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ACA Commends Bipartisan House Bill Modernizing Retransmission Consent And CableCARD Rules

PITTSBURGH, November 18, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding introduction of House legislation that would make important reforms to federal retransmission consent and CableCARD regulations:

"ACA applauds Chairman Upton, Rep. Waxman, Rep. Walden, and Rep. Eshoo on House introduction of bipartisan legislation that includes important reforms to the broken retransmission consent regime. Importantly, the bill would ban any same-market TV stations that are not commonly owned from gaining even more bargaining leverage over small cable companies by jointly negotiating retransmission consent. That provision expands an anti-collusion rule that the Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted on March 31 that was limited to joint negotiations involving two top-four stations in a market.

"Chairman Rockefeller and Sen. Thune also deserve praise for this bill because many of the provisions that make it commendable originated in the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) that passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee under their leadership earlier this year.  This bill is truly a product of the hard work of many Members of Congress, from both the House and Senate, who understood the need to update 1990s rules and regulations that are inappropriate for the competitive video marketplace of 2014 and beyond.  Competition and consumers stand to benefit from enactment of this legislation.

"The House bill would also repeal features of the FCC's CableCARD regulations, which require cable operators to deploy set-tops boxes (STBs) with a separate security module. The CableCARD requirement - also known as the integration ban - has been costly and burdensome for smaller cable operators and it has failed to spawn a large-scale retail cable STB market envisioned by the CableCARD's most vocal proponents.  By requiring the FCC to establish a working group to consider next generation alternatives to CableCARDs, the provision represents a consumer-friendly compromise between the interests of cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers."

"ACA is also pleased that the House bill would update the FCC's cable rates report to include data on the aggregate average total amount paid by cable systems in retransmission consent fees each year.  This legislation would also prohibit many broadcasters from preventing significantly viewed signals from entering their local markets."

"ACA urges members of the House to pass this bill without delay, and calls on the Senate to do the same upon receipt."

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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