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ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – December 15, 2009
Happy New Year!
ACA Sends its Best Wishes for a Happy and Profitable 2010!

 Key Developments  

ACA Urges Regularors To Scruntinize The Comcast-NBCU Transaction To Protect Consumers From Unprecedented Power To Engage In Price Gouging and Denial Of Choice

The American Cable Association is urging regulators to scrutinize the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal transaction -- a deal that would create the country's most powerful online and traditional programming company -- and take appropriate action, whether through conditions or forced divestiture, to prevent the new programming giant from using its enhanced market power to raise prices and limit choices for consumers of small and medium-sized cable and broadband operators.

"ACA members view the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program as an important opportunity to continue their great work in constructing broadband facilities in remote and rural areas so these communities can enjoy technological parity with densely populated urban areas so accustomed to being the first in line," Gleason said in Oct. 28 testimony before the House Committee on Small Business. Read More / Comment on Story

ACA Unveils An Innovative Plan To Reform And Modernize The Universal Service Fund, Savings Billions Of Dollars While Creating First Broadband Investment Fund In FCC History

Tackling one of the most difficult issues in the realm of telecommunications policy, the American Cable Association has unveiled an innovative and comprehensive plan to modernize the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). In the blueprint, ACA details how to contain the cost of the expensive telephone subsidy program in tandem with how to make the program efficient and provide funds for broadband deployment. Under ACA's plan, billions of dollars can be freed up and dedicated to new investment in critical broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities where it is most needed, all without raising taxes on consumers.

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ACA Urges NTIA, RUS to Modify $7.2 Billion Broadband Stimulus Program To Attract ACA Members With Deep Roots In Rural America

The American Cable Association called on the Obama Administration to reform the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program by modifying rules and application criteria that have deterred many small and midsized cable operators from seeking federal loans and grants that are needed to ensure that as many unserved and underserved communities as possible reap the benefits of the program.

"At least 83 ACA members applied for broadband stimulus funding for 127 last-mile and middle-mile projects totaling more than $1.3 billion in grants and loans under the two programs. More ACA members would have applied but for funding restrictions and cumbersome barriers in the program's original rules," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. ACA has close to 900 members, and more than half serve fewer than 2,000 subscribers.

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ACA Chairman Steve Friedman and Vice Chairman James Bruder Lead ACA Team in Face-To-Face Meetings With FCC Officials Amid Growing Signs A Problematic Communications Market Facing Small Cable Providers Need FCC Intervention

Visiting the nation's capital amid telltale signs of swift and likely lasting change in the communications sector, senior officials of the American Cable Association recently held face-to-face discussions with top Federal Communications Commission officials and staff members to emphasize that small, independent cable operators offering video and broadband services conduct business in an arena dominated by broadcast and programming conglomerates that routinely employ a variety of discriminatory practices that invariably injure consumers in rural communities served by ACA members.

"ACA greatly appreciates that FCC officials provided us the time and opportunity to share our perspective on key issues in our industry, from retransmission consent abuses and one-sided cable programming contracts to discriminatory Internet business models like ESPN360 to the manifold consumer harms inherent in the proposal to give Comcast Corp. majority control of NBC Universal," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA Supports Time Warner Cable's "Get Tough" Campaign On Rising Programming Costs, Urges Regulators To Repair A Market Badly Shaken By Anti-Competitive Conduct

In keeping with its emphasis on consumer protection, the American Cable Association is supporting Time Warner Cable's decision to educate the public that media giants that own cable networks and TV stations threaten to cut off viewers from their content unless multichannel programming distributors sign new contracts with egregiously large license fee increases.

"Small cable operators and their customers, who cannot afford to engage in hand-to-hand combat with price-gouging media conglomerates, applaud Time Warner Cable's efforts to ‘Get Tough' with programmers in hopes that some modicum of reasonableness will return to the market as a result," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

Read More / Comment on Story

 End of the Year Recap  

ACAction Brief's Top 10 Key Development Stories of 2009

  Top Ten 
As the year comes to an end, the following is a look back at the ACAction Brief's top 10 Key Development stories of 2009. From more than 71 stories published this year, we narrowed them down to the 10 stories that were most important to ACA and its members.

#10) ACA Calls on the FCC to Probe Broadcasters' Use of Local Marketing Agreements to Increase Their Leverage in Retransmission Consent Negotiations (11/24)

#9) ACA's Summit Attendance Tops Last Year as Independent Cable Operators Share Their Perspectives with Congress (5/5)

#8) Sunflower Broadband COO and ACA Board Member Patrick Knorr Calls on Congress to Curb Media Conglomerates (10/28)

#7) ACA Members, Customers Were Ready For The June 12 DTV Transition (6/16)

#6) ACA Survey Shows Price Gouging by TV Stations Hitting Unconscionable Levels (6/2)

#5) ACA Calls On FCC to Protect Low-Cost Broadband Packages (6/16)

#4) ACA Urges Regulators To Scrutinize The Comcast-NBCU Transaction To Protect Consumers From Unprecedented Power To Engage In Price Gouging And Denial Of Choice (12/15)

#3) ACA Applauds FCC for Issuing New Round of Set-Top Box Waivers (6/16)

#2) ACA Unveils An Innovative Plan To Reform And Modernize The Universal Service Fund, Savings Billions Of Dollars While Creating First Broadband Investment Fund In FCC History (12/15)

#1) ACA Members Seek $1.3 Billion in Broadband Stimulus Funding (9/30)

 Industry Affairs  

ACA's 17th Annual Summit

Share Your Summit 2009 Experience
A personal testimonial from a trusted source makes all the difference in the world. That's why we're asking everyone who attended ACA's Summit in 2009 to share a sentence or two about their experience for possible inclusion in our upcoming Summit communication efforts. Simply send your quote (25 words or less) by December 22. If we feature your testimonial in our materials, we'll send you a $10 gift certificate to Take a moment to send us your quote now!

Summit Banner

 News Headlines  
  • FCC's Copps, Worried About Consolidation, To Weigh Comcast-NBC Universal Merger (The Washington Post, 12/10)
    Michael Copps, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission, made comments in a speech to the Practicing Law Institute today that gives a glimpse into this thinking about the planned merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.
  • FCC Considers Opening Up the Pipes (The Wall Street Journal, 12/10)
    Should the U.S. adopt rules that would require Internet providers to share their broadband lines with rivals, like other countries?
  • FCC Opens Comments On NCTA USF Proposal (Multichannel News, 12/9)
    The Federal Communications Commission has issued a request for comment on the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's proposal to reform the Universal Service Fund by creating a two-tiered process to determine where there is effective competition that would reduce or eliminate support payments.
  • FTC Takes On Online Privacy (The Wall Street Journal, 12/7)
    Online privacy, or the lack of it, was center stage at the Federal Trade Commission, which held a day-long workshop Monday on Internet advertising and behavioral targeting.
  • SHVRA Passes Convincingly In House (Multichannel News, 12/3)
    The House version of the satellite reauthorization bill -- HR 3750, the Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act -- passed convincingly Thursday (394 to 11).
  • FCC Pushes For Internet Access On Your TV (Los Angeles Times, 12/6)
    Comcast Corp.'s chief executive, Brian Roberts, was gushing last week about his company's impending takeover of NBC Universal, saying the deal would give consumers what they want, "which is access to all different types of content on different platforms and different times."
  • FCC Admits CableCARD A Failure, Vows To Try Something Else (Ars Technica)
    The Genachowski-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seems to delight in dropping bombshells on a weekly basis, but we didn't see this one coming: the FCC admits that its CableCARD mandate has been an abysmal failure.
  • Congress Asked To Preempt State VoIP Regulation (Multichannel News, 12/2)
    AT&T and Google are on the same page when it comes to opposing state regulation of voice over IP services.
  • Broadcasters Cool To Cash-For-Spectrum (TVNewsCheck, 12/1)
    A proposal calling for reallocating broadcast TV spectrum for wireless broadband use got a chilly reception from industry representatives during a forum hosted by the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Washington today.

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 more than 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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