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ACA Condemns Viacom For Retaliatory Website Blocking Against Small Cable Broadband Providers

PITTSBURGH, May 6, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement condemning Viacom for denying access to its websites by broadband Internet subscribers served by smaller cable broadband providers who are members of the ACA:

"All who care about ensuring access to content on the Internet should be outraged that Viacom is selectively blocking access to its public websites by broadband Internet subscribers served by smaller cable companies.

"Viacom took this punitive step against these companies in retaliation for their recent refusals to sign cable programming renewal contracts seeking exorbitant fee increases for Viacom networks with low ratings and minimal viewer interest.  As part of its retaliatory efforts, Viacom's action is impacting access to a subset of broadband customers, also known as ‘cord cutters,' who are not video customers of these companies.

"We know that all broadband Internet subscribers of two ACA members - Cable ONE and Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico - are being blocked by the powerful media conglomerate. We fully expect the list of small cable operators targeted by Viacom to grow based on preliminary information from dozens of ACA members who did not renew with Viacom.

"Viacom's actions are a flagrant attack on Internet openness and a textbook replay of the vengeful action CBS took against Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks broadband customers during their well-documented retransmission consent dispute last August.

"Viacom's move is momentous because of the policy and industry debate occurring right now regarding the fundamental tenets of Internet openness, which include allowing consumers to reach the lawful content of their choice.  In selectively blocking these users' access, Viacom is violating Internet openness in a way that should be seen as a call to action to policymakers on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission."

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 nearly 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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