobile wireless backhaul and make it easier and more cost effective for wireless companies to use point-to-point microwave links to deliver their service, particularly in rural areas.

For more news, visit the Headlines Page 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 900 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 7.6 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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