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ACA Members, Customers Were Ready For The DTV Transition

June 12 Transition To Digital TV Went Smoothly In 7 Million Small Cable Homes

PITTSBURGH, June 13, 2009 -- One day after broadcasters finally completed their digital television transition, the American Cable Association reported that the historic shutdown of analog TV service went smoothly for its small and medium-sized members and the more than 7 million homes they serve.

"The American Cable Association, working with our members, spent the past three years preparing for the broadcasters' transition to digital transmission. From our perspective, it appears that our efforts were a success, especially when measured by the handful of calls received at ACA's DTV telephone hotline in the 48 hours prior to the June 12 shutdown of analog TV service and into the following two days," ACA president and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "To achieve a successful transition, broadcasters needed the voluntary cooperation of ACA's members, and ACA was pleased to be part of an exercise in which industry participants came together to serve the national interest."

"ACA and its members recognize that we're not completely out of the woods yet, and we remain on call to handle any new issues that may arise over this weekend," Polka added.

In 2006, Congress voted to require TV stations to cease analog broadcasting on Feb. 17, 2009.  The Obama Administration feared that too many broadcast-only homes were unprepared and gained an extension of the transition deadline to June 12.  Last week, President Obama said he would not support another extension, despite reports that 2.8 million broadcast-only homes still had not prepared adequately.

"ACA applauds the Obama Administration, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for their efforts to make the digital transition a success for small cable operators and their customers," Polka said.

Because of privately funded investments by cable operators which allowed their systems to carry the broadcasters' digital signals, cable subscribers were not affected by the transition unless they had analog TV sets not connected to the service.

Especially within the past 12 months, ACA members were active on a number of DTV transition fronts, all of them geared toward preparing their systems and educating their customers for the loss of analog TV signals in 2009.  For instance, in association with the National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc., ACA distributed marketing tools and literature to members on ways of advising cable customers about the risks of having unconnected TV sets.

ACA worked closely with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and associations of the broadcasting industry to coordinate their members' transition efforts. As part of ACA's collaboration with industry groups, ACA members received a 52-page DTV Coordination Handbook that provided a comprehensive transition checklist, including broadcast transmitter information needed by cable operators, cable system receive site information needed by broadcasters, and broadcast channel information needed by cable operators.

Last July, ACA hosted a DTV Transition panel at the Independent Cable Show in Orlando, Fl., that included an informative session with Polka and David Donovan, President and CEO of the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), a broadcast technology advisory group. 

Also, ACA officials participated in local and state cable-broadcast coordination meetings in Ohio, Texas, West Virginia and other areas, and urged ACA members to attend similar forums in other states.  ACA's member education effort also included a May 13, 2008, Webinar that focused on technical coordination issues between local cable systems and TV stations, to make clear the roles and responsibilities of each party.

ACA also provided its members with information about the digital "cliff effect," or the sudden loss of a broadcast TV signal as a result of low-signal strength.

FCC-encouraged DTV transition "soft" tests triggered prompt action by the ACA, which released an email alert to all members that stations in Washington, D.C., and 29 states planned to interrupt regular programming on their analog channels on Dec. 17, 2008, to broadcast text-based messages about the pending analog cutoff.  ACA also assisted preparing its members for the FCC-encouraged "soft" tests on May 21.

"The record will show that ACA members took superior steps to make the DTV transition a success in cable television homes," Polka said. "ACA members put the national interest first by assisting TV stations' move into the promising world of digital technology."

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 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 http://www.americancable.org/

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