PITTSBURGH, May 7, 2008 –Testifying before a House Small Business Subcommittee on behalf of the American Cable Association (ACA) today, Edward S. Pardini, senior vice president of operations for the North Central Division of Mediacom Communications, urged Congress to put an end to discriminatory practices of broadcasters against independent operators and to ensure uninterrupted cable service to customers. Today’s hearing, held in the Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology of the House Small Business Committee, focused on the role small businesses will play in the upcoming Digital Television transition – scheduled for February of 2009.
During his testimony, Mr. Pardini cautioned the committee about the potential confusion and disruption of service that may be caused by retransmission consent negotiations between broadcasters and operators scheduled for roughly the same time as the 2009 transition.
“ACA and its members, including Mediacom, are committed to ensuring our subscribers can continue to view broadcast stations after the transition,” said Mr. Pardini. “To ensure the switch is a success, we have invested tens of millions of dollars to purchase the necessary equipment and launch consumer education programs in the communities we serve. Unfortunately, that time and money cannot address the larger threat looming over independent operators and their subscribers. The common practice of forcing operators to drop a broadcast signal during retransmission consent negotiations will unquestionably and unnecessarily trigger consumer confusion and disruptions in service at the worst possible time. To put an end to this and other discriminatory practices, and ensure the uninterrupted service of our subscribers during the transition, we encourage this Committee to conduct a further review of these issues.”
“We certainly appreciate the subcommittee’s attention to this issue, and their recognition of the unique circumstance small and independent cable operators will be placed in during the transition,” said Matthew M. Polka, ACA president and chief executive officer. “As Mr. Pardini said during his testimony today, the discriminatory practices of broadcasters have always placed operators at a disadvantage and forced them to pay higher rates for equal service, but this year those practices will have an adverse effect that goes far beyond dollars and cents. The committee, the Congress, and the Federal Communications Commission, must take the steps necessary to put an end to the unfair and unreasonable tactics of broadcasters, and ensure that they unable to force operators to drop their signal around the time of the DTV transition.”
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