PITTSBURGH, July 27, 2015 – American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding the Federal Communication Commission’s approval of the AT&T-DirecTV transaction and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s statement supporting closer FCC examination of the program access rules:
“American Cable thanks Commissioner Clyburn for calling on Chairman Wheeler to initiate a proceeding regarding the FCC’s program access rules to evaluate their effectiveness and to identify whether there are ways to reform the rules that would provide a level playing field to enable smaller operators to remain competitive in the market. If the FCC is going to rely upon the program access rules rather than the ACA’s proposed conditions to mitigate the incremental vertical harms to competitors of new AT&T owning four ‘must have’ regional sports networks, then the rules must work as Congress intended.
“In its merger filings, American Cable outlined many problems the program access enforcement rules present for a smaller cable operator that negotiates on its own and wishes to file a complaint itself. Commissioner Clyburn’s support for a closer examination of the rules, particularly their effectiveness for small cable operators, is therefore right on the mark.
“If reforms can be adopted expeditiously, they could provide a vital backstop to protect consumers from the harms of the new AT&T’s ownership of the Root Sports networks. Reforming the program access enforcement rules would have the added bonus of protecting cable operators from competitive harms from other vertically integrated regional sports networks, like those owned by Comcast/NBCU, particularly following the expiration in 2018 of the merger conditions imposed earlier by the FCC on that combination.
“ACA encourages FCC Chairman Wheeler, who has engaged with ACA on a separate rulemaking concerning buying group utilization of the program access rules, to grant Commissioner Clyburn’s call for action by finishing the current program access reform rulemaking on buying groups by year’s end, and issuing a further notice on reforms necessary for individual cable operators to utilize the rules without delay.”
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 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, visit https://acaconnects.org/