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ACA Calls on Commission to Restore Balance to Retrans Market

Urges FCC to Prohibit Station Blackouts during Pending Broadcast Carriage Complaints

Pittsburgh, October 17, 2008 - In filings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday, the American Cable Association (ACA) renewed its call for the commission to put an end to market abuse and abusive behavior by broadcasters. The filings, made on behalf of Trust Cable TV, Inc (available here) and Baja Broadband Operating Company (available here), highlight the urgent need for the Commission to grant Requests of Stay while retransmission consent complaints are pending, and enforce its objective standards of good faith to ensure that small cable operators and their customers are not harmed by broadcasters who benefit from favorable federal rules and regulations.

"This is an important time for not only small cable operators, but operators of every size, and the tens of millions of households that rely on them for service," said ACA CEO and President, Matthew M. Polka. "For far too long Broadcasters have abused their market power and employed abusive negotiating tactics to extract unreasonable and unwarranted retransmission fees, terms, and conditions from operators and subscribers.  These bad faith bargaining tactics are magnified further by the inability of cable operators to bring a complaint to the Commission without sacrificing that channel at the detriment of their subscribers.  There must be a mechanism in place that enables operators to continue carriage while complaints are pending; it is an essential first step to bring some balance back to the retransmission market."

Specifically, ACA has asked the FCC to:

  • Permit cable operators to carry a broadcast station during a pending complaint
  • Rule that a broadcaster can expressly assent to retransmission consent through silence
  • Enforce its objective standards of good faith, and rule on behalf of operators who lodge complaints

Trust Cable TV filed a complaint against broadcasters WGMB and WVLA for their abusive negotiations tactics in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, and requested an emergency stay preventing the broadcast station owners from pulling its signals until Trust can fully recover from the storm and the proceeding concludes.  Baja Broadband ‘s complaint against El Paso station KTSM details "take it or leave it" refusals to negotiate and other abuses of market power.  They also requested the Commission to grant a stay preventing the broadcasters from pulling their signals during the pendency of the complaints.

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 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 www.americancable.org.

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