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ACA Applauds Final Passage Of STELAR With Pro-Consumer Retransmission Consent And CableCARD Reforms

PITTSBURGH, November 20, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding final passage of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act (STELAR):

"With today's final passage of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act (STELAR), Congress responded to tens of millions of consumers by changing communications policy in ways that will keep pace with rapid advancements in technology and reward innovation in the traditional video and broadband markets. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.), working in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion, deserve high praise for gaining Senate passage of this bill, for being steadfast champions of reform and for challenging the status quo when many were predicting another victory for partisan gridlock. ACA urges President Barack Obama to sign this bill into law immediately.

"Consumers will clearly benefit under key provisions of STELAR. For example, the bill will help tap the brakes on out-of-control retransmission consent fees by banning any same-market TV stations that are not commonly owned from jointly negotiating retransmission consent.  In more than 20% of local TV markets, ACA found that TV stations had been relying on this collusive tactic to gain even more bargaining leverage over small cable companies in an effort to force their customers to pay higher fees for broadcast TV. STELAR's new TV collusion ban tracks with a rule that the Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted on March 31, except that the FCC rule was narrower in that it applied to joint negotiations involving just two top-four stations in a market.

"This legislation will also roll back burdensome set-top box (STB) regulations imposed by the FCC in a manner that drove up the price of cable STBs and retail cable bills while failing to engineer a robust retail market for such boxes that regulators identified as their goal. Under STELAR, cable operators eventually will no longer be required to deploy STBs with expensive separate security modules known as CableCARDs. This move will allow ACA members to roll out so-called integrated STBs that will have the same rich navigation features and functions yet in a more cost-effective manner. This change, however, will in no way relieve cable operators from their obligations to support CableCARD boxes, like those manufactured by TiVo, that consumers acquire elsewhere, which represents a consumer-friendly compromise between cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers."

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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