Consumers Need Protection From TV Station Blackouts
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 3, 2016 - Speaking at the American Cable Association’s D.C. Summit, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) Wednesday called on the Federal Communications Commission to clear up its definition of “good faith” when it comes to retransmission consent negotiations.
Doyle, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said this issue is critical to protecting consumers’ interests and will be high on the Committee’s agenda this year.
“We want to make sure that broadcasters and cable operators are negotiating in good faith so we don’t have blackouts and some of the problems we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “We are pressing [FCC] Chairman [Tom] Wheeler on that.”
Doyle made the remarks during a Q&A session with ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka. In 2015 there were 123 TV station-initiated blackouts, a new record.
Doyle also said that the Committee is actively pursuing efforts to broaden consumer choice when it comes to programming.
“Rep. Bob Latta (R-Oh.) and I sent a letter to Commissioner Wheeler encouraging the FCC to level the playing between small cable operators and large cable operators when it comes to program access,” Dolye said. “Unfortunately, they have not moved on that yet, but we will keep pressing them.”
Doyle noted that a level playing field would foster competition and lead to innovation. “Consumers want innovation,” he said. “Where there is competition and choice, you have innovation and better prices. Consumers want a variety of choices and they want access to the technologies as they come about.”
He joked, “And of course they want that for all for nothing,” adding that consumers “want it at a competitive price.”
One area not likely to see legislative movement this year is broad telecom reform.
“This year isn’t the right time. It’s difficult. It requires sustained commitment and push to get it done. It’s a presidential year, and Congress won’t be in session very much. The prospects for major reform in the committee are slim,” Doyle said.
The ACA Summit 2016 is taking place amid tremendous change in the regulatory arena managed by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, whether the issue is broadband regulation, retransmission consent reform, or media consolidation.
The ACA Summit connects small and mid-sized cable operators serving hometown America with the country’s leading lawmakers and regulators as well as media representatives who track communications policy in our nation’s capital.
This signature event highlights the unique role played by nearly 750 independent cable operators in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers living and working in some of the most remote areas of the country. Responding to the critical broadband infrastructure needs of rural America, ACA Members put their own capital at risk to supply the solutions.Created as ACA emerged as a lobbying force in Washington, D.C., the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill. Over the three-day event, ACA Members speak with one voice in making their views known on the diverse and complex issues they face on a daily basis.
ACA Members know they “Hold The Key To Reform!” – the theme of ACA Summit 2016 — just as they know that success will require persistence and determination in overcoming entrenched interests that keep a tight grip on their regulatory advantages.
Please visit the ACA Summit 2016 website by clicking here: ACA Summit. The event took place at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 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/