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ACA Chairman Robert Gessner, ACA CEO Matthew Polka On C-SPAN's 'The Communicators'

FCC Set-Top Box Proposal, Retransmission Consent Reform Discussed On Public Affairs Program

PITTSBURGH, April 1, 2016 - American Cable Association Chairman Robert Gessner, President of MCTV, and ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka are this week's guests on C-SPAN's 'The Communicators' series. The show airs on Saturday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. EDT on C-SPAN and on Monday, April 4, at 8 p.m. EDT on C-SPAN2. It can be viewed now at http://www.c-span.org/series/?communicators.

The wide-ranging conversation covers several current policy and operational issues facing independent cable companies, including the Federal Communications Commission's set-top box proposal, the Open Internet Order and retransmission consent.

Gessner is a second-generation independent cable company executive based in Massillon, Oh. The company serves more than 47,000 customers and employs more than 145 people throughout the community.

"Our biggest issue that we have faced is adding broadband service for our customers.  And, of course, we face the complex regulatory issues as well," Gessner said.

Gessner said that retransmission consent continues to be a problem for independent operators.

"I worry about it because I don't want my customers to wake up and find a channel missing from their line-up," he said.

Polka said the current FCC proposal on set-top boxes represents a "Pandora's Box" for ACA members and their customers. 

"The current FCC proposal is a vague and open-ended solution in search of a problem.  The anticipated costs - clearly in the hundreds of millions - could be better spent investing in broadband for customers," Polka said.

Both Gessner and Polka noted the need for FCC intervention to update its "good faith" retransmission consent negotiation rules to take consumers "out of the middle" of blackouts caused by TV station owners.

From a broadband perspective, ACA's leaders warned of unregulated content providers, so-called "edge" providers, that block, discriminate and condition consumer access to online content.  Just this week ACA called on the FCC to initiate an investigation of Netflix, which admitted to throttling mobile bandwidth usage of AT&T and Verizon customers.

Coming off the recent 23rd annual ACA Summit in Washington, D.C. -- where ACA members visited to lobby Capitol Hill -- Polka said ACA and its members are "committed to telling our story, both now and long into the future."

"Thank you to C-SPAN for giving to Matt and me the privilege to appear on 'The Communicators' to talk about our members' important issues," Gessner added. 

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 750 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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