Changes to the Universal Service Fund, Greater Restrictions on Network Management, and Limitations on Consumption-Based Billing Could Prove Harmful to Small Cable Operators and Their Customers
GRAPEVINE, TEXAS, July 27, 2009 – In a speech here Monday, American Cable Association chairman Steve Friedman praised Washington, D.C., policy makers for assisting small, independent cable providers in the last year while cautioning ACA members that they could face closer regulatory supervision in the years ahead.
“In the past year, ACA has succeeded in persuading the FCC to exempt small cable operators from having to distribute must carry TV stations in both analog and digital formats for the next three years. And the FCC recently issued decisions that began to liberate small cable operators from having to rely on costly CableCARD set-top boxes that were making it prohibitively expensive to transition analog networks to all-digital platforms,” Friedman said.
Friedman outlined his views about the regulatory landscape in remarks to hundreds of ACA members in attendance for the 4th Annual Independent Cable Show organized by ACA and the National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc., a Lenexa, Kansas-based nonprofit that purchases programming and equipment for U.S. cable operators.
Friedman, who is also Chief Operating Officer of Wave Broadband in Kirkland, Wash., explained to ACA members that policy makers might pursue new initiatives that could have an impact on their companies, such as broadening the mission of the Universal Service Fund to subsidize broadband deployment, particularly if reforms do not take into account the interests of small operators.
Friedman also referred to the introduction of the Broadband Internet Fairness Act by U.S. Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), which could end up stifling small cable broadband providers from initiating consumption-billing plans that give consumers ultimate control over how much they spend each month for their Internet access.
When the time comes for ACA to explain its views in response to these and other regulatory proposals, Friedman said he expects ACA leaders to get a fair hearing.
“I can assure you that lawmakers and policy makers in Washington, D.C., reach out to ACA on a regular basis to determine whether a new policy under discussion would harm the interests of small, independent cable providers. `Check with ACA’ is heard more and more in the corridors of power,” Friedman declared.
In closing, Friedman promised that ACA was totally committed to seeking retransmission consent reform, as broadcasters continue to push their cash demands to unconscionable levels.
“It’s only a matter of time before their discriminatory pricing schemes harmful to ACA members and their customers cause regulators to blow the whistle and send TV stations to the penalty box. When Congress or the FCC is ready to address this issue, ACA will be ready with its playbook documenting years of market abuse by broadcasters,” Friedman said.
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About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 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 https://acaconnects.org/