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ACA’s Polka Says Independent Cable’s Combined Value Significant And Growing

ACA Leader Unveils White Paper Detailing Key Member Metrics

PITTSBURGH, April 2, 2014 - ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka today unveiled a white paper containing key economic metrics that serve to document the value that the independent cable community provides to hundreds of communities in the United States dependent on broadband-enabled voice, video and data services to thrive in the digital economy.

In keynote remarks at the 21st ACA Summit, ACA's longtime leader underscored that the white paper was a snapshot look at the cumulative strength and vitality of ACA members and the indelible contribution they make to the rapidly evolving communications sector.

"This white paper is important because it shows all the ways our members provide value to their communities.  It will also go a long way to giving definition to ACA's diverse membership and to helping policymakers understand the big impact we are having," Polka said to hundreds of ACA Summit attendees. "This white paper is going to be a great tool in the coming year. I encourage you to read it."

The white paper, called "Connecting Hometown America: How the Small Operators of ACA Are Having a Big Impact," leverages data from a variety of sources, including the National Broadband Map, the U.S. Census, the Federal Communications Commission, Warren News, Infogroup, SNL Kagan and related trade organizations like the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC).  The research and analysis were conducted by Cartesian, a provider of professional services in strategy, execution and managed solutions to global leaders in the communications, digital media, and technology industry. 

In terms of white paper highlights, Polka explained that ACA's 843 member companies represent a diverse mix of cable operators, rural telecommunications companies and municipalities, together serving nearly 7 million customers in a combined network footprint that passes 19 million homes. 

"ACA members serve 7% of the country's multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) subscribers - more than Cox Cable and BrightHouse Networks put together.  That's pretty substantial," Polka said, adding that ACA members generated an estimated $11.5 billion in revenue in 2013, or almost as much as Charter Communications and Cablevision Systems Corp. combined.

While collectively large, ACA's members include a diverse mix of small cable operators, rural telecommunications companies and municipalities.  No ACA member has more than 1 million subscribers and the median number of video subscribers per-member is 1,060.

While the median number of employees for an ACA member is 10, ACA members employ more than 40,000 workers nationally - more than that of satellite TV provider DISH -- making them important job sources in many small towns and cities.

ACA's members serve a disproportionate share of customers in small cities and rural areas. While 28% of the U.S. population lives in small cities and rural areas, 42% of the people covered by ACA members live in these areas. ACA's footprint covers 19% of the U.S. population that lives in small cities and rural areas.

ACA members have invested a total of more than $10 billion in their networks, including more than 300,000 total fiber and cable miles.  The vast majority of the customers of ACA members have access to state-of-the-art video and broadband services.

Many people are unaware that some ACA members compete with cable incumbents and local telcos, especially in urban and suburban markets. More than 5 million homes are served by ACA competitive providers like RCN, WOW!, Grande Communications and Wave Broadband. Polka noted that ACA cable operators have built out broadband to 1.6 million homes that the FCC considers "uneconomic" or "high cost."

"Without any government funding, our cable members decided it was worth the risk to build out networks to these homes," Polka said.

ACA members also offer services to many community institutions in underserved areas.  ACA members' footprint covers 33,000 community institutions such as schools, libraries and hospitals in small cities and rural areas.  Moreover, ACA members' rural footprint covers 1.1 million businesses, and 97% of those businesses have fewer than 50 employees.

Polka, tying the white paper's findings to ACA's day-to-day activities, stressed that ACA will remain an effective force for progress in the political arena if ACA members continue to take a personal interest in the issues.

"Email, texting and Twitter Tweets are all very flashy tools of modern communications, but I can assure you that government is about people and relationships and that Google Hangouts and iPhone FaceTime sessions are no substitute for face-to-face meetings with the people who run this country," Polka said.

He added that America's leaders will base their decisions on the honesty, credibility and sincerity of the people who do good things in their communities.

"Although I've never visited Silicon Valley, I'm positive no one has invented an app that can explain what you do better than you can while sitting across the table from your Senator or Representative," he said.

Polka's comments came two days after the FCC voted to make the most significant self-initiated changes to the retransmission consent rules affecting independent cable operators since the first rules were adopted in 1993. But Polka warned that ACA's opposition would stay in the battle and sling mud at ACA on a routine basis.

"In our policy fights, our opponents, the broadcasters and others, may manufacture facts to blur reality.  Relying occasionally on a hyper-aggressive, win-at-all-costs political strategy, our opponents will stretch the truth about ACA so far that it would give Gumby a torn ACL," Polka said.

The ACA Summit, taking place April 1-3 at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C, is unique for highlighting the special role that independent cable operators play in providing world class communications services to consumers in hometown America.

The theme of this year's summit - Our Time Is NOW! - underscores the important legislative and regulatory goals ACA and its Members are pursuing on Capitol Hill and at the FCC.

Please visit the ACA Summit 2014 website by clicking here:  ACA Summit.

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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