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ACA To FCC: Finish Program Access Rules Update Before Reviewing New Comcast Merger

PITTSBURGH, February 13, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding Comcast-NBCU's $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable:

"Comcast-NBCU's takeover of Time Warner Cable would vastly increase the number of cable homes served by an operator affiliated with NBCU's popular programming, creating new incentives for NBCU to demand unfair terms and conditions from TWC's pay-TV distribution rivals, including ACA Members.

"Small and medium-sized cable operators have highlighted for nearly two years that they have less protection from this sort of vertical integration than Congress intended in view of the fact that the Federal Communications Commission has yet to act on its own rulemaking to update the FCC's definition of a ‘buying group' to reflect today's market.

"The current definition effectively excludes the National Cable Television Cooperative, the buying group used by more than 900 small and medium-sized cable operators, from utilizing program access rules that require cable-affiliated programmers to offer programming on non-discriminatory prices, terms and conditions.

"In our view, the FCC needs to complete the program access/buying group rulemaking before it starts its public interest review of the Comcast-NBCU/TWC transaction.

"As more details emerge, ACA will be reviewing the Comcast-NBCU-TWC transaction carefully to determine whether the deal should be denied outright or approved with conditions.

"ACA has long acknowledged many problems in the pay-TV market, including the soaring cost of retransmission consent and sports networks and the record-setting number of broadcaster-imposed TV signal blackouts.  ACA will be looking closely to see whether this transaction makes matters worse for small and medium-sized cable operators and their customers."

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 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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