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FCC Chairman to Push for Digital Must Carry Relief for Small Cable Systems

Chairman Announces Intentions During ACA Summit - Exemption Conserves Small Cable Industry’s Limited Bandwidth; Ensures Viewable Signals for All Cable Subscribers

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2008—At the American Cable Association’s Summit today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin announced his desire to grant relief for small cable systems from the requirement to carry an HD signal. As Chairman Martin told independent operators this morning, under his proposed solution, “if your system is smaller than 552 MHz you will continue to serve your customers the same way you do today. As long as the signal is viewable to all subscribers, you will be able to downcast the digital signal the same way you do today.

The American Cable Association (ACA), which formally requested the exemption on behalf of its members in a filing with the FCC in March, issued the following statement praising Chairman Martin for his leadership:

“On behalf of the ACA and its members, we thank Chairman Martin for addressing the concerns of small cable operators,” said Patrick Knorr, ACA chairman and chief operating officer of Sunflower Broadband and The World Co. “This is a meaningful action that will ensure that all cable households will continue to receive a viewable signal after the transition, and allow independent cable operators to use their limited resources to best serve their customers’ needs, such as providing important advanced services, in smaller markets and rural areas.”

“The Chairman and the Commission have done the right thing for small cable operators, the independent cable industry, and the communities they serve, and it is very much appreciated,” ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said. “The ACA and our more than 1,100 members are very pleased that an exemption for carrying HD signals for the smallest cable systems serving the smallest communities has the support of the Chairman. This was the right decision for the hundreds of system operators who didn’t have the extra bandwidth to comply with the digital must carry obligation.”

In a March 3 filing, the ACA requested an exemption for systems with 552 MHz of capacity or less from the obligation to carry the must carry broadcaster's signal in a digital format, if the system was already providing the signal to all of its customers in an analog format.

ACA cited the capacity burdens that carriage of both the digital and the analog broadcast signals would place on systems serving small and rural markets, and the added flexibility that an exemption would offer these cable systems to direct capacity to providing consumers with broadband and other advanced services. In a follow up April 5 filing (available here (available here), the ACA further detailed the extent of that burden and adverse impact it would have on small systems and the communities they serve.

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About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit www.americancable.org

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