ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – September 8, 2011 

 Key Development  

ACA Blasts LIN TV's Blackout Of Mediacom Cable Customers

The American Cable Association blasted LIN TV for staging a signal blackout to pressure cable company Mediacom Communications to pay excessive amounts of cash for retransmission consent. LIN’s decision to force Mediacom to drop its signals on Aug. 31 affected thousands of consumers in several markets, including Mobile-Pensacola, Ala.-Fl.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Green Bay, Wis.; and Ft. Wayne, Terre Haute and Lafayette, Ind.

“LIN TV's decision to black out Mediacom cable customers is deplorable and should serve as a warning to the Federal Communications Commission to expect much more of the same as cable operators prepare to renew thousands of retransmission consent contracts that expire at the end of the year,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “It's clear that the broadcasters aren't going to temper their behavior this year just because the FCC has a retransmission consent rulemaking going on. New rules are needed from the FCC, and needed soon.”

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ACA Urges FCC To Reject USF Reforms Proposed By Large Phone Carriers

The American Cable Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt fiscally sound and competitively neutral reforms to the Universal Service Fund program along lines suggested by ACA and other organizations to counter financially imprudent and economically outdated ideas advanced by incumbent phone carriers clinging to monopoly-era support mechanisms overtaken by technology and market forces.

"For the first time in our nation's history, the FCC has a real opportunity to rely on the USF to fund broadband facilities and services in rural communities, which the country must include in the Internet revolution," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "Without a doubt, the FCC will fall short of its mission if major phone companies insist on ballooning the size of the high-cost fund and receiving USF money in markets where they face competition or where competitors can offer service more efficiently."

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ACA's Polka Comments On U.S. Copyright Office's Section 302 Report

ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka called on Congress to retain the copyright compulsory license for independent cable operators in response to a new report by the U.S. Copyright Office that three statutory licenses governing the retransmission of traditional broadcast television signals by cable and satellite TV service providers should be phased out and replaced by market-based licensing mechanisms.

"For more than 35 years, Section 111 has cleared copyright for cable carriage of ‘distant' TV signals. In adopting this license, Congress recognized that many cable systems in rural areas, especially those on the outskirts of Designated Market Areas (DMAs), offered ‘distant' signals because ‘local' TV signals were unavailable or limited,” Polka said. "Rural consumers benefited then, and still do today. For some consumers, ‘local' TV stations are actually located in another state and the importation of ‘distant' TV stations can provide them with in-state news and political coverage. For others, ‘distant' TV signals provide vital weather warnings that come prior to the event instead of during or after.”

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ACA's Polka Applauds FCC For Adopting Balanced Video Description Order

Implementing a new law passed by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission in late August adopted video description rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which requires audio narration about visual programming elements in order to make television programming more accessible by blind or visually handicapped individuals. The FCC’s Report and Order was released on Aug. 25 and sets a July 1, 2012 deadline for compliance.

“ACA commends the FCC on adoption of the Video Description Order in a manner respectful of the concerns expressed by the independent cable community. Especially in a tough economic environment, small businesses regard the imposition of new technical regulations as a financial and competitive burden,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA To FCC:Eliminate Barriers Hindering Pro-Competitive Cable-CLEC Mergers

The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate regulatory impediments to cable operators and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) merging, arguing that these combinations serve the public interest because they foster greater facilities-based competition with established incumbent phone companies long dominant in their regions.

"Mergers between cable companies and CLECs promote competition, putting downward pressure on rates, increasing the offering of innovative services,-and enhancing service quality," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "As a result, the FCC should conclude that cable-CLEC combinations fall outside cross-ownership prohibitions found in Section 652 of federal communications law."

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  News Headlines
  • Why No NFL Network On Time Warner/Bright House? It's A Little Complicated (, 9/4)
    Fred Cannock lives in New Port Richey. He's a football fan. He gets his cable television through Bright House Networks. That means he does not get the NFL Network.
  • Comcast Purchase of NBC Universal Wins U.S. Court Approval (Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/2)
    Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, won a judge’s approval for its acquisition of NBC Universal with conditions that will maintain court oversight of the deal for two more years.
  • Dish Said To Plan Blockbuster Rival To Netflix (Bloomberg, 9/2)
    Dish Network Corp. (DISH), the second largest U.S. satellite-TV provider, will introduce a Blockbuster streaming-movie service to compete with Netflix Inc. (NFLX) next month, according to a person with direct knowledge of the plans.
  • Mediacom Slams FCC For Failing To Reform Retransmission Process (The Wrap, 9/1)
    Get off your duff and do something.
  • Starz To Bolt Netflix In 2012 (SNL, 9/1)
    The day that Netflix Inc. subscribers and investors long feared has finally come: Starz said it will not renew its contract with the DVD-by-mail and streaming service.
  • Justice Department Files Suit Against AT&T Merger (NationalJournal, 9/1)
    The Justice Department made a surprise decision on Wednesday against AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA to create the No. 1 U.S. carrier, saying the $39 billion merger would reduce competition and filing suit to block it.
  • AT&T To Fight DOJ Attempt To Block T-Mobile Merger (The Washington Post with Bloomberg, 8/31)
    The Justice Department on Wednesday sued to block AT&T’s $39 billion pursuit of T-Mobile, saying the deal would leave consumers with fewer choices and higher bills for mobile phone service that has become “indispensable” to the way Americans live and do business.
  • DISH's Mysterious National Wireless Network Plans (Politico, 8/31)
    Look out, LightSquared. There’s a new maverick in the wireless industry — at least if DISH Network's recently announced plans to build a state-of-the-art nationwide wireless network are to be believed.
  • Bloomberg TV Takes New Shot At Comcast Over Channel Placement (, 8/31)
    Bloomberg TV is making a renewed push to fight its way out of the nosebleed section of Comcast’s channel line-up.
  • Cable Industry Consolidates - At Lower Values (, 8/30)
    Takeover action in the cable TV field has picked up, but buyers are paying less because of slowing industry growth and shrinking customer bases.
  • Retransmission Consent: Nonsense of Scale (Broadband Convergent, 8/27)
    Retransmission Consent negotiations continue to be in the news as broadcasters and pay-tv operators square-off to present their cases to the FCC why current rules should stay as they are, or be revamped to consider current economics and market conditions that create opposite interests, and therefore threaten to disrupt consumer access to high profile programming at the most critical times. If you ask me, this is nonsense of scale.
  • Apple Quietly Kills 99¢ TV Show Rentals (, 8/26)
    Bad news for anyone who was looking to rent the latest episode of Top Gear from iTunes, as Apple has quickly and quietly removed their 99¢ television rental option today.

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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