The American Cable Association ("ACA") commends the Commission's expressed intention to open a rulemaking to ensure that cable customers receive access to in-state broadcast signals they may not currently receive.1 To effectively address this issue, the Commission must investigate how current retransmission consent practices restrict cable customers' access to important regional and local programming.
Presently, the "Big Four" broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX) and their affiliates prevent many cable customers from receiving in-state broadcast signals by contractually prohibiting their affiliates from granting retransmission consent to cable systems in adjacent DMAs. The networks and their affiliates do so even when this practice results in cable customers having limited or no access to in-state broadcast signals. In some circumstances, especially in rural markets, this practice prevents cable customers from receiving in-state news, sports, weather, public affairs programming, and even political advertising for state elections. The proposed rulemaking should address this retransmission consent practice.
About ACA. ACA represents nearly 1,100 small and medium-sized cable companies that serve more than 7.5 million cable subscribers, primarily in smaller markets and rural areas. ACA member systems are located in all 50 states, and in virtually every congressional district. The companies range from family-run cable businesses serving a single town to multiple system operators that focus on serving smaller markets. More than half of ACA's members serve fewer than 1,000 subscribers. All ACA members face the challenges of upgrading and operating broadband networks in lower-density markets.
1 In the Matter of Broadcast Localism, Report on Broadcast Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd. 1324, ¶ 50 (2008) (“Broadcast Localism Report”) (“[W]e will commence a rulemaking proceeding to address the need to ensure that all cable and satellite subscribers have access to television broadcast stations licensed to communities within the viewers’ home state.”).
|ACA Reply Comments MB Docket 04-233 061108.pdf||36.81 KB|
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