WASHINGTON, March 6, 2015 - Hundreds of ACA Members gathered here this week to make their case for passage of a new telecommunications law that represents true reform for consumers who depend on ACA's independent providers for their most vital communications services, especially broadband Internet connectivity.
"No one makes the case for communications law reform more credibly or more forthrightly than ACA's membership, and I know all ACA members stand ready to help push a badly needed new telecom law across the finish line before the end of next year," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
ACA members left Washington, D.C., feeling hopeful that the current Congress is willing to take bold action on the public policy front for the first time since 1996, when dial-up Internet access was the market leader and the cable industry was on the threshold of spending $230 billion -- $10 billion by ACA members alone -- to deliver a broadband connection to 93% of American households.
Polka praised the ACA Summit's impressive cast of speakers, including such key policymakers as House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore), Rep. Bob Latta (R-Oh.), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) for addressing the key issues facing the independent cable community in addition to outlining their goals and ideas for promoting the public interest in the fast-paced world of digital communications.
As ambassadors for change, ACA's 850 independent operators play a unique role in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers, many living and working in rural areas of the country. These operators also are competitive providers of cable service in urban areas, bringing choice and price competition to consumers. When it comes to responding to the critical broadband infrastructure needs of America, ACA Members are supplying the solutions.
ACA's Polka also thanked Gigi Sohn, Counselor to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, for a thrilling Q&A that touched on recent actions at the FCC and what steps the agency may take in the months ahead.
During the Summit, ACA's rank-and-file got their message out to Washington officialdom on a number of matters, including Net Neutrality, Title II exemptions, retransmission consent reform and program access.
Polka extended his sincere thanks to Washington Post reporter Cecilia Kang for moderating a lively panel discussion on Net Neutrality just days after the FCC vote to reclassify broadband ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Kang was joined by Barbara Esbin, Partner, Cinnamon Mueller law firm; Matt Wood, Policy Director, Free Press; Markham Erickson, Partner, Steptoe and Johnson, and Scott Cleland, President, Precursor LLC and Chairman of NetCompetition.
ACA Summit attendees also enjoyed an in-depth panel discussion on two big pay-TV mergers pending before the FCC and the Department of Justice - the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger and the AT&T-DirecTV transaction. On the panel, moderated by reporter Amy MacLean of CableFAX Daily, were: John Bergmayer: Senior Staff Attorney, Public Knowledge; Jeffrey Blum: Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Dish Network; Hank Hultquist: Vice President - Federal Regulatory, for AT&T; Jon Leibowitz, an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell, a law firm advising Comcast; and Ross Lieberman, ACA's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.
More than 300 ACA Members attended the 22nd ACA Summit, cable's leading event to showcase the effort and progress of smaller, independent and competitive cable operators in providing hometown America with the most advanced communications services needed to learn, entertain and conduct business fed from points all over the globe. About two-dozen members of the print and electronic media covered the March 4 Summit policy forum.
ACA and its attendees were disappointed that weather prevented most members' meetings with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill. "But we're not discouraged," ACA's Polka said. "Advocacy for our ACA members is a full-time job through all four seasons, and we'll be following up with Capitol Hill right away. I can assure you that ACA members' voices will be heard!"
The 22nd ACA Summit extended its tradition as the most important forum nationally to honor the critical role played by independent cable operators based in rural and remote regions of the country, where the challenge of deploying advanced technology involves unusual amount of risk and organizational skill.
Taking place March 3-5 at the Grand Hyatt, the ACA Summit allowed independent cable operators to come in close contact with America's top lawmakers, regulators and journalists to discuss the vital communications issues of our time.
Created in the early 1990's, the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill over a short period of time. More so than ever, ACA Members agree on the need to speak with one voice and to be as visible as possible in making their views known on the diverse and complex issues facing their companies.
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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