Trade Group Says WG4 Device Proposal Would Impose Unjustified Burdens On Small Cable
PITTSBURGH, November 11, 2015 – The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject calls for it to adopt new cable TV set-top box regulations based on the deeply flawed “Competitive Navigation” System proposal (Device Proposal or AllVid) included in the final report of Working Group 4 (WG4).
“The record in this proceeding demonstrates that adopting the Device Proposal would be both ill-advised and unnecessary,” said ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka. “There is simply no basis for a rulemaking to contravene the limited directive of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR) by imposing incredible burdens on multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), particularly on smaller operators that face substantially greater technical and financial challenges than their larger counterparts.”
In a Nov. 9 filing with the FCC, ACA said both the statutory text and legislative history of STELAR argue against further FCC action with respect to the Device Proposal. The language of Section 106(d) of STELAR limited the Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee’s (DSTAC) mandate to only the examination and recommendation of downloadable security solutions that would not be unduly burdensome to implement.
Notably, the Senate effectively rejected a legislative proposal that would have directed the FCC to take exactly the action advocates of the Device Proposal are calling for in this proceeding, strongly suggesting that if the FCC were to proceed in this direction, it would be contravening Congress’ intent.
And while the Device Proposal proponents argue a rulemaking based on their proposal is necessary to further the aims of Section 629 of the Communications Act, commenters on both sides of this debate have illustrated there is a vibrant market for retail navigation devices that goes well beyond anything Congress could have conceived at the time legislation was adopted.
The record also demonstrates that the Device Proposal itself, which cannot be implemented with existing technology and requires the development of dozens of new standards and protocols, would place undue burdens on MVPDs by imposing onerous mandates that would not only require significant effort to implement technically, but also wreak havoc on MVPDs’ ability to meet their existing legal and regulatory obligations.
Small operators in particular are ill-equipped to deal with these challenges, particularly in an era when rising programming costs are already forcing the closure of small cable systems throughout the country. Further, the proposal would harm the very consumers Section 629 is intended to benefit by raising the cost of MVPD service.
Meanwhile, the “Application-Based Service With Operator Provided User-Interface” System proposal (App Proposal) included in the WG4 report would, by contrast, further the aims of Section 629 without harming MVPDs and consumers. It allows MVPDs to evolve and innovate at their own pace and in response to consumer demand, rather than requiring the rapid re-architecture of networks that would be devastating for smaller, less-sophisticated MVPDs.
“To ensure the continued availability of MVPD service and to avoid the significant costs that MVPDs would incur to comply with unnecessary technical mandates, the FCC must avoid the Device Proposal and permit MVPDs to continue with the flexible, pro-competitive approach that has been developed in the market and is embodied in the App Proposal,” Polka said.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 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, visithttps://acaconnects.org/