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ACA Urges Federal Communications Commission To Hold Cable Harmless In Effort To Repurpose Broadcast Spectrum

Reclamation Of Underutilized TV Spectrum Should Not Result In New Or Additional Cable Carriage Burdens

PITTSBURGH, May 24, 2011 - The American Cable Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to refrain from imposing new regulatory burdens on cable operators as part of any attempt to reclaim broadcast spectrum for allocation to more innovative users, such as wireless broadband providers.

"Underutilization of broadcast TV spectrum is a major policy issue that is appropriately under close FCC scrutiny to ensure consumers enjoy a robust mobile broadband environment in the future. From ACA's perspective, FCC adoption of new broadband spectrum policies should not result in additional regulatory burdens for small and midsize cable operators, including expanded cable carriage rights for full-power or low-power TV stations," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka.

Fearing a spectrum crunch triggered by runaway demand for wireless broadband services, the FCC is hoping to accost the problem by taking back TV spectrum in exchange for financial support and regulatory commitments to participating broadcasters, including continued legal authority to elect mandatory carriage and retransmission consent on cable systems. The FCC is also considering allowing TV stations that give up their spectrum to share a 6 MHz channel with another local station.

In a letter today to the FCC, ACA urged the FCC to resist attempts by spectrum-divesting TV stations to demand compensation in the form of cable carriage of multiple channels of programming on top of carriage of the primary video feed required by current law. Nor should the FCC allow these same stations to transmit a standard definition signal to the public for free but demand cable carriage in the more bandwidth-intensive, high-definition format. Lastly, ACA went on record opposing new or additional carriage rights for low-power TV stations.

"If the FCC determines that TV spectrum should be reallocated and repurposed, it must ensure that cable operators are held harmless. The government should not repurpose broadcast spectrum on the backs of small cable operators," Polka said.

About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.6 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 http://www.americancable.org/

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