PITTSBURGH, December 17, 2013 – American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding Sinclair Broadcast Group’s decision Sunday night to black out NBC affiliate WNWO, Channel 24, on Buckeye CableSystem in the Toledo, Ohio, area:
“The indifference of broadcasters, like Sinclair, toward blacking out cable customers, especially so close to the holiday season, in order to extract higher fees from cable operators and their customers, is nothing short of Grinch-like. In our view, broadcasters like Sinclair who would leave millions of consumers in the dark without notice are media malefactors who make a mockery of their legal obligation to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. You’re a mean one, Mr. Broadcaster.
“ACA is pleased that some Capitol Hill lawmakers find Sinclair and other broadcasters’ conduct intolerable. For example, last week Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, both California Democrats, introduced a bill that would provide the FCC with unmistakable authority to stop Sinclair’s signal blackout against Buckeye.
“In another coup for consumers, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced a bill that would eliminate many of the special retransmission consent-related protections that Congress gave the broadcasters decades ago and that give them an advantage in negotiations with cable operators. In particular, both bills would no longer legally require cable operators to distribute payment-demanding TV stations to all customers as a precondition to their gaining access to other programming on the cable system. When consumers have more opportunities to opt out of high-priced programming, they are the winners.
“Given Sinclair’s blackout of Buckeye, the Eshoo-Lofgren and Scalise-Gardner bills have arrived at the perfect moment and both deserve attention by Congress because consumers have lost all patience with broadcasters that engage in signal blackmail in order to reap huge fee increases from Buckeye and other small cable operators. When consumers learn these lawmakers are pushing for reform, they will root for their success.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 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/