ACAction Brief - your connection to news and initiatives
Public Issue – November 10, 2010 

 Key Development  

ACA: Comcast-NBCU To Hit Consumers With $2.4 Billion Bill

In a new economic study released Nov. 8, the American Cable Association found that consumers over the next nine years will pay at least $2.4 billion more for pay-television service as a result of unrestrained pricing power that will flow from the combination of Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal, an unprecedented media transaction awaiting regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.

"It is clear that the Comcast-NBCU deal will send monthly cable bills higher by billions of dollars over the next decade, underscoring ACA's view that regulators must protect consumers and competition from a transaction whose benefits are vastly outweighed by its harms. Without meaningful and cost effective conditions on the Comcast-NBCU transaction, regulators also run the risk of crippling effective competition in the pay-TV distribution market," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

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ACA's Polka Blasts Fox's 'Blackmail or Blackout' Strategy

On Oct. 16, News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting pulled three TV stations signals from 3 million Cablevision Systems Corp. customers in the New York City area in a blackout that lasted 15 days and included two World Series games. The dispute ended on Saturday, Oct. 30, when Cablevision said it felt it had to sign an unfair deal to carry Fox-owned stations WNYW, WWOR, and WTXF after the Federal Communications Commission declined to require signal carriage pending the outcome of binding arbitration.

After Cablevision's announcement that it had signed a contract with Fox, American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement:

"Fox demonstrated that federal retransmission consent rules encourage broadcasters to harm consumers by adopting a ‘blackmail or blackout' strategy intended to wrest excessive cash compensation from local cable operators.

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ACA's Polka Honors Rep. Rick Boucher's Long Service To His Country

Rick Boucher  
Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat defeated for re-election on Nov. 2, was chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, a panel that oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the cable television industry. Boucher, first elected in 1982, spent his entire career trying to ensure that his constituents in his rural Virginia district had access to advanced communications services at affordable prices. After news of the election results, ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued a statement saluting Boucher's long congressional career.

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ACA Notes OMB Official's Support For Regulatory Flexibility

The American Cable Association noted that in a recent speech, a senior Obama Administration official stressed the importance of following the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and understanding the impact of regulations on small business before the rules take effect.

The speech, “Open Government is Analytic Government (and Vice-Versa): Remarks on the Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Regulatory Flexibility Act” was delivered Sept. 21 by Cass R. Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget.

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  News Headlines
  • AT&T Reach Deal For Food, HGTV (, 11/08)
    AT&T's U-Verse service has reached a new deal with Scripps Networks to carry the Food Network, HGTV and four other lifestyle channels.
  • Broadband Usage Growing Even As Gaps Persist (Associated Press, 11/08)
    The U.S. still faces a significant gap in residential broadband use that breaks down along incomes, education levels and other socio-economic factors, even as subscriptions among American households overall grew sevenfold between 2001 and 2009.
  • Cable Subscribers Flee, But Is Internet To Blame? (Associated Press, 11/05)
    TV subscribers are ditching their cable companies at an ever faster rate in the past few months, and many of them aren't signing up with a satellite or phone competitor instead.
  • ISPs On Net Neutrality: TV Networks Are The Real Villains (Ars Technica, 11/07)
    The FCC has—finally, mercifully—closed up its net neutrality docket. ISPs, Web companies, and public interest groups hustled to turn in last-minute filings yesterday, most showing a naked self-interest that was bracing to behold
  • Rep. Barton Seeks Support Of New Republicans For Energy & Commerce Chair (Broadcasting & Cable, 11/04)
    Joe Barton (R-Tex.) is already campaigning for the chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
  • Rutledge: Fox Fight 'Unpleasant', But Necessary (Multichannel News, 11/04)
    As the dust continues to clear from Cablevision Systems' two-week retransmission-consent battle with Fox Networks, the MSO's top operations executive told analysts Thursday that the dispute was "unpleasant," but necessary.
  • TV Blackouts To Get A Senate Hearing This Month (The Hill, 11/04)
    The Senate Commerce Committee's Communications subcommittee will hold a hearing on the rules for TV negotiations that have at times left viewers without access to certain television channels, a Senate aide confirmed Thursday.
  • Spectrum Reclamation On FCC's Agenda (Broadcasting & Cable, 11/04)
    As promised, the FCC will propose new rules at its Nov. 30 meeting to "remove obstacles" to the re-use of TV spectrum for mobile broadband.
  • Fox's Chase Carey: Retrans To Lift Fox To New Heights (TVNewsCheck, 11/04)
    News Corp. is benefiting from political ad spending and a hard-nosed bargaining strategy with pay-TV operators, as gains in its TV and cable segments helped net income grow in the latest quarter.
  • Ousted Rep. Rick Boucher Looks Back At Election (Los Angeles Times, 11/03)
    Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher, defeated by Morgan Griffith, says voters' opposition to the Democratic leadership was too much to overcome, even with his 'record of 28 years of service to the region.'
  • TV Station Owner Allbritton Backs Title II Reclassification (Multichannel News, 11/02)
    In a filing at the Federal Communications Commission, Allbritton Communications, which owns TV stations, the Politico newspaper, a regional cable news channel, and their associated Web sites, says commission chairman Julius Genachowski's "third way" proposal is the right way.
  • Restoring Retrans Sanity (CableFax, 11/02)
    So what now? The residual aftertaste of the Cablevision-Fox retrans fight continues to linger… and not in a good way.

For more news, visit the Headlines Page on the ACA website.

  About ACA

Across this vast country, small and rural markets participate in the digital revolution by receiving video, broadband, and phone services from nearly 900 small and medium-sized independent operators represented by the American Cable Association (ACA).

ACA’s members -- cable, phone, and fiber-to-the-home operators and municipalities -- deliver affordable basic and advanced services to about 7.6 million households and businesses. ACA members operate in every state, offering high-definition television, next generation Internet access, and digital phone service.

Access to advanced communications is not a luxury but a critical necessity for consumers and companies, schools and hospitals. America’s economic prosperity in smaller markets and rural areas depends on the growth and success of ACA members, who believe a connected nation, is a united nation.

The ACA asks lawmakers and regulators to ensure fair treatment so that small and medium-sized independent operators may continue to supply affordable video, broadband, and phone services to Main Street America. Through active participation in the policymaking process, ACA members and leaders advocate for the interests of their customers, their companies, and their communities to help ensure the continued viability of their way of life in hometown America.

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