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ACA Salutes FCC’s NPRM Designed To Promote Independent and Diverse Programming

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 29, 2016 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission's adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) designed to promote the availability of diverse and independent programming for consumers:

"ACA is very pleased to support this NPRM.  In particular, we salute FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her long-term efforts to get the FCC to consider industry practices that make it difficult for independent and diverse programming to gain access on small cable systems. 

"We are especially glad to hear that the rulemaking solicits comment on various ways that the Commission could curb bundling that prevents small cable operators from offering independent and diverse programming to their customers.

"It is undeniable that large programmers and broadcasters require small cable operators to carry dozens of unwanted networks that hog up limited bandwidth that could be allocated to independent programmers.  A small cable operator that wants to carry just one channel from each of the nine largest programmers (which combined own or control more than 100 channels) can trigger an obligation to carry 65 channels. 

These programmers' bundling obligations also exhaust small cable operators' programming budgets, leaving them with no money for independent programmers.  Broadcasters' practices are just as problematic.  Some broadcasters refuse to grant retransmission consent unless a small cable operator agrees to set aside channel capacity for carriage of a network ‘yet to be launched.'

"Bundling is not the only problem in the market.  Penetration requirements and conditional Most Favored Nation (MFN) clauses employed against small cable operators also prevent them from carrying independent and diverse programming.

"For many years, small cable operators and independent and diverse programmers have recognized that we're individually stronger when supporting the other in the market, particularly in a market that is increasingly controlled by small number of large players. ACA intends to fully engage on this rulemaking, and looks forward to working closely with our partners in the independent and diverse programming industry for the benefit of consumers."

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