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American Cable Association Urges Viacom To End Blackout Of Millions Of DirecTV Customers

PITTSBURGH, July 12, 2012 - ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding Viacom's decision on July 10 to black out 20 million DirecTV satellite TV customers:

"The pay-TV industry is trapped in a perpetual state of crisis with no end in sight for the obvious reason that avaricious programmers like Viacom demand outrageous fees for their channels.  Worse, Viacom insists on being richly rewarded not for the quality or popularity of its content but for its sheer ability to muscle distributors -- including small, independent cable operators with no bargaining leverage - into overpaying for marginal services.

"How broken is today's programming marketplace when customers of not just smaller, independent operators suffer at the hands of media conglomerates like Viacom, but also the customers of a company with national scale like DirecTV?  At a minimum, Viacom should end its blackout immediately and call off its campaign to impose excessive rate hikes on millions of DirecTV customers. 

"Viacom should also immediately restore access to online programming for which customers of other cable and satellite providers have already paid. Viacom's decision to deny access to online content to all consumers in order to exert greater pressure on DirecTV is another example of Viacom's total disdain for consumers in pursuit of its goal of dominating distributors in order to reap windfall profits.

"In the past six months, we've seen an abrupt spike in the number of broadcaster- and cable programmer-initiated blackouts in lieu of amicable agreements putting the interests of consumers above all else. Without a doubt, programmers like Viacom that show only callous disregard for consumers are clearly inviting a regulatory response from Washington, D.C., where lawmakers are showing increasing interest in updating rules and laws that are seen as contributing to market malfunctions and rampant consumer harm."

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.4 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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