LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL., JULY 26, 2012 - The 7th Independent Show attended by hundreds of American Cable Association Members concluded with high hopes that lawmakers and regulators are prepared to start tackling the key issues facing independent cable operators, including retransmission consent, broadcaster collusion and access to programming on fair and reasonable terms.
"ACA is hopeful that the spike in TV station blackouts and skyrocketing retransmission consent fees will prompt those in charge in Washington, D.C., to come to the defense of millions of consumers injured by the reckless conduct of media giants that own or control local TV stations," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "The next Congress, starting in January, could be the beginning of something truly positive for the independent cable community."
Many ACA Members took time from their scheduled events Tuesday (July 24) to watch ACA Chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on the need to craft new retransmission consent rules in response to runaway content fees that not only anger consumers but also put severe financial pressure on many small cable companies.
Noting that media conglomerates coerce carriage of their channels in the same package and limit operators' flexibility to offer multiple tiers at various price points, Abdoulah said: "I wish I could offer a sports tier." The Senate panel is headed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
With regard to retransmission consent, ACA is urging the FCC and Congress to respond to anti-competitive conduct by TV stations in at least 41 television markets where ACA Members operate. ACA has documented for the FCC that separately owned TV stations in the same market are coordinating their negotiating retransmission consent with cable operators. ACA believes that this conduct - which has jumped 28% in terms of the number of markets affected -- is collusion that regulators need to ban immediately.
"This year's show was very important in terms of mapping our strategy for the next Congress. ACA recognizes that change is difficult, but at the same we will make sure that policymakers understand that the status quo is simply unacceptable to the public," Polka said.
When the legislative battle beings in earnest, ACA is committed to serving as the recognized voice of independent cable operators, who will have the tools and information necessary to press for a fair and competitive marketplace as a replacement for the current system, which routinely frustrates choice and competition. ACA and the National Cable Television Cooperative, which once again co-hosted the Independent Show, are committed to building even stronger ties to meet the challenges ahead.
"ACA and NCTC members are prepared to overcome any obstacle no matter how stiff the competition as we pursue badly needed change," Polka said.
More than 1,300 people attended this year's Independent Show.
About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 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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