PITTSBURGH, October 17, 2011 – American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in response to LIN TV’s decision to cease its six-week blackout of Mediacom:
“Six weeks are a long time for consumers to be disconnected from what broadcasters, like LIN TV, call ‘free TV.’ LIN TV just proved that retransmission consent harms consumers. If the retransmission consent rules are not updated to reflect current market conditions, millions more will be harmed as price-gouging TV stations follow in LIN’s path of ‘blackmail or blackout’ in the distribution of monopoly local TV signals.
“Decisive action by the Federal Communications Commission is needed soon because approximately 900 independent cable operators have to conclude retransmission consent agreements by Dec. 31, 2011, or face TV station blackouts on a massive scale, especially in smaller markets like Topeka, Kan., where one broadcaster just gained control of the retrans rights to the ABC, NBC, and FOX affiliates now carried by 10 ACA members in that market.
“In addition to repudiating blackouts, the FCC should use the pending retransmission consent rulemaking to outlaw separately owned TV stations in the same market from coordinating their negotiations for carriage fees, which is nothing but a crass price-fixing scheme aimed at small cable operators with no leverage to resist. The FCC also needs to clamp down on broadcasters that curtail cable operator access to out-of-market stations desired by their customers.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.6 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 American Cable Association (https://acaconnects.org/)