ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – September 21, 2011 

 Key Development  

ACA Applauds FCC For Adding Time To Develop Common Alert Protocol Regs

The Federal Communications Commission announced Sept. 16 its decision to extend to June 30, 2012, the deadline for cable operators to come into compliance with the Emergency Alert System's (EAS) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). The FCC’s action came after many stakeholders, including the American Cable Association, explained the urgent need for more time for the FCC to resolve the remaining issues surrounding CAP compliance, and then for testing and implementing the new CAP system.

"On behalf of all ACA members, I want to applaud the FCC for postponing until June 30, 2012 the deadline for cable operator compliance with the EAS’s new CAP technology, which should provide a window of time for EAS participants to be certain that the actions they take will indeed comply with final CAP requirements,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA's CEO Polka Says ESPN's New NFL Deal Hurts All Pay-TV Consumers

ESPN has agreed to pay the National Football League about $15.2 billion starting in 2014 to retain the rights to “Monday Night Football” through the 2021 season. At $1.9 billion a year, ESPN is paying 73 percent more than the $1.1 billion a year it currently spends to air regular season NFL games on Monday nights.

"ESPN has struck a bad bargain for consumers,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “The sports network's financially wanton deal will push the cost of pay-TV service into the stratosphere, making the product less and less affordable during a time of severe economic stress and high unemployment.”

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ACA Seeks Fiscally Sound, Competitively Neutral USF Reforms

To update the Universal Service Fund for the broadband age, the Federal Communications Commission should adopt fiscally sound and competitively neutral reforms and reject backward, pro-incumbent formulations advanced by large telephone companies determined to maintain a firm grip on as much government financial support as possible, according to the American Cable Association.

"Universal Service Fund reform is too important to be left only to the big incumbent telcos," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "A new federal fund created to support broadband access and services will not be used efficiently and will not reflect new market conditions if AT&T, Verizon, and other large carriers are allowed to rig the game in their favor while having an obligation to provide rural consumers with only yesterday's technology."

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ACA: Vertically Integrated RSNs Drive Up Prices

The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to examine how Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) affiliated with large distributors charge their rivals higher fees and how small cable operators have no effective redress under the agency's existing program access framework, resulting in harm to consumers and competition.

"Access to competitively significant networks like RSNs on fair terms is essential to the promotion of robust competition among multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs)," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "But all too often, fair competition is a mirage because RSNs owned by large MVPDs have the incentive and ability to undermine distribution rivals by making them pay excessive fees, knowing that they cannot obtain effective relief at the FCC."

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  News Headlines

  • About 20% Of U.S. Pay-TV Subs Prone To Canceling: Analysts (Mutlichannel News, 9/16)
    One in five American pay-TV subscribers may cancel service in the next few years, primarily because they find multichannel video services too expensive, according to a new survey by Credit Suisse.
  • Time Warner Cable's Stern: We Have To Move Away From Monolithic TV Packages (Multichannel News, 9/15)
    Cable TV for 70 bucks a month is just too much for a lot of consumers, according to Peter Stern, EVP and chief strategy officer at Time Warner Cable.
  • Cable Industry Disputes RUS Claims About Impact Of USF Reform On Loan Portfolio (Telecompetitor, 9/15)
    The National Cable & Telecommunications Association today issued a report that disputes claims made by the Rural Utilities Service about the impact of proposed Universal Service reforms.
  • Comcast Boss Burke Flip-Flops On Retransmission Fees (New York Post, 9/15)
    That’s one wicked about-face for Steve Burke.
  • Turner Allows Cablevision's iPad App Outside the Home (Communications Technology, 9/14)
    Cablevision Systems' iO TV customers can now access full-length TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and truTV shows on the Web and on their iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices, wherever they are. The availability of Turner TV Everywhere, which includes live-streaming of CNN and HLN, enhances the customer experience that began with the Optimum App, which delivers the full cable television experience on these devices in the home.
  • Mediacom: FCC Is Effectively Siding With LIN (Multichannel News, 9/13)
    An attorney for Mediacom said Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission's inaction on its ongoing retransmission-consent impasse with LIN was tantamount to siding with the broadcaster against the cable operator and consumers hurt by the signal blackout.
  • Blair Levin Cautions About Incumbents' Right Of First Refusal In Telco USF Plan (Multichannel News, 9/13)
    Add National Broadband Plan architect Blair Levin to those concerned about a telco Universal Service Fund reform plan that would give incumbent phone companies right of first refusal to some of those funds.
  • Cable TV Faces "Affordability Crisis" (, 9/13)
    Cable tv faces an "affordability crisis," says to Craig Moffett, senior analyst at Bernstein Research in New York, in a report to his clients today, according to the
  • The Beat Of Sports 9.13.11 (, 9/13)
    Miami New Times columnist Gus Garcia Roberts on the wild life of Shaq. American Cable Association CEO Matt Polka on who will pay for ESPN's new MNF contract and more.
  • Cable Group: NFL-ESPN Deal Hurts Customers (Politico, 9/13)
    The NFL’s newly inked $15 billion deal with ESPN may mean a lot more games for football junkies, but small cable operators say that all consumers — not just sports fans — will end up paying more.
  • MSO Revs Hit $71 Billion (Media Daily News, 9/12)
    Although cable system operators have combated new technologies and services over the last several years, they have continued to grow higher per-subscriber revenue and steady cash flow.
  • White House Gets Specific - and Potentially Some New Critics - on Telecom Policy (NationalJournal, 9/12)
    President Obama waded into a handful of telecom battles that he had previously sidestepped when he released the American Jobs Act on Monday.

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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