Regional Small Cable Operators Meet to Fight Retransmission Abuse, Tying Practices, and to Bring Broadband Services to Rural Areas
DALLAS, July 14, 2008 – The needs of small, rural cable customers were front and center at this week’s Small Cable Operators Roundtable in Dallas, Texas. Hosted by Chuck Davis, the owner of TV Cable of Grayson County, and supported by the American Cable Association (ACA), dozens of independent cable operators from Texas and neighboring states gathered to discuss and address the state of the small cable industry. Operators voiced their growing concerns over the rising cost of retransmission consent fees, the restrictions tying and bundling practices place on customer choice, the need for greater investment in broadband deployment to rural communities, and the role operators can play to support the ACA’s efforts in Washington, D.C.
The roundtable focused on the most critical issues facing independent cable operators across the country, specifically the need to put an end to pricing and packaging discrimination against small cable operators at the hands of programmers and broadcasters. The practice of tying and bundling has drawn a great deal of attention at the FCC in recent months, and ACA and its members hope action by the Commission will curb market abuse by programmers and give operators the ability to offer greater choice and lower prices to their customers. Attendees also discussed how they are increasingly being charged exorbitant fees for pole attachments,and the difficulties in getting support from the Rural Utilities Service broadband deployment loan program. Leaders from the American Cable Association(ACA) and Congressional staff from Congressmen Ralph Hall (R-TX), Pete Sessions(R-TX), and Michael Burgess (R-TX) were also in attendance at the two-dayevent.
“I am proud of the attending ACA’s members who serve small town America and rural communities throughout the country for their interest in getting more involved in the legislative process,” said Matt Polka, ACA president and chiefexecutive officer. “These operators wanted to learn what more they can do to help Washington understand their concerns, and we were more than happy to teach them how to get even more involved.”
“From the meeting, it was clear that our members want to provide their consumers with quality television programming at an affordable price, but also want to deliver essential broadband services to keep hometown America connected. Today, the practices of programmers and broadcasters make it difficult to make those hopes realities, but we are fighting for our customers, and we are making progress. The current state of the cable industry is unacceptable to thousands ofoperators and millions of their customers. Our members and their customers deserve better,” said Polka.
“Today’s business environment for small cable operators is strangling our ability to provide value and choice to our customers. Conversations like one we had here this week at the roundtable are an essential part of independent operators working together to fight against market abuses by broadcasters and programmers,” stated Chuck Davis the owner of TV Cable of Grayson County, located in Pottsboro, Texas. Every opportunity we have to cast a brighter light on the use of tying and bundling practices and absurd retransmission fees for smaller operators by broadcasters andprogrammers is time well spent and should be considered a success.”
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About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 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 www.americancable.org.