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FCC Commissioner Clyburn Hails Role Of Independent Operators

Vows To Remain 'Vigilant’ About Impact Of Regulations On Small Business

LAKE BUENA VISTA, July 25, 2016 -  In comments to hundreds of independent cable operators, Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn praised the small business communications sector serving rural America, adding she understood the impact of regulation on video and broadband providers that lack the financial heft of industry giants to absorb unsought external costs.

"Many of you provide service in places where there might not be any other option," Clyburn said. "Because of the valuable role that you play, I am both vigilant and mindful of the impact regulations may have on businesses of your size. This is why I continue to listen to your concerns" she said.

Clyburn's comments came in prepared remarks this morning at this year's the Independent Show, moments before fielding a few questions from ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka, who thanked her for attending in person and speaking directly to ACA Members' concerns. The full audio of Clyburn's Independent Show remarks is here.

Clyburn was introduced by Brian Singleton, CEO of TruVista Communications in Chester, S.C.  Clyburn in a native of South Carolina.

Clyburn praised ACA Members for reaching out to her on a number of issues, including the Connect America Fund, enhanced broadband disclosure policies, the Lifeline program and special access/Broadband Data Services (BDS) policy.

On BDS proposals contained in a pending FCC rulemaking, she said, "I believe that new entrants like cable should be able to participate and flourish in the business data services market. I am looking for a solution that balances the need for access to bottleneck facilities while minimizing regulation where it is not necessary."

ACA is urging the FCC to retain time-tested methods of not regulating the provision of BDS by cable and other competitive providers while continuing to target dominant providers.

Clyburn said she knew that the independent cable community has many concerns about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to overhaul the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) set-top box arena, in an effort to promote the retail availability of third-party devices capable of accessing pay-TV services.

"My mind remains open" on how to proceed, she said.

In response to a question from ACA's Polka, Clyburn said she understood the set-top box issue was controversial in a lot of respects, including copyright/content security and consumer privacy in addition to ACA's concerns that Chairman Wheeler's plan would a cost a typical small cable operator at least $1 million per headend/central office.

"I am happy to report that we are very much in the deliberative stage. There is no rush on this when it comes to choosing one pathway or another tomorrow," Clyburn said.

She said ACA's concerns will be factored into the rulemaking as well as the need to update the set-top box marketplace.

"At the end of the day, when a final decision is made, we want to be as close to nirvana as possible," Clyburn said.

Lastly, Clyburn said she is very concerned about the ability of independent cable operators to carry independent TV programming, noting that she hosted an FCC workshop on this subject on April 25 in Washington, D.C. Dealing with this issue, she said, should be "a priority for the Commission." She said she is working with Chairman Wheeler on "next steps."

The Independent Show is being held at Walt Disney World's award-winning Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl. The show is an annual forum created to focus attention on the key public policy issues facing independent cable operators. ACA co-hosts the event with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), a Lenexa, Kansas-based group that buys programming and equipment for U.S. cable operators. Please find show news on Twitter at #TIS16.

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