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Rural Operators Counter News Corp.’s Relief Request

ACA, NTCA, OPASTCO Letter to the FCC Opposes Requested Opt Out of 2004 Conditions

PITTSBURGH, November 25, 2008 - Representatives of nearly every cable company and telco serving rural America today have voiced their collective opposition to the latest request by News Corp. to back out of conditions applied to them as part of its 2004 purchase of DIRECTV.  In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today, (available here) responding to a September 26, 2008 petition filed by News Corp., the American Cable Association (ACA), the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), and the Organizations for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) requested the FCC deny News Corp.'s request for relief from conditions established by the 2004 News Corp.-Hughes Order.  The letter specifically cited the continued public benefit and lack of harm done to the media giant as a result of the conditions.

"The conditions placed on News Corp. continue to have substantial public interest benefits," ACA president and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "Removing the conditions now would allow News Corp. to engage in the types of abusive market practices that force smaller operators and their subscribers to pay higher prices for programming."

The conditions sought to ensure consumer-friendly obligations were placed on News Corp. regarding its Fox television stations and Fox sports networks through 2010.   If the conditions on News Corp. were lifted, small operators and their customers would be forced to pay more money for the same content, because News Corp. would be able to exercise unconstrained market power over smaller distributors - again.  

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) represents more than 58- rural incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) that include both cooperatives and commercial companies.

The Organizations for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) represents more than 600 rural LECs and their affiliate telecommunications companies.

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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 http://www.americancable.org/.

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