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ACA's Polka Praises FCC For Warning TV Stations About Tenuous Legality Of Practices Conducted Under Shared Services Agreements

PITTSBURGH, November 28, 2011 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in response to a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau regarding Raycom Media's control of three Honolulu, Hawaii, TV stations pursuant to a Shared Services Agreement with MCG Capital signed in August, 2009.

"ACA is encouraged the FCC recognized that the practices of broadcasters pursuant to Shared Services Agreements (SSAs) can be at odds with the purpose and intent of the duopoly rules.

"For quite some time, ACA has pointed out that TV station owners are consolidating their operations both through legally binding agreements, like SSAs, and through informal arrangements, to gain unrivaled bargaining leverage over independent cable operators in retransmission consent negotiations, causing cable bills to go up but the quality of local TV programming, especially news, to go down. While these practices and others may mean more market power for TV stations in negotiations for broadcast carriage and advertising, they also mean station layoffs and less competition, localism and diversity for consumers.

 "ACA is also pleased the FCC will take into account the duopoly rule issues the Raycom arrangement raises, and also consider within the context of individual licensing proceedings whether coordinated practices are consistent with the public interest.

"Accordingly, ACA will be encouraging its members to take detailed notes about their dealings with the station owners in markets where separately owned broadcast stations coordinate their retransmission consent negotiations.  To the extent these practices are not sufficiently prohibited in either the FCC's retransmission consent rulemaking or the 2010 quadrennial review proceeding, ACA and its members will not hesitate to raise concerns about these deals when the stations seek FCC approval to renew their licenses.  Sooner or later, the broadcasters will be held accountable for their fleecing of the American consumer."

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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