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ACA Condemns Northwest Broadcasting’s Massive Blackout Of Cable ONE Customers

PITTSBURGH, January 1, 2017 -  American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding Northwest Broadcasting's New Year's Day blackout of Cable ONE, which lost all access to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations in two rural Mississippi communities and access to some of these network stations in other markets:

"Anyone still doubting that the retransmission consent rules are broken need look no further than Grenada and Cleveland, Miss., and the shameless and reckless conduct there by Northwest Broadcasting at the start of the new year.

"Earlier today, Northwest Broadcasting exercised undue market power by denying Cable ONE customers access to all Big Four network broadcast station signals in those two rural Mississippi communities, cutting off access to any locally televised news and weather forecasts that the broadcasters claim make them so special, particularly in times of emergency.  By pulling the signals of all four major broadcast network affiliates, Northwest has victimized and left vulnerable unsuspecting cable customers, who may have grown accustomed to a broadcaster pulling one station, but certainly not all four in the market at the same time.  Northwest Broadcasting also removed TV signals from Cable ONE systems in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarksdale, Winona, and Yazoo, Miss.

"In the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR), Congress ordered the Federal Communications Commission to review whether the existing retransmission consent rules have been effective in ensuring that TV stations are negotiating retransmission consent in good faith with multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).  Although outgoing FCC leadership declined to act, the rulemaking remains open, providing incoming FCC leaders with a ready platform to take account of Northwest Broadcasting's abusive manipulation of Cable ONE subscribers in updating their definition of good faith bargaining.

"Broadcasters are also currently seeking to loosen broadcast television ownership rules, which would allow them to own and control more media outlets in the markets they operate, including competing broadcast stations, in the marketplace.  Northwest Broadcasting's simultaneous pulling of four signals in the same market raises serious questions whether allowing more broadcasters to own or control more stations in local television markets is in the public interest." 

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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